I’ve only done the grand venue safari once, but I learned a lot. Since your venue dictates your budget and your costs, we wanted something big enough for all the hobbies and attendees, with parking and nice bathrooms – that didn’t cost the earth. The ideal would be that we could sell some basic food things and drinks because that’s how a small con makes money if you want to keep your stall fees low. How hard could it be with Google by your side?
Wedding venues for conventions
If you’re planning a wedding, wedding venues are awesome. They usually offer a bundle of services and spare you time and stress. The wedding industry makes oodles of money from people searching for perfection, and for some reason wealth and the desire to host a small con usually don’t go together.
If you’re planning a convention, stay away from wedding venues. I tried a few multipurpose venues, but the ones I spoke to all got stuck on the idea of catering for a set number of guests.
The big pro of church halls is that they’re usually not that expensive to hire. Obviously, you usually can’t hire them on a Sunday. It could work for you if you have a one-day con, but my advice is to be careful. After all, no matter what your con is about, a church hall is inextricably entangled with religion. This could mean trouble explaining to the congregation what you’re using their venue for. And even if the congregation is cool with the idea, you could put off attendees. For example, would your atheist geeks come to a church?
Many sport halls are owned by a sporting association or community. This is important because the association can decide that a sporting event is more important than your booking. Weekends are prime time for conventions, and also sporting events. If you do choose a sport hall, remember to check if you can sell your own drinks and find out if you need to keep attendees out of certain areas.
For the Great Geek Collective Convention (G²C²), we hired a community hall through a catering company. We could sell food, but not drinks. And we had a nasty surprise close to the convention. We hired both halls on the property for Saturday and Sunday. However, the community wanted to host a dance so we lost the second hall and had to move all the tables we hired over to the main hall the Saturday afternoon.
In my next post I’ll tell you my best way of finding a good venue.