Sasha Vasilyuk is the co-founder of Sandbox Suites, the San Francisco Bay Area’s premier shared office and meeting space for independent professionals, startups and entrepreneurs. Sasha organizes weekly social and workshop events, sponsors business Meetups and works with event planners to help run their meetings and events at Sandbox Suites.
Whether you’re organizing a large conference, a small business workshop or a fun social function, the venue and how familiar you are with its setup and staff will be an important component in making your event a success. These 10 tips will help you ward off any surprises when it comes to your event venue.
1. See the venue before scheduling your event. This is your chance to get the lay of the land, see how easy it would be for your guests to park and meet the venue managers you’ll be working with during the event.
2. Have a checklist of questions to ask the venue, including public transportation access, parking, Internet access, refrigerators or storage space, projector (with a variety of computer adaptors) and other AV equipment, early delivery scheduling, music, catering recommendations and cleanup rules.
3. Ask what supplies the venue can provide so you’re not being wasteful. For example, don’t bring a ton of bottled water if the venue has a perfectly good water cooler and pitchers. Wine and beer openers are often forgotten items.
4. Do you know your venue’s Twitter name? The venue can actually help you publicize your event to their own network if they keep a public event calendar or social network profiles.
5. Some guests inevitably arrive earlier than the event’s official start time. Be prepared for that and never, ever arrive later than your guests! While you’re waiting for them to arrive, take some time to test out the AV equipment as it’s the one thing that’s always prone to funkiness.
6. Set up a check-in table or greeter. Even for the most informal events, people like to feel welcomed, not just wander inside feeling lost. It’s also your chance to keep attendance, introduce yourself, let them know what to expect, give them some information and find out more about your attendees.
7. Be prepared to handle walk-ins. If you’re accepting door payments, you can handle it with a cash box (with some bills for change) or a mobile credit card processing device by Square. If it’s a business event, don’t be surprised if guests ask for a receipt.
8. Bring some signage that directs guests to where you want them to go. Most people don’t orient well in new surroundings, so either be prepared to repeatedly answer “Where is the bathroom?” or just bring some clear signs.
9. If you have staff helping you, spread them throughout the venue and give them clear tags so guests can identify them for any questions or concerns. Have someone watching key areas including the check-in table, the food area, the main event seating and the AV controls or stage.
10. Event organizers never want to run out of food, so the tendency is to bring too much. Be prepared to take care of the leftovers as the venue is unlikely to want to keep them. Unless it’s a bottle of really expensive champagne, of course…
Extra Credit: if you’re using a Twitter hashtag for your event, don’t just tell your guests. Instead, write it where everyone can see.