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10 Questions to ask when booking venues

Jul 21, 2011

1. What's included in the room hire?
  • Although it may seem obvious it's always good to understand and clarify what's included in your event package. Check on items that are included in the cost of the room hire, such as; Audio Visual, Linen, notepads, pens, iced water and mints for seminars, a dedicated Function Manager, access times, room set up, cleaning costs.
  • Ask if information will be summarized in an easy to understand event sheet. Confirm that you will both need to sign off on this agreement. Ensure verbal discussions are confirmed in email communication and keep all records or transactions.
2. Are there cancellation fees?
  • Although we would never need to cancel our event, never say never. Unexpected occurrences happen, so it's better to know up front what your options would be. What costs are involved? Or would you be able to postpone your event and if so how long do you have to re-book?
3. Is car parking and disabled access available?
  • Disabled Access; Does the venue have disabled access? If it is required discuss what options are available?
  • Private parking; Does the venue have private parking? If so, how many car spaces are available to your function. Do you have exclusive use of the car park or will you be sharing the parking facilities with another function? Does the venue have a directional map you can pass onto your guests?
  • Public parking; If no parking is available onsite, then where is the closest parking available? How much does it cost? Can the venue organize special car park rates for your event delegates?
  • Public transport; Will some of your guests arrive by public transport? What is the nearest tram, train or bus stop? What are the stop numbers and train stations called?
4. What is the guest capacity for the room?
  • If you are unsure of guest numbers expected, confirm with the Event Manager at time of booking the maximum capacity of the room and room layout options should guest numbers increase or decrease. Discuss the option of changing rooms if numbers do happen to vary. Know your restrictions so that you can limit guest lists if necessary.
5. Catering packages and Variations, Style of Catering and Guest number deadlines
  • Confirm with the venue where catering will be served. Will it be served in the room? Is there adequate space? Is there an alternative space where catering can be served? Confirm break times with the Function Manager and confirm if you want any snacks (like Muffins or Cookies) that are left over from breaks to remain in the room.
  • When do you have to tell the venue your minimum and final guests numbers? Determine what variations they can accommodate after this cut off date. Can they accommodate special dietary requirements? Can they accommodate unexpected special dietary requirements on the day of your event?
6. Drink packages and service options.
  • If you have bar service, it's always nice to know what you should expect. Will waiters provide cocktail service by carrying trays of drink around the room? Or will drinks be lined up on the bar for guests to help themselves?
  • If you have continuous coffee & tea service throughout the day, ensure it is set up somewhere easily accessible to delegates. When will the coffee be replenished?
7. Room set up can this be changed?
  • Confirm with the Event Manager prior to booking your event what equipment / furniture can be altered. Is the stage fixed in one location or can it be moved around the room? Does the room have heavy curtains to block out any sunshine for Audio Visual presentations? Does the venue have portable plants to decorate the room with? Where can posters and banners be displayed in the room? Can posters be stuck to the wall?
  • Is there enough space for your preferred set up, U shape, cabaret etc. Is there room for a registration or present table if necessary? Is linen suitable for your needs, are tablecloths full length or the colour to match your theme. Or do you need to bring in linen, centre pieces candles etc.
    • 8. What access do I have to the venue prior to my event?
      • Confirm when you can get access to your event room and how much time you have to set-up and pack-down. Don't assume that if you are booking an event at night, that you will have all day to set up for your large event. Negotiate times and discuss additional costs that might be involved. Do you require access times for rehearsal?
      9. Will there be any disturbances to my event?
      • You would assume not, but it's always wise to check as you don't want any surprises on the day. Questions you want to ask are; Are walls soundproofed? Are there any other functions on during the day that could disturb my event? Are there noise restrictions? Are any fire drills organized on the day of my event?
      10. Do you have a designated Function Supervisor and AV assistance on the day?
      • Who will be looking after you on the day of your event? Will it be the Event Manager? Or is there a dedicated Function Manager? Or does it depend on the staff rosters as to who will be present to manage your event on the day? Confirm beforehand who you should be expecting on the day?
      • Know your options before the day; if something should go wrong with your audio Visual, does the venue have an on hand AV assistant to help out with a crisis? Do they have an on call AV supplier they can call at moment's notice? BONUS INFORMATION What type of discounts are available if any?
      • If you are budget conscious and flexible with event dates and times, discuss with the venue any specials they can do for off peak times.
      • If you need to cut costs ask about tailor making catering packages to suit your budget. Most venues will have pre-set conference, breakfast, lunch and dinner packages (etc). However ask if they tailor make menus, meals and packages to suit your requirements. Even though items or meal options are not displayed on the menu the venue may be open to providing alternatives for your event.
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