Simplify your event site selection

When Forbes lists “event planner” as the sixth most stressful job for 2016, notably behind professions like enlisted military personnel and firefighter, any tip that reduces stress levels in event planning is welcome in my book.

My number one always-applicable-“start here”-and-nowhere else-ever- for-serious rule is to start at the end. What’s the goal of your event? What is the date of your event? Who are your attendees? What is your in-hands date? What is your budget? With all of the spinning plates #eventprofs* manage, you should always, always, always start with what you know and “all of the things” will fall into place from there.**

So you have a clear and concise goal for your event, a sponsorship prospectus with leads list, and your budget done. Now, where are you sending everyone for this ridiculously awesome, groundbreaking and game-changing event? Cue the always-daunting task of site selection. Here are a couple of quick tips on how to narrow your search:

    • What kind of room set best fits your needs?
      If you’re hosting a training event, you want to make sure attendees have space to take notes, so classroom setup is your answer. Board meeting, roundtable or other large group discussion? Hollow square works best. All vendors that want to showcase their latest product or service will thank you for a booth in the expo hall (standard booth sizes are 8’x10’ or 10’x10’). For a networking event where everyone can shake hands and share a laugh, you’re looking for a reception room set. (Tight space tip: Congrats! MORE people registered than you originally expected. Mix up your classroom seating with theater seating in the back of the room to maximize capacity: 70 percent classroom and 30 percent theater is my go-to. Plus, it adds a little texture to your general session room.)


    • How does this fit your budget?
      Aren’t you glad you already have that budget finished? You’ve sent RFPs to venues that have the square footage required for your event, all of the proposals and contracts are coming in, and now it’s time to check the fine print. Is there a food and beverage minimum? (Don’t forget: your minimum doesn’t include additional charges. Service, tax and other miscellaneous charges like corking fees, bartenders or linen rentals add up fast. DON’T just throw your F&B contract amount into your budget). What about AV? Are there drop-down screens available in your meeting room? Will you be using front-screen or rear-screen projection? FYI: That will TOTALLY affect your room’s square footage requirement.


  • What is everyone else doing?
    Take a look at events that are similar to yours, or perhaps are even your competitors. You’re facing the task of asking people to stop what they’re doing to go to your event. That’s a big enough mountain to climb. Make their decision a little easier by putting some space between your event and another one similar to yours. Your attendees, speakers and sponsors will thank you for it.

Poof! Like magic, your date and location have just selected themselves! Time to schedule a site visit with your event committee, set up your registration platform, execute your marketing calendar, create your production calendar, sell some sponsorships, book your speakers, fill out your banquet event orders, manage your team, track your progress, communicate with your attendees … ya know, “all of the things” you need to do in your quest for the perfect event.

SPOILER ALERT: Event perfection is an unattainable goal. However, as someone once said, “Aim for the moon and miss, you’ll still find yourself amongst the stars.”

Agree, disagree or have another suggestion? I’m all ears! The #eventprofs community is all about collaboration. I’d love to connect with you on social media. Find me here:

Happy planning!

*Follow #eventprofs on social media for updates on all things event planning
** Except they won’t. Which is why we’re on the top 10 list of most stressful jobs year after year. BUT, the fires that come up along the way will be way easier to manage.

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