Selecting a Venue for your Special Event

Location, location, location. Get your venue selection right and you’ll give yourself a good chance of staging a successful event.

You need to find a venue most suitable to your event’s needs. Here are some things to consider that will help you to make the right choice.

Start early

Begin searching for a site or venue as soon as you know you are going to stage a special event. You should aim to have the site confirmed at least six months before your event is due to be held.

Calculate the site budget

Be realistic about how much you can afford to spend on the site or venue. Bear in mind the size and type of event you are staging, as well as the type of people coming (and their expectations), when setting your budget.

OUR TIP: You may be able to get out of it cheaply by using your own premises, but bear in mind that you should never settle for an inadequate venue just because it will help you to keep costs down. If people go away from your event disappointed, it’s going to be hard to lure them back next time. If you can’t find a good venue at a price you can afford, better to cut your losses and move on to another fundraiser.

Select potential sites

Develop a long list of potential sites, searching on the internet, through community guides, listings for parks, gardens and reserves. Ask your local council for tips if you’re having trouble coming up with options. Then start narrowing down your choices based on some of the assessments outlined below.

Check the location

Look for proximity to public transport, car parking, and ease of access for your key target audience.

Check the cost

Collect quotes for all the applicable charges – not just for site or venue hire. Some other costs can include refreshments, audio-visual equipment, cutlery/crockery, chairs, on-site personnel costs, signage, licences/permits and a (refundable) bond.

Check the size

Try to strike a balance between overcrowding a smaller venue or having a larger venue look half empty. Remember, different seating configurations require different amounts of room.

Also ensure there is enough room for a stage, performance area or dance floor if they’re required, and check if there are any "unusable" parts of the venue (due to pillars or strange shaped rooms, or areas outdoors that are off-limits or needed for car parking).

Check the facilities

Focus on the essential facilities you need – catering, sound system, stallholder needs, disability access, etc.

Narrow your choices

Decide what is essential for the site of your event and what you are prepared to compromise on. Check for availability on your preferred dates.

Eliminate clearly unsuitable sites and narrow your choice to no more than three sites that are definitely available on your chosen dates.

Visit the site

Visit your shortlisted sites to get a feel for the access, facilities, staff and the vibe. Confirm what is and isn't included in the price, and any restrictions on the site or venue's usage.

Try to visit the site at roughly the same time of day that your event will be held so you can get a good idea about light and noise and ambience.

Choose and book

Once you have decided on the site or venue you want, book it immediately. Importantly, confirm the booking in writing with the venue – you need an email or letter of confirmation that includes all the details of the booking: costs, dates, inclusions, restrictions and any special arrangements.

Final walk-through

You and your team should do a final walk-through of the site no later than three weeks before the event so that you can check that all is in order and that your team still feels comfortable with the site.

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