The Best Tips for Managing Your Venue, According to These Event Pros
Opening and managing an event venue is a dream come true for creatives, property owners and families alike, and it's all fun and games until you're dealing with pricing structures, schedules and a full inbox. The logistics...

Opening and managing an event venue is a dream come true for creatives, property owners and families alike, and it's all fun and games until you're dealing with pricing structures, schedules and a full inbox. The logistics that go into creating a successful, seamless venue experience – for vendors and clients – can be daunting and you may be feeling more overwhelmed than when you were building the blueprints for your space. We caught up with some of the event industry's most seasoned planners and designers to get their top tips on running a venue that everyone from companies to couples to vendors will not only love hosting their event at, but will also refer you to everyone they know. 

Reporter: Heather Ash 

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Cultivate Your Creative Community

Photo by Jenny Fu
"Building a community of collaborative vendors is the best way to create magical events! Working with great vendors helps your venue shine, and having a great and easy process to work with vendors helps them do their job more efficiently. When a venue welcomes and promotes talented, hardworking vendors, it benefits them the most. Vendor relationships are the life blood of a venue, and the more genuine they are the better. Gone are the days of a pay-to-play vendor list by the venue, and here are the days of venues suggesting vendors who are easy to work with, respectful of the space(s), and staff and vendors who bring a vision that enhances the venue and the clients' experience." - Jove Meyer
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Hone Your Communication Skills

"Communication is key in working with a venue, especially in the start of a relationship or during a more complex production. The venue holds the power of the space and is the central point vendors will rely on to be able to do their job correctly and respectfully. If a venue is not great at communicating over email, the phone, or in-person, it makes everyone's job harder. If a venue is not friendly to its vendors, they will not be friendly in the words they share about the venue – and in our industry, what people say about your business matters, and when vendors find out you're hard to work with or unfriendly, they will suggest another venue pretty quickly!" - Jove Meyer
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Don't Be Afraid to Put Pricing Out There

Photo by Amber Gress
"It is imperative that venues share pricing openly and honestly based on the scope of work the client is looking for. Should that scope change, of course pricing can change, but no one wants to feel like they get one price and someone else gets a different price for the exact same thing. Clients and vendors are looking to get a sense of the price range based on season, time and needs." - Jove Meyer
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Run Your Venue, and Only Your Venue

"Great venues share their floor plans and photos online, they share FAQ's that are helpful to clients and vendors, they share all info that could be useful in the planning of an event. Great venues share a timeline of what you can expect from them every step of the way and what you cannot expect from them / what you have to hire out for. I do believe great venues stay in their lane and focus on running a fabulous space and not trying to be the planner, the florist, the caterer, the entertainment – they support local vendors and focus on their business as the venue and keeping it immaculately cared for." - Jove Meyer
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Clear, Upbeat, Speedy Communication

Photo by Cándida Wohlgemuth for The Venue Report
"Clients, planners and vendors want someone who knows what they are talking about, but also someone that had a sense of urgency, wants to or will try to get back to you quickly and is (maybe most importantly), friendly! Working in events is stressful so working with venue reps and managers that are fun always makes the job more seamless and enjoyable. Also, know you you are talking to. If a new planner reaches out to you for information, google them or check out their website before you reply back – there's nothing worse than sending a venue a million dollar client and getting a form email back. Make the email personal, and read the actual email for the inquiry. Many times venues write back to me as if I am the bride or groom, when my email says that I am a wedding planner. You never know who you could be talking to via an e-mail or cold call, so treat each inquiry as if it is viable, until you know it is not." - Jesse Tombs, Managing Parter, Alison Events Planning + Design
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Show the Venue Furnished and Unfurnished

"Always have great photos of the space both furnished and not furnished, also have good floor plans and a video of the space, which can be super useful for planners or clients that can't visit the space in person before they book the venue! Have floor plans with furniture in them, to show how you've used the space before, but also offer blank layouts so clients can dream up their own vision for their event." - Jesse Tombs, Managing Parter, Alison Events Planning + Design
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Offer Price Ranges & Be Flexible

Photo by The Venue Report
"Always have your standard pricing and availability ready, but also be willing to be flexible. Know what you can negotiate on and have some wiggle room. I even suggest some venues price themselves a bit higher, so they have room to negotiate down, if you can not negotiate, you are setting yourself up for a difficult time if the client wants to negotiate on pricing. Also if you can not afford to negotiate on pricing, be flexible in other areas, let them come in early the day before, or allow them to stay a bit later for breakdown. Showing flexibility is a nice way of gaining the client and the planners trust." - Jesse Tombs, Managing Parter, Alison Events Planning + Design
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Know When to Have an Exclusive Vendor List

"Big time vendors like caterers are okay to have on an exclusive list, but it's important to have caterers in lots of different styles and price points. For floral design, rentals and things like photography, it's alright to have a preferred list, but you should never require someone works with a vendor off that list." - Jesse Tombs, Managing Parter, Alison Events Planning + Design
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Guidelines (Ahead of Time) Are Good

"A thing that some venues do that I love is send a timeline and a list of what they need - for example, after the signed agreement they need the deposit, then a site visit schedule, then floor plans then the second deposit and then vendor COI's and vendor agreements sign etc. If you list this all clearly out in your agreement with due dates, or even just in an email, you will see that people will follow these guidelines. If you are not clear up front when and how you need things, it is more difficult to get things when you need them. Asking for a vendor COI a week before the event is poor planning on the venues part, they should send a reminder email 30 days prior to the event to any vendor not in compliance with their rules and regulations." - Jesse Tombs, Managing Parter, Alison Events Planning + Design
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Offer Floor Plan Examples

Photo by Jacob Yackley
"Offer a few floor plan examples of how previous clients have arranged the space in a multitude of ways. Pictures or sketches of different layouts and orientations are great. While a couple may not want to use the same layout, it will give them an idea of how many different ways a space can be used and calm any logistical concerns for vendors like AV, catering and tenting." - Mavinhouse Events
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Over Communicate About Pricing

Photo by The Venue Report
"Consistently, couples overlook logistical details at their initial venue tours because they (rightfully so!) don’t know the right questions to ask. If they haven’t yet hired a planner to walk them through how their vision would translate in a particular space, they are really relying on the venue manager to help them visualize how not just A wedding, but THEIR wedding could look. Having conversations that touch on some specific ideas they have, the feasibility and the pricing associated with those will help couples know if the wedding they want is possible at your venue. Venues should be up front regarding design upgrades and the realistic costs associated with them. Most couples don’t understand the difference between a basic rental and an upgrade so they could be thinking their vision fits within what is included in the price, but it may not be. The venue is one of the biggest pieces of a wedding budget and the cost dictates all of the other decisions to follow. Being upfront always sets the whole team up for success!" - Mavinhouse Events
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Provide the Right Amount of Vendor Options

Photo by Jacob Yackley
"Everyone loves having options, but too many options is simply overwhelming. When a venue has every single vendor option under the sun available as an approved list it exhausts a couple before they’ve even begun. Having a select amount of vendors, think 3-5 per type of vendor, is perfect. By having a smaller list of approved vendors for the space, you’ll have a better understanding of each vendor’s style and pricing. This will allow you to make more meaningful recommendations to your couples while also allowing your approved vendors to be more familiar and comfortable with your space." - Mavinhouse Events
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Ask Vendors to Attend the Site Visit

Photo by Lindsay Vann
"At the end of the day, every vendor is trying to execute the same thing: a seamless, memorable wedding for the couple. Having a planner is a great asset because all of the communication will come from one person and vendors know exactly who they can ask questions to. If a couple doesn’t have a planner, be up front with them about the rules of the space and when their vendors can be on site. Try to coordinate the couple’s site visit for a day that the caterer and florist can join so you can all be on the same page." - Mavinhouse Events
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Be Upfront About Timing Expectations

Photo by The Venue Report
"If your venue hosts multiple weddings in a given weekend, be clear about loading and break down times for couples. Helping them understand the true picture of how much time it will take for their vendors to set up and break down will eliminate surprises the week of the event. The most labor-intensive process should happen with plenty of buffer time." - Mavinhouse Events
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Be Clear About What Is (or Isn’t) Included

Photo by Lindsay Vann
"If your venue only charges a site fee, be sure couples know that they will need to build the infrastructure from scratch and what they can anticipate spending based on your experience. Again, offer to connect them with the right rental companies who can make their vision come to life and who have worked there before. If you manage a historical estate, you’ll likely have a local noise ordinance that must be adhered to. Make sure couples and their vendor team knows this from the start, and remind them throughout! Help them find an alternate spot for an after-party if need be." - Mavinhouse Events
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Set Up Multiple Site Visits

Photo by Lindsay Vann
"Venue owners should encourage their couples to do multiple site visits, if they have the luxury of being local. Couples should try to visit on the same day of the week they would be getting married and (ideally) in that season. A slow Tuesday morning will look different than a Saturday afternoon or night. That way, they can see the venue in the natural light and what the landscaping looks like. Also, they’ll experience what the town and larger environment is like. Is parking an issue? Are local restaurants or hotels open? What is the weather like in the afternoon or evening? Are bugs a problem?" - Mavinhouse Events
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Set Up Multiple Site Visits [Cont.]

Photo by Lindsay Vann
"An initial site visit with a dedicated planner should take place immediately upon booking the venue. This will help the entire planning process by being able to envision the larger design, the flow of the event and the placement of your reception tent. After that visit, schedule a second site visit mid-way through your planning (about 6 months out) that includes the florist and caterer. This will be a good time for everyone to visualize how your current plans will be executed on the day of your event, and assess if they need to make any adjustments to their current plans. Finally, the last site visit should be 4 - 6 weeks prior to the wedding to finalize all those last minute details with a clear sense of how many guests will be joining you." - Mavinhouse Events

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