MASTERCLASS: What to ask when booking an historic venue

Going for old


 Booking a venue for your association meeting can be a daunting task. Numerous factors come into play, from catering and audio-visual, to location and budget. Historic, or ‘heritage’, buildings, while providing that special wow factor, add another layer of complexity. Here, Lisa Hatswell, managing director of Unique Venues of London, gives her advice when going for old..


  • More than meets the eye

Make sure you ask your venue manager about any added value elements which might help enhance the event for your membership. It’s in this area that historic landmarks really stand-out.  This might be a tour of an internationally significant palace and its gardens or a private view of a priceless art collection, or even an animal experience at a famous zoo.  Extra elements like this will deliver a memorable experience and help to engage with and motivate your membership.

  • Managing expectations

The heritage of historic buildings’ architecture, interiors and contents needs to be taken into account. The protected status of a venue can sometimes mean that particular thought needs to be given to AV, production or catering elements. Some venues, particularly historic houses, have specific restrictions on the use of naked flames or even glitter. Others might limit the consumption of red wine to certain areas to prevent any damage to unique architectural features and artwork. Fortunately, venues usually offer a set of criteria to help get the most out of a space while abiding by its guidelines, ensuring you can deliver an event fully aware of what’s achievable from the outset.

  • The art of communication

It’s essential to clearly lay out your vision to the venue manager at the earliest stage possible of the planning process. They need to be aware of your expectations so they can make recommendations and suggest alternatives to anything that may not be possible.

  • A social conscience

Many historic venues are not-for-profit organisations and the events hosted in these spaces directly contribute to the maintenance and upkeep of the building. With the increasing importance of CSR, heritage venues offer the ideal way to reward association members with a unique experience while playing a part in a bigger picture, directly contributing to the preservation of a much loved institution.

  • Telling a story

When sourcing any venue it’s important to remember how the setting will assimilate with your aims and objectives. Historic venues are imbued with a well-defined narrative which can really help to highlight the significance of an occasion. From an intimate dinner to a large seminar, the location goes a long way towards setting the scene for proceedings.