Guest post: 3 rules in selecting the right venue

This is a guest post by Denise Quashie, a.k.a. @DQtweets.With over a decade of experience in executing successful events and sponsorship development, Denise now runs a new media consulting agency (Socially Planned) and a social media event management firm (Events By Canvas). Denise is also the founder of BarkWorld Expo, founder of Confessions of a Social Media Event Organizer (an event series for event organizers), co-founder of Socially Teen, host of a radio show, author, speaker and a trailblazer in all things social for events. Here Denise shares some creative tips on venue selection.

With any event it’s important to use your connections to get the best deal possible. However, it’s never a good plan when getting “the best deal” puts your event, your brand and your community at risk.

I recently spoke to an organizer who had several car break-ins during an event. This organizer didn’t visit the venue prior to the event, didn’t hire any security to watch the vehicles and didn’t account for the “trendy” area to be a haven for car break-ins. They used the website photos and relied on the venue manager; unfortunately for their guests three cars were broken into, which ultimately ended the event on a very bad note for the organizer’s brand—both online and offline. Everyone talked about the break-ins months after the event on Facebook and Twitter.

So, what are the rules?

1. Free venues don’t always = the right venue

There’s a growing population of loft-style venues popping up in many cities. They’re all looking for exposure and gravitate to social media events. If you negotiate correctly you might be able to get the space at no cost. BUT, get it in writing, ensure the dates are correct in the contract, ensure there are no other events directly before or after your event, find out if you need to hire security and most importantly find out what the cancellation terms are in the event you need to cancel the event.

When selecting a venue you should also have a site visit, preferably during the time your event will take place. This will allow you to view the outside area and the parking situation (free, paid and areas prohibited for parking), test out the Wi-Fi, and view the amount of lighting inside of the venue. And one of the most important elements to the site visit is viewing the amount of space you’ll have. If the space only holds 100 people, don’t oversell the event to 200 people. An oversold event takes the term “rubbing elbows” to a whole new level and not really a good look.

2. Sure, you can tweet… just step outside.

Does the selected venue have great cell phone service—especially with AT&T?  With well over 10 million people using the iPhone on the AT&T network it’s important for any event to consider if the AT&T towers are at a good enough strength INSIDE of the selected venue. Eventbrite offers a cool iPhone mobile app to check-in registered attendees; this won’t work if there’s no cell service.

I just attended a very large blogger conference at a major conference venue and the closest AT&T tower was down the street, which meant that all of the meeting rooms on the ground level had poor service. No one was able to blog or tweet—major #fail.

3. Oh, I have to order chairs, too?

The old rule of making assumptions certainly applies here. Just because you view the space and there are chairs visible doesn’t mean they come with the space. It’s so important from a budget standpoint to know what you’ll need to order/rent from the space. Often with new spaces they don’t have a lot of equipment. Asking in advance will allow you to weigh your costs.

And finally, although it doesn’t relate to selecting the venue I thought I better throw it in for good measure: Once you select the appropriate venue, communicate the deets! Whether you use Eventbrite’s email program or a third party mailing application, it’s important to deliver details like onsite check-in instructions, driving directions, and whether cash is needed for parking, drinks or entertainment.