COVID-19 Has Changed Typical Corporate Event Venue Options
COVID-19 isn’t yet in our rearview mirrors, but we have learned how to coexist to some degree. While we’ve all had to cancel events and adjust our calendars, the holidays are still fast approaching and small gatherings at corporate event venues can still happen in Austin if you (and the venue) take certain precautions.
For many companies planning corporate holiday parties, end of year corporate events or a 2021 kickoff, the easiest corporate event venue for small gatherings was often a swanky bar or restaurant that could offer a side room or outdoor space. With COVID, however, bars in Austin remain shut down and many restaurants have had to close off some of their space and limit the number of patrons allowed at one time to comply with local and CDC health guidelines. These regulations have forced restaurants to operate at a fraction of the capacity they used to, and they desperately need to fill and turnover as many tables as possible during their business hours just to break even.
Finding a restaurant that is willing to give up a part of their space for a private gathering may be challenging. If they are willing, you may be paying more this year than 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.
Finding a Corporate Event Venue in Austin for Holiday Parties
Instead of working around restaurant limitations, consider looking at dedicated corporate event venues that don’t have the added pressure of balancing restaurant guests with corporate event guests. 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.
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.
Your event space will set the tone for your gathering, so make sure the vibe is what you want. Consider first impressions, from the time your guests arrive to 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.
Vuka for Your Corporate Event
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 to fit any mood you’re trying to create.
Both locations have a planning manager to help you before the event and an on-site manager to oversee things during your event. They provide audio/visual services, bar service, catering, and access to a large, open prep kitchen. There are also several breakout/conference rooms and stage setup if required. If there is anything else you need, they have a network of local vendors they can connect you with to bring those services in-house.
Vuka Bouldin Creek
Located in one of the hippest areas of South Austin, Vuka Bouldin Creek has nearly 2,500 square feet of indoor space, as well as a large, beautiful outdoor area under a giant oak tree. From team building events to corporate holiday parties, this unique venue is designed with every detail in mind. Your guests will have ample room to roam and mingle, sit comfortably or participate in whatever activities you have in mind.
Vuka North Loop
Heading north into vintage Austin, you’ll find Vuka North Loop, with 3,500 square feet of modern and bright indoor space, as well as 1,500 square feet of outdoor space. Two-story, floor-to-ceiling windows, a gorgeous custom mural, and earthy wood accents make this venue feel like you are outside. Vuka North Loop is perfect for larger events where you want to truly impress your guests.
Recommendations for Creating a Safe Holiday Corporate Party
Even with the pandemic, you can host a holiday event your guests will never forget. Your guests know the COVID drill, but it can be comforting for them if you are transparent with all of the precautions you are taking. Just be certain you are up to date on the latest COVID recommendations in Austin and communicate them with your invited guests ahead of time. Make sure everyone understands the expectations when they arrive, even placing a reminder of expectations at the entrance.
One such CDC recommendation is to host events outdoors. We are lucky that we live in a region that doesn’t typically get too cold during the holidays. Unless there is a cold snap, you’re likely fine hosting your corporate event outside. Your venue may offer outdoor heating options as well. Either way, it’s a good idea to let your guests know ahead of time if they should dress for cold weather.
Offer masks and hand sanitizer at the entrance and throughout the venue, particularly around all bathrooms and food and drink areas. Instead of a self-serve buffet, use a catering service that will plate food for your guests. If you have a seated meal, 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. Your event venue manager will be able to guide you and implement these and other COVID safety precautions.
If you have any guests who cannot attend or do not feel comfortable attending because of COVID, consider bringing them in virtually on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Your venue manager can help you set up the proper connections to ensure they are part of the fun. While they may not be able to mingle, they can at least watch and listen to speakers, presentations, announcements, music, etc.
The pandemic has surely changed how we gather, but it doesn’t have to ruin the holidays. If you partner with the right corporate event venue, you can pull off a wonderful, safe event everyone will enjoy.