Company employee events are a great way to build team morale, and celebrate wins, but also promote your business as a great place to work.
Sometimes the success of your event can be decided by whether or not you’ve chosen the right event venue for the occasion.
If you’re planning a corporate event and need extra help get in touch with our event coordinators and keep reading for the most important things to consider when choosing a venue.
One of the first things you should do to narrow down your venues for events search is to determine the number of people you’ll be inviting to your event. You may have 350 employees, but how many will actually attend? How many will bring a +1? How many staff will be there too?
Large gatherings need space for attendees to spread out. With larger groups, it works well to have a venue that can overflow to a secondary space such as a marque or even a sheltered smoking area if necessary. Plan for the availability of another room, or an outdoor area such as a patio or lawn.
Venue capacity is affected by your agenda for the day. Consider both activities and meals when you assess your venue requirements. If you’re having a sit-down dinner, double-check that the number of tables and chairs you need will fit comfortably into the area to allow guests to eat without elbowing one another.
Most venues will quote their total capacity, which includes staff too.
While the weather can change in a heartbeat, especially around our base near Aberdeen in Scotland, making the most of the sunny summer period can help lift the mood of the event.
Consider the following elements to pick the right venue to match the season:
- Weather Affects Activities
If you’re planning outdoor activities for your event you’re better off choosing the summery months, but also think about what makes sense for that month.
- Event Dress Code
Bear in mind that the season and the venue will affect what the guests can wear. The dress code for an event on a warm, sunny day at an outdoor event will be very different from an indoor venue with a cosy fireplace or two. If people are expected to be wearing bright summery dresses, you may want to make sure the decor matches.
Like most events, you’ll likely need to work within the limitations of a budget, and venue hire is likely to be one of the most expensive items on your list. If your dates are flexible, the venue might be able to suggest a cheaper date as many charge different prices for different times of the week, month and year.
Another option is to explore whether an external caterer would be more cost-effective than using onsite catering. If you decide to go this route, make sure you check with the venue if this would be against their policy or not.
Although some venues do not have a bar, some may still want to charge a fee, usually known as “Corkage” if you have a bar set up. If drinks are likely to be a big part of the event, speak to the venue and find out their charges, but also speak with local mobile bar companies who may also have some insights into which venues are most cost-efficient.
The logistics of a venue are all the practical elements that go into making the event a comfortable experience for your guests. Logistics that are well planned and organised tend to be invisible and operate seamlessly, while badly planned logistics can be spotted a mile off by the level of frustration in your attendees. Logistics includes things such as:
Check whether the location you’re considering is easy for guests to travel to. You want to make sure that attendees can get to your event easily, whether they’re driving themselves there, or taking public transport.
Look for a venue conveniently close to public transport terminals for local guests, and airport access if you have guests flying in. Make sure there’s enough onsite parking for the number of local guests you’ll be inviting, and if a valet service is needed and provided.
For attendees, secure parking that’s pretty close to the venue will be important. Especially those who are not able-bodied. Some venues are close to a lot or garage where guests can park their cars for the duration of the event and leave them there with complete peace of mind. You want to be able to offer your guests nearby parking solutions that won’t leave holes in their pockets as you do not want their first impressions of the event to be the expensive parking.
If the parking is a distance away from the venue, you may want to consider if the ground is suitable for stilettos to walk on and have the area carpeted or hire a car to shuttle people back and forth.
It’s important to have your technical requirements in mind when finding a venue otherwise you may need to hire an audio/visual company.
Things to consider:
- Do you need screens or projectors?
- Do you need to play audio?
- Do you need a PA for talks?
- What lighting is needed?
- Where are the power outlets?
Purpose of Your Event
The venue requirements for corporate functions will vary depending on the purpose of the event. A conference with keynote speakers can fit comfortably into an auditorium setting, with rows of seating for attendees and a podium for the speaker. Bear in mind that you’ll need a space for refreshments, either buffet tables at the back of the auditorium or a smaller room off to the side.
If your event is a practical workshop, aim for a venue that can accommodate tables and chairs that will give attendees comfortable, adequate working space. A workshop setting will generally have a presenter who’ll need a space up front to address the crowd. They may have a list of requirements to fulfil their function, too.
For a corporate event aimed toward a lively evening of party entertainment, you can tailor your requirements to what you have planned for your event, with careful thought given to the size and height of the stage, good sound quality, lighting effects, backdrops and possibly a smoke/haze machine. Smoke machines are great for adding atmosphere!
The decor isn’t the only consideration when it comes to setting up your venue, the internal layout of all the different elements is just as important. Think about the flow of people through the space and how it would be set up accordingly. Clear signage will help your guests feel comfortable in the space. Get an illustrated floor plan from the venue to help you remember specific details when it comes to comparing venues.
When planning for drinks and food, look at how you could arrange the floor plan of your space according to the type of meal you intend to offer. A sit-down meal will need tables, chairs and a seating plan. If you’re serving finger foods, you can choose cocktail tables strategically positioned throughout the space, or buffet tables.
If your event has a keynote speaker or performers, investigate venues with a stage that can accommodate them and ensure that they are visible to all the attendees.
Use these questions to guide you as you plan the layout:
- How will foot traffic flow through the space?
- Are some areas likely to be more popular than others?
- Is there sufficient space left open for mingling?
- Where will the bar be?
- If there isn’t a stage, can a temporary one be hired in?
- Are there long distances to walk between attractions or rooms?
- How many emergency exits are there and where are they located?
- Where will attendees register and receive information packs or welcome gifts?
- Where should audio and video equipment be set up?
Before you view different venues, have a clear picture of what areas will need to fit into the space. That way you can visualise the different elements and see which venue provides the best solution.
If you have an event theme in mind, be sure to share it with suppliers and vendors. Knowing what theme you want to achieve can make it much easier for suppliers to create bespoke menus, offer custom decor and ultimately help you make your theme come to life.
Food, canapes and snacks
Catering is a key element of a successful event. Find out from each venue whether they provide catering, or if you’d need to bring in an outside caterer. Be sure to get a quote for what they’d charge to cater in-house and compare it to other catering services on the market.
Catering Service Styles
Depending on your event and the space in the venue, there are different approaches to catering that you can opt for. If you find a venue that you fall in love with but doesn’t suit what you had in mind for feeding your guests, you may find that a different catering style would be better suited to the venue and solve your problem. Consider these options:
- Plated dinner service: a traditional, seated, multi-course meal.
- Buffet tables: a casual option that allows guests to choose their food and needs less serving staff.
- Food stations: similar to a buffet, tables are set up as stations for starters, sides, salads, soups, and mains.
- Family-style: communal platters are placed on each table for guests to help themselves.
- Food truck catering: food trucks serve dishes, usually outdoors.
- Finger food bar: light snacks are served in a casual manner.
Whichever style you choose, do your homework to make sure that the cost per head is within what you’ve budgeted for and will suit the occasion you are planning.
Catering Questions to Ask
If you are hiring a venue that will be providing your food and drink, there are a few angles to think about. Meet with the venue manager armed with the list of questions you need to ask, such as:
- Are there food and beverage minimums?
It’s standard practice for a venue to charge for a minimum number of guests. Find out what the venue’s minimum is so that you can invite at least that many people. If that number is too high, you may need to find a venue that caters for a smaller number.
- Can you give us sample menus and a quotation?
Some venues have standard menus, others can tailor their menus to your needs. Some offer menus that cater for different price ranges. Others may offer menus that focus on a type of cuisine, such as pizza, pasta, or seafood.
- Can you accommodate vegetarians or other special dietary requirements?
It’s important that a caterer is able is serve those with dietary restrictions. This includes providing for those who opt for gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, or dairy-free meals. If there are members of your team who require special food for religious reasons, check with the caterer whether they’re able to accommodate those needs as well.
- Do you offer menus according to themes?
Themed meals can provide an interesting experience for attendees and help make the event more memorable for them. Menus that offer an international flavour such as Indian, Greek, or Mexican-themed menus are popular. Pairing your themed menu with live music from the region is a winning combination that will make sweet memories for your guests.
We’re maybe a little bit biased, but the bar is often the most visited attraction at an event. Especially when you have a pop-up cocktail bar from Boozy Events there 😉, but seriously, the bar should be accessible and where possible free-flowing to avoid queues.
Bespoke cocktails are a great way to theme the event and also get your guests talking. Consider matching the menu to your food, what pairs well and also think about how guests will be enjoying the drinks. Will it be with food? Outside? Or just a quick drink between activities?
Venue Question Checklist
All venues are run differently and it’s safer not to assume anything when booking a venue for an event. Asking many questions and covering all the bases is safer than trusting something will be there on the night and finding out it isn’t. Here is a basic list of questions to ask a venue when planning an event:
- Is there parking available?
- Are there kitchen facilities?
- Are security services required?
- Do you need a venue with an alcohol licence?
- Are there restrictions in place regarding noise or photography?
- Find out about extra fees such as corkage, cancellation or overtime fees.
- Does the venue hire out tables, chairs, table cloths, cutlery, glasses, cups and crockery?
Add your own questions to this list and take it with you when you speak to the venue manager to make sure you cover all the bases.
Picking Perfect Event Venues for Your Corporate Event
As you go about searching for the perfect event venues for your corporate events, you can use an online venue finder as a starting point to narrow down your search. Keep all the points above in mind, but more than that, be guided by your instincts. Drawing together all the different elements will deliver an event that achieves everything you want it to.
Whether your venue is a small indoor space or a huge outdoor field, we’d love to help you plan an amazing corporate event, so please get in touch with our event coordinators at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01224 600068 for a no obligation chat.