How to get the most out of your venue space
Here in the UK, our events industry is worth £42.3 billion, with over 1.3 million business events held each year (Eventbrite). Events can range vastly in size, from a business lunch for ten people to a music festival attended by thousands, so there is demand for venues of all shapes and sizes.
If you are the owner of a venue, being able to adapt your space to accommodate larger events than you typically host can be a great way of boosting your revenue. The trouble is, if you don't have a way to expand your floorspace, it can be a real challenge to punch above your weight.
With this in mind, we've put together ten tips for making the most of a smaller venue space that will help you to maximise what you already have. Read on to find out more.
Choose furniture and a layout that works best for your space
When you're working within the limitations of a small venue space, it's important to pick the furniture that works best for what you're trying to achieve. If your room is going to be used for a variety of different functions, you will need furniture that can be added, taken away, or rearranged to suit. On the other hand, if your room has one dedicated purpose, you can put more thought into picking permanent furniture that really maximises the size and shape of the room.
Whatever your purpose, there are space-saving furniture options available to you. For example, if you plan to host exhibitions, a set of collapsible tables and stackable chairs can be set-up and rearranged to your client's wishes, while not taking up a huge amount of storage. On the other hand, if you have a room that will be dedicated to business meetings, a board room table allows for a good number of attendees as well as offering them space for taking notes and enjoying lunch.
When you're choosing your furniture, you need to keep in mind how it will be arranged. You need to choose a layout that maximises what space you have available. However, you need to be wary that trying to fit more people in could detract from the event experience. For instance, sitting more attendees around all sides of a table will boost capacity, but it won't work if there will be talks throughout the day and some attendees will have to regularly turn around. Instead, you may need to consider a horseshoe or classroom style layout to strike the right balance.
Think outside the box to maximise space and versatility
We've already mentioned how non-permanent furniture can be used to increase versatility, but there are even more innovative solutions available to maximise space for those willing to think outside the box. Looking beyond the standard table and chair options, it's possible to adapt your venue in ways that you might not have imagined.
For example, if you are looking to attract a mixture of business and leisure clients you may find yourself wondering how you can cater to both. One solution would be to keep your space as basic as possible, then invest in removable options like a portable lectern or a digital projector and screen so that you can quickly adapt the room to the client's purposes.
Here at Penny Hydraulics, we have first hand experience of creating innovative venue solutions. We worked with London workspace Second Home to create a multi-purpose room that featured a 1.5 tonne steel meeting table that could be raised to the ceiling as and when it was needed. Using several of our hydraulic winch systems, we created a user-friendly system that allowed the venue to be adapted for a variety of purposes (read more about this project here). This is a great example of how thinking outside the box can make the most of your venue.
Free up room in your main venue by using other areas
Do you have other areas in your venue outside of your main space? If they aren't booked at the same time, you may want to consider making use of them to free up floorspace.
There are often activities, such as registration or serving food and refreshments, that can take up valuable room, as well as creating queues or a bottleneck of attendees. By relocating these to a secondary area, you can maximise the space in your venue to attract clients who need it, as well as delivering a better experience for their attendees.
However, if you're thinking about re-purposing smaller rooms that you also rent out, you should consider whether the income from having a slightly smaller main booking plus a few others is worth more than one booking that takes up all your space. Sometimes, simply moving registration to the areas that you don't hire out, like a corridor or a reception area is enough to improve space issues at a large event, allowing you to have the best of both worlds.
Use outdoor areas where possible
As well as using secondary spaces, you may also want to consider how you can utilise any outdoor space you have around your venue. Although not every location will have access to this, by taking things outside, you can really expand your horizons and attract clients who require much more space than you're usually able to offer.
This can be particularly useful during the spring and summer months, when the weather will be more favourable. Some types of events, such as festivals, weddings, and car boot sales, can easily be adapted to take place outdoors, though you may wish to look into setting up a marquee or two to guard against any adverse weather.
You could even begin offering hybrid events that are hosted both indoors and outdoors to really maximise your floorspace, though this will require good access to ensure attendees can pass in and out without any problems.
Make the most of your client storage space
If you are planning on hosting larger events than usual, it can be helpful to have more storage space available in your venue to manage increased demand from your clients. Not only will you probably need extra room to securely store a greater number of your own tables, chairs, and other equipment, but clients who put on bigger events will typically require more space. By keeping their belongings off the venue floor, you will allow for greater freedom of movement and more space around stalls or exhibits.
There are a few things you can look at doing to add more storage to your venue. First of all, it's worth looking into changes you can make to your current set-up to see if there is a way to use space more efficiently. For example, if you find yourself running out of space regularly, adding mobile shelving will make the most of vertical storage, as well as providing an option that can be rearranged to suit your needs as and when required.
There are also more permanent solutions that you should consider, too. If a storage area is regularly filled but has plenty of vertical space, you could add a mezzanine floor to give you a whole extra level to work with. You can then ensure safe and efficient loading and unloading between the floors by installing a mezzanine floor lift, which will also allow you to transfer goods with a heavier load. Here at Penny Hydraulics, our lifts can handle up to 1000kg in weight.
Also, if you have a cellar area below your venue that you don't use to its full potential, it's worth considering an investment in a "cellar lift. By installing one of these, you can enhance the accessibility of below-ground spaces by allowing easy lifting and lowering of loads like crates, barrels, pallets.
For more advice about the use of lifting equipment, you should take a look at our guide to mechanical handling at events, which has a lot of information about how machinery can make setting up, running, and clearing up and event safer and more efficient.
Consider outsourcing your catering
Should you find that you simply don't have the room to prepare and serve food and drink at your venue without encroaching on the overall floorspace, you may want to consider outsourcing this to another company. Not every venue has the facilities to offer their own refreshments, so partnering with another firm to do so can make a lot of sense.
Look for a reputable company who can offer food delivery, serving, and clean-up, and you will be able to leave the catering completely to them. While this option will probably cost more than preparing refreshments in-house, this will be offset by the potential to book larger events and by the fact you don't need to employ your own serving staff. Plus, without the catering responsibility, you can focus on delivering the best experience for your clients to hopefully earn repeat custom.
Look at using partition walls to maximise revenue
One way that you can really get the most out of your venue is by using a partition wall system, so that you can adapt it to suit different occasions. Being able to divide your room into more than one space can be a great way to run more than one event simultaneously. This allows you to host more than one booking at the same time to increase revenue when you don't have a large event planned.
If you plan on adapting your room with partition walls, you will need to make sure that they offer enough privacy for each event, as well as ensuring there is no noise disruption from either side, so that your clients are satisfied. Getting a partition that fits your space exactly and offers an adequate acoustic rating to isolate higher levels of noise should be top priorities when looking into this option.
If your venue often needs a quick turnaround to host one event after another, a mechanical partition is well-worth considering as it can speed up the process. Here at Penny Hydraulics, we have designed and manufactured specialised hydraulic winches for function room partitions. Our equipment has been installed in many venues to allow the convenient raising and lowering of partition walls, offering more flexibility to the business.
Explore the potential of a smaller stage
If you have limited space, you may have no choice but to work with a small stage area. However, it's worth knowing that there are some ways that you can work with a more compact stage area so that it is still able to deliver a big impact.
Consider positioning the stage against a wall or in the corner of the room, as this can make it seem larger to the audience. If you have a high ceiling, then you should look to increase the height of the stage so that it doesn't look lost, while a low ceiling requires less height but maximised width. You can increase a stage's impact by repeating decorative elements across the rest of the room.
When it comes to lights and sound, there are a few tricks you can use to get the best effect. Firstly, opt for lightweight LED lights over heavy elements on a truss, as they can be attached to walls and ceilings and will take up less space. If you can, raise the stage enough so that you can place loudspeakers in the gap below, allowing you to save valuable floorspace. Failing this, it might be worth going for a smaller sound system that can be set up at the edge of the stage or on the floor.
Even if you only have a small space, it's worth considering how you can adapt the stage to your client's needs. By offering a non-permanent, modular option, you can reduce or increase the size of the stage area as required for more or less overall floor space. You can even set up with no stage at all if it isn't needed to really maximise what room is available.
Don't oversell your venue's floorspace
Last but not least, you should really try to avoid overselling the floorspace of your venue. There's no point in booking a major conference if the lack of space is going to cause the room to become gridlocked — you'll only end up sullying your venue's reputation, not to mention getting on the wrong side of health and safety regulations.
Instead, provide potential clients with an accurate square footage of your venue and a list of the services you can offer. They should know whether or not your space will be suitable, but be sure to invite them along for a tour if they aren't. Finally, be sure to read the Health and Safety Executive's guidance on what an organiser's venue duties are, as it will give you a very good idea of what information they will be looking for.
Keep these points in mind for your own business and you can ensure you're getting the most out of your venue space. Should you have any questions about what we've covered or need to know more about choosing the right machinery for your venue, don't hesitate to get in touch with us at Penny Hydraulics.