Your Quick-Start Guide to Event Venue Operations

So you want to open a comedy club or music venue? Now that the COVID-19 pandemic is largely in society’s rearview mirror, it’s a great time to start an event venue. Both comedy clubs and live music venues should experience growth over the next several years.

But growth doesn’t happen on its own. It requires careful attention to a wide range of event venue operations

Fortunately, we at Seat Engine have you covered.

From choosing the perfect location to marketing your shows, we’ve prepared this overview guide to opening an event venue and operating it in ways that lead to satisfied customers and ongoing success.

What to Do Before Opening an Event Venue

The casual, “Hey, kids, let’s put on a show!” approach works in old movies, but not in the real world. Before opening an event venue, you must make several key decisions, including:

Who’s Going to Fill Your Seats?

Identify your ideal customers and their needs and preferences. Research demographic information such as age, gender, location, and income level. Understand such psychographic characteristics as interests, values, and lifestyle choices. 

By creating a detailed buyer persona, you’ll get a clear picture of who your target market is and what motivates them. Then you can tailor your space and services to meet their expectations.

Where Will You Put Your Venue? 

Interior of a local jazz bar, featuring a bar, barstools, small tables, and jazz instruments on a small stage.

Open your event venue in a location that’s easily accessible to your target audience. Consider factors like parking availability, public transportation options, and nearby amenities like hotels.

Making your venue easily accessible to your target audience matters because, generally speaking, you are the destination. Your audiences won’t be pedestrians or motorists who just happen to pass by and think, “Hey, I’d like to see that show!” They are already interested in the kind of shows you offer or the specific performers you’ve booked, so they’re making an effort to get to you. You want to reward them by making that effort as effortless as possible!

Do remember: In today’s world more than ever, physical safety matters. Your exterior and interior spaces must be well-lit, visible, and free of obstacles to safe movement.

Do You Have Your Paperwork in Order?

Make all the cracks you want about filling out forms in triplicate, but ensuring you have the permits you need to run your venue is no joke. 

One permit typically required for entertainment events is the cleverly named “entertainment license.” It gives your venue permission to host live performances.

In addition to your entertainment license, you’ll need a license to serve alcohol. Like alcohol itself, liquor licenses come in many “flavors.” Establishments like bars, restaurants, and clubs where patrons consume drinks during shows will need at least an on-premise license.

And no matter what the local governing authorities tell you, be sure to allow at least an extra month for your permit paperwork to come through. Until your venue is paying its taxes, you’re not their priority. You don’t want your Grand Opening derailed by their tardiness, so build plenty of extra runway into your calendar.

Designing and Setting Up Your Event Venue

Your venue’s physical setup and design need to accomplish several goals:

Setting an optimal stage for performances

Make sure your venue has adequate lighting for the stage, seating areas, and restrooms. Additionally, consider acoustics so comics and musicians can be clearly heard and sound their best. And sightlines are a non-negotiable priority – make certain every seat has a good one!

Creating a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere

Decide which decorative elements align with your venue’s theme or purpose. Even small touches can help enhance your venue’s overall ambiance and make guests feel welcome and engaged. Ultimately, however, your venue is about the performance. Decor should be comfortable and can even be clever, but once the show starts, you don’t want it to be a distraction.  

Maximizing traffic flow

You can’t control the traffic patrons face on the way to your place, but you can control foot traffic once they’re inside. Create clear pathways and signage to guide patrons to restrooms, food and beverage stations, and their seats. Doing so makes it easier for guests to navigate your venue.

Complying with safety and accessibility regulations

Prioritize safety and accessibility for all attendees. Making patrons feel safe is more than just your legal responsibility. It’s a way you build trust and encourage their repeat business. Clear signage, proper lighting, and appropriate communication from your staff before the show are all key elements.

Live Event Operations Considerations for Venues

Whether your venue just had its grand opening or has been hosting shows for years, certain operational considerations are the same. They include:

Staffing and Training

A microphone lies on a spotlit stool as a crowd gathers for a stand-up show at a local comedy club.

Acts on your stage come and go, but your staff will be sticking around. Your staff not only plays a key role in the overall experience talent and guests have, but also contributes to efficient event venue operations.

When hiring, look for candidates with previous experience in event management, hospitality, customer service, or venue management. Also, look for personable individuals with strong communication skills who demonstrate a customer-centric attitude. 

Once you’ve hired staff, train them so they’re ready to handle all aspects of their role: venue layout and equipment, emergency procedures, communication strategies, and customer service protocols. 

And don’t overlook a strong cultural fit. Your best employees will always be the ones who love the art on your stage. Trustworthy, hardworking, loyal staffers who are passionate about the shows your venue puts on are invaluable!

Inventory Management

If you want to keep your venue’s customers happy and its cash flow flowing, be sure you have plenty of food and drink to go around. Keep your freezers well stocked because frozen items don’t go bad, and source your non-frozen goods in quantities large enough to meet your proven customer demand. 

Proper inventory management prevents both over- and understocking, either of which can lead to wasted resources and disgruntled patrons.

Maintenance and Upkeep

A well-maintained venue creates a positive impression on guests and ensures all attendees’ safety and comfort. 

Establish regular inspections and routine maintenance schedules for sound and lighting systems, HVAC systems, restrooms, and other venue features. Keep the common areas, seats, and bathrooms clean to maintain a welcoming environment.

Emergency Preparedness

“The show must go on”—except when it can’t because of safety considerations.

Have a well-defined emergency action plan in place. It should outline specific procedures to follow in the event of such emergencies as fires, severe weather, medical emergencies, or security threats. Train your staff on the plan so they know their roles and responsibilities.

Additionally, your venue should have fire alarms, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and clearly marked emergency exits. Conduct regular inspections so you’re confident your safety measures are in good working condition and comply with regulations.

Marketing Strategies for Comedy Clubs and Music Venues

All that market research you did before opening your event venue can pay off when you start promoting shows. 

A circle of six people use their smartphones to find out what shows are happening at local live event venues.

A well-rounded marketing strategy including a mix of online and offline tactics can help attract and retain audiences. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Use social media by engaging with followers through interactive posts.
  • Use targeted advertising to reach potential customers.
  • Build relationships with local media outlets and influencers to help generate buzz and attract larger audiences.
  • Offer promotions and discounts.
  • Partner with other businesses or organizations for cross-promotion.

Let Seat Engine Be Your Event Ticketing Solution

If event venue operations seem like a lot of work, it’s because they are! But with careful attention to the areas we’ve outlined here, you can streamline your processes, improve customer satisfaction, and help ensure you’re running a successful event venue.

Seat Engine can take one operation entirely off your plate: event ticketing. Our fully customizable software makes selling tickets and filling your venue’s seats easy. It frees you up to spend your time and energy on other aspects of live event operations. Contact us today to schedule your free demonstration.