Read the Full OfficeNinjas Event Planning Series:
Experiential Events | Digital Tool Belt | Venue Checklist | F&B Planning | Photography & Photo Booths | Audio Visual | Event Design | Live Music | Corporate Gift-Giving
It’s Part 3 of our 10-part event planning series, and this installment is all about The Venue. After hosting more than 20 OfficeNinjas events all over the country, we’ve learned that location plays a vital role in setting the right tone. We’re always on the lookout for a fun, offbeat space that will inspire creativity and collaboration among our Ninja attendees.
But what’s even more important than the venue itself is the communication between you and the primary contact at the venue. With so many moving parts (food, furniture rentals, entertainment, audio-visual, lighting, waste management, security, etc.), the two of you must be on the same page.
Otherwise, you might run into unexpected issues that dwindle the guest experience or bring you way over your budget. Plus, sloppy communications could make your venue contact hate you… And you definitely don’t want to burn that bridge.
Looking to open up a dialogue, but not sure where to start? We’ve put together a comprehensive list of every question you need to ask your event venue contact.
The Ultimate Venue Checklist
Even the most lavish events have a bottom line. Before you can do anything else, you need to understand all the costs associated with a venue to determine whether or not its price tag is within your budget. Ask:
1.What’s the cost to rent the venue for my event’s date and time, including setup and breakdown?
2.Is there an option to replace rental fees with a food and beverage minimum?
3.What kinds of deposits are required? Are any deposits refundable?
4.Do you offer a payment plan?
5.Can you outline all additional fees, including those related to service, gratuity, cleaning, delivery, security, and waste management?
6.What’s your policy regarding last-minute changes or cancellations due to weather or other unexpected events?
7.What additional event insurance, if any, does your venue require for private events?
8.What are the parking fees for guests?
9.Do you offer branding capabilities for an additional fee?
Logistics & Production
Next, address the nuts and bolts: details like insurance, permits, and electrical outlet availability. It’s not as fun as menu tasting or picking a color palette, but trust us—you’ll want to nail down these details ASAP. Ask:
10.Who is my main contact, pre-event? Who is my contact the day of the event?
11.Do you have a preferred run of show template you can send me?
12.What time can we begin setting up? By what time does breakdown need to be complete?
13.Do you have an exclusive or preferred vendor list? Have you had issues with any of these vendors?
14.Do you have any experience working with this vendor? (For vendors not on a preferred list.)
15.Is staffing included in the cost? Do you include security, an event supervisor, housekeeping, etc.?
16.Can we ship items to your venue and have them stored prior to the event date?
17.Do you require any permits?
18.Do you require additional production staff?
19.Is there preferred parking for event staff? Is there a fee associated with parking?
20.How late can events run? What time does music need to be turned off?
21.Are there any scheduled renovations or construction?
22.Can I include your logo on our event website and invitation?
23.Can my vendors schedule a pre-event walk-through with you?
24.Do you provide garbage and recycling bins?
25.How many and what types of electrical outlets do we have access to?
26.What’s your lost and found policy?
27.Is Wi-Fi available? Is there an associated cost?
Layout & Design
Event design is one way you can elevate the experience for your guests and set your event apart from others they’ve attended. Make sure you not only understand the limitations of your space, but also its full potential. Ask:
28.Can you provide a floor plan of the space? What’s the typical layout for an event my size?
29.What are the dimensions of each room, including the ceiling height?
30.Are there any event space obstructions, windows, and views?
31.What’s the legal capacity? What’s the maximum capacity for my preferred layout?
32.Is basic furniture (tables and chairs) included in the venue rental? What about linens?
33.Do you have additional furniture (risers/stages, lounge furniture) on-site available to rent?
34.Are there any decoration restrictions or limitations?
35.How do you recommend controlling sound and acoustics in your space?
36.Are the walls sound proof?
37.What branding opportunities are available inside and outside the venue? Do you have any restrictions on signage size and placement?
38.What are your in-house audio and lighting capabilities? Can you send me an A/V menu? Do you provide technicians and support?
39.Is the entrance to the venue exclusive or shared?
40.Is there an included foyer/registration area?
41.Is there a green room?
42.Do you have any restrictions on items like live animals, balloons, confetti, lanterns, or open-flame devices?
43.Can I hang things (signs, decorations) from the ceiling or walls?
Food & Beverage
They may not pay attention to the lighting or take note of the floral arrangements, but your guests will remember the food. Don’t get stuck with ho-hum banquet dishes or overpay for drinks. Ask:
44.Do you offer in-house catering? Can you share catering menus, pricing, photos, and testimonials from previous customers?
45.What’s the food and beverage minimum? What happens if we don’t meet the minimum?
46.Is there an on-site kitchen? How big is the work table space? What equipment (ice maker, industrial refrigerator, heated holding cabinet) does it include?
47.Are there any restrictions on having an open flame in the venue?
48.Do you have a liquor license?
49.Can we bring our own beer, wine, and liquor? If so, is there an additional fee? Is there a corkage fee?
50.Do you have staff members who are authorized to serve alcoholic beverages?
51.Can we bring a food truck onto the premises or inside the facility?
The devil (and the delight!) is in the details. Seemingly small things like parking and street lighting can make or break the experience for your guests. Ask:
52. Can you tell me about the service personnel who will be working the event?
53. Is there proper street lighting in the surrounding area at night? Have you ever experienced any issues related to guests’ safety?
54. Which three nearby hotels would you recommend for overnight guests? Can you share the hotel sales manager’s contact information?
55. Are there any other events scheduled at the venue on the same date? If so, can you tell me about the other group? When does their event begin and end? What’s the purpose of the event? How many parking spaces will they be using?
56. How far is the parking lot from the entrance?
57. Do you offer valet and/or self-parking? How many spaces are available? What are the costs?
58. Where is the closest public parking lot? What are the costs?
59. What’s the proximity and number of restrooms?
60. Are the venue and restrooms ADA accessible?
61. Is there a coat check? What are the fees?
62. What kind of internet capability is available for guests?
This list is time-tested and Ninja-approved. But remember: just like your third-grade teacher always said, there are no stupid questions. If anything related to your event venue is unclear, ask about it!
What type of venues do you use for your events? Are there any other questions you’d add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!