Money makes the world go around, and nowhere is this more relevant than in the events industry where glitz and glamour rule supreme. From showcasing your latest products to impressing with corporate hospitality, splashing the cash is one way you can make sure you get exactly what you want to ensure that your event stands out from the crowd. Hiring event space is one of the most expensive parts of running an event. So, what do you do if the budget has to achieve the impossible?
Choosing the perfect venue is a key decision that can make or break your event. So you might be surprised to hear that, according to a recent survey, 36% of organisers spent no more than £500 on venue hire, while 33% paid nothing at all. How did they do it?
If you’re a business or organisation, it pays to box clever when it comes to venue finding. This is one area where it is definitely possible to source event space for free. Without compromising on your event goals and objectives, the trick is to think creatively and be flexible when it comes to the ‘how’ and ‘where’. If necessary, use a professional venue finder to help you cast the net wide and take advantage of their industry expertise to make the impossible possible and, better still, at no cost to you.
We’ve put together the four most common strategies for sourcing great venue space that will cost you precisely nothing.
- Book a minimum spend venue
Not all event spaces require an upfront payment for private hire – in fact, many venues don’t have any hire fee at all. Some of the finest bars, restaurants, clubs and private hire venues in London and across the UK will be happy to let you have the space for free as long as you guarantee an agreed minimum level of revenue from your event that allows the venue to make a healthy profit. Golden Bee in London’s Shoreditch is a great example of how it works.
As long as your guests know that there is a cash bar and they have to pay for any food, and you can be confident that the agreed minimum spend will be reached or exceeded, this can be a very effective way to secure free space with a zero budget.
- Create strategic partnerships
Use your business contacts to see if anyone you know has suitable event space that you could use on a ‘no strings attached’ basis. Now might also be an excellent time to call in a favour. If this proves unfruitful, think about partnering strategically with another company to host the event. It’s nothing new; charities do this all the time.
The key to finding a complimentary venue provider is to make it worth the effort for them. Come up with a strong proposal that shows how your values align, and how they could benefit from extra exposure to new clients, and they may even help to promote your event among their own audience. If it works, it can be a mutually beneficial arrangement that enhances both your credentials.
- Make contact with co-working spaces
Co-working spaces are a relatively new concept that is becoming increasingly popular all over the country, largely on account of our growing start-up culture. Freelancers and small entrepreneurs are literally flocking to these business venues that provide flexible and low-cost office space while encouraging interaction within a like-minded business community.
Contact co-working spaces near you – here’s a list of the top 93 in London – to find out what’s available and whether they can provide free space for your event. They are likely to be particularly amenable if your audience consists of people who might hire a desk there.
- Look in the local community
Could you visualise your event taking place in a local church hall, a school or sports venue, or a local park? For evens held in a public place, you will need to obtain the correct permission from your local council or relevant authority. They will have rules and regulations around what you can and cannot do in these spaces, including financial penalties for any transgressions, that you need to factor into your event planning.
Community venues and organisations are likely to expect some form of financial support, but this could be taken care of through charity donations from your guests. If you are organising an event for a local cause, venues such as local schools and churches may well accommodate your event free of charge, or ask for a small profit share on spend during the event.
- Use your own venue
Last but by no means least, could you use your own commercial premises? It makes sense to make the most of your existing assets and keep your overheads down. If you have an office, a shop, a workshop or a warehouse, think laterally about what makes a ‘good’ venue and challenge your preconceived ideas.
Why not let people get a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes, connect with your audience to build authenticity and trust? Similar to open house business events, it’s a golden opportunity to showcase your business in front of actual and potential customers.
Alternatively, use your home or that of a team member for smaller gatherings and meetings, discussion groups, cocktail evenings or dinner parties? Opening up your home as a private venue shows you have nothing to hide and, in addition to providing a free venue, is a great way to strengthen business relationships.