ne of my favorite movie line is from Angel Heart. At the moment Johnny Favorite (Mickey Rourke) realizes his true identity and his eternal fate, Robert DeNiro as Louis Cyphre (Lucifer, get it?), delivers admonishes, "Alas! How terrible is wisdom when it brings no profit to the wise." Too heady for events perhaps, but this line comes to mind when we see a someone choose their venue hastily only to find out what they've gotten into later.
[Note: this article is adapted from one I posted on Clementine's site.]
I can have this discussion about any of the components that go into an event, but let's start with something no one considers, ice. I say that when the ice runs out, the party's over. The fact is that nobody likes warm drinks. A 150-guest event may require 250 pounds of ice, which is what we happen to have onsite at Ruby. Purchasing 250 lbs of ice, if that's what you truly need, and hauling it to Ruby may cost over $500. Of course, you'd have to realize you needed it in the first place. And you'd have to work out the logistics with a vendor in the ice hauling business. This is no big deal if ice was on your radar all along. But it never is and I can't recall ever being asked about it. Ice isn't even on my mind usually.
Venues constantly are asked the question "what's included?". What we don't get asked is what we don't offer that your event needs. Venues are all to happy to to address the question of where the bodies are buried.
And ice is just a drop in the bucket. The biggest culprits are sound systems, lighting, video projection and bar packages. There hasn't been an event with attending that doesn't need music or good lighting or benefit from BYOB. Like warm alcohol, quiet, poorly-lit spaces are party enders. And I can continue - next there's liability insurance, parking, security, venue manager - even taxes, gratuities and card fees - all of which get little attention from clients and willing venues. Selecting a venue becomes a matter of trust.
These are all things we include at Ruby, we don't have any add-ons of any kind. If all events need the same darned something, we think it should be provided and include the cost in the rental fee.
The painful outcome of not considering one of these nuggets is obviously the cost. A few of these together could even exceed the cost of the venue itself. The other costs are hassle of finding, contracting, and coordinating with these surprise vendors. Sometimes we hear our venues rental fee compared to another venue, which invariably is less if it's going to be brought up. Of course, that's an opportunity for us to help with some quick back-of-the-envelope accounting.
And I didn't even discuss (apart from BYOB) the financial merits of selecting your own professional vendors. But that's the stuff of another article.