COVID-19 has whittled down the list of venues for corporate parties. During the pandemic last year, we adjusted our calendars, gave the annual company events a miss, and stayed home.
With vaccination adoption rates climbing and social distancing regulations loosening up, it was found that 82% of event planners will be resuming live meetings this year. That means you’re on the hunt for the best venues for corporate parties again! It’s time for your team to celebrate all the things you missed last year, and you want to do it in the perfect event place.
Are Restaurants a Good Venue for Corporate Parties?
Of course, all of this excitement and remaining COVID restrictions means the list of venues for company events is now limited. For many companies planning corporate parties like anniversaries, product launches, or employee recognition events, the most straightforward corporate event venue for small gatherings was often a swanky bar or restaurant that could offer a side room or outdoor space.
With the pandemic, many bars in Austin are opening up, but with some restrictions, and restaurants may still be operating at a smaller capacity to comply with local and CDC health guidelines. They desperately need to fill and turnover as many tables as possible during their business hours just to break even. There’s also the challenge of staffing, as many businesses are struggling to fill vacancies.
Finding a restaurant that is willing to give up a part of its space for a private gathering may be an issue. If they are willing, you may be paying more this year than in previous years as they need to at least cover their potential income had they been able to continually seat guests in that space. Your event will also share parking and common areas with restaurant patrons – just something to consider.
A Better Venue for Corporate Parties
With the food and beverage industry still recovering, it could be difficult to work around their limitations. Consider looking at spaces designed and designated for corporate events instead. The live events industry could use your support – it has essentially been out of business since the pandemic hit. Like restaurants, these venues appreciate the business to make up for being shut down for so long and the dramatic decrease in events due to the pandemic.
Additionally, safety continues to be the number one concern in the events industry – 55% of event planners cited safety concerns as the biggest obstacle to hosting live events. Venues for corporate parties are now more educated and equipped to coordinate such matters, taking a huge load off your shoulders so you can focus on planning the corporate party of the year.
How to Find the Ideal Corporate Party Venue
The Austin area is full of fantastic and unique venues, it’s just a matter of finding one that fits your needs and has a staff that is accommodating. Your first step is to decide what type of event you want to host and how many guests you expect will come. These two considerations will help you determine the type of corporate event venue to focus on during your search.
Even if you look online at venue websites, keep in mind they may not have updated their capacity limits to reflect current COVID requirements. Call or email them to get their latest policies and find out how many people they are allowed to host at one time. Be sure to ask about the COVID safety precautions they take and what they expect of you and your guests.
You want a sleek and professional event space to reflect well on your business, especially if you’re hosting clients for a networking event or courting investors during a state-of-the-company gathering.
The best venues for corporate parties are flexible, professional, and fuss-free. Before looking at aesthetics, it is pertinent to find a venue that fits your agenda and your crowd.
If you’ve invited VIP speakers to your event, look for venues for corporate parties that have a designated elevated or private areas for the speakers and great acoustics. Similarly, if you’re hosting an event with digital activities, make sure that the venue is tech-friendly and has on-site support.
Hosting a corporate party doesn’t mean the event venue has to be boring. The event venue should align with your brand and inspire your guests. At the very least, you want the venue to be comfortable, welcoming and have some sort of “wow” factor so your guests feel like you cared about their experience.
Consider first impressions, from the time your guests arrive until the time they leave. What does the venue look like from the outside? Is it easy to get to and park? Is it modern and sleek, quaint and charming, or boring and stuffy? Does it have a cool outdoor space? What kind of furniture setup is available? Do they offer catering services? Have a good audio/visual capability? Can you decorate it to match a holiday theme? These are just a few things to consider before you make a venue selection.
How to Host a Smashing (but Safe) Corporate Event Party
COVID seems to be waning a bit, but it doesn’t mean you can let up your guard. Things keep changing, so it’s best to be prepared so you don’t have to scramble at the last minute to take necessary precautions.
The good news is that most event space providers know the COVID drill by heart, and so do you and your guests. Here is a quick recap of things you can do to put your guests at ease:
- Be up to date on the latest COVID recommendations in Austin and communicate them to your invited guests ahead of time.
- Decide if you want guests to wear masks and if so, offer them at the front entrance in case they forget or misplace theirs during the event. Even if you don’t ask guests to wear masks, it’s a good idea to have a stash of them in case anyone feels more comfortable wearing them.
- Add hand sanitizer at the entrance and throughout the venue, particularly around all bathrooms and food and drink areas.
- Avoid self-serve buffets that will create crowds and require the sharing of serving utensils. Instead, spring for a catering service that will plate food for your guests or serve them at their tables.
- Opt to serve light canapes and hor devours instead of full courses to save space and money and allow your guests to mingle instead of being stuck at a table with the same people all night.
- If you must have a seated meal, find a larger space so you can set up more tables with fewer chairs to allow guests to spread out.
- Ask guests to label their drinkware or have the bartender put unique straws, charms, or other fun identifying objects in or on the glass.
Think Outside the Box
One way to host a fun and safe corporate party is to host events outdoors. This works well as we live in a region that doesn’t get too cold, and people have become accustomed to outdoor venues. With the right location, having an outdoor corporate party would definitely be refreshing year round if your venue offers outdoor heating options.
An even better idea would be to source for an event venue that offers both indoor and outdoor spaces, allowing your guests to enjoy the best of both worlds. This will also give you more to work with. Just make sure to let your guests know ahead of time if they should dress for cold weather.
Another important factor for consideration is the level of technology available at the venue. At a basic level, corporate parties will most likely involve presentations or video conferencing of sorts. Most venues for corporate parties provide audio-visual services, but what they offer can vary dramatically, especially if you host an outdoor event.
Make It Fun
The level of engagement at corporate parties can make or break your event – the last thing you want is for it to be a snoozefest. Planning unique activities, such as contests and discussions, can make your event all that much more memorable and enjoyable.
Remember that not all guests will feel comfortable physically attending a group event and others will want to see some thought to keeping close contact with a room full of people to a minimum. Consider virtual breakout groups, digital games, and even video conferencing for those who are unable to attend, but your event venue should facilitate that as well. Be sure to look out for the availability of Wi-Fi and on-site technical support when choosing an event venue.
For large-scale corporate parties, like product launches, a mid-sized event just wouldn’t cut it. For the safety of your guests, you might choose to host a hybrid event with a smaller guest list instead of a mass event. Live streaming your in-person event and offering unique content to your virtual attendees allows you to host a major product launch safely. In this case, technology is non-negotiable. 32.9% of event organizers state that they’ve experienced connectivity issues during a hybrid event. Make sure you’re not one of them.
The downside is that hybrid events tend to incur larger costs. Coupled with the cost of additional technical support, the price could be much higher than expected. Make sure you get an accurate quote from your event space provider beforehand.
Vuka for Your Corporate Parties
No matter the type of event you are hosting this time of year, you should take a look at Vuka in Austin. Vuka offers two separate large venues in different locations in Austin. These spaces are unique, beautiful, and highly versatile for any type of corporate party.
Both locations have a planning manager to help you before the event and an on-site manager to oversee things during your event and help with audio/visual components. We provide bar service, catering, and access to a large, open prep kitchen. We also offer several breakout and conference rooms, and stage setup if required. If there is anything else you need, we have a network of local vendors they can connect you with to bring those services in-house.