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How to Turn Your Empty Space into an Event Venue

Turn-Property-Into-VenueYour perfect event venue awaits … but you might have to use your imagination to see it. Warehouses, restaurants, community centers, hair salons and even old farmhouses and barns can be transformed into beautiful concert halls, theaters, and meeting spaces.

If you own a space like this, you have to pay utilities and other expenses to keep it open. Special events and alternative venues are a good way to boost income during slow times and create a side revenue stream. All it takes is a little elbow grease and imagination.

Before we go any further, I invite you to sign up for the ‘Turn Your Empty Space into an Event Space’ webinar on September 10 at 11:00 am PST. The webinar will teach you how to take advantage of your space by turning it into an event venue. There will be a Q and A, so bring your questions.

Step 1: Pick the Event Type

Consider some of the following types of events as a jumping off point.

Chop, dice, blend. Just as there are tricks to making the perfect bisque, casserole or grilled cheese, there are methods to making your class rewarding for both student and teacher. Have a lesson plan and start small – teach basic dishes with limited ingredients. Read my past post on how to teach cooking classes.

Throw some new stuff out there. Pop-ups allow you to bring in fresh faces. If you have a restaurant, consider a night with a well-known specialty chef or even a secret supper. Transform your restaurant for the day and try something new and exciting. If you have a retail space, a pop-up sale or meet and greet with a designer could be fun. There are all kinds of popups.

Community Meetings
Offer to let community groups host meetings and functions in your establishment. Hold an appreciation event for one or more of these groups.

Wine and cheese. Beer and bacon. Tequila and tacos. Whatever pairing party you choose, it’s a great way to partner and cross-promote with local distilleries, breweries and wineries.

Release Party
Many micro-breweries and wineries do not have commercial kitchens. When it’s time to release their newest creation, they may want to step it up on the food. Host their events in your restaurant and create a special menu to complement their product.

Internal Training
Show newbies the ropes. Hold training sessions on food safety, etiquette, procedure and anything else employees need to know in your space.

Step 2: Take Inventory

Once you have a good idea of what type of event will work, take inventory of what your team and space have to offer. Brainstorm a list of possible partnerships—this is a great way to find talent, resources, or a sponsor. There are loads of opportunities externally and within your team.

If there’s a talented bartender on staff, ask them to teach a mixology class. Partner with a farmer to source local ingredients or have a renowned chef over for a pop-up night. Talent and product is one part of the equation, but you will also want to consider guest accommodations, equipment needs, and a few other logistics.

Take inventory of all equipment needed to pull off your event—tables, chairs, plates, anything else needed to accommodate your guests and the event.

Keep your budget low to ensure your event is economically viable and will allow you to maximize profit.

Step 3: Select a Date

The date and time that you select for your event can really affect the turnout. Check local listings, online ticketing companies, and community calendars for any major events or happenings in your area.

Your draw will be better if you pick the right date. Also, look into construction that may affect traffic, parking and public transportation.

When you avoid planning your event on the same day as something major goings on, holidays, or an events your potential draw will most likely be better. Try to also be aware of construction that may affect traffic, parking, and public transportation needs and limitations.

Much like other businesses, events have a ‘break even point’ that equates to a certain number of guests in attendance. The more guests attending beyond that number, the higher your profit margin will be.

Step 4: Have a Happy Event

A happy team is a productive team that passes their genuine enjoyment on to your guests. This is one of those intangible factors that really make an event special. The energy of a well-prepared and happy team can keep people coming back to just about any event.

Cutting cost where you can, is necessary with any event, but the staff is not the place to do it. The service, not the food and drink are at the core of the event and make it all work.

Thinking of setting up an event and need some help? Get in touch.

Event Tips >