83 Questions To Ask a Conference Venue Before Booking
Choosing the right venue is crucial for event success. Not only does the venue set the tone and influence overall event outcomes, it also directly impacts the attendee experience, which shapes each participant’s perceptions, engagement, and enjoyment. At the same time, selecting the right venue can also encourage fence-sitters to take the plunge and attend your event.
With so much at stake, it’s no surprise that venue selection is a serious challenge for most event organizers and a top priority for attendees. According to Bizzabo’s 2023 The state of in-person conferences report, venue selection is one of the top three major pain points for event organizers, and 64.6% of attendees said conference venues can make or break their experience.
Add it all up, and it’s clear how important it is to select the right venue for optimal event outcomes. So, how exactly do you pick a location that helps you achieve your event goals and deliver unforgettable experiences?
If you’re wondering what questions to ask when booking a venue, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn more about the venue questions you must answer to ensure you pick the best location for your next event.
Location Questions To Ask a Venue
Much like real estate and restaurants, event success often boils down to location, location, location. To make your next event a hit, you need to source an event venue that’s accessible, convenient to hotels and airports, and in a safe, well-maintained location close to amenities, landmarks, and other attractions. Wherever you end up setting up shop, you must ensure your attendees can easily arrive via car, Uber, bus, train, bicycle, subway, or even on foot.
“A seamless guest experience on the day of the event starts with an enjoyable and easy journey to the venue,” said Carter Blatt, chief marketing officer for The Vendry, a marketplace and professional network built for the events industry. “Transportation is a pivotal element of venue selection so that your guests can arrive on time without dealing with delays or unforeseen transit elements.”
As you narrow your event venue choices, you must ask the following questions about location, transportation, accessibility challenges, and more.
Questions To Ask
- Is the venue easily accessible by public transportation and major roads?
- Is there ample parking available for attendees?
- Is the venue located near hotels and accommodation options for out-of-town guests?
- How far is the nearest airport or train station from the venue?
- Are there any popular landmarks or attractions nearby?
- Is the venue located in a safe and well-maintained area?
- Are any traffic patterns or road construction projects affecting accessibility during the event dates?
- Is the venue in a busy or noisy neighborhood that could affect event proceedings?
- Are there any restrictions or regulations in the area that may affect event planning?
Accessibility, Diversity, and Inclusion Questions To Ask a Venue
The most memorable events are designed with accessibility top of mind. Today’s leading event teams strive to create diverse and inclusive experiences catering to the most eclectic interests, preferences, and capabilities. By doing so, they ensure that all attendees from all different walks of life feel welcome — and that there’s something for everyone at the event.
Once you’ve zeroed in on a general physical location, it’s time to start digging deeper and asking venues about their commitments to accessibility, diversity, and inclusion.
Questions To Ask
- Is the venue accessible to individuals with mobility challenges? Are there ramps, elevators, or other accommodations for wheelchair users?
- Are there accessible parking spaces available for attendees with disabilities?
- Does the venue have accessible bathroom facilities?
- Does the venue have gender-neutral or inclusive restroom options?
- Are there hearing loop systems or other assistive listening devices available for attendees with hearing impairments?
- What measures does the venue have to address food allergies and dietary restrictions?
- Are designated quiet spaces or sensory-friendly areas available for attendees needing a break from the main event?
- How does the venue handle accommodations for attendees with visual impairments? Are there Braille signs, large-print materials, or other visual aids available?
- Does the venue have policies to address discrimination, harassment, or microaggressions during events?
- How does the venue handle language access for attendees who are non-native English speakers or individuals who use sign language?
- Is the venue committed to promoting diversity and inclusion internally and externally?
- Are there designated nursing or lactation rooms for attendees who are breastfeeding?
Venue Capacity, Layout, Amenities, and Technology Questions To Ask a Venue
Once you’re happy with the venue’s location and the company’s commitment to accessibility, diversity, and inclusion, it’s time to start asking questions to determine whether you’ll be able to effectively plan and execute your event in a way that ensures smooth operations and attendee satisfaction.
At this point, it’s time to figure out the logistics: Do some digging to find out whether the venue you’re considering can accommodate your event strategy and whether it has the tools, space, and resources you need to execute a successful event.
Questions To Ask
- How many attendees can the venue accommodate comfortably? What is the breakdown of capacity limits in each space?
- Where are the paths of egress? How does traffic typically flow within the space? Into the venue during arrivals? Out of the venue after the conclusion of the event?
- Can the venue accommodate different seating arrangements, such as theater-style, classroom-style, or banquet-style?
- Are there separate spaces for networking, breakout sessions, and exhibitions?
- Is there a separate green room space for talent?
- Is there a separate production office space for our team?
- Can the venue provide a floor plan or layout of the space to help with event planning?
- Is there a stage or raised platform available for speakers or performers?
- Does the venue have audiovisual equipment, and is there technical support for setup and troubleshooting?
- Are there designated areas for exhibitors or sponsors, such as booths or display spaces?
- Can the venue accommodate any unique production or setup requirements for my event?
- Is there a designated space for registration and check-in?
- Does the venue have proper ventilation and climate control systems to comfort attendees?
- Does the venue provide Wi-Fi for attendees, and is it reliable?
- Are there charging stations for electronic devices?
- What other amenities, such as catering, coat-check, or onsite staff, are offered?
Sustainability Questions To Ask a Venue
In an age where attendees are increasingly interested in being a part of safe and sustainable event experiences, event teams need to ensure the venues they select operate with sustainability top of mind.
As you continue your search, it’s essential to ask questions that will help you get a better understanding of each venue’s commitment to a sustainable future and what each facility is doing to reduce energy consumption, minimize single-use plastics, and lower the venue’s overall carbon footprint, among other sustainability concerns.
Questions To Ask
- Do you have a sustainability policy or green initiatives in place?
- What steps does the venue take to reduce its energy consumption and carbon footprint?
- How does the venue handle waste management and recycling during events? Do you donate extra untouched food after the event?
- Does the venue offer sustainable catering options, such as locally sourced or organic food?
- Does the venue have water-saving measures, such as low-flow faucets and toilets?
- What is the venue’s approach to transportation and encouraging eco-friendly commuting?
- Does the venue hold any LEED certifications or other eco-friendly certifications?
- Does the venue use eco-friendly and non-toxic cleaning products?
- How does the venue minimize single-use plastic and other disposable items during events?
- Does the venue support local community initiatives or environmental projects?
- Can you provide information about the venue’s waste diversion rates and sustainability achievements?
- Does the venue have any partnerships with environmentally responsible organizations or vendors?
Want to learn more about building a sustainable event? Check out “The Ultimate Sustainable Event Planning Checklist.”
Cost and Budget Questions To Ask a Venue
You might have found your dream venue. But if it doesn’t fit inside your event budget, what’s the point?
Now, it’s time to make sure the venue you choose is affordable and enables you to pull off a profitable, successful event. For transparency — and accurate budget planning — it’s essential to understand all cost considerations and whether there are any tactics you can use to lower your expenses, such as getting a discount if you pay in a lump sum upfront.
Questions To Ask
- What is the cost of renting the venue for my event date(s)?
- Is there a different cost for a load-in or load-out day versus an event day?
- Are there any additional fees or charges (taxes, gratuities, hidden fees) beyond the venue rental cost?
- What are your labor costs? Is this a union or non-union building? Are we required to use your staff for labor, or can we bring in our own staff/team?
- Is a deposit required to secure the booking, and if so, what is the deposit amount?
- What is the payment schedule for the venue rental and other services?
- Are there any discounts or promotions available for specific dates or package deals?
- Is the venue’s pricing different for peak and off-peak seasons or days of the week?
- Does the venue offer complimentary services or amenities included in the rental cost?
- What are the cancellation and refund policies?
- Can the venue provide references or case studies of past events with similar budgets?
- Are there any opportunities for cost savings through partnerships with the venue’s preferred vendors?
- Can you provide a sample budget breakdown for a similar event held at the venue?
- What is the policy on overtime charges if the event exceeds the agreed-upon time?
Customization, Flexibility, and Cancellation Policy Questions To Ask a Venue
Since no two events are the same — and since you can’t control the future — it’s also important to inquire about how adaptable the venue is and how much you can customize its offerings to meet your needs better and more accurately reflect your event theme.
To understand the venue’s capabilities, policies, and procedures comprehensively, consider adding the following questions to your queue.
Questions To Ask
- Can the venue accommodate special requests or specific event themes?
- Who will be our onsite contact throughout the planning process? On the day of the event?
- Is there room for negotiation or customization of packages?
- What is the venue’s cancellation policy, and are there any penalties involved?
- Are there any restrictions on noise levels or event hours?
- Does the venue have any policies on outside vendors or caterers?
- What are the venue’s policies on decorations and signage? Can signage/decor attach/hang from the ceilings/walls etc?
Venue Permitting and Insurance Questions To Ask a Venue
To help assess each venue’s readiness to host your event in a way that complies with all relevant regulations and ensures a safe and successful overall event experience for attendees, staff, speakers, sponsors, and vendors, you should ask several questions that address critical legal, safety, and logistical considerations.
Questions To Ask
- Do you have all the necessary permits for hosting events?
- Are there any restrictions or limitations associated with the permits?
- What types of insurance coverage does the venue have?
- Is there a certificate of insurance available?
- Is event cancellation insurance available or recommended?
- Do you have security personnel or procedures in place during events?
- Are there any additional insurance requirements for vendors or exhibitors?
- Do you have experience hosting events of similar size and nature?
- Can you provide references from past clients or event planners?
- What’s the process for handling emergencies during events?
Safety and Security Questions To Ask a Venue
For event professionals, security is always a top priority. That being the case, you’ll also want to ask some questions to determine whether a venue can ensure the safety and well-being of all attendees, staff, and participants.
Before signing a contract, ask some questions to determine how capable a venue is at mitigating security risks, responding effectively to emergencies, and otherwise creating a secure environment for everyone at the event.
Questions To Ask
- What safety measures does the venue have in place for emergencies?
- Do you provide onsite security during events?
- Are there accessible exits and emergency evacuation plans?
Bonus: Ask About Past Events, Press, and Reviews
You’ve asked all these questions, and you like what you’ve heard. Even so, your work isn’t done quite yet. Before making a decision, you need to learn more about how real-world companies have experienced the particular venue. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Ask the venue for references from previous clients who hosted similar events.
- Ask to see photos of past events and what vendors worked on them.
- Look for mentions in the press. What brands have activated there before? If you’re considering a hotel or a restaurant, is it critically acclaimed?
- Find out whether your coworkers have looked at the venue before, hosted, or attended an event there. What was their experience like?
- Ask your contact at the venue for a list of vendors they have worked with and contact them as references.
- Look for online reviews and testimonials from other event professionals.
While you’re at it, leverage an online community like The Vendry’s Circles to ask seasoned professionals for their advice. The Vendry’s venue listings and event galleries provide portfolios of event photos from past events, press, vendors who’ve worked with the venue, Google rating, and more so planners can see what the space looks like when activated. To give you a better idea of what a venue listing looks like on The Vendry, check this out.
Free Download: Questions To Ask a Venue Checklist
As a busy event professional, you might not have time to ask several different venues 83 questions, and that’s perfectly fine. To make your venue sourcing job easier, we’ve taken all of the questions in this article and put them in a free, downloadable PDF that you can use to guide your event planning efforts.
Get Started: Pick the Perfect Venue for Your Next Event
As you can see, there’s no shortage of venue questions to ask as you narrow your options. Luckily, plenty of online resources are available to accelerate your research efforts.
For example, The Vendry offers a catalog of event venues from around the globe. Whether planning an event in New York City, San Francisco, Bangkok, or Frankfurt, Germany, The Vendry makes it easy to find a venue that helps you meet your goals.
Ready to take your event venue sourcing journey up a notch? Visit our partner, The Vendry, for event planning inspiration, vendors, venues, and more.