Planning an Event – What to Ask Before Booking

The only way to get great answers is to ask the right questions. Planning an event is tough work, and we know you want to make sure everything is as perfect as it can be. Don’t let stress take over! If you want to organise an awesome event but are not sure where to start, we’ve got you covered!

Here are 9 questions you should always ask before booking an event space. 

1. How many people are currently on the guest list?

The question of questions. If you haven’t yet prepared a guest list, it’s time to get to work. Whether you’re planning an intimate get-together for your close friends or a substantial conference, you need to get the numbers right. For some people, an event or conference event may translate to 500 attendees; for others, that number may exceed 2,000. 

The number of attendees should inform your decision. Venues come with specific capacities, and you need to make sure guests will feel comfortable during the event.

2. What’s the budget?

You really shouldn’t be making any plans until you can determine a budget. If this is your first time organising an event, you may want to reach out to several venues and inquire about pricing options. Depending on the type of service that you require and the number of people that you’ll be inviting, prices will vary significantly.

If you’ve already decided on the date that you want the event to take place, be prepared to pay a deposit. If you’re flexible with your dates, you may be able to strike a better deal. 

3. What’s the style/theme of the event?

Depending on the nature of the event itself, this is a question that may be quite difficult to answer right away. Is it a casual baby shower or a professional black-tie event? The more you know about the venue, the easier it will be to determine whether it’s the right choice for you.

4. Are you familiar with the venue’s restrictions?

Some venues may have specific rules, or restrictions in place. Some restrictions may be law-related, others may have to do with the venue’s policies. In some cases, you may be forced to turn the music down after 10 pm or stop serving drinks after a particular hour.

To limit disturbances and unpleasant surprises, ask if there are any restrictions, rules or limits that you or your guests will have to adhere to. The quicker you’re informed about these, the easier it will be to come up with easy workarounds. Most venues will be willing to help you find solutions to problems that may arise.

5. Have you thought about dietary restrictions?

There are more people with dietary restrictions today than ever before. Whether it’s for health or ethical reasons, people may choose not to eat certain foods. Being inclusive with your offerings is a great way to ensure everyone can enjoy the event and leave with their bellies full.

One of the first things you should do when contacting venues is to figure out whether they can provide menu options for people with dietary restrictions. If you’re serving tacos, you may as well include a meat-free option with egg and guacamole filling for vegetarians. Vegans could enjoy a wide range of fresh salads and other vegetable options. Mocktail options are also really popular with events.

6. What exactly is included in your package?

Don’t assume that just because you’ve purchased an exclusive package, everything will be included. For example, appetisers and cocktails may be included in your birthday package, but you may have to bring your own cake. Some venues won’t help with decoration, while others may not even offer catering options. 

Always make sure to communicate your concerns with the venue’s manager and make sure you know what’s included in your package. The key to a successful event is communication. There’s always room for negotiation (and most venues can offer alternatives) so don’t be afraid to be vocal with your demands and preferences.

7. Is there parking on-site?

Parking may not sound very important in the early stages of planning. That being said, parking issues can quickly turn any event into a nightmare for attendees. It never hurts to inquire about parking options well in advance. 

Is it included in your package? If not, what are the fees? How big is the parking area and will other people (who are not attending your event) be able to access it? If the venue doesn’t offer a parking area, inquire about other options, such as garages, taxis, shuttle busses. Inform your attendees ahead of the event to make sure everyone knows how to get there.

8. Can you rely on management to help with other services?

Most events require additional services the venue itself may not be able to provide (think DJs, florists, party planners). Coming up with a plan and reaching out to the right professionals can be a headache, especially if you’re organising an event far from home. Hopefully, most venues hire management teams that can offer help with additional services that can make your event truly stand out.

Venue teams will often have a good idea of all the services available in the area and will be able to point you in the right direction. As long as you communicate your needs and requirements clearly, they won’t have trouble bringing in the right people for the job.

9. What is the payment and cancellation policy?

Financial aspects of renting a venue should be discussed early. Is there a deposit or any other policies that you need to know about? 

It’s always a good idea to familiarise yourself with the venue’s cancellation policy. You never know what can happen, and even though you don’t want to cancel your event, it’s always great to know that you can, if it comes to that. Most venues will allow you to cancel your booking as long as you inform everyone well before the set date of the event. Find out what the cancellation window is to avoid potential issues later on.

When speaking with managers, make every effort to communicate your requirements, demands and concerns clearly. You don’t have to go on full control-freak mode, but the more you plan for your big event, the better it will turn out in the end. The only way to ensure a successful event is to be willing to ask the right questions.

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