Five Questions That Will Give You More Value From Your Venue
Any savvy shopper knows that there’s a difference between price and value. There are ways for meeting planners to negotiate the best price on a venue, but it’s equally important to know how to determine the true value of a venue during the discovery phase. When speaking with potential venues for your next event, it helps to be armed with questions that allow you to dig deeper.
“It’s really important to ask a few things in the sourcing time period,” says Kara Dao, COO at JDC Events. “Properties want to disclose as much as possible to a planner, so ask it all directly.”
There are questions that give you the core parameters of a venue (cost, capacity, facilities, etc.), but the goal of the preliminary questions below is to uncover what might not be shared up-front. This doesn’t mean trying to extract inappropriate value from venues or to drive down the price of their services. Instead, it’s about asking the questions that will give you the full picture so you know everything that the venue has to offer.
Consider these five questions to get more value from venues.
Value-Driving Question #1: “Can You Explain the Specifics of Your Accessibility Efforts?”
You want your event to be enjoyable and available to all who attend. To that end, ask the venue how it accommodates people with physical limitations. Expect to get information on features such as ramps, elevators, automatic doors, wheelchair entrances, ADA-compliant restrooms, handicap parking, and on-hand staff to help attendees. Then, you can share this information with attendees before the event so that they’re prepared.
Another question to ask in terms of accessibility: “Are there any renovations happening currently?” You could find that certain accommodations are temporarily unavailable or that accessible entrances are affected.
Value-Driving Question #2: “How Many Other Groups Are You Hosting at the Same Time as My Group?”
Dao points out the importance of knowing what level of support you’ll be getting from the venue’s staff and how that might impact your event. That way, you’ll know that on-site staff will be there to help manage registrations, monitor service quality, assist if any problems arise, and support breakout sessions or other activities.
“What you really want to know is, ‘Who else am I competing with for those individuals’ attention? And what’s the impact of that?’” Dao says.
Value-Driving Question #3: “What Additional Fees Will I Be Charged?”
In some cases, Dao says, add-on fees have increased since the pandemic due to additional costs of keeping venues safe, and meeting planners need to be aware of them. Dao recommends being direct when asking this question, assuring venues that they won’t be eliminated as a choice out of hand because of add-on fees, but making it clear that you need to know so you can plan your budget accordingly.
Value-Driving Question #4: “What Can This Venue Offer That Nobody Else in Your Area Can?”
Of course you want your event to be special, so ask venues what makes them special. Venues will be eager to talk about their unique services that make them stand out above the rest.
Value-Driving Question #5: “What’s the Realistic Comfortable Capacity in Your Meeting Spaces?”
There’ll be a maximum capacity listed, but getting clarification on what the venue recommends could help you make attendees comfortable.
“Venues often want to present a large number but are not compensating for things such as a large space for AV to set up or an expanded stage or social distancing,” Dao says. “Diving into what those numbers actually look like in implementation is important.”