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20 Things Venues Say and What They Really Mean

By Kelli White
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Working with a variety of different venues can be an exciting part of your event planning career but what do venues really mean when they say some of these things?

We know that event planners can drive venues crazy and venues can drive eventprofs equally up the wall. Sometimes it might seem like we speak different languages. Here are a few comments you might hear from your venue and how you can get to the bottom of what they are really trying to tell you!

20 Things Venues Say and What They Really Mean
  1.     Our WiFi is a bit spotty…

... Don’t rely on our WiFi because it will fail. Guaranteed.

Check out the WiFi capability during your site visit. Be sure to ask questions about their capacity and even test the bandwidth. Find alternative options, or perhaps book another venue if it seems like this will pose an issue for your group. Find a venue that understands how important WiFi is to your event and attendees.

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  1.     We have a list of preferred vendors…

… and you may pay a premium to bring in someone else not on our list.

If you have a vendor in mind that you always work with or that you trust and prefer, be sure to ask your venue about any restrictions to bring them in. Some venues require that you use certain vendors such as specific accredited caterers or AV companies. Sometimes they will charge extra for vendors outside of their preferred list or not allow them on site at all.

  1.     We have upcoming construction scheduled, but it won’t impact your event…

...Unless it is delayed of course.  

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If you have ever seen any type of construction or renovations you know that they very rarely finish on time. Be sure to discuss any potential renovations or changes to the venue that might impact on your event. If the timeline seems too tight you may want to explore some other locations to host your event to be on the safe side.

  1.     We are happy to accommodate your requests…

… but we might charge you extra for it.

Be sure to ask about any hidden fees that may be incurred for additional services. On occasion a venue may offer complementary services that come at no charge, but you should be sure to confirm in advance and avoid any hidden surprises in the final bill.

  1.     We need to move your group to another space…

… and it might be less desireable that your original location.

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With large scale events you should not be running into this issue, but on occasion with smaller meetings or events you may be asked to move from one space to another. This might happen because of an error such as a double booking, the venue prioritizing a more lucrative contract over yours or perhaps some type of problem such as improvement works being required. When this arises be sure to ask the venue about your options and why you are being requested to move. Sometimes the new space might be an upgrade, but if you feel like you are getting the short end of the deal ask for this to be reflected on your final bill.

  1.     We offer complimentary services…

… but you might need to ask or negotiate harder before they are offered.

Your venue may offer added benefits such as transportation services, coloured linens, funky furniture, in-house AV and much more. If you don’t ask you never know. Be sure to communicate all of your needs, ideally before contracts are signed, and see if the venue can offer to fulfill any of them for free.  

  1. We offer all the latest and greatest in-house technology…

… but don’t ask me how it works.

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Make sure you do a trial run on any AV equipment you plan on using. Often times there are only certain staff members at a venue who know how the technology works. Make sure these people are available during your event (ideally), or prior to the start so they can show you and your team how to use it.

  1.     We can offer lots of rooms for your breakout sessions…

.... but some of them might be a long walk from your main space.

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A venue may have plenty of space to offer, but it could be spread out throughout the facility. This might mean long walks for your attendees and increased signage to ensure no one gets lost. Sometimes the rooms are even on different levels with limited lift capacity. Ask questions about where your group will be and actually walk the route between rooms prior to signing the contract if you can.

  1.     We can provide transportation...

… but it probably won’t fit the exact needs of your event.

Certain venues may have complimentary transportation, but these services are often very limited. They may only service a specific area, or they may only run during certains times. If you plan to take advantage of this option, be sure to confirm all of the details in advance and read the small print.

  1.  We offer a variety of menu selections…

… and there might be room to negotiate on pricing to meet the needs of your group.

Most venues can find a way to accommodate the needs of your group when it comes to menu selection. Even if the item you would like isn’t on the menu, you should ask about having it as an option. You should also have some room for negotiation in pricing depending on your food and beverage choices. Many menu items can be adjusted to fit within your available budget.  

  1. We have other events taking place on that date…

… and some of them might interfere or overlap with your event space.

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Many venues have the ability to host more than one event at a given time. Because of this, you should check out the other spaces to have an idea of where the guests of other events may overlap with your group. If everyone is gathering in one lobby prior to the event and both bookings begin around the same time, it could cause major confusion.

  1.  Early access is no problem…

… but if you haven’t specifically requested it before contracting we will of course charge you $250 per hour.

Make sure you ask about everything you might need before you sign your contract. Even something such as early access, that would seem like it should be complimentary and expected, can bring a hefty fee if it hasn't been discussed in advance.  

  1.  We accept credit and debit cards…

… but we will charge you a service fee for processing, so you might want to pay another way.

You may want to pay by card, but some venues will charge you a service fee to use a card for payment. Ask about this ahead of time and if so, you may want to considering cutting a check or making a bank transfer.  

  1.  We require a specific dress code…

… so be sure to ask about this and inform your guests, otherwise they could be turned away at the door.

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While most venues will let you decide the dress code for your event, some exclusive and prestigious establishments like private member clubs, country clubs, golf clubs or higher-end venues may have a dress code policy that you should be aware of. Inform your guests well in advance in order to give them time to prepare and to ensure that no one is embarrassed by wearing the wrong attire.  

  1.  We thought this room layout would be a better fit for your group…

… it was easier and quicker for us to turn the room around in this way so we ignored your set up instructions.

Most venues will have knowledgeable staff members to advise you regarding the logistics, set up and layout for every room that can be very beneficial. However, if you have specified and agreed instructions in advance and your requests have been ignored then be sure to speak your mind about your preferences. Sometimes busy venue staff might do things to make their job easier but don't be afraid to push back and ensure that they organize the room in the fashion that works best for you.

  1.  I will be your main contact at the venue…

… but I may not be available on event day when you need me most.

Venues can have a variety of staff members, some that work in the sales office and others that are actually present for your event. Just because you work with someone early on in your planning process, doesn't meant that they will be available during your event. Obtain clarification on this prior to event day and determine who and how you should contact if you need something during your event.

  1. We no longer offer that…

… we changed our mind about that so unless it is written in your contract the answer is “no”.

Venues have the ability to change their policies or offerings at any time. As we tend to plan events many months in advance, changes can happen between the time you book and the date of your event. Be sure to get all of the important details written down and review all of your needs in the weeks leading up to the big day. Even if a venue makes changes to their policies, if you have it in writing you can be sure they will honor your request.

  1. We have a backup option for any inclement weather…

… but it doesn’t offer the same “wow” factor and may not work for your specific event.

Most venues with outdoor space will also offer a backup option for rain or inclement weather. Be sure to ask about what this will look like in order to know if it will fit with your event. Ask if they have photos of what the setup looks like or explore the indoor room options during your site visit.

  1. We will have everything ready and set up…

… but you may need to arrive early and remind the staff.

Even though you take the time to plan your needs and timings on your BEO, the staff setting up your event may not always have things set exactly the way you’d like. Set time aside to arrive early and review everything with the venue staff, including going through all timings, special instructions, final numbers, the menu and any small but important details you don’t want to be overlooked. This will help you to feel prepared and avoid feeling rushed while your guests are arriving.

  1.  We look forward to hosting you for future events…

… we might give you a deal if you book another event soon.

If your event goes well and you build a good relationship with your venue, they will most certainly be happy to host you again in the future. Use the time soon after your event to negotiate any deals for future events. Many venues will honor the current rates if you book early.

In Conclusion

Building quality relationships with venues and vendors is an important part of growing your business and career. Finding a way to read between the lines and plan ahead for what you can expect to hear from your venues will help to keep your events running smoothly. Lookout for the statements above at your next event, because now you will be prepared to interpret what they are really trying to say and ask the right questions!

 

about the author

Kelli White
Kelli White has 10 years experience in event management, creative marketing, volunteer coordination and non-profit fundraising. You can follow her at @kellimwhite.
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