Choosing the perfect venue

The room sets the tone for your guests.

From a simple dinner for 10 people to a massive meeting of 1,000, a function's success rides largely on the accommodations. A room is never "just a room" — it sets the tone for your guests.

So how do you choose the best room for your get-together? Here is a plan with five questions to ask yourself:

When do I start looking?

Start looking for a banquet facility the moment you've selected a date and time for your function. The longer the lead time, the more options you'll have to choose from. You're not likely to find a quality facility if you're rushing through a last-minute search.

Who is coming to my party?

Have a complete guest list with you throughout your search. Not just a number, but a complete list. There is a big difference between a room that seats 10 and a room that seats five hundred.

There also is a big difference between a facility designed to cater to the needs of a group of CEOs versus one that would be right for your old college buddies. Know the size of your group and also the type of event you're planning to host.

Another important "who" is the facility staff. Make sure you have a clear understanding of who will be working your event and that their level of experience and attire will match your expectations.

Where is convenient?

The old real estate axiom of "location, location, location" also applies to banquet halls. Start your search in locations that are easily accessible to all of your guests, with adequate parking or valet service.

If you find the perfect spot but it requires an inconvenient drive, talk to the facility manager about arranging for group travel from a central location.

What will the event need?

Have a checklist of everything you'll need a banquet facility to provide:

  • Will you need full meals, a buffet-style dinner or snacks between meals?
  • Will you want coffee or soft drinks, and, most importantly from a cost perspective, do you want alcohol to be served?
  • Does your event have special technology needs like a projector, a monitor or a stereo system?
  • Are you envisioning a dance floor, a stage or platform for a band to set up, or any other physical requirements beyond mere tables and chairs?
Think about everything, down to the last detail.

How much can I spend?

Make sure you shop around and get several bids for your event to find the best deal. You may be able to strike a bargain with a facility that has recently had a cancellation or that needs to increase bookings.

Of course, we haven't left out the most important step — why. Throughout the process, remember why you're having the event in the first place, and keep this ultimate goal in mind as you search. That way, you'll never settle for less and you'll be more likely to find the ideal facility.

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