DC Venues are tough to land when you have so many people fighting to book the best ones. I recently talked about how far in advance you should book your venue, because it’s critical to the success of your event.
Before, I answer that let me state that there are some bad DC venues and if you don’t live in the DC area, I’m sure there is at least one in your area. Many people book these spaces because the price is really cheap. These are the venues that simply see themselves as a place to host your event and not a place to really make the planning and execution process easy for you.
You Don’t Pay Venues To Make Your Life Or Event Difficult
So now that you know that, here are a few easy ways to identify a bad Washington, DC venue
1 – The event staff fails at corresponding
You can tell very easily if you are going to have a hard time getting things solidified if the event staff is slow at getting back to you. I’m not saying they need to reply the same day, but if you cannot return my call or email within 2 days it’s going to be a problem. Imagine booking the venue and a few days before your big event you have to add last minute guests. If it takes them too long to reply, those people may not eat.
If you place an inquiry on a date and they don’t reply back to you for another two weeks, be cautious. If you see no follow up or no response at all, be cautious. You are owed attentive customer service.
2 – The venue is located in a less than ideal area
Here in DC I can tell you that the location of your venue can make or break your event. If it is:
not close to a metro station
not close to downtown DC and restaurants
near an unsafe area
has no parking
people will not come to your event.
3 – Read the Online Reviews left on public pages
I do not recommend focusing solely on reading reviews on a company’s website. Why? Who do you think is going to post a negative review on their website? Go to Google, Yelp, and other open sites that allows guests to leave unedited reviews.
When reading the reviews don’t simply focus on finding bad reviews. Most often not everyone will leave a good review and if all you do is focus on the few negative reviews it may not give you the full picture. Reviews you want to focus on (good or bad) should explain what happened. A review such as, “This venue was great, glad I chose it,” is not a review I would go with. You want venue reviews to state why it was good or bad. Maybe someone’s bad isn’t an issue for you.
Lastly, if you do read a bad review and the venue does not respond or responds with a rude reply, RUN!!
4 – The staff is not as knowledgeable about their venue as other venues are
If the venue staff comes across as being clueless to some of the basic venue amenities, this is a red flag that places them in the bad DC venue category. Prior to your site visit, event staff members should find out as much information about you and your event as possible. This allows you to have a smooth venue walk through verses being told, “I’ll get back to you on that”. Details are everything when you are choosing between venues and want to make a decision now.
5 – The venue has bad aesthetics
While visiting the venue check for clutter, chips in paint or torn wall paper. Check for cleanliness and don’t be fearful to ask to see the kitchen.
I like to remind my clients to think of this as if you are going to buy a home. Do you see water stains in the ceiling? Does the restroom have a foul odor? Are key things missing that should be there like light fixtures? Is the venue outdated with old decor and that tragic ugly ballroom carpet? Are there bugs? These are things your guests will notice.
6- The venue wants to force you to pick from their vendor list
Most often a venue does not have a service you need. In many cases DC venues that are not a hotel, will ask you to hire an outside catering company. Ideally venues have a list of companies that have operated at their venue enough times to be on their preferred vendors list.
A preferred vendors list can be helpful or problematic. Helpful if you need recommendations. Problematic if your ideal vendor isn’t on the list. Either way you should ask the following questions.
Are you allowed to bring in outside vendors? If so, is there a fee? What are the retirements to do so?
Did these vendors pay to be on this list or are they fairly vetted due to track record? Those who pay to be on a list doesn’t make them the best option.
How current is your vendor list?
In no way am I saying all venues fit in the bad DC venue category. There are plenty of incredible venues that we love like Intercontinental DC Wharf, DuPont Circle Hotel, The Perry Belmont House, Spy Museum, and Westin Annapolis. A good venue will listen to you and place your event as if it was their only event.
Remember venues are always changing. Staff, amenities and design is what makes them unique. Remain open minded, but do not budge on the things we stated above.