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Choosing an awards venue

Choosing an awards venue


Crikey, so you’ve been left with the bulk of the work when it comes to arranging that posh awards do. The venue has to be perfect, the food has to be perfect, the entertainment has to be perfect (you get my drift). Suddenly arranging a royal wedding seems like childs play compared to the mammoth task ahead of you… where do you even start?


Eamonn Cole, Director of East London’s CEME Conference Centre, shares his top tips for arranging a spectacular awards event, that will ensure everyone has a great night, winners and losers alike.


“First and foremost the most important (and most expensive) decision you have to make is the venue.  All your other decisions lead on from this big one, so you have to be confident in your choice. The top three things I would look out for in a venue include the helpfulness and knowledge of the events team, the suitability of the event space you are being offered and of course your budget. Next comes aspects such as location, transport links, venue facilities and accreditations.”


So lets look at why Eamonn’s top three are so important:



Awards venue events team

For big events the attitude and expertise on the venue’s in-house event’s team is paramount. Eamonn continued, “They are your right hand man for ensuring your awards ceremony goes without a hitch. They have to be able to take forward your vision for the event, advise you on the best choices for your event and have to be experienced enough to deal with even the most unlikely of situations.


“A great event’s team works hard to take the pressure off you. They should be as invested in making your event a success as you are.”


So, look out for things such as attitude and helpfulness when you make that initial enquiry. Ask about previous events and find out how much experience your venue has in holding awards ceremonies. How flexible are they in accommodating your needs? Do you feel like you are being listened too? Do you think communication will be honest and straightforward? Ask yourself if you feel confident that this is a team who can deliver for you? If you do, then that’s a big tick in the box for hiring that venue.



Suitability of the events space


Whether you are hosting an awards dinner for 50 or 500, you need to ensure your venue is fit for purpose.  “Have a good think about the type of people coming to the award ceremony. It may be a real mix of genders, ethnicities, ages and abilities/disabilities, or you may have a more distinct category of guest.”


For instance, if it’s an awards do in a sector with a primarily male audience, choosing the venue with only two male toilets may not be the greatest choice. Likewise if you have a number of mobility impaired guests, then that rambling Tudor country house with uneven floors and lots of stone steps is a no go.


“If anything the more general the mix of guests, the harder you have to work on choosing the right venue, as it has to cover all the bases when it comes to the practical aspects of facilities and accessibility.” Cautioned Eamonn.


“You also have to know that your venue has the space for you to comfortably fit everyone in and for people to freely move around. If you are having entertainment, their technical requirements (power, sound, lighting) also need to be taken into account, as does the location of dance floors and bars. Cramming people in at tables will have a negative impact on the quality of the event. The sprawling bar queue that snakes its way around tables will cause frustration too.”


“Modern event venues will be able to offer you a range of event spaces depending on your numbers. For instance, at CEME Conference Centre, smaller awards dinners can fit comfortably on our Pod Deck, a floating platform overlooking the conference centre, whereby large awards ceremonies are usually held in our main conference and exhibition area, giving plenty of space for that all important dance floor and evening entertainment.”


The best venues will have floor plans in place for awards events and will be able to work with you to make sure you have everything in place that you need. When you make your enquiries, make sure you have a good idea of how many guests you expect, the type of entertainment you’ll require and the needs of your guests regard to facilities and accessibility.  It will help make deciding on the suitability of your venue much more cut and dry from the off.



Your budget


You could find the most amazing venue in the world, but if it’s 10x your budget, then you will need to have a major re-think. Realistically if your ticket prices are too high, no one will want to pay to come to your event, even if they are a finalist.


“Knowing what your budget is per head is vital. Don’t forget you may have to factor in additional costs like free tickets for the press / dignitaries / staff etc. There will be a big difference in price between a three-course Champaign dinner and an all inclusive bar, compared to a standard three course meal and a cash bar so make sure you are being quoted like-for-like at each venue.  Entertainment can be a phenomenal cost too, especially if you are going for a celebrity compare, so don’t forget to factor in a healthy budget.“


Venues such as CEME can deal with catering, refreshments and security giving you a package price per head (and peace of mind) for the majority of your requirements. This can make a big difference to your stress levels too, as packages come under the domain of your venue’s in-house events team. They will handle most of the chasing for you, leaving you free to arrange the more fun aspects such as the entertainment.


And if that price per head is a little over budget, depending on the type of awards, you may be able to wangle a discount. CEME Conference Centre offers discounted rates for charities, local authorities and third sector bodies. If you are not one of the above, you can still sign up to receive regular special offers by adding your email address below.



So, if you have been out in charge of choosing a venue for an awards event, make sure you keep Eamonn’s top three tips in mind. “Getting the right team behind you at the right venue for your budget, will significantly lower your stress levels!” Eamonn quipped, “You will invest a lot of blood sweat and tears into making your awards ceremony a success, choose a venue who will do the same back for you.”


You can find out more about what Eamonn and the CEME Conference Centre events team can do for your awards ceremony by getting in touch on +44 (0) 20 8596 5151 emailing events@ceme.co.uk or contacting us online.

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