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What to Look for in an Event Venue

Unique Venue Space San Francisco

What to Look for in an Event Venue

There are a lot of options to choose from when it comes to booking a San Francisco event venue, Bizzabo has a very popular blog which represents the 31 Best San Francisco event venues for your next Conference or Meetup. In addition to Bizzabo, there are quite a few venue sourcing websites also showcasing Bay Area party venues, from anything from studios to personal homes to full-service venues. Below, we have compiled a list of some additional sourcing websites when looking for a venue:

Venue Sourcing websites for San Francisco Event Venues:

  • San Francisco Travel: No fee to event planner

  • No fee to event planner. Fee to venue

  • Fee to venue

  • Conduct a Google Search to find venues: Example search include; San Francisco Event Venues, San Francisco Event Space Rental, San Francisco Meeting Venue, Event Space San Francisco

We understand it is difficult to sort through all of the event venue options if you don’t first have your key-checklist of desired features established. With this in mind, we created a checklist:

Key Checklist for Party Venues and Corporate Event Venues:

  • Does the venue respond to your requests quickly?

  • Is the San Francisco event venue accessible to public transit and area parking garages?

  • Does the party venue have area hotels they partner with for room nights?

  • Does the unique event space provide full services, including Audio Visual, event design and Onsite Catering? Or are you responsible for securing all vendors for your party venue?

  • Does the venue have resources, like, florists, furniture companies and decor? Or will they allow outside vendors?

  • What is included in the pricing, how does that compare to other locations and your budget guidelines?

Check out what these Party Planners, Corporate Event Planners, and Wedding Planners have to say about “What to Look for in an Event Venue”:

Heather Ripley,

San Francisco Bay Area, Senior Manager, Special Events

  • Does the event venue offer similar benefits when compared to a hotel to help with costs, like furniture, housekeeping, and security?

  • Can I hire my own vendors or am I restricted to their preferred list?

  • Is the venue unique, easy to navigate, and aligns with the vision of the event?

Christa J. Mekki, CMP, CWP

San Francisco Bay Area, President at SITENCC

I look for theater style event venues that already have the AV built into the package. I like to have a certain look for my visual production and feel it can be met with a non-hotel venue. Also, I look at the lighting style that’s included and if it's at a reasonable price.

Chiriga "Zoe" Moore, CDP

San Francisco Bay Area, Founder/CEO LB Alliance - Event Resource Group

“I look for turn-key event venues that both have aesthetics as well as the ability to be flipped and transformed. Also, unique venues that have a strong in-house team that will make operations smooth and efficient.”

Nicole Barbier, CMP

Monroe, North Carolina, Events Manager

“Location and ease of transportation or parking depending on the city”

Tisha Jack

Trinidad - Tobago, Event Manager, and Travel Consultant

“Some of the things I look for are amenities, how the aesthetics of an event venue can help bring the theme/decor of the event to life, accessibility (based on where the guests are coming from), what is included in the rental of the venue.”

Kelly Coates, CMP, CMM

Washington D.C. Metro Area, Association & Event Management | HR | Operations | Venue Sourcing | Incentive Programs | Travel

“Event venue Location, amenities, customer focus, service, value, and reviews from clientele...”

Claudia Paveri,

Ireland, Event & Wedding Coordinator

“The "personal touch" and the atmosphere of the event venue. Something that could be unique for your guests.”

Shelly Kolvitz

Greater Denver Area, Event Marketing Manager at ZOLL Data

“Tying in the host city to the event is HUGE. A focus of mine would be how well does the event venue embrace and enhance the host city? Also, how well they treat vendors is huge for me. No one wants to work with angry or rude people.”

Things to Keep in Mind:

No matter what your event venue needs, remember the Hospitality Business is unique. It is like a family and you will have the opportunity to work with people repeatedly at the same location. It is a great opportunity to build great relationships with your venue partners. To build a good relationship with event venues and the teams that manage them think about:

Budget Transparency

Event venues enjoy transparency when you are submitting your RFP’s regarding your budget guidelines, you will get better results going in with guidelines from past events, or at minimum sharing where the event has been hosted before than getting a Proposal, which the team spent hours on, in which event planners respond “it is outside our budget” (when no budget was shared).

Ethical venues will not inflate their Proposals if you have more budget than what they charge for their core services. It is a great time saver for all if you can share your Budget Transparency in the Discovery Stage, especially if you have a few thousand dollars compared to $50k+.

Unless a unique party event venue has other revenue generators (night-club, co-working space, hotel restaurant, etc.) a few thousand dollars will not cover the hard costs of a stand alone venue.

Closing the Loop with the Event Venue

The most valuable thing you can do to build lasting relationships with event venue teams is to close the Loop if you have “gone in another direction” but better still, let the event venue know why they didn’t make the final selection which is valuable insight for them (eg. flow, location, budget, value of services) so that they can better gear their proposals in the future and understand the party and event venue landscape in their city.

Don’t Close the Loop to Soon!

If you love a unique party venue, and it still comes down to Budget, and if you have built a rapport with the venue team, let them know how far they are still off from your needs and perhaps they have some alternative recommendations to bring your costs down (changing the hours, reducing the load in/out time, catering services, etc.). They are the experts when it comes to their offerings and if you let them know you may be open to work with them and adjust the programming you can partner for a win win.

Saying Goodbye could actually help you with your Venue Search

Even after this exercise of trying to get a better rate doesn’t work out, the team you have been working with at the event venue may be able to refer you to other area venues. If you ask you will find that more often than not they will help you, since they know it will assist you, their area venue colleagues, it will keep the event in San Francisco and you may have future San Francisco venue needs that would be a better fit for their unique event space in the future and they want to help build a strong relationship that you will think of them again.

It is always ideal to find a Venue that also is a great Showcase for your Event Theme, some photos from The Village Venue in San Francisco, many venues can be converted to create the perfect experience.

Immersive Events (Venue Photo Featured Above) at The Village Venue San Francisco.

Microsoft Cloud event following the RSA Conference at the Moscone Conference Center. The guests took a 5-minute walk from the convention center to enjoy a party that featured Madrone Studio’s 75-foot laser projection wall showing a time-lapse of the San Francisco fog rolling in, a dry ice floor, two live bands, and an ice luge and themed catering bringing the best of San Francisco's culinary scene to life.

A Cirque Party (Circosphere Entertainment) A circus themed party on all three floors of The Village made for a fun and unique event where guests wandered around on each floor only to discover more delightful curiosities.

Corporate Meeting Space

The Village at 969 Market Street San Francisco pairs a blank canvas for corporate meetings with the kind of in-house AV and catering services the Bay Area’s top companies demand. Located within walking distance of the Moscone Center right downtown in what was once an art supply warehouse, our client list includes Google, Salesforce, KPMG, and many others. Three floors and 17,000 square feet of customizable corporate meeting space for up to 1,000 is headlined by our seamless, 75-foot projection wall, great for leading your biggest presentations. Audio Visual by Madrone Studios.

Author: Jeanavive Janssen has been in the San Francisco Bay Area Event Hospitality Industry for 21-years. She is currently representing the Village Venue and is the Vice President of Events for the American Marketing Association SF- Chapter. For more info on Venue Tips, feel free to contact her via email or Linkedin. If you enjoyed this article, you may appreciate her Holiday Party Planning tips.

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