Top ten questions to ask your event venue before booking

11th October 2021

No matter how much research you do prior to visiting your chosen event venue, there are likely to be questions that you have when you’re there. Here are the top ten question that we think you should ask any venue before deciding to book.

 

What are the payment terms and is there any flexibility in the payment schedule?

Some venues may ask for payment upfront, some may ask for a deposit or booking fee with the remaining paid in advance of the event date. It is not unknown for venues to invoice the event after it has taken place or you may be required to pay a security deposit in advance, which is returned after the event. Ensure that you find out exactly what payments are required and when so that there are no nasty surprises along the way. You may find that they offer a discount for early payment… but you have to ask to get it!

 

When can you start the set up of your event and when must it be cleared down by?

For larger events and weddings it is likely that you have suppliers who need access to a venue in order to set up in plenty of time. It might be that you are providing your own decorations or team building activities and want to get this done in advance so that you can go away and prepare yourself for your event start time.
Either way it is important that you know exactly when you have access and also if there are any deadlines for the removing of items after the event has finished.
If the timings are too tight, you might find that the venue offers some additional set up or clear down services, or they might allow some extra time for an additional fee.

 

What are the onsite catering options and are you allowed to source your own caterers if preferred?

Many venues will offer catering themselves, such as hotels or conference centres. Some venues may have designated caterers who you must use at their venue, they may make recommendations of local caterers or might be open to you sourcing your own catering options. Whichever way your chosen venue works, it is best to ask the question and find out all of your options. Although you may have to pay an additional fee, you might feel more comfortable using a caterer who can provide exactly what you are looking for rather than settling for a food package that a venue provides, but you don’t really want.
That said, a venue may have some hidden menus or packages that they can offer on a more bespoke basis, so make sure that you ask the right questions up front.

 

Drinks Reception

Are there any drinks packages available and do they offer a corkage option?

Many venues will have a licenced bar and drinks available for purchase on the day, however there may be some packages available for you to commit to prior to the event, which work out better value for money. A wedding package might consist of a reception drink, wine for the table and a glass of fizz for the speeches, whereas a corporate package might include tea/coffee throughout the day and a soft drink with lunch.
Some venues may not have an alcohol licence, so you might be required to bring any drinks with you, but there is also the option of corkage, which is bringing in your own drinks to a licenced venue who may charge you a set fee or a fee per bottle. If you’re clever with where and when you purchase drinks elsewhere, this may well work out as a more economic choice. Not all venues may offer corkage, but that’s why you should ask the question up front.

 

Which suppliers do they recommend?

The best people to recommend suppliers to you will be the people who have worked with the suppliers before.

Your venue will have worked with dozens if not hundreds of different suppliers and may well have a list of recommendations that they can give you as a starting point.
Although a venue may have their recommendations, ensure that you still do your own research to check their reviews and pricing before committing anything.

 

What are the venue staff responsible for and what will you be required to do?

It is a wise idea to clearly understand how the venue works in terms of setting up, on the day event management and clear down. Although you might be willing and wanting to do all of the above yourself, it might be a requirement, in which case you need to know about it in advance. It might, however, all be included as part of the venue hire fee or it may be that the staff only provide some services. Whichever the way, it is best that you ask in advance of booking so that you know exactly what to expect when it comes to the event itself.

 

Are there any restrictions or limitations for décor or activities?

A rather broad question here, but it will be helpful to know if the venue has anything that is not permitted or limited prior to booking them. It might be that they do not allow team building activities on their outdoor grassed area, or perhaps drones are restricted because the venue has live animals nearby. Some venues do not allow candles or confetti at a wedding and it’s not unusual that live music is restricted by a sound limiter. Although the above all sounds rather negative, it is best to know exactly what you can and cannot do before you book the venue.

 

Is there a large difference in price depending on the date?

Whilst many events will have an ideal date, such as a Saturday in Summer for a wedding or the date of a special birthday or anniversary, there usually is some flexibility in date for other events. For the right venue, you may find that you are willing to host your event the day before or after if it means saving some money.
For corporate events, a Friday is usually the peak date as this is the end of the week and less likely to impact on the working week, so you may find that a venue hire fee is more expensive on a Friday than a Tuesday or Wednesday.
Many venues are likely to have a late availability discount, so if you can plan your event in a short amount of time and you have the flexibility with the date, why not enquire about any last minute deals?

 

What areas of the venue are available for your use and/or where might be used by another event?

It will be useful for you to know if there any other events which might be taking place at the venue on the same day or if it will be exclusively for your use. Some venues may charge an additional fee for exclusive use, or it may simply be that you are hiring the place for your event alone.
For weddings and social events, it is helpful to know if there are any particular areas for photographs. Corporate events or group activities may wish to use additional areas for activities or break out areas.
If the venue is open to the public, it may be that there are certain areas which are off limits on the day of your event. Don’t make any assumptions about the spaces that you see when you visit the venue. Asking is always the safest option.

 

Can you provisionally hold the date with no obligation?

If you think that you have found the right venue, for the right price on the right date, you may have some important attendees that you need to check with before you book. It might be that you have a supplier in mind to host an activity, or perhaps your guest speaker needs to check that they are available.
Most venues will provisionally hold a date to give you a little time to make the necessary arrangements before signing on the dotted line and making any payments.
If the venue is pushing for you to make a decision before you leave, try not to be hasty and feel obligated to book there and then for fear of losing the date. Ask if they can provisionally hold for you and the worst they can say is ‘no’.

 

A major tip, is that if you find yourself at the end of a site visit or a wedding showround and that you still have a long list of questions to ask (other than the above), this may not be the venue for you.

An event coordinator or venue staff member should know what to tell you as you look around their venue and how to sell their space. If they haven’t readily given you enough information, perhaps you need to consider why.

Free Advice Service
Are you planning an event or party? Is there something you want to ask? If you have a quick question; maybe you’re not sure if you have everything covered, or perhaps you are having difficulty in finding or selecting the perfect DJ, caterers, venue or decorative expert. Please contact our free ask service for advice and recommendations.