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Choosing an Event Venue for Concerts, Conferences, Theater and Workshops

There are several factors that go into organizing a successful Event. One of the most important ones that can make or break is your Event venue. Most other things like date for the Event, people you invite and catering arrangements depend on the venue you select. Before you actually get down to choosing the venue, decide on a budget. Once you know your budget, assess if you would be able to raise that kind of money from sponsors. After considering all these factors, decide on a venue.

One of the ground rules to follow while conducting an event is to book the venue at least 4-6 months ahead of the Event day. To do this, you will also need to finalize the date of your Event and work backwards to come up with a timeline that includes everything from venue booking to Event marketing and Ticket booking. At this stage, have several day/time options in mind so that you don’t rule out venues because they are already booked on a specific day

Further, the type of Event you are organizing has a bearing on your choice of venue. While all Events need good acoustic arrangements inside the hall, for some like theatre performances or concerts this is a high priority requirement.

Here is a list of things to consider while picking a venue based on the Event you are organizing.

Theatre performances

If you are organizing a theatre performance, seating size is the most important factor that determines venue cost. A theatre performance could have anywhere between 100 to 2000 guests, depending on how well-known the performer is. Budget around 40% of your total Event budget for a theatre performance venue.

Layered seating is a must-have for theatre performances. This will also allow you to introduce tiered pricing and in turn, help generate more revenue from your Event.

Parking is another aspect of selecting a good venue. Having parking within the premises is a big plus and will definitely enhance your Guests’ experience. If only street parking is available and you have a big performer, then you need to pick your venue accordingly.

For large performances, food and refreshments are usually sold at the event venue. For smaller Events, you will need to organize for this and add it to the cost, say around 10-15% of your total Event budget. At many venues, a third party is in charge of selling food and refreshments and they charge separately for that.

Workshops

Typical audience for a workshop is around 80-100 people. The event venue for workshops can either be a small hotel or a large hall. Ensure there is enough space for people to work, especially if the workshop would require people to break into smaller sub-groups.

Again, this can go higher for multi-day and overnight workshops that involve accommodation. Consider all of these factors when budgeting for a workshop venue. Budgeting around 20-30% of your total Event budget for the venue works best.

Workshop venues require adequate furniture for participants as well as enough technology like projectors and a good sound system that can allow you to screen videos or display powerpoint presentations.

Conferences

For a conference, hotels or large convention centres make for ideal venues. Event Venue cost should not exceed 35-40% of your entire conference budget. Travel, accommodation and meals are key, especially if you are planning a big conference and inviting people from all over the country. Large venues typically provide packages and charge per plate when there is a large number of Guests. For example: If you are organizing a single conference session lasting for two hours  followed by dinner for 1000+ people, a five-star hotel can charge anywhere between Rs. 2500 – 3500 per plate with Rs. 1000-1500 for drinks. There will be no additional charges for the venue. For smaller conferences with 100 to 200 guests, per plate and drinks may cost more with additional charges for the venue. For accommodation too, volume discounts apply and you can easily get 25-30% discounts off the standard room rates, if you negotiate.

Ensure that your Event venue has adequate hardware and stationery like computers, phones, printers, copiers and paper. Arrange for them in advance so that you don’t go running around looking for these things on Event day.

Another aspect to consider is other Events happening at the venue on the same day as yours. For large conferences, this won’t be a problem but for smaller ones, a party or wedding reception at the same venue can be noisy and disrupt your Event.

Concerts

Good acoustics are an absolute must-have at concert venues. In India, concert venues are usually outdoor and large venues like Palace Grounds in Bangalore that can seat around 25,000 to 30,000 people or DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai with a seating capacity of 55,000 people and a full-fledged concert level music system. Smaller venues like Alliance Francaise, Ranga Shankara, Chowdiah or Jyothi Niwas College in Bangalore or Shilpakala Vedika in Hyderabad can accommodate from 250 to 2500 people.

Actual event venue cost comprises only a small percentage of the total Event cost for a big Event with logistics, security and food being the major cost components. Cost for large venues like Palace Grounds is around Rs. 5 lakh a day while smaller venues such as Alliance Francaise or Jyothi Niwas College in Bangalore cost around Rs. 1.2 to 1.5 lakh a day. For smaller venues, venue cost usually is the major chunk of the total Event cost.

Your choice of venue also depends to a certain extent on the artist. For someone like AR Rehman or international heavyweight like Guns N Roses, budget up to 10 days before the Event day to erect the stage, arrange the lights, decorate the venue, set up screens and make other high-quality music arrangements. A smaller concert with a lesser known artist will take at the most 5 days ahead of the Event day to make stage arrangements.

Finally, for all Events, it is worthwhile talking to other Event Organizers regarding their experiences with the venues you have shortlisted. Remember: Picking the right venue takes time. It always helps to have a checklist of questions before you speak to venue managers or visit venues. Doing careful research, knowing your appetite for upfront investment and an understanding of what you want in your Event location will go a long way in helping you pick the right venue!

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