Finding a Perfect Venue | A Hotel – Part 1

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How do you find that perfect venue for an event?  Trust me, it can be tough.

What is going to be more cost effective?  A venue or a hotel?  Is the cost the number one factor in making the decision or will it be branding, location, creative appeal, and flexibility?  These are all questions that you need to ask yourself if you’re the client.  If you’re the planner, you need to ask the client.

There are so many factors involved with finding the perfect venue.  Unfortunately, sometimes that means, you have to figure out budgets for multiple options.  Especially if they are trying to weigh which would be a better option.

My Number One Might Surprise You

The number one thing to keep in mind is the complexity of the audio visual production.  There are many aspects that come into play when we talk about audio visual production – ceiling height requirements, what is the stage going to look like, what type of screen do you need?  What will be projected on the screen?  Will there be video?  There are so many factors and by knowing the answers to these questions, you can eliminate spaces right away.  Once you have a clear understanding of the production requirements, then you’re ready to move to the next step in finding the perfect venue.

In the photo above, we knew that the client wanted large production elements, LED screens vs. the traditional projector and screen and lots of lighting.  Knowing those two things allowed us to better understand their space needs.

Things to keep in mind when selecting a venue | hotel?

What does the meeting space look like? 

Remember site visits are important and you need to see the space.  Put yourself in the shoes of the attendee and ask yourself if the meeting space has a nice flow.  When I’m walking around going from the general session room to the meal room, to the breakout space, am I having to move between multiple floors, turn lots of corners, go clear across the hotel to get to a meeting room?  This all plays into the flow of the space and also lets you know now much signage you need.  There is nothing worse than a confused attendee.

What are the branding opportunities AND does the hotel charge branding fees?  

As you are entering the hotel and looking at the public space which includes the lobby area, you want to keep in mind different areas that can be branded for the event.  There may be large pillars or glass windows or doors.  All of these are opportunities to give your event maximum exposure.  In the public spaces, many hotels have discovered that this is an additional revenue stream for them and they charge a branding fee.  Much like an advertising fee, you would let the hotel know the different areas that you want to brand in the public spaces and they would let you know how much it would cost.

You also want to look at the branding opportunities in the meeting space.  Look for mirrors, walls, pillars, etc.  The hotel will not charge additional fees to brand in these areas because you own this space for your meeting.  They would want to test out any materials that you might be using so it doesn’t damage the walls.  You should ask the question regarding installation because they could require a specific company to do the installation of the branding.

In the photo above, there was a large glass window that looked into hotels Great Room. We reversed the image so you saw it when you were standing in the lobby and then used uplights under the image to create more impact.

Look at the carpet. 

From a branding perspective, you don’t want your branding to stick out like a sore thumb.  You want it to look like it was meant to be there. I know it might sound strange to look at the carpet, but if you can incorporate some of the colors of the carpet into your branding it will look so much better.  Hotel carpet, for the most part, is really busy and they do that on purpose – it’s hard to see stains.

In the photo above, look at the carpet and the gold color and how it was incorporated into the branding on the wall as well as the signage.  It looks like it’s supposed to be there.

Is it a union facility and what time do you gain access to the meeting space? 

What do I mean by union facility?  San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta and New York are large union cities that require you to use union labor for audio visual production and sometimes branding installation.  You want to ask the hotel if it’s a union facility and ask for the union rules.  

Some properties require you to only use union workers for certain key production positions.  If you plan on bringing in your own production company, you want to check with the property to make sure there aren’t any additional fees for doing so.  Also – your labor fees might increase if the union rule states that you have to have a 1:1 or 2:1 shadow.  This means if you have one person from your team operating video, you would have to have one or two union workers shadowing.  It definitely increases your cost. 

I always like to gain access to my meeting space at 8am.  If I start at 6pm, that means that I’m already in overtime when we start to set-up the production.  Guess what – that increases my budget.  You want to make sure there are enough set-up and tear-down hours allocated for the production as well.  If a production takes 2 days to set-up, it will probably take a minimum of 8 hours to tear-down.  Keep in mind overtime as that will play into your budget?  Also is there enough time for setup and teardown?

There are definitely some advantages to hosting your event at a hotel.  Everyone is under the same roof which makes it very easy for the event team, the client, and the attendees.  You don’t need to worry about transportation, shipping to the venue, food & beverage and rehearsal time.

Leave a comment below with any questions you have about Hotels.  And stay tuned because we will be sharing part 2 which will be about venues.


Be sure to download our app Capacity by ROAR – the ultimate meeting space calculator.  Available in App Store by searching Capacity by ROAR.


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