Start An Event Venue Business: A FREE Guide

Event Venue

Are you looking to start your own event venue business that promises big profit but is also full of fun and excitement? If so, an event venue business could be the perfect venture for you!

I’ve been working in the events industry for over 25 years. During that time, I’ve seen event venue businesses come and go. Still, the one thing that has always remained consistent is the passion of those involved in this sector. It is a great place to have your own business.

I’ve been responsible for venues with a million+ turnover catering to everything from small group meetings to 2,000+ capacity concerts.

From small family gatherings to major corporate events, I have had the pleasure of helping people create memorable experiences at every turn. Whether it is finding the right venue or developing unique event plans tailored to each client’s needs, I understand what it takes to ensure an event venue business runs smoothly and successfully.

This post will help you understand the key considerations for becoming a venue owner, including what to put in an event venue business plan.

What makes a great event venue?

I always think that putting yourself into the position of potential customers before starting an event venue is an excellent foundation for your business. In my experience, potential clients are likely to be looking for the following:

A great event venue has three key components: space availability, event planning services and a great overall atmosphere. 

First and foremost, they will consider what kind of event venue is ideal for their event; remember, this is where you want to consider the type of event venue you want to run.

Do you want an indoor area or an outdoor one? Depending on your location, this could be a critical factor to decide on. Some places benefit from great weather all year round, so outdoor space is at a premium.

Research in 2012 showed the following as being the top ten attributes of a wedding venue that people looked for:

Venue Attributes

Weigh the pros and cons of starting an event venue.

With proper planning and preparation, event venue owners can quickly establish a successful business in their local area. If you want to start an event venue, It is essential to weigh the pros and cons before taking action. Let’s have a look at those:

Pros of starting an event venue

  • Generate high profits from event hosting
  • Create unique and memorable experiences for event attendees
  • Flexibility to grow the business in size, location, and services offered.
  • Expand to multiple venues in your local or regional
  • Opportunity to collaborate with vendors in the events industry, such as caterers, florists, event planners etc.
  • The ability to network with potential new customers through events you host

Cons of starting an event venue

  • Capital intensive to start an event venue
  • Finding the right event venue or space which fits your needs and budget can be time-consuming.
  • You may face competition from other event venues in the area
  • There is potential for large amounts of liability
  • Event catering, entertainment, décor etc., can often require a significant amount of investment.
  • An event venue business requires a lot of hard work and dedication to be successful in the long run.

Starting an event venue business can be a highly rewarding venture, both financially and emotionally. The events industry can be tough, and I can only speak from personal experience, but when it’s all working well and you stand back, it’s a pretty incredible feeling!

How to start an event venue business

Starting a new event venue business is becoming increasingly popular; there’s never been a better time to break into this growing industry.

But before we learn how to start an event venue business, we must consider why you want to do this.

Running event venues can be challenging but also a rewarding experience. It requires a special skill set to anticipate customer needs, manage event logistics and create memorable experiences.

Successful event venue businesses require long hours and dedication, successfully accommodating various tasks and roles at any time.

As a manager of an event venue, I’ve cleaned toilets, emptied tables and even had to mop up sick. I still loved every minute!

Before diving into the event venue business, you should first consider the type of space you want to run. Do you want an indoor area or an outdoor one?

From weddings to corporate events, event venues offer an opportunity to host unique experiences while making a profit. With the correct planning and preparation, event venue owners can quickly establish a successful business in their local area, so if you’re ready for an exciting journey into entrepreneurship.

In my experience of running event venues, it is all about the little details that make a single event for a client, but you can’t ignore the bigger picture of running an event venue business.

Identify the need for an event venue in your area.

Identifying the need to start an event venue in your area is essential to make it a successful business. By understanding what potential customers are looking for in terms of event services, amenities and locations, you can ensure enough demand to support your venture.

Knowing the local market will also help you determine which target events would be most profitable based on current trends and needs within your region.

Additionally, assessing the competition from existing businesses will allow you to carve out a unique niche or set yourself apart from other competitors by offering specialized services. With this knowledge, you can create a plan for success!

Conduct extensive market research.

Network with potential clients

People Networking

Speak to event managers or event management companies in your local area and get feedback on their event venue needs. Ask what types of spaces they often use, what audience capacity they’re looking for, and if they have any challenges they face when looking for event venues. This can give you a good understanding of the needs in your local event venue industry, as well as any potential competition.

Make a list of potential competitors.

Find out what event spaces already exist in your local area and how they compare to what event planners are looking for. Knowing the local businesses can help you identify gaps in the market, allowing you to determine where your event venue business could fit in best.

Think about the types of events you could host

Consider the events you would like to support. Think about the event venue you could offer, such as outdoor, private spaces, and other unique event venue ideas. This will help you determine which event types are most suitable for your event venue business.

Use SWOT to analyze what you find.

My top tip here would be to use a tool like SWOT to analyze each of your competitors. Try to understand their weaknesses in terms of their audience, venue or location and consider how to make this an advantage for your event venue.

Identify the target market for your new event space.

In my experience, it is challenging for a single event venue to target all potential event clients. That’s why successful event businesses focus on a specific target audience that best suits their event venue capabilities. This is an essential part of starting an event venue business, but it is often overlooked in the planning stages.

NOTE: this might be one of your competitors’ weaknesses identified in the SWOT; you choose to serve an audience not currently catered for in the local area.

The target audience for event venues will vary based on the event location and event types offered. Generally, event venues should focus on specific target markets that best fit their space, such as corporate events, birthday celebrations, wedding receptions, or other special occasions.

A while back, I wrote about the different types of events, but if you are short on time, here are some quick ideas for the types of events you might want to target:

  1. Wedding Receptions
  2. Corporate Events
  3. Private Events / Birthdays
  4. Graduations
  5. Business Meeting Space
  6. Networking Events
  7. Music Concerts
  8. Trade Shows & Exhibitions
  9. Sporting Events
  10. Fundraisers

Some of the most profitable events involve large groups of people and multiple event elements. Events such as weddings, corporate events, trade shows & exhibitions, and music concerts can generate more revenue than other event types because they often require more time and venue space.

The audience of any potential event can also make a big difference to profit, especially considering secondary spending.

Secondary spending refers to the additional money attendees spend on food, drinks, event merchandise, and entertainment. It is often overlooked or neglected when event organizers are planning their event budget, but it can make a significant difference to event profits.

Once you’ve identified the event types you are most suitable for, you can search for the right space to start an event venue.

Identify A Location For Your Event Venue

Venue Map

The best location for an event venue is easily accessible and offers event organizers plenty of options. For events such as weddings, corporate events, or large-scale gatherings, event venues should be near public transportation to make it easier for attendees to access the venue.

This was one of the key challenges I had with my very first venue. There was a minimal number of parking spaces adjacent to the venue, often putting off would-be hirers and attendees.

For any event venue intended for smaller gatherings, event organizers should look for spaces that provide an intimate and unique atmosphere.

Intimate event venues often offer more flexibility in terms of event layout and event design.

When looking for a venue, consider factors such as size, location, accessibility, and amenities.

Here are some ideas for searching for potential locations in your local area:

  1. Online real estate listing websites, such as LoopNet (US LinkUK Link), allows you to search for commercial spaces by location, size, and price range.
  2. Contacting a commercial real estate agent or broker who can help you find spaces that meet your specific needs and negotiate lease terms on your behalf.
  3. Using social media to network and connect with landlords, property managers, and other industry professionals who may know of upcoming vacancies.
  4. Checking local classifieds and newspapers for listings of commercial spaces for rent.
  5. Attend local business networking events.
  6. Searching for commercial spaces on online marketplaces such as Craigslist and Gumtree.
  7. Walk around and look for empty premises that could be potential event venues!

In the United States, you need to be aware of zoning, which defines the types of businesses that can operate in a particular area. Check with your local city planning office.

In the UK, you need to know that different premises have different use classes. There is an excellent guide to planning classes by the Planning Geek. 

Create Your Event Venue Business Plan

Venue Business Plan

A venue owner must have a business plan that outlines the goals, strategies, and resources of an event venue business. It serves as a roadmap to guide event organizers in making sound decisions and helps them stay focused on their event objectives.

A detailed event venue business plan is critical for success when starting a venue business. A business plan should not only include the venue’s mission, goals and objectives but also outline the target markets, event fees, marketing plans, event logistics and event budgets.

When creating a business plan for an event venue, event organizers should consider factors such as market research and industry trends to help them identify the event types and event services that will generate the most revenue.

In addition to this, event organizers should also consider event pricing and event fees, budgeting for event staff & event supplies, and developing marketing plans to reach event attendees.

By creating a comprehensive business plan, owners can make sure their event venue is well-prepared for event bookings and event attendees.

If you want to learn how to create an effective venue business plan, then Skillshare has just what you need! Their online courses provide event organizers with the knowledge they need to craft event plans that will help them reach their goals and maximize their potential. With our easy-to-follow lessons, event organizers will have all the resources they need to create detailed plans that include market research, industry trends, event pricing & fees, budgeting for staff & supplies, marketing plans and more!

Sign up today and get started on your journey towards success as an event planner! The link below gives you one month of free access to all of their courses.

Sign up for SkillShare

But let’s look at some of the specific areas you should include in your venue business plan.

Develop Your Event Venue Business Model

The event venue business model is a vital strategy event organizers should consider when starting an event venue business. Developing a sound business model can help owners better anticipate potential costs and profits, as well as identify the event types and event services that can generate the most revenue.

Event Venue Business Pricing

When venue owners are creating their business model, they should consider factors such as event fees, event staff/supplies, event space layout/design, marketing strategies and customer service practices.

The top three pricing strategies for event venues are hourly, package, and event-based:

  1. Hourly event venue pricing is a popular approach for event organizers due to its flexibility and simplicity. An event venue typically charges an hourly rate for the use of their space, which event organizers must pay regardless of the event type or the number of guests.
  2. Package event venue pricing strategy is ideal for event organizers who are looking to book their event space for multiple uses throughout a period of time. An event venue charges a flat fee for the use of the event space for an extended period, which provides event organizers with a discounted rate and more predictable costs.
  3. Event-based event venue pricing is a great option for event organizers who need to book event space for specific event types. An event venue typically charges an event-based rate for the use of their event space, which takes into account the amount of time needed, the number of guests and other event services that may be required.

Event Venue Business Catering

It would help if you considered where to offer catering services for the venue; there are several factors to consider. It is essential to determine if your event venue has the necessary kitchen facilities and equipment to prepare and serve food. 

If not, you may have to invest in the right supplies and tools needed for a successful event catering service.

Business plans are essential for an event venue business that need to raise finance. An entire business plan is a must-have when seeking investments, as investors will want to know all the details of your event venue and services.

Event Venue Business Promotion

Venue Marketing

Marketing event venues can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Sadly it is not just about setting up social media accounts; it takes a bit more than that.

With the right strategies in place and some creativity, event organizers can create an event venue that is both inviting and functional for their guests.

With the right plan of action in place, event organizers can ensure their event venue stands out from the competition and attracts potential customers.

In my experience, there is no silver bullet to doing this, as a wide range of factors such as location, target audience, and marketing costs impact what you can do.

MY KEY TIP: Understand who your target audience is and which marketing channels work best to reach out to them!

Here are some ideas to consider

  1. Create a website with photos, videos, and information about the event space to showcase its features and capabilities.
  2. Utilize social media platforms to reach a broad audience and promote the event space. You may want to consider advertising on things like Facebook to get the best traction.
  3. Partner with local event planners and vendors to promote the event space to their clients.
  4. Reach out to local media outlets to generate press coverage for the event space.
  5. Offer special deals or promotions for first-time bookers.
  6. Host open houses or tours of the event space to give potential clients a firsthand look.
  7. Create a referral program to incentivize current clients to refer friends and family.
  8. Use targeted online advertising to reach potential clients in your area.
  9. Network with other event venues to cross-promote each other’s spaces.
  10. Make sure the event space is easily searchable on Google and other search engines by optimizing the website and listing it on online directories.

How to register your Event Venue Company

I must stress that you have a responsibility to check the requirements for this in your local jurisdiction. If in doubt, consult local legal or financial professionals who would be able to advise you best.

As a venue owner, you will be responsible for all of the small business administration, including business expenses, operating expenses, startup costs and cash flow.

That said, a broad overview of business options in the United States and the United Kingdom looks like this.

United States

When registering a company in the United States, event organizers should be aware of several key steps involved. To register a business in the US, owners must decide what type of business entity they want to form and then follow the necessary procedures for registration.

The different types of business entities in the United States include sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), corporation, and non-profit organization. Each type of business entity has unique advantages and disadvantages that event organizers should consider before deciding which one is best for their business.

For more information, check out the US. Small Business Administration website here.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, event organizers have several business entity options to choose from when registering a company. These include sole traders, partnerships, limited companies, charities, and Community Interest Companies (CICs).

Sole traders are legal entities that are owned and managed by one individual. This type of business entity is attractive to event organizers because it requires little paperwork and is relatively easy to set up. There is personal liability associated with this route which means you are personally responsible for any debts of the business.

Partnerships involve two or more people who share ownership of a business. At the same time, limited companies are owned by shareholders. They have limited liability, meaning that any losses incurred by the business cannot be attributed to the shareholders’ personal assets.

A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is an attractive option for event organizers in the UK as it offers several benefits. Firstly, an LLC offers limited liability, meaning that the event organizer’s personal assets are protected from any losses incurred by the business.

For more information, check the UK Government business advice website here.

In all cases, you must register your event venue business with the appropriate tax authority to pay the required taxes on any profits you make. This is the IRS in the United States and HMRC in the United Kingdom.

Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits

As with the previous section, you should consult with local legal professionals to fully understand the proper licenses and permits you will need to operate your business.

In most countries, you will need a license or permits to operate an event venue, including serving alcohol (liquor license) and live musical performances.

Designing and setting up the space

Venue Layout

Event venues should be multifunctional because they offer organizers who book events a unique opportunity to create an atmosphere and experience that attendees will never forget.

What hirers will look for

With the right design and layout, hirers of your venue can customize the space to accommodate any event- corporate meetings, team building activities, private social events, trade shows, conferences, and many more.

When designing an event space, you should consider the likely event goals, event attendees, event technology requirements, and event budget of potential hirers.

Clients will want to make sure that the event space layout allows for adequate walking space, seating capacity for all guests, access to power outlets for event AV equipment such as projectors or microphones, and event lighting that is appropriate for the event.

Finally, event planners will also consider the event furniture they want to include in their event space, such as tables, chairs, and couches.

Event furniture can be rented or purchased to fit any event style. It will depend on your initial startup budget as to whether you buy these outright or hire them in the initial period of operation.

Optimize the layout for your business model

Optimizing the event venue layout is key to creating a successful business model. Being flexible allows incoming event planners to use the space as their see fit.

In my experience, when you are doing client visits to the space, affording them the maximum flexibility to create their event means you are much more likely to win the event.

A word of caution here, no event venue can be all things to all clients or customers. It is worth designing the space to suit a handful of event types, hopefully, the ones you identified in your market research.

Consider the flow of people in the event space.

A key consideration should be maximizing guest flow and comfort, as this will have a significant impact on event success.

Unless the type of event calls for it, don’t just pack an event space with tables. You need to think about how much space people have to move around.

An exception here would be any kind of music event venue, like a concert, where you actually want a decent amount of people to create a great atmosphere.

To ensure smooth movement, you should consider factors such as allowing room for guests to mingle and providing adequate seating arrangements.

It’s also important to consider the venue and how best to use it. Event organizers will pay special attention to lighting, furniture, and decorations.

Consider the technical equipment needed.

Venue Audio

The technical equipment requirements for your potential venue space will vary wildly, and so will the costs!

You might only need a few socket outlets for a yoga class, right through to significant power requirements for large concerts.

You will need to decide whether or not you should rent additional equipment, such as audio-visual equipment (e.g. projectors), sound systems, dance floors and stage lighting.

In some cases, hirers may also consider hiring event production professionals who can support planning and organization.

Finally, any venue rental business needs to plan for event security, which might include hiring event security personnel or event organizers need to ensure that the event venue has proper safety measures in place. This may also include security systems like CCTV.

Ultimately, event organizers will want to create an event venue space that is both inviting and functional.

Managing And Running An Event Venue Business

Hire great staff.

Hiring great staff for event venue businesses is essential for successful event planning, organization, and execution. To ensure you hire the best possible event staff, event venue businesses should take a thoughtful and comprehensive approach to recruitment.

The first step to hiring great event staff for event venue businesses is creating a detailed job description outlining the qualifications and responsibilities necessary for the position.

The job description should include skills such as planning, organization, communication, and customer service experience. It should also list specific requirements such as knowledge of event technology, availability outside of normal office hours when needed, or special certifications or licenses.

Get Business Insurance for Your Event Venue Business

Insuring an event venue business is an essential part of running a successful event. Event organizers should consider getting event insurance to protect themselves and their guests from potential losses.

Insurance policies for event venues are designed to protect event organizers and event attendees from potential losses. Event venue insurance offers liability and event cancellation coverage, providing event organizers with the peace of mind that their event will be protected. Liability coverage protects event planners in case event attendees suffer bodily injury or property damage while at the event and event cancellation.

Developing policies and procedures for booking and hosting events

It would be best if you had robust policies in place to deal with things when they go wrong. This could include policies on cancellation, entry, food hygiene or the admittance of children.

Event Venue Business FAQs

Do I need a business loan?

If the event venue is already established and equipped, then a business loan may not be necessary.

What is a venue checklist?

A venue checklist is an important tool for event planners, as it helps to ensure that all necessary steps have been taken and all details have been accounted for when opening a venu

Do I need a business bank account?

It is essential to open a dedicated business bank account when starting an event space business. This will help you keep track of your income and expenses and manage your finances more effectively.

What Are The Different Types Of Events? Learn what YOU need to know!

What are the different types of event

I’ve had the privilege of working in the events industry for over 25 years, so I’m very familiar with the different event types.

In this post, I’m going to try and explain how the industry is broken down into different sectors so if you’re new to the industry or looking to start a career here you can understand what are the different types of events you need to know about.

There are fundamentally two types of events, business, and leisure. Underneath these, there is a wide range of sub-sectors covering a vast array of different event types.

First of all, let’s start with the basics of what is an event, event management, and then the different types of events.

By the way, here is one of my favourite venues, Silverstone in the UK:

Types of Events: Silverstone

What Is An Event?

Events are temporary, occur once, and involve the assembly of people for a particular purpose

Although events are often held on an annual basis, they are still considered temporary. 

The events industry in the US was valued at ¢1,135.4 billion in 2019 according to Allied Research. It is expected to reach $1,552.9 billion by 2028 so the opportunities around event management will continue to expand.

How to plan an event

FREE guide to planning an event

24-page starter guide, which includes event planning finances, marketing, and much more!

What Is Event Management?

Events management is considered the practice of the organization, implementation, or coordination of activities related to achieving the event objectives.

Ultimately all events need people to organize and coordinate them, but it comes with pressure. Because events occur only once and have a deadline, there can be tremendous pressure on organizers who must be skilled in event management. 

According to Careercast being an event planner is the 5th most stressful job in America (After being in the military, firefighter, and pilots!).

Event planners often use specialized event management software to successfully coordinate all of the moving parts involved in delivering a major event.

Why Do People Attend Events?

For any event, It is really important to understand who the target audience is. By doing this you can better design the event experience for them. 

According to research some of the motivations to attend events include:

  • To relax and have fun
  • Socialize with friends
  • Participate in activities
  • Experience new things
  • Do something different
  • To celebrate something

Further to this, make sure that you do research on your audience both before and after your event so that you can improve their experience in the future.  

What Are The Different Types of Events?

There are many different ways in which events are defined. 

For the most part, we can categorize events either by size or type. There are other methods, but these two are the most common to use.

What Are The Different Types Of Events By Size?

There are typically 4 ways of categorizing events by size:

Local Events

These are the smallest events and can include things like a local community festival or a local business networking lunch. On their own, they are unlikely to draw a huge audience or generate much interest from a tourism perspective. 

The impacts of events like these are likely to be limited on the local economy and require few resources to plan and implement them.

Major Events

The next step up is major events, and the major difference with these events is that they attract people from outside the location as visitors. 

These events are typically hosted by large venues or towns and cities to generate economic income from visitors.

Examples might be a city food festival or a large trade show where people will travel solely for the event.

Hallmark Events

Hallmark events are those that become very associated with the place in which they are held. These events have a huge appeal to visitors and generate large numbers of economic income.

There is usually national or international media coverage of the event. A good example of a Hallmark event is the Glastonbury music festival. This event is synonymous with the small town bearing the same name (although the festival is actually held a few miles away, closer to a village called Pilton). 


Mega events are the largest of all both in terms of their impact and the number of people who attend. example of a mega-event is the Olympic games or the FIFA World Cup. 

Both of these events take place every 4 years and move around the world in a competitive bidding process.

For the host city or country, there is the opportunity for extensive media coverage from around the world which can lead to substantial economic income and regeneration.

In 2022, I was lucky enough to attend one such Mega-Event, The Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, UK. I had a pretty good view as you can see:

Types of Events - Commonwealth Games, 2022

What Are The Different Types Of Events By Type?

There are two different types of events, business, and leisure. All events will fit into one of these two categories. 

Now within each of these two sectors, there are multiple sub-sectors of events. It is even possible for leisure and business events to crossover.

Event Types

Different Types of Events – Business

As the name suggests this relates to all business events that take place in the course of the workplace or doing business. These are often referred to as corporate events.

During the pandemic, many businesses turned to virtual events to keep the flow of business going. A virtual event involves people attending only via the internet on software such as Zoom.

Corporate Events

Every type of business will be involved in some kind of event from freelancers to large international corporations. At each of these levels, the objectives to host or attend a corporate event will be different depending on what outcomes they are seeking, for example, lead generation.

The most comment type of corporate event that most business organizations will engage with are meetings, seminars, tradeshows or exhibitions. 

Corporate event planners are one of the most common roles in the events industry.

For example at a trade show, there may also be seminars, workshops, or networking events alongside the main activity of the exhibition stands.


Seminars are small events that have a specific focus and a particular target audience in mind. They generally take place in a business environment and serve to deliver highly useful information on the subject matter.  This is often educational content.

Seminars often include speakers who will lead and contribute to the subject matter and stimulate discussion around the room.

Networking Events

Networking is one of the main reasons why people attend a corporate event. Networking opportunities can help grow businesses, and promote collaborations and partnerships. Forbes gives three reasons why business people should consider attending networking events. 

As with some of the larger events, networking opportunities can often be part of things like conferences and trade shows. event organizers will make time and space for people to network and connect, both face-to-face and using technology.


Conferences are large versions of seminars and have multiple tracks or themes running through the entire event. 

Conferences are often organized by trade associations or membership organizations to invite their members (mostly annually) to come together for information sharing and networking. 

These events can often have a social element or trade show attached to them. A conference is also very good at reaching a wide range of audiences interested in a particular subject.


Tradeshow - Formula E - Saudia

Trade shows focus on personal selling either to other businesses or to consumers.

Trade shows and exhibitions have booths that businesses book to meet and network with potential customers. 

Alongside the exhibition or trade show, there are likely to be other activities such as seminars and workshops.  

Trade shows are often used by businesses for lead generation for their business comma to network with existing customers or to Showcase new products or services.


These slightly different versions of business events where the owners may be on collaborate between parties to offer some kind of training sessions. 

Workshops can often be used to bring ideas together from a group of people such as employees or members of an organization.  They can also be used to solve a problem or develop a strategy and are particularly good in this respect for inclusion and collaboration.

Team Building Events

Team building events are fun activities that help groups of people work together better. They can be games, challenges or projects that require everyone to cooperate and communicate.

A good team building event can help people get to know each other better and build trust, which can make working together easier and more enjoyable!

Product Launches

A product launch event is a way for a business to formally announce a new product line or service. They are often invite-only including key members of the press and industry in the hope they will attract positive media coverage. 

It is usual for a senior executive from the business to give a keynote speech and for a product demonstration to take place. It is also common for product launch events to be live-streamed on the internet.

Here is Steve Jobs launching the first ever iPhone at an event in 2007:

Product Demonstrations

As we mentioned above, product demonstrations are often part of a product launch event, but they can also be individual events in their own right. They are often used to attract media coverage for a new product or service, particularly in a business-to-business environment. 

They also take place in business-to-customer environments such as supermarkets or shopping malls.

This activity is often called experiential marketing as businesses pay to allow customers to try their product or service for free in the hope that they will buy it.

Keynotes / Lectures

Keynote speeches are often a common way to open a large event like a conference or trade show by inviting an established or renowned speaker from a particular industry to come and give the keynote speech. 

This type of event can also be found as an event on its own, more often known as a lecture. these can be academic or industry based. They are often by invitation only, but some do sell tickets. 

Awards Night

Awards nights are often part of a larger event, but they can also exist as standalone occurrences.  there is usually a gala dinner attached to an awards night where are guests present awards to winners throughout the evening. 

The dress code for awards night is typically formal and often by invite only, although some do sell tickets. 

Different Types of Events – Leisure

Leisure events cover a broad range of different events that can range from a very small gathering of people right up to hundreds of thousands attending. 

One of the key differences between business and leisure events is that people are looking for experiences from leisure events. This is therefore a key criterion when planning this type of event.

Another difference with leisure events is that the attendees are general members of the public and not businesses. 

Leisure events can be broadly split into four areas, social, sport, cultural, and community. 

Different Types of Events – Social

Private Parties

Private parties range in size and in value. these cover everything from birthday parties, christenings, baby showers graduation parties. 

Most of these types of events will be organized privately by members of the public, but there are event planners who are businesses supporting people planning just this type of event. 

One of the key opportunities around private parties is the opportunity for themed events. Think Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc. Check out this page from Eventologists for some 75 party theme ideas to inspire you.


In 2019, 2.02 million people in the US got married (Statista). Weddings are very personal events and vary greatly across different cultures and religions around the world. 

Couples will often employ an event planner to support their big day given how much they can cost. According to The Knot, in 2021 the average cost of a wedding was $28,000!


Reunions are the coming together of former friends and colleagues from High School, College or workplaces for a short-term celebration and to catch up.  

The organizing of reunions has been made much easier since the advent of social media and our ability to connect with old friends and colleagues in a much easier way.

Nightclub events


Nightclub events have been in existence through most of the 20th century. essentially they are held during the nights in music venues across the country where the predominant activity is to go for a drink, socialize, and dance. 

There are variations of this concept comma particularly live music venues which operate slightly differently word primary driver of footfall is the music rather than the socializing or consumption of alcohol. If you are interested in how venues make money, see my other post on this topic

In the UK night clubs have seen a decline in popularity since the covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and the cost-of-living crisis in 2022 where it was estimated that night clubs are closing at a rate of one every two days. 

Different Types of Events – Sport

Sports events cover both participation and spectator. Statista reports that the sports event market was worth $12.44bn in 2022 and is expected to continue to grow. 

There is a clear cross-over between these two types of events as people often go to spectator other people participating in events.

Participation Sports Events

These events involve individuals or teams entering into and participating in competitive sports. The motivations and abilities will vary amongst different audiences but include events like running marathons, local soccer tournaments, athletics, or even dragon boat racing like this event in Hong Kong:

Spectator Sports Events

There are spectator sports events of all different sizes ranging from local community sport teams right through to mega-events like the Olympics and FIFA World Cups. As mentioned previously, these events move from country to country through a competitive bidding process.

Some of these sports events have built big brands like the NFL, The NBA, Formula 1 or Premier League soccer, which have revenues in the millions of dollars. 

Different Types of Events – Cultural

Music Concerts and Festivals

Music concerts and festivals involve performances of musicians to mass audiences. There are concert venues ranging from less than 100 people right up to the largest festivals in the world like Donauinselfest in Austria which attacts over 2 million attendees (BBC)

Music concerts and festivals are big business, in 2022 revenue in this sector is expected to reach $8.49 billion and then continue to grow at an annual rate of 9.49% (Statista)

Venues are an important part of this industry, see how they make money in this other post I wrote. 

Food Festivals 

Another important cultural event for many cities. Food festivals often showcase local food and drink from regional producers. They can often be combined with other types of events, such as music festivals. The Big Feastival is a great example of this, I took my family to this a couple of years ago!

These events have the ability to be high-value tourism events and elevate themselves into hallmark events where they become synonymous with the place they are held. 

There are some great examples of this, such as Ludlow Food Festival in the UK, Taste of Chicago or the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience.

Different Types of Community Events

Community Events

Such is the depth and variety of community events that is almost impossible to list them all individually in a post of this size.

One of the most common attributes though of community events is it they are planned by the community for the community. There is little or no tourism or economic gain from community events.

Check out this post for 15 ideas for community events

Charity Events

Charity events are special occasions where people come together to help others in need. They can be a fundraising event, like a walk or auction, where money is collected to support a good cause. People might also volunteer their time to help others directly, like serving food at a homeless shelter. Charity events are a great way to make a difference and show kindness to others!

So there you have it, a quick introduction to the types of event across the industry. We hope you liked it!


Number of marriages in the United States from 1990 to 2020 – Statista:

This Was the Average Cost of a Wedding in 2021 – The Knot:

Sports Events – United States

What is the best Bluetooth card machine for events?

Bluetooth card machine

There are a range of Bluetooth card machines available on the market today, way more than there were a couple of years ago. Sidestepping away from the chunky and unsightly chip and pin fixed to a counter, small businesses (typically with transactions less than £20k a month) can now have smaller, sleek, and more functional card readers that work equally as well.

The iZettle is currently the best all-round contactless card machines to use at events. It offers the widest choice of card accepted as well as all the major contactless card services such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

Card machines are a great, cost-effective, and easy to use tool for any event business. Over the past few years, there has been a steep increase in people using cashless payment whether it’s through their debit/credit card, apple pay (via phone or watch) or Google pay. In today’s society, it’s seen as an inconvenience if someone doesn’t have a cashless payment option. Additionally, in light of current times (whilst we are in a global pandemic) cashless payment is even more desirable and valuable for a business.

When it comes to choosing a card machine for an events business, there are a few things you will want to consider in order to get the most out of it. Firstly, I should point out that different machines work better or worse in different locations so just be mindful of this. For example, your location could be:

  • Outside at a festival
  • In a warehouse/remote venue
  • In an exhibition centre
  • In a shop/pop up

The biggest barriers with card machines and locations usually are down to signal for the card machine to make the transaction and also power (to charge the unit and or your smartphone). Another key factor is how often you will be using the card machine for your event or business. Daily, monthly once a year? Depending on different readers available this can affect your value for money and overall cost of your card reader.

How do contactless card readers work?

Contactless payment is taken via an app connected to a Bluetooth card reader. The app is provided by a merchant who will process the payment for a transaction fee. The money taken will usually be available within 1-3 days in the nominated bank account.

As a general rule, you get a small card machine which then connects via Bluetooth to a mobile or tablet. On that device, you will need to download an app which then operates the card machine. You are then ready to use it simply by getting someone to tap contactless or enter their pin, just like your normal card machine. 

Most then don’t have a monthly fee or require a contract (although you can often add in some subscription options with your chosen provider). You just need to purchase the card machine at a one-off cost and pay a transaction fee on a Pay as you go basis.

One thing to point out is that you will need either a Wi-Fi connection or 3G/4G connection for the transaction to be processed.

Below I have listed 5 of the most popular card machines for event businesses, listing out some highlights, things to consider as well as costs to help you make more of an informed decision as to what suits your event business the best.

1. Square Terminal


  • Accepts Mastercard, American Express and Visa, both contactless and chip and PIN
  • Can save cards on file for repeat payments
  • Can be used to sell online, collect payments via invoices and by phone
  • Fixed rate of 1.75% per transaction
  • Remote payment (via a link to a customer @ 2.5% transaction fee)
  • No minimum transaction fees


  • £19 + VAT one off cost for the card reader
  • No contract or inactivity fees

There are a series of add-ons that Square offer. To list a few:

  • Can print receipts from the terminal
  • Inventory management via the App
  • Can sync other apps to it to help with business paperwork e.g. accounting, analytics etc.
  • Can track employee performance using the App

Square reader is a cost-effective and user-friendly reader for any business with the advantages of having integration between payments and accounting across your business.

2. Zettle


  • Accepts the widest range of cards out of all 5 in this post (including apple pay)
  • You can choose the colour of your card machine (black or white)
  • No set up or delivery cost
  • Fixed rate of 1.75% per transaction
  • Remote payment (via a link to a customer @ 2.5% transaction fee)
  • Refunds are free to process (and you get the transaction cost back too)
  • Charges via a USB or via a dock (takes 1-2 hours for full charge) and lasts 8hrs or 100 transactions
  • Can also be used to sell your items online via iZettle’s ecommerce site

Things to note:

  • Minimum transaction fee of £1


  • Initial card reader £29 + VAT one off payment

Overall, this is a great and low-cost card reader for any small business looking to take card payments. Not being locked into a contract is a great plus point, meaning you won’t have any ongoing costs after your initial investment in the card reader apart from your transaction fees.

3. SumUp


  • Accepts all major brands of cards
  • Fixed rate of 1.69% per transaction
  • Comes with a white card machine
  • No setup or delivery cost
  • Accepts contactless, chip and PIN and signature cards
  • Remote payment (via a link to a customer @ 2.5% transaction fee)
  • App automatically connects via Bluetooth with card machine when you pick card as payment method
  • Not locked into a contract

Things to note:

  • You don’t get the transaction fee back on any refunds

Initial cost:

  • Card reader costs £29 + VAT and is a one off cost
  • They also offer a 3G card reader (so you don’t need a smartphone) for £69 + VAT

This reader is a good contender with low transaction and initial set up fees. There are just less add-ons and gadgets that work with this reader. However, it comes with a great advantage of not needing a smartphone if you go for the slightly pricier card reader.

4. Worldpay ZINC Reader


  • 24/7 phone support
  • Accept major credit cards
  • Available in black
  • Contactless, chip and PIN and apple watch compatible
  • Remote payment (via a link to a customer based on a transaction fee – quoted by WorldPay)
  • Comes with 12-month warranty for the reader
  • Receipt can be issued by email or SMS instantly

Things to note:

  • A steeper 2.75% transaction fee unless you pay £5.99 a month which then lowers it to 1.95%
  • Fees depend on turnover and a few other variables
  • Sign up for a quote on their website for fees
  • Require PCI (payment card industry) compliance 


  • Card reader £39.99 including VAT but has been as much as £79.99
  • No set up fees beyond buying the card reader (if you are happy with the higher transaction fees)
  • Contract monthly £5.99 if you want lower transaction fees

Although still a highly rated app, the transaction fees are a little steep compared to other competitors in the market. Without any significant plus points over competitors it could be worth looking at others especially if you are on a tight budget.

5.Smart Trade APP


  • Does not require a card reader (just scan card with your smartphone)
  • Option to pass on the card fees to your customer
  • Can be used to pay face to face, over the phone and through paylinks on emails
  • Can create customised invoices to send out
  • Accepts all major cards as well as foreign cards
  • Can send paperless quotes to customers and have a one click button for them to accept
  • Allows easy integration for some accounting e.g. Xero, quickbooks etc.

Things to note:

  • More aimed at tradespeople
  • You are in a contract but can cancel at any time


  • No card reader needed just the app which is free to download
  • They also have a 30-day trial 
  • After the trail you will need to sign up to 1 of 3 plans:
    • Business: (up to 15 users) 1.85% plus 20p flat rate per transaction plus £26.99 a month
    • Enterprise: (Up to 50 users) 1.75% plus 20p flat rate per transaction plus £89.99 a month
    • Sole Trader: (one user) 2.15% plus 20p flat rate per transaction plus £9.99 a month

A great choice for those who don’t want to bother with a card machine and for those who want to pass the transaction fee onto their customers. The higher cost transaction fees and monthly payments would mean it is not so cost-effective for business, but a good option for those with relatively limited but high-value transactions.

As you can see from above there are advantages and disadvantages to all of the top 5 card machines. To help you choose the best one for your event/business type I have set out some influencing factors and recommendations on what card machine might work best for your event or business.

Large scale event e.g. outdoor festival, trade show

Things to consider:

  • Number of hours trading
    • If it’s a long time you will need a power supply
  • Size of event
    • If It’s a large-scale event with lots of other people and vendors, you could be fighting for signal for payments
  • Expected number of transactions
    • Some have minimum spend caps on or have higher charges if you do only a few transactions
  • Expected use
    • Is this a one off or will you use the card regularly? – If it’s a once in a blue moon you use it consider the fact some charge dormant fees.

Good card reader option: iZettle is a great reader when it comes to the following:

  • Battery life and power (charges super quickly and lasts 8 hrs)
  • No fees for inactivity/not regularly used
  • Flat rate for fees no matter how many, although minimum spent of £1 which most of the time is not an issue

When it comes to signal being an issue there is not a huge breakthrough card machine that can overcome this. Some ways to help with this machine are:

  • Send remote payment links (your customer can pay later through a link on their phone if the transaction would not go through).
  • Think about getting yourself a remote dongle so you have your own personal Wi-Fi connection. This will boost your chances of being able to take payment quickly and easily.

Charity Event

  • Fees/cost
    • You want to be paying as little as possible
    • You can even pass on the fees to your customer to keep costs down as much as possible
    • Similarly, you don’t really want to be locked into a contract unless there are some serious benefits for you.
  • Number of transactions
    • Like above, if you rarely plan to use it be careful as some companies charge dormant fees for inactivity.

Based on that, a good card reader option: Although the Smart Trade APP is the best in regards to passing on fees this comes with a monthly minimum cost of £9.99 for a contract. Other competitors for examples square reader don’t have any monthly fees or contract so means you will only be paying a transaction fee, which if you are savvy enough you could include in your selling price to help keep costs to a complete minimum. 

Shop or stall

  • Look
    • Your aesthetic and look may be more important here, so the option of colour is nice.
  • Online selling options
    • Possibility to use the card reader’s eCommerce site to sell your items on to widen your selling opportunities
  • Recurring payment
    • Might want to set up recurring payments if it’s an item someone wants to buy regularly

Good card reader option: iZettle again, is a great option for a shop or stall. With the option to choose white or black carder readers, and the option to sell on iZettle’s eCommerce it’s certainly a good purchase. Although you can’t set up recurring payments you can send regular payment links out manually to customers to get payment. 

To summarise, why are card readers a great investment for your events business?

  • Shorter queues due to quicker transaction times
    • Payment in just a tap as opposed to routing through for change
    • More customers served = more cash and quicker waiting time = happier customers
  • Safety
    • None/less cash on site
    • Money straight into your account (can’t lose it)
  • Easy to track
    • Connect your account to a financal programme, it helps track finance, and pulls out key figures etc. to help you report your business profits and loss.
    • Also helps with business credit rating, which in turn can help if you want to borrow money.
  • Add validity to business.
    • Make your customers feel you are more legitimate.
  • Recurring payments can be set up.
  • Increased spend
    • Your consumer is not limited to just what cash they have on them – they are more likely to splurge a little more!


I can safely say a card reader at your event or for your events business would not be a poor purchase. Although there are many more than the 5 card readers above, these are the ones that have been tried and tested more and therefore have greater reviews. If I had to choose one for my events, as a failsafe and cost-effective way of taking payments however, Zettle would be my option if just the card reader was needed. If more established, and on the lookout for a more middle of the road reader with a few extra add-ons Square reader would a next best great option, with the ability to print receipts from the terminal without the restriction of a minimum transaction fee.

How to start a mobile bar business

Mobile Bar

From my experience at both indoor and outdoor events many lend themselves perfectly to having mobile bars serving at them. The expectation now, when going to an event, often is that there will be a range of food and drinks on hand to buy.

Mobile bars are perfect for ad-hoc events or venues where there are limited existing facilities to serve drinks. Mobile bars are often useful at things like beer or gin festivals, I wrote this other post on how to organize one of those  

There are a number of things you will need to start a mobile bar business. These include:

  • A solid business plan
  • A truck/stall/mobile bar 
  • Glassware
  • Cold storage
  • Licensing arrangements
  • Stock

Licencing is the key legality you need to adhere to when starting and managing your own mobile bar business. It can often feel confusing. Therefore, in this post, I will go into what licences you need and any key things to note.

*Just to flag, this post is aimed at the UK market and based on British legislation and licencing only. If you are based outside of the UK, please consult local guidance in your region.

What do I include in my mobile bar business plan?

Any business owner, irrelevant of the business type, will advise you the best place to begin when starting a mobile bar business is with your business plan. 

This will help you to really think about what your business means, does and how it will operate logistically and financially before you dive in and waste precious time and money.

A business plan also will be requested by any investors or banks who you are trying to get to input money. They want to be able to see that it is a viable business before they invest in it.

So where do you start with the business plan? There are plenty of templates out there online that you can use as a structure for ideas. To help you out, I have listed out a few headers and sub-headings for you to think about when writing your business plan. 

Do not feel you have to structure it all in the same order. Do what works for you!

Mobile Bar Business Plan Checklist

  • Business overview
  • Executive summary
    • What you are/sector/purpose
    • Aim of starting the business e.g. to make profit, follow passion/skills etc.
  • What are the products or services I plan to offer
  • Vision/mission statement 
  • Business structure
    • Roles and responsibilities
  • SWOT analysis
  • My Strengths
  • My Weaknesses
  • External Opportunities
  • External Threats
  • Market analysis
  • Market trends (backed up by research)
  • Suggested target Market
  • Competitive advantages to stand out in the current market. What makes your mobile bar different?
  • Financial Plan
  • Sources of income
  • Sales forecast
  • Sales strategy
  • Pricing strategy
  • Payment options
  • Start-up costs
  • Business forecast
  • Where do you see the business in 6, 12 months, 2, 4 years etc.
  • Expansion/reinvestment plans

How do I set up a mobile bar business?

Once you have your business plan mapped out, you are in a great position to start setting up your mobile bar business. 

So, where do you start? There isn’t really a right or wrong place to start as it depends on the individual and what skills/resources you have available. I have, however, broken down the set-up process in some bullet points to help keep you on track:

Mobile Bar Business Registration

There are a few key things to register and apply for when starting up your business:

  1. Register your Business (Partnership, limited company, or sole trader)
  2. Register with the council (as a new business you need to do this locally to where you run).
  3. Register with HMRC (Either as a limited company or a self-employed basis)
  4. Public Liability Event Insurance (cover for any claims against the business)
  5. Insurance (to cover your assets/set up if it were stolen or damaged)

Small Business Banking

It’s advisable to keep both your personal and business finances separate. The best way to ensure this is to set up separate accounts for business and personal.

  • This protects your own assets in the event of issues with the business.
  • It makes tax filing and accounting easier
  • A business credit card will help you spread expenses rather than having to pay everything all at once (especially if you have to do all your spending pre-event and may only get 50% payment until event completion).
  • Having a credit card builds your business’s credit rating, which works favourably when getting loans or investments.
  • Keep notes/receipts of all expenses as some of these can be deducted when filing tax. It also helps when cost tracking. 

For my event business, I’ve been using a Monzo business bank account for the last four years. I found it super easy to set up, and there were minimal credit checks, unlikely the major high street banks. I’ve no complaints and would highly recommend them. You can sign up here; this isn’t an affiliate link. I find the service super easy to use!

Insurance for a mobile bar

In the UK, there are generally THREE types you would want to consider for a mobile bar

  • Employers Liability, this covers any staff or volunteers who work for you and is a legal requirement in the UK.

  • Public Liability covers accidents or damages caused in the public domain (non-staff). This protects your business from claims made by members of the public.

  • Equipment Insurance. Worth looking at to protect against any loss through accident or theft that could impact your business. 

Check out this full article we wrote on event insurance, but that can be mainly for organisers of events.

If you are running the mobile bar as a small business, I’ve used Hiscox Insurance in the past. You can get a free online quote on there website here.

This is an affiliate link, so if you do go ahead with purchasing the insurance with them, Eventunity receives a small referral fee that helps keep the lights on around here! It won’t mean you pay a higher amount.

What license do you need for a mobile bar business?

Your first starting point is getting yourself a Personal License. These can be obtained in the UK and require you to pass an exam by an accredited board to receive your licence. The exam is in place to ensure licence holders are aware of both the licencing law as well as the social responsibilities that go hand in hand with selling alcohol to people.

So what does this cost?

Where do I take the test?

  • The GOV.UK website shows a list of accredited training providers where you can sign up for one to suit you.

How do I obtain my Personal licence once I pass?

  • Once you pass, you will need to send a copy of your certificate as well as an up-to-date basic disclosure check (around £25) to confirm you have no criminal record.
  • You then need to send these to your local authority (where you live) along with a passport-style photo and £37
  • You will then get your licence card which you should have on you when selling/serving alcohol.

How do I apply for a temporary event notice (TEN)?

  • Once you have your licence, you can fill in an online form on the GOV.UK website to obtain your TEN (temporary event notice). 
  • You will then need to send your £21 fee and a copy of the TEN to the local licencing authority.
  • As well you need to send a copy to:
    • The local police
    • A local environmental health officer

You can find their details on your local authority’s website.

Top things to know about the TEN:

  • As a personal licence holder, you can apply for up to 50 TENs a year (at £21 per TEN)
  • There must be at least 24hrs between TENs at the same location
  • Each event notice can last up to 168hrs (7 days)
  • Each location can have 12 TENs a year
  • Any one event can have up to 500 at all times on site (including staff)

What mobile bar equipment do I need?

Aside from your main bar asset/set-up (whether that be a horsebox, airstream, gazebo and table or truck) it’s easy to forget the minor details. Below is a checklist of things that come in useful.

  • Bottle openers & corkscrews (easy to put one down or misplace so have a few)
  • Chopping boards and knives
  • Cocktail shakers
  • Stirring spoons
  • Glassware (a range of shapes and sizes)
  • Napkins
  • Cloths for cleaning spillages
  • Lights (if it’s an evening or dark a day)
  • Extension cables for power
  • Waste and recycling bins (make sure these are hidden as they are unsightly)
  • Ice, ice buckets and tongs
  • Jugs and strainer
  • Straws or garnish/drink décor
  • Trays
  • Payment system/till*
  • Pen & paper to take orders if needed
  • Notes of drinks and how to make them
  • Menus/signs
  • Fridges or buckets to chill drinks with ice

You can buy most of the equipment you need from a professional catering company like Nisbets

There are also a few extra things to consider when designing your bar set-up:

  • A place to store clean glasses
  • Area to put dirty glasses
  • Glasswasher(s)
  • General bar decoration, e.g. lights, prints etc.

*Payment Machine

You will almost certainly need the ability to take payment by contactless or card. Most people (especially since the Coronavirus pandemic) will expect this. Luckily, this has become much easier in recent years and you can invest in a system for less than £30. Systems such as Zettle and Sumup in the UK use a small Bluetooth contactless device that connects to an app on your phone or tablet, see my other post on this here. You will have to pay a small commission on money taken, but it’s likely customers will expect this service.

Marketing and promoting your mobile bar business

If you are looking to set up a serious business rather than just a hobby, having a website and presence on social media channels will really help take your business to the next level. Having an online presence gives your business legitimacy, helps people to find you and acts as a good segway to direct potential customers too.

To make a start, it would be advantageous to have the following:

  • Website for your events
    • For website hosting, I use Siteground, which has been amazing for this website but Bluehost is also recommended for ease of use.
    • With a content plan (images of work, contact details, upcoming events etc.)
  • Instagram 
  • Facebook
  • Get yourself on preferred events suppliers, e.g. event/wedding planners (networking will help with this).

A top tip is to make sure you regularly update and post content. There is nothing worse than when, as a consumer, you go on an Instagram or Facebook page giving minimal information on and where nothing has been posted in months. 

One other top tip is to get some professional photos (or take some good quality ones on your phone) with your bar dressed and with a nice background. When we have nothing else to judge but an image aesthetic is everything!

So how do you promote your mobile bar?

  • As mentioned above, online presence is key! More and more use just search engines and social media to find people/businesses.
  • Networking! It’s a free and easy marketing tool. Get to know party planners and venues. It may even lead to a partnership!
  • Local print/flyers in an area to promote your business
  • Word of mouth. Doing a great job can get you far. Although it can take time this can cause a great snowball effect when word gets around.
  • Look online for Facebook groups that allow traders and organisers to connect.

Who is the target market

As a start-up business having a well-defined target market is key in order to help compete with larger and more established businesses. This is where having a niche (whether that’s brand, name, drinks etc.) will be the thing that helps you stand out here.

So where do you start?

  • Check out for competition
    • Who are their customers?
    • What do they do well and what are they missing?
  • Do an overview of your service/product
    • What are the benefits of your business to them?
    • Next identify the people who have a need for these benefits 
  • Break it down to target audience specifics:
    • Age
    • Gender
    • Location
    • Income
    • Occupation
    • Marital/family status
    • Ethnic background/culture
  • You can then delve deeper on the target audience psychographics e.g.
    • Values & attitudes
    • Lifestyle
    • Interests/hobbies

Once you have collated this information on your target it’s key to then ask yourself the following questions in order to help make sure you are targeting the right people:

  • Can they afford what I am offering?
  • Will they benefit from what I am offering?
  • Are they easily accessible/reachable?
  • Do I know what drives my target audience?
  • Are there enough people who fit my criteria?

Top tip: 

  • Remember you can have more than one target market, but make sure you don’t try and target all!
  • An online search, face to face research and other print/media are great ways to help you research your target audience.

Staffing your mobile bar

When you start off it is likely that you will be a jack of all trades and likely responsible for the setup, running and take down of the bar. You need to be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get hands on with everything. If you are new to bartending, it’s well worth going on a course to help increase your skills and therefore product.

Once your business is more established you will need to consider building a team. As a general rule of thumb, it would be advantageous to work to the following:

  • 1 bartender for every 75 guests (when only serving beer and wine)
  • 1 bartender for every 50 guests (for a full bar)
  • It’s worth considering an extra member of staff if you have a complex menu e.g. cocktails.

How much do mobile bars make?

Firstly, mobile businesses selling drinks, as opposed to food, are often on to a higher profit margin, with less waste (due to a less perishable product), little preparation time involved and your immunity to seasonality (you can sell alcohol all year around, summer, Christmas is also a bumper time). On top of that, typically if you are savvy, you are looking at 50-70% profit margin per unit.

As with most events there is no one specific answer on how much a mobile bar makes as the cost will depend on the type of setup you have and the audience you serve, more on this below.

However, on average, with good planning and some tips and tricks, you will be looking at a profit typically in the higher hundreds or low thousands. In the below I have set out some examples to help you cost up and calculate how much you could make at a festival with a mobile bar for example.

A few quick sums will help you to have a clearer picture of how much money will be going out, how much resource you might need, how much money you could make and how much you will need to break even.

It can feel like plucking figures from air at times when you are starting off, as often experience is what guides you here. Below I have broken down a simple way for working out skeleton profitability.

*please note this is an example using experience and will vary depending on the event you go to and your bar set up.

Out costsPrice (£)
Site Fee5,000
Organisers % cut (say 20%) earnings9,000
Staff cost (4 staff on 10hr shifts for 4 days)1,500
Stock costs2000
Fuel & travel500

Equally as important is working out your projected sales:

A great starting point is by compiling these details:

  • How many hours you want to serve each day?
  • How much are you charging per item?
  • How many staff do you plan to take?

So, what other factors affect profit? What other things should I consider? 

When it comes down to how much mobile bars actually make it’s totally dependent on a series of factors. Depending what you are serving (the more unique the better off), along with a few other key factors, will ultimately determine your success. Below there are some things to consider to help increase your chances of profit.

Site location:

  • Being in a busy area is always desirable, but more expensive, as you will have a high footfall passing the stand. 
  • Make sure you aren’t in a dead end or by the toilets – often people won’t walk past in volume or tend to dwell in these areas for long.

Target Audience:

  • Are you providing a product that the festival goers will want?
  • Research your audience and cater to their budget, tastes and needs.

Weather: Be reactive to this uncontrollable factor.

  • Offer something useful e.g. if it’s raining buy drinks from us and get a free branded poncho (easy to buy and store if the weather breaks!).

Up your truck look/design:

  • Colour, props and fun décor can really help you to stand out and look the part. If you are at an event with competition having something like a great design can help draw them in and give them focus over others.
  • Staff uniform is a key part of the design. Make these comfortable, clean looking but with a fun element, again to match the bar theme. You will be surprised how much we make decisions based just on looks. 

Develop your truck’s brand/reputation:

  • Smile! It is true when they say people buy people! Some small talk, happy faces and upbeat energy can go a long way bringing people back and leaving lasting positive memories – after all you never know who you are serving (someone might ask you to another event or festival).
  • Utilise your marketing opportunity. Stamp or print your logo and social media accounts on your cups etc. If you want to go one step further perhaps offer a competition or incentive if they follow your social channels. E.g. follow us and get 10% off.

A few tips to help you stand out at events where there is competition:

Don’t hide your prices away! Make them really easy and clear to read. If hidden, an instant assumption is you’re too expensive and puts people off. 

Take lots of change! If you sell anything e.g. £5.50 take lots of 50p’s! There is nothing worse than scrabbling for change during a big influx of orders.

Take card payments. So many people hate carrying cash. They are cost effective, easy and a safe way to charge people. Less cash on site also makes it safer for you! Check out this article we wrote on Bluetooth card machines.

Samples. Everyone loves a freebie! This is a great marketing technique, encouraging people to come back or try something off the menu next time they fancy a drink.

Mobile Bar Drinks Pricing

So how much can I charge?

It goes without saying, you need to price each drink/drinks package so you at least break even.

There are a couple of ways to approach costing:

  • Charge per drink like a standard bar
    • Make sure you do your research for what your competition does (you don’t want to overprice yourself nor undercut yourself too much)
  • Charge as a drinks package e.g. £30 per head for 4 drinks etc.

Mobile bar ideas

One of the advantages of having a mobile bar means that you can move to where the events are and are not fixed in one area. Another great thing is that you need less equipment to run and have everything compactly at your fingertips!

There are a range of different approaches you can take when setting up, styling and serving from your bar. Trends change quickly so one advantage of a mobile bar is that you can usually quite easily, and cost effectively, change your bar to meet demand, keep up with trends and stay ahead of the curve.

To give you some inspiration on ways to serve from your bar I have listed a few things that prove popular:

  • Beer bar (independent brewers)
  • Cocktail & Mocktails
  • Gin bar
  • Pimms bar
  • Prosecco/bubbly bar
  • Wine bar
  • Cider bar

On top of deciding what you choose to stock and sell, there are also a range of different and innovative ways you can create and repurpose everyday items into your bar. Below are some good examples of different types of mobile bars, although the world is your oyster when it comes to set up, style and bar unit.

Bar on a bike 

The Cargo Bike Company created the below cocktail bar. A simple, head turning spin on a classic.

Drinks bar bike - The Cargo Bike Company

Some advantages of this bar

  • Easy to move around (can quite literally pedal to the people)
  • Small and compact to store
  • Eye catching 
  • Small site space (so cost effective if you go to an event)

Some downfalls

  • Limited storage for ingredients
  • Can get lost in the background at some events
  • Limited area to chill drinks



Blinkers Horsebox Bar (in picture) shows a unit that has everything at your fingertips. Easy to move to events on the back of a car as well as a quirky yet attractive addition to the aesthetics of an event.

Some advantages of this bar

  • Easy to move around 
  • Compact, which cuts down set up time

Some downfalls

  • Require vehicle to tow it to events
  • Can be restrictive in space


The Bus Bar Company’s fun, unique and quintessentially British bar that has the advantage of both indoor and outdoor serving space to suit all weathers!

Some advantages of this bar

  • Easy to move around/drive
  • Compact, which cuts down set up time
  • Striking and a good decorative for the event

Some downfalls

  • Size can make it hard to park/get into some event sites
  • Site space is expensive for something this size if you go to paid for events

These can be set up and designed to suit what drinks you are serving and who you are serving. Colour, decoration and set up can easily be changed as demands dictate.

Free standing bar

Some advantages of this bar

  • Can fit around space you have available
  • Can be easily transported
  • Small and compact to store

Some downfalls

  • Limited storage for ingredients
  • Can get lost in the background at some events
  • Limited area to chill drinks
  • Having lots of things next to the bar, e.g. bins, spare stock etc., can look messy

As you can see there are a range of ways you can design and set up a mobile bar. There is no right or wrong way as long as it’s safe and functional for your needs. 

I hope that this post has helped you in the initial steps of setting up a mobile bar and wish you the best of luck with your project and business!

What Does A Concert Promoter Do And How To Get Started

Concert Promoter

Being a concert promoter isn’t necessarily for the faint-hearted. You have to have a passion for the music you want to promote and a good work ethic to succeed in this highly competitive industry.

Music Concert

I was a successful concert promoter for over ten years, promoting a variety of live music and club night events, and I’m going to share with you some of the skills I picked up along the way.

A concert promoter is responsible for “putting on the show”, that is to say they perform the following functions: 

  1. Booking venues
  2. Negotiating with agents
  3. Booking the bands, 
  4. Arranging ticket sales
  5. Advertising the show
  6. Arranging all of the technical requirements
  7. Setting sound check and performance times

Most concert promoters aren’t tied to a venue, but sometimes they can be.

Concert promoters book or hire venues where they want to promote shows.  If they already work at a venue, the roles are still very similar.

I was a venue manager for over 10 years (I didn’t own the venue), and promoted countless live shows, club nights and other performances. No two shows are the same, and concert promoter jobs can be hard work.

It’s often sold as a glamorous role, but the reality is a concert promoter will spend hours sitting at a computer or on the phone arranging a multitude of different things such as venue operations or press releases. 

BUT….it’s worth it all when the show has sold out, you’ve made your money, and you can see people having a good time. That’s the passion that drives a concert promoter. 

So let’s delve into that role a little deep to see exactly what a concert promoter actually does.

What does a concert promoter do?

A concert promoter may be an employee of a venue, own the venue, work for a concert promotion company or be a freelancer who uses different venues. Some concert promoters start just by hiring small venues and promoting local bands before moving up to buy their own venues. 

Concert promoters work with venues of all sizes, from small events doing open mic nights to 10,000+ capacity arena shows or major outdoor festivals for companies like Live Nation.

There are plenty of similarities across these different levels, so let’s dive into this in more detail to understand what some of the concert promoter jobs are. 

Working with agents

The one thing you need to realise about booking agents is that they work for the band, not the concert promoter. They usually get a % commission from the booking fee you pay.

Music Agent

When bands are looking to build a fan base, their agent will try to ‘route’ a series of gigs in succession. This might form the basis of a larger tour. 

A concert promoter needs to understand where any particular band is in their journey. Are they playing 100, 300, 1,000 or 10,000 capacity shows? Correctly identifying this will save you from wasting the agent’s time.

Negotiating with agents is a tricky business. Be careful of just asking what the price is, the answer you get will be determined by a number of factors: how well the agent knows you if you have booked previous shows, the potential to ‘route’ a band tour your way and the popularity of the band. There may still be some wiggle room in that price if you have some good haggling skills. 

Negotiation doesn’t just end with the price. A concert promoter must also sign off on the band’s rider requirements.

After all of this has been agreed, a contract is signed. Once you pass this point, there is a legal commitment to delivering everything agreed, so make sure you are happy and can deliver it or there will be trouble ahead. The agent may have a representative on-site at the gig to ensure everything goes off as agreed. 

Working with bands to get them to play.

If you’re aiming to just host local bands with a small capacity venue then you may find that you need to deal with the band directly or (if they have one) a local manager. It’s not uncommon for that manager to be a parent or a close family friend, in my experience!

In this situation, negotiation can be much more informal. However, everything should still be agreed upon in advance and a simple contract or agreement signed to avoid any unnecessary confusion or issues on the day.

Arranging the tickets

Once the venue and bands are confirmed, then, the tickets need to be put on sale. Concert promotion is all about selling tickets, well for the most part. Ensuring the number of tickets sold covers the cost of putting the event on is crucial.

If the concert promoter knows there will be demand for the tickets, they may want to spend some time building up the sale date, using it to their advantage to build things like their email list in exchange for priority access. 

If tickets are likely to be in demand, then a robust and trusted online ticketing platform needs to be used. When deciding on which ticketing system to use for a live show, consider the following factors:

  • The price of the tickets
  • % service charge by the ticketing platform
  • % charge by payment fees 
  • The delivery method of the ticketing platform 

Ideally, a system that has the lowest charges, is robust and automates ticket delivery is going to be the best option. Do some research to find out those that best suit your needs, you can find some of the best ticketing platforms on our resources page. 

Advertise the show

Advertising a show is probably the most important job that a promoter does. A lot will depend on the size of the show, the location and the resources available. 

One key thing to know about advertising it’s that if you’ve thought you’ve done enough, you probably haven’t! Many people underestimate the amount of work and time needed to promote a show correctly. 

Another word on agents here is that they will often want to sign off on the artwork to ensure correct logos and agreed positioning (headliner/support act, etc.). 

For large shows (10,000+), the lead time for promotion and advertising could be up to or over 12 months. 

Clearly, in today’s world, marketing events online is the key place. However, there is a big difference between being a prolific USER of social media and being a COMPETENT promoter on it.

Concert promoters must be very good at understanding how to use social media for business. Here is another post on how early you should start to promote an event on social media.

It’s really important first to understand who your target audience is, then serve them relevant and timely advertising and promotion in places they will see it. That goes for both online and offline advertising. 

If there were three general areas to focus on, they would be: 

  1. Listing on the venue website and included in the venue email drop
  2. Building your own email list (if not the venue owner)
  3. Build hype on your social media channels.

Arranging the riders

There are two types of riders that most concert promoters will be concerned with, the technical rider and the entertainment rider. Both should have been agreed upon in advance with a band’s agent or other representative. 

Mostly the technical rider should be fine; a concert promoter should have a good sound engineer to hand. Many of the technical staff in the industry work as freelancers, so it pays to maintain a good relationship with a handful of the crew, so they always have people to call on. 

Most of the fun comes from agreeing to the entertainment rider requirements that will include food and drink for the band and their crew, alcohol requirements, number of dressing rooms and much more. A good concert promoter should not be afraid to push back on the agent if they think anything is unreasonable. 

Again, with both of these, failure to provide the detail agreed upon will result in major headaches for the concert promoter on the day. The key is being organised in advance to ensure everything is taken care of.

Set soundcheck and performance times

The concert promoter will need to specify the set time in accordance with the venue’s curfew times. This varies depending on their license and, in particular, if the venue is outdoors (likely to be earlier). 

Concert promoters will also set things like the band ‘get in’ time, sound check times, opening times and running order. There may be a requirement on finishing times due to licensing or noise restrictions.

What skills do you need to be a concert promoter

Being a concert promoter is a tough job, but potentially hugely rewarding. . But those opportunities are often few and far between, so what other skills are important? 

A concert promoter needs the following skills: negotiation, organisation, excellent personal communication, financial management and marketing.

How to become a concert promoter

You can search for concert promoter jobs online, (set up a job alert on major job websites), but in my experience you should seek work experience with a local venue or concert promoter, offer to help, have a flexible schedule and be open to learning new skills.

You do not need a bachelor’s degree to be a concert promoter, most of the skills you need you can learn through experience.

As you gain more experience you may want to try promoting your own events. Start small and then grow from there.

Do promoters make a lot of money?

Discovering the next big thing and booking them just as their profile is taking off can help to really earn a concert promoter good money.

How do you set up a stall at a Festival?

Festival Truck

Finding a starting point to attend any event can be daunting, especially when you are going somewhere where there is likely to be heavy competition. Below I’ve set out an array of tips and suggestions to help you effortlessly prepare and set up a stall at a festival based on my own experience of running events.

To set up a stall at a festival, look online for any application page or contact details. You will apply by either by completing their application form or emailing them directly providing all their required information.

Before diving in, I will break the process down into three rough categories/steps as follows:

1.Finding events to attend:

Go to an event’s websiteLook for trader sections/application forms or contact details
NetworkUse fellow traders as an example when it comes to planning which events to attend.

Talk to event planners – they might be able to offer a discount or offer recommendation/contacts

Facebook groups like Festival Traders UK 
Event finding search toolsStallfinder* is a useful website to help breakdown events planned across the year

Stall and Craft Collective* is useful for craft and arts events

Pedddle* list local markets and events

*UK events only.

2. Reviewing finances and applying to trade:

Working out the financial benefitsCost of site space and/or % of your event profit the organiser might take vs expected sales and out costs (all your effort needs to be worth it).
Application forms/enquiringYou will need key information for this e.g. business name, copy of insurance, site space required etc.).

3. Event set up and running the stall:

StockWorking out stock orders to cover the whole event (look into sale or return on non-perishables if you are unsure of quantity).
Essential kitHave a chat with the organisers as it varies event to event what they supply you, e.g. power cables, floor matting etc.

Bring along some basics – scissors and duct tape can go a long way in some crises!

You’re probably wondering what are the time scales, how much is this all going to cost me, and how do I go about setting up?

Look no further as with experience both organising a festival with stallholders, as well as setting up and activating a stall at a festival; I have plenty of top tips to share.

How to find and approach festivals

One of the golden rules I have learnt is to start the process in plenty of time. The lead time for applications varies depending on the popularity, scale, and reputation of the event. Still, often the more prominent and more well known the event the earlier you will need to book.

As a rough guide, the pitching process for some of the UK’s major summer festivals starts in the autumn of the year before you plan to activate. That said, if you are looking to go to smaller scale, you can often get a site space closer to the event depending on popularity.

As a rule of thumb, the earlier you book in, the more likely you are to secure all your desired site at a festival.

Where can I find festivals to attend?

A simple way to find events near you can often be a simple search on the internet. However, this often can bring up a lot of information you will need to sift through. Stallfinder is an easy to use website that I have used numerous times before to help locate and identify a series of events broken down by the following:

  • Geographical location
  • Event/festival type
  • Date/month desired
  • Keywords, e.g. vegan, burgers, music festivals etc.

Some simple networking with organisers and fellow traders is also a great way to not only find out about different events but also to get in/get you preferential treatment when you apply to trade at an event. The event industry is a well-connected community, often the power of referrals or sharing tips and contacts can help you get into some of the most desired events.

How do you apply for a festival stall space?

Often you will need to go to an events website. Typically, on here, there will be contact details for the event’s organisers and/or an application form that you will need to fill out. From experience, there are a few core things that are always required, so it’s good to have to hand before you start the process:

  • What you plan to sell
  • The site space you require
  • The stall set up you have (is it a food truck, trailer or just free-standing tables and a gazebo?)
  • The dimensions of your stall and how much site space you require
  • What your electrical, Wi-Fi and water requirements are if any
  • Your contact details and business number/information/insurance
  • How many parking/entry passes you might need across the event

From someone who has trawled through applications from stallholders for an event, if there was one tip to share it’s the more streamlined and organised your application and setup seems, the more attractive you are.

Additionally, if you can keep to a minimum both number of passes needed and site space size requested, you’ll have a much higher chance of getting offered a site space.

This doesn’t always happen, but you may be asked for photographs. Even if the application doesn’t request pictures, but you can send some over, do so.

A picture can speak a thousand words and bring your stall to life for the organisers. It’s worth getting some good quality photos of your stall or truck (dressed nicely, good background etc. all help make you stand out more).

How much do stalls cost at festivals

There is no one cost fits all when it comes down to price as this depends on a series of factors e.g.

  • Size of event and reputation
  • Number of hours and days the event is live
  • Time of the year
  • Size of your stall and space required
  • What extras you might need, e.g. power, water etc.
  • The organiser’s % cut of your profits (often around 25–30%)

Below I have set out some examples to give you an idea of costs for site space *please note this is based on previous experience and is not an exact cost.

EventEvent footfallAverage cost (across the whole event)
Music Festival (e.g. Glastonbury)153,000£15,000 – 20,000 depending on site size power requirement etc. plus circa 20% earning
Food Festival (e.g. BBC Good Food)75,000£650 – £3,000 depending on site size
Music festival (e.g. Cheltenham Jazz festival)20,000£2,000 (plus any power etc. needed) or 20% total takings *whichever is greater
Food Festival (e.g. Brighton VEGFEST)10,000£300 – £650 depending on site size

On top of the cost for the site space, you will also need to consider your usual business running costs. Once you have these estimated/allocated, you will get a clearer picture of how much you will need to sell to breakeven and make a profit.

Although not limited to, these will be:

  • Your food/stock cost (and cost of samples if offering them)
  • You and or your staff’s wages
  • Fuel costs/costs to and from the event
  • Cost of renting or running power
  • Licencing and insurance (Public and employers’ liability as well as stall and stock insurance).

Top tips:

Consider cutting down your menu. You can work more efficiently, serve more people, and produce a higher volume of food.

At some smaller/less well-known events, pitch fees can be negotiated so don’t be afraid to haggle!

What equipment will I need to set up a stall?

Although this will vary depending on the type of stall you have, over the years, I have set up at enough events to know the key things that are always good to have, as often finding a shop that sells what you need is impossible once you arrive on site. Alongside your actual stall/truck and stock it’s always good to have the below:

– Power cables to hook up to generators (check with organiser what you require if you are unsure)

– Tracking or matting (the organiser may provide this, which you will be thankful for if it is a wet/slippery surface).

– Sundries/cups, cutlery etc. (check with organisers as you will be required to work in line with their event mission e.g. recyclables & no plastic. – this could be costly later on if you don’t check).

– Chiller and storage

– Basic tools e.g. hammer, screwdriver, duct tape, zip ties, scissors! (you never know when this might come in handy).

Tip: Make sure you ask the event organiser what they are providing before you go as there are times when each party assumes the other is providing something on the day when it’s a bit late!

Although not a complete one size fits all guide, I hope some of my tips and experiences will help you in setting up your stall at a festival.

Is owning an event venue profitable?

Starting an event venue business is no small undertaking. It requires a lot of work and dedication. Many of the people who chose to open a venue do so for a passion.

The profitability of an event venue is dependent on factors such as reputation, customer spending power, customer acquisition and retention, marketing and sound financial planning.

There is such a wide range and mix of different types of event venues; answering this question in a couple of sentences is difficult. Making an event venue profitable takes time and lots of hard work. You need to understand the market that the business operates in and who will the customers be.

Do event venues make money?

The short answer to this is yes, absolutely, as long as they are managed correctly and have a good strategic plan in place. Any business will need a solid business plan in place before opening.

This business plan should include vital information about the target audience for the venue, the type of events it plans to host or attract and a marketing and financial plan. All of these should be justified with as much research and supporting data as possible.

The business plan should contain SMART objectives that give the owners a direction and metrics by which to measure their success. They can also be useful when things don’t go to plan you need to understand where changes are required.

How do event venues operate? 

Typically, event venues will operate their events inhouse, or they will provide the venue to someone else for a rental fee. While the latter is nearly always the one with the least risk, it can lead to less income as the ‘hirer’ takes the event profit.

This article focuses on event venues which are privately owned, but it is common to find publicly owned entertainment venues. While many of the principles in this article may still apply, often publicly owned venues are driven by social outcomes over economic ones like profit.

Let’s look at three common sectors of the events venue industry,  entertainment venues, wedding venues and business venues.

Entertainment Venues

Entertainment covers a wide range of venues including nightclubs, live music, bars, cinemas and casinos.

In entertainment venues, the margins can be incredibly tight, and the business model is often based on selling drinks or food as secondary sales while customers are on site.


Nightclubs typically operate from late evening to the early hours of the morning. Beyond this, the options for extra business can be limited (mainly due to cleaning, bad odours, sticky floors, etc.) so there is real pressure to maintain profitability during minimal opening hours.

To achieve this profit, food and drink will be priced at a premium and staffing costs kept as low as possible.

Live Music Venues

Live Music Venues are similar to Nightclubs in that their trading window for profit can be very narrow and limited to only a few hours per day when a concert is happening. 

Running a profitable Live Music Venue requires good contacts to book the right artistes to play. You need to be very clear about who the target market is for the venue and try to stick to that.

If the venue is a large concert venue, then it may have minimal opportunity for trading outside of music gigs. On the other hand, a smaller venue may be able to operate more widely during daytime hours.

There are of course other options for daytime hire for those larger concert venues. They could consider offering the venue for other types of events and meetings. This approach may depend on several factors. Venues used for live music often suffer from poor odour and sticky floors, so a formal business event during may not be suitable.

Natural light is not a requirement for Live Music Venues, so they often have no windows, again something that doesn’t lend itself to daytime hires.


Cinema falls into two categories generally, chain and independent. Large chains of Cinemas run to a formula that they consider to be the most efficient at generating profit for them.

This formula might allow them to benefit from economies of scale in buying power for things like the film licenses, popcorn and ice cream. Again, managing staffing levels is key to maintaining profitability.

Independent Cinema aims to be unique and offer something different from the big chains. Creating a unique experience often comes at a cost (licensing fees, staffing, etc.) so their pricing may be a little higher to be profitable.

For this reason, understanding who the target market for these venues is critical as they will be a lot more niche than the mainstream cinemas.

Outdoor Cinema venues have increased in popularity in recent years. Often taking place in car parks or parks they require all of the infrastructure to be installed on-site (e.g. bars, toilets and seating).

This work makes them a costly option on a one-off basis. Still, people will pay a premium for difference or quirkiness so again, having a defined target audience will help to ensure profitability. 

Wedding Venues

Such is the breath of the wedding market across the world that it still represents a hugely lucrative business.

In the US the number of weddings is falling, but the spend per wedding is increasing, which is good news for wedding venues and suppliers. The average amount spent on weddings in the US is £33,900 (source) while in the UK it is £36,000 (source).

Wedding venues have the potential to be highly profitable but focusing on some of the critical ingredients is key to unlocking that potential.

First of all, the staff are key; they must be attentive to clients as this can make all the difference in recommendations in the future.

This attentiveness doesn’t just include the front of house staff, but also the staff and suppliers in the background. Being flexible is key to helping a couple have THEIR perfect wedding day. Understanding this is crucial.

The venue needs to understand it’s market. No venue can be all things to all people; it’s just not possible. Once you have a good understanding of the target audience, then everything about the marketing, sales and experience can be geared to them. 

You could choose based the target market on things like

  • Type of Budget (high or low)
  • One particular theme (check out this link to for some ideas)
  • Location (beach, countryside, city etc.)

As with entertainment venues, wedding venues require a lot of hard work and perseverance to succeed and become profitable. Many owners and managers love the industry and providing dream days is the reason they started.

Business Venues

According to the 2020 BVEP UK Events Report, business events are worth £31.2B. It is a vast industry that spans exhibitions, conferences, political meetings, incentive travel, corporate hospitality and meetings.

While the equipment and theming for entertainment and wedding venues might be expensive, the entry-level of business events can be a lot lower, depending on the target market you’re aiming for.

This is not to say that this industry also enjoys a very lavish top end with huge amount of money being spent on major events lead by big business brands such as E3, SXSW or the World Travel Market

The venues that host these types of event need to be huge and know that the margins they can charge make them very profitable.

So, what about the other end of the scale, smaller business venues like hotels, conference centres or even a local village hall. For these, day-to-day meetings and business events can be very profitable and often support their other social activities.

Typically these events will only require minimal set up with tables and chairs, plus some audiovisual equipment. If the venue already has these, then the cost is merely staff to set up the space.

Finally, any business event venue will need a pricing structure to recharge services such as refreshments, catering and additional equipment. This ensures there isn’t any ‘creep’ in profitability as the client asked for extras as the event gets closer.

How do you become an event venue owner?

There is no denying that buying bricks and mortar venues is an expensive business. If you’re keen to get into this business, this could be a huge barrier.

But perhaps that isn’t the end of the story, and if you’re prepared to put in the work, there may be another way if you are keen to get into the industry.

You could look around your local area for a venue that is currently underperforming or one where you can see the potential for another use, as with any business venture you need to research the local market thoroughly to see if demand is there. 

You could approach the owner to see if they might be interested in a profit share for those events that you can bring to the venue. This profit share would be a win-win for both parties as they get their venue used when it would have been empty, and you get an income without having to own the space.

One final thought here, do you need to have a permanent venue? Perhaps you could look to see if there is an option to use a public space where you can host regular events?

Local governments often have a range of spaces they allow people to use. This space could be a lower-cost entry point for you to start running your events.

Other options here include renting disused warehouse space or venue sharing with another organisation. Get creative!

What impacts the profitability of an event venue?

Let’s look at some of the critical factors that affect the profitability of a venue. In many cases, being able to raise your price for the same service is key to this.

In the same way, managing your costs are equally as crucial to maintaining a healthy profit level. If you fail to manage your expenses (or recharge them to the client), then you will find the profitability drops significantly.

Like any business, failing to manage costs is often the cause of most problems in running a successful event venue.

Target Audience

Any event venue needs to have a clearly defined target audience, and that target audience needs to be able to afford the hire fees or services that event venue provides.

Defining this target audience ensures that you only spend marketing budgets, reaching those who will be interested in your event venue.

Start by figuring out some of the key attributes of your target market. These are commonly geographic and demographic features:

Example geographic features

  • Are they local, regional or national
  • How far will they travel
  • Does climate affect your venue (e.g. seasonality for outdoor spaces)
  • Cultural considerations
  • How dense is the population around your venue

Example demographic features

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income levels
  • Family lifecycle
  • Marital status
  • Ethnicity
  • Education level
  • Employment status

You can use a pick of these (and many others) to create a profile of your ideal target market. Sticking to this audience in all of your marketing and promotion means that the money you spend is highly targeted and so hopefully gains a better return on investment. 

Location and facilities

The location of the venue impacts the price of hire. Areas that are convenient to get to and have excellent transport links will be able to attract higher rental fees.

In a similar sense, facilities like car parking and on-site accommodation can also increase fees and thus improve profitability. 

Locations that have great natural beauty can also be valuable to specific industries, particularly weddings.  Here, excellent backdrops for photos are a necessity and so having this on-site will increase the appeal (and hopefully price) of the venue.

Venue Reputation

Having an excellent reputation allows a venue to charge higher prices as it will be more in demand.

This is more money for the same space, and so profitability is increased. Getting a good reputation takes time, and you need to offer a consistently high-quality service to all customers.

93% of people (source) say that review impact their purchase decision so you should be encouraging happy customers to leave a review. Check out the top ten review sites here your venue could use.

There are a couple of things you can do to encourage this. First of all, just ask them! Either do this via email afterwards or encourage them to leave a review using posters or other subtle messages around the venue.

Other ways include incentives (like quizzes), making it easy (scannable QR codes) or use social media sites like Facebook or Instagram.

As with any industry, people only tend to leave reviews when they have had a fantastic experience or one which has been terrible. To keep your profitability up, you need to make sure they have the former!

Finding and retaining business

When running your event venue, finding clients is one of the most critical jobs in your organisations. You may have the skills as a salesperson, but if you don’t, you should employ someone with venue sales experience to ensure you have a steady supply of bookings coming in.

Not only that, but you must retain clients for future bookings. According to Forbes, it cost five times as much to find a new customer than it does to retain the ones that you already have. It is more profitable to retain customers than to find new ones.

When you consider that context, it’s worth putting more thought into the customer experience to ensure people come back to use your venue time after time and boost your profitability.

Understanding recharges

Recharges are those items that don’t come as standard with your standard venue hire packages for clients or customers. When someone comes to hire your venue, you need a clear starting point for what you charge.

You may have an all-inclusive package but be clear about what this actually ‘includes’. Clients will often push for extras that can erode any profit margin in a booking; it can be challenging to say no if you are keen to retain the client.

The solution to this is to have clear hire packages and then a price list of recharges or extras for things like refreshments, catering or equipment.

Good financial management

It goes without saying, and this one has been left until last as the singularly MOST crucial way that an event venue maintains its profitability.

Any event venue won’t know what the level of its profits is if it doesn’t tightly control its cost and what money it has coming in.

There should be regular reviews using high-quality monthly accounts that are kept up to date. If you don’t have the expertise yourself or inhouse, you should consider using external accountants!

Other questions

How do I price my venue?

Venues need to charge what their customers will pay. This process starts with research into your target audience and competitors to see what they are charging.

How do I start an event venue business?

Any event venue business needs to start with a detailed business plan that includes information about research, target audience, a budget, a marketing plan and other business operations. It needs to justify why you think this business will work and why you are the person to take it forward.



SXSW Festival

World Travel Market

State of Online Reviews

What does an event management company do?

I’ve been working in events for over 20 years and teaching events management for nearly 10. It’s a common question that I get asked regularly, and while the answer is simple, it also has many different facets depending on the various sectors within the industry.

An event management company oversees the project management of an event, including the planning, budgeting, promotion, delivery and evaluation.

Events can be complicated and take months of planning to deliver. Understanding the concept of their management is not something I learned overnight, but it is something I experienced after many years working in the industry.

What is the concept of event management?

If we understand that every event is a project as a starting point, then this becomes a lot easier to understand. Event management is a form of project management applied to events.

The events industry is wide-ranging and features a variety of different sectors all with their quirks and particular demands. Some of the significant event sectors that event management companies work in are as follows:

  • Festivals and music events,
  • Weddings and other personal events,
  • Exhibitions and trade shows,
  • Conferences and convections,

As you can imagine, the demand required in each of these sectors can be very different. Event management is a stressful job at times. According to, In 2019, being an event coordinator was voted the 6th most stressful career in the world. The only careers to outrank it were being a broadcaster, a firefighter, an airline pilot, a police officer or in the military.

That might sound all doom and gloom, but it isn’t! I can testify from personal experience working in events and delivering amazing experiences for people is one of the most rewarding careers you can choose.

Event management companies employ people who have fantastic organisational skills, who work well under pressure and can deliver an outstanding project on time.  

The ability to juggle lots of different issues, manage a variety of stakeholders and all within a tight timeframe is needed. Having excellent interpersonal skills is key to an event management company.

What is the role of an event management company?

Event management companies perform project management duties that deliver an event based on an original brief, in some cases that a client may give.   

In many cases, event management companies are hired by regular businesses to deliver an event on their behalf, where they have no specialism internally.

And in other cases the brief maybe an internal brief where the company is designing their own event.

Event management companies perform a variety of different roles for an event. Some companies will only specialise in one particular area, such as catering or technical equipment. In this situation, there may be an over-arcing event management company with many subcontracted companies providing specialist services.

Some of these services might include:

  • Technical and Audio-Visual Equipment
  • Catering
  • Artiste and speaker management
  • Security
  • Ticketing
  • Decorations and Theming
  • Production and staging
  • Safety Management
  • Marketing and Promotions

It is unlikely that one company may be able to provide all of the services that one event requires. By their nature events are one-time occurring phenomena and each one is different. 

This constant change is part of the appeal to people working in this industry. As a result, there often needs to be multiple collaborations between different event management companies in response to each project.

So what are the tasks that an event management company might undertake? This work will vary depending on the event, but broadly:

Client brief response

Initially, event management companies may have to go through a tender process to win the business from the client. This process will involve suggesting creative ideas, setting realistic expectations of a delivery time frame, the budget all wrapped up in a pitch.

Developing the concept

Once the event management company has been appointed, they will then work with the clients to understand how they can deliver their ideas within the brief. 

This process may involve explaining why things are not feasible and suggesting alternatives. At this stage, they should also set some SMART objectives for the event to be able to evaluate successfully later.  

Maintaining constant dialogue. 

Event management companies will maintain close communication with the client through the project management and planning stages as they develop the final plan for the event. This planning requires a high level of responsiveness to change.

Promotion of the event. 

If the event management company has been asked to promote the event, then this will involve the development of suitable branding and an event marketing plan that meets the needs of the client and the target audience..

Safety and Licensing. 

The event management company will work with any local authorities to write any required risk assessments and other safety documentation. 

They will also be responsible for applying for any licences or permits that the event requires.

Booking Entertainment. 

The event management company will have to book and manage any speakers or artists for entertainment reasons. This includes dealing with any forwarding. Forwarding is when the artist provides technical and other requirements for their appearance or performance.


There may be a significant amount of production required for the event in which case the event management company will liaise with additional subcontractors to deliver elements like staging, lighting and sound. These elements all play a role in providing a fantastic experience for attendees.


Evaluation is often overlooked as an area, but is so often key. The client may require data and evaluation to justify any funding or future events. 

The event management company should, therefore, undertake evaluation based on the original smart objectives to ensure they have been met

What are the benefits of using an event management company?

Saving time and money

While employing an event management company might seem like an initial high cost. it’s worth remembering that the cost is buying the expertise and knowledge of the event management company and their network of trusted suppliers. They may also be able to get better deals the client could source solely on their own.

Utilise specialist creativity, expertise and knowledge

From a clients perspective delivering a WOW factor is essential. Event management companies have experience of providing regularly. They will be able to help deliver a memorable experience for the client.

Professional execution of event

As we saw earlier, running events can be stressful. Without the appropriate experience, potential problems will arise. Event management companies are very good at planning, and having contingencies in place should the unexpected happen. This is where the real value of using an event management company can be felt.

The latest technology

Good event management companies will be on top of what the emerging and leading technology is for events. Event technology is an area which is constantly changing, and it can be difficult for clients to keep up with the latest technology. So the expertise from an event management company in this area can be invaluable but also deliver a fantastic experience for attendees.

Managing Risk

An event management company should have expertise in delivering safe events and advising the clients on risk. The consequences of not sufficiently assessing risk in events can have huge financial and reputational damage to the client. It gives the client peace of mind that professional safety experts have considered all risks associated with any event.

Managing the budget

A client is keen to ensure that the event is delivered within budget. Again from the expertise of an event management company, they may benefit from better deals with suppliers but also can plan and to include any contingencies that may be needed. Without this event risks running over budget.

What does event insurance cover?

Event Insurance

If you are planning a small local event or a large festival, you will want to consider event insurance. Having worked in several event safety roles at events, I’ve seen countless insurance documents of my own, from venues and suppliers.

Event insurance covers several different areas, depending on the policy it can include Public Liability cover, Employers’ Liability cover, event cancellation, financial loss and event equipment cover. 

Event insurance is essential for a variety of reasons and work by offsetting the risk of something happening. While you need to meet all legal requirements in your territory, everyone has a different perception of risk. Some will choose to seek cover against some things, and others may not. Think about how you perceive risk.

There are four key areas that most event insurance companies will cover. Let dive into each in a little more detail to understand what they include.

Event Public Liability Insurance

Depending on where you hold your event, Public Liability insurance may or may not be a legal requirement. However, it’s one of the most critical components of any event insurance as it protects against any claim from a member of the public who suffers injury or loss as a result of your negligence in relation to how you organised your event.

As an example of what this might cover, a common injury that often attracts claims are slip trips and falls. These can be quite prevalent on temporary events sites where you find a lot of trailing cables or track covering.

If someone trips over you could find yourself in court even if it wasn’t your fault. Claims may involve a court, which means legal fees and potentially paid damaged. All of which could be costly.

Public Liability insurance will cover damages claims and any expenses you incur in defending the claim against that member of the public.

Having Public Liability insurance in place may be a condition of using a particular piece of land or venue to host the event. This can particularly be true if you are hosting an event on property that is owned by Local Government agencies. 

They may specify a certain level of Public Liability insurance that is required before they will consider allowing you to use that space.

Event Sucess

Event Employers’ Liability Insurance

In many countries, Employers’ Liability insurance is a legal requirement. In the UK, this is the case. In the US it may be known as Workers Compensation and is state-based, so check local requirements. 

Employers’ Liability insurance covers the staff, contractors and volunteers who are working at your event. It will cover costs associated with defending a claim brought against you.

It’s worth noting that this insurance covers paid or unpaid staff under your control. There is a common misconception that it only includes paid staff that you employ.

If you utilise volunteers to deliver your events (something like a community festival), you still need to consider insurance cover for them. Having Employers’ Liability insurance in place also demonstrates that you take the welfare of your staff and volunteers seriously.

Even with the best care and attention paid to risk assessments and health and safety, unfortunately, accidents can still happen. Such accidents might be the result of your negligence, staff members’ fault or just a freak accident, but you still may find yourself in court defending a claim.

Event Insurance

Event Cancellation 

Often things happen beyond your control, that means you will have to cancel your event. Event Cancellation insurance will reimburse irrecoverable expenses incurred as a result of having to cancel the event.

The cancellation must be unforeseeable. Events Cancellation insurance will cover losses on areas such as marketing, merchandising, loss of income or venue costs. 

It’s worth checking with the insurance provider and mention when purchasing if there are any specific things you want to be covered.

So what kinds of things does event cancellation insurance cover? Here’s an example list of things you might expect to see on any policy:

  • Adverse weather (e.g. flooding)
  • A serious crime in your venue that restricts access. (e.g. murder or assault)
  • National mourning
  • Closed transport links
  • Act of Terrorism
  • Strikes or labour disputes
  • Delayed building work
  • Personal bereavement
  • Artists cancellation due to accident, death or ill health

NOTE: As a result of the 2020 global pandemic, many insurance providers opted to specify that cover would not extend to contagious diseases, so it is worth asking this question when arranging cover for your event.

Live Music Events

Event Equipment Insurance

Event equipment can be costly; you may own the equipment or have just hired it for one event. Either way, you’ll likely be responsible for the cost of replacing it if it gets lost, stolen or damaged. 

This is where event equipment insurance comes in; this cover helps with that cost.

Event Equipment insurance cover will usually ensure your property or the property of others while it’s in transit to the event, during the event or transporting it back afterwards. 

This could also include equipment that you have hired for use at the event and which you are legally liable against any loss or damage to it.

There may be several exclusions from equipment cover, particularly where there is a significant excess on the policy, where a theft occurred because items have lived been left unattended or unsecured or due to faulty installation or dismantlement.

As always, check the cover when you but to ensure it meets your requirements.

Equipment for event planning

When should I buy event insurance? 

You should start arranging your event insurance cover ideally as soon as you begin planning your event. You will undoubtedly want financial protection when you start having to incur expenses or put tickets on sale.

If something happens during the planning process after you’ve taken insurance cover out, this will be covered. Still, anything that happens before will have to be declared to the insurance company during the purchase.

There may be other deadlines for cover such as weather where insurers may not offer insurance within a few weeks of the event.

How can you get event insurance?

Event insurance is widely available through many brokers or Internet-based companies. Some comparison websites offer to search the market for you. 

It can often be a better experience to speak to an insurance broker to be specific about the needs of your event so that you get an accurate policy that reflects your situation. 

See our resources page for our current pick of insurance providers for events.

What does event insurance NOT cover

There are some differences between insurers. However, as a guide here are some of the things that may not be covered.

  • War, Invasion, Acts of foreign enemies, Hostilities, Civil war
  • Confiscation, nationalisation or destruction of property under order of any government or public authority.
  • Communicable diseases (See note above about the 2020 pandemic)

Other considerations

You should consider what insurance does your venue have. A requirement for hirers may be specified in any contract that you have with them and who is responsible for arranging Event insurance cover.

It is also possible to have additional elements added to your insurance policy that could include things like artist cancellation or non-attendance. Again it depends on your own needs.

You should get insurance details from your suppliers. You must obtain insurance documents from all the contractors and suppliers you plan to use at your event. 

Having a record of these is good practise and demonstrates you’re only prepared to use reputable suppliers.

One more thought on this (and a bit of a tip), if you’re unsure over the validity of any insurance documentation, call up the providing insurer and ask if the policy is valid. Believe it or not, I’ve had a supplier send fake insurance documents in a previous event.

Related Questions

How much does event insurance cost? Event insurance may cost less than you think. Given the potential for claims to be in the 000s of £, a basic insurance policy can cost as little as a few hundred £ but will give you complete peace of mind that you have cover in place. 

How do I get a certificate of insurance for an event? Usually the insurance company will email you PDF copies of the insurance documents. You should keep these safe, although many now provide online portals should you need them again. 

How to organise a food festival

Food festivals are a great way to bring a host of people together with one common shared passion, food and drink. Despite the recent pandemic, food festivals have gained a pace in popularity lately with people’s ever-growing love for food.

In this post, I will set out a simple outline to help you kick start planning for your food festival.


I have planned and executed numerous food festivals and one thing that is always at the forefront of planning is ‘added value’, not just for your attendee but your stallholders. What can my event offer or do that others may not, or how can I offer more?

With the increase in popularity of more specialised food and drink categories and a hike in demand for convenience food there are a range of food festival themes or categories to consider – just a few to inspire you below:

  • Vegan and meat-free
  • Free From (Gluten and Dairy)
  • Artisan and Craft producers
  • Sustainable food and packaging
  • Gin bars and cocktails
  • Cake and bakes
  • Local producers
  • Cuisine type (e.g. Thai food, Indian etc.)

The more exposure consumers have to these types of events, the higher their expectations. The challenge is, how can you keep people coming back for more?

Planning and logistics (Pre and during)

A solid starting place is pulling together a top line document setting out the following:

  • Event name, purpose/aim and mission, type and unique selling point
  • Where, when and what time
  • Contact details

This will save you a lot of time down the line as you will need this information to share with suppliers, staff, stallholders, local authorities etc.

Once the parameters of your event are set out, a timeline is always useful. This timeframe does not have to be extra detailed, but I have found it’s a handy way to keep you on track and ensure you are not missing deadlines or vital elements out of organising. There are plenty of templates online that will help with a basic outline and get you started.

So who will come to my event?

Target audience is key to have decided from the off. It can be a costly and time-consuming thing to change later down the line so it is advantageous to nail this first time. There are a few things you should consider when profiling your target audience:

  • Age group (and sometimes gender)
  • Behaviour (disposable income/spending habits)
  • Geographical base (are they close to your venue, if not what’s going to get them there?)
  • Socio demographics/stage of life (are they groups, couples, families etc.)

Once you have that outlined, you need to work out how they tick? What would make them want to come, and how will you reach them? Below are some examples of how you might tailor your event to your chosen target market:

  • Age 25 – 50
    • Target that age bracket when setting up paid-for adverts online and research where this age group socialise to aim marketing correctly.
  • Target come as groups, couples or some families.
    • Have event open Friday and Saturday for adults then focus more on families on the Sunday.
  • Has a reasonable level of disposable income to spend at events
    • Consider charging for the event or having a few more premium stallholders where your target would have money to spend.

Where are you going to have your event?

Location is a core thing to get secured from the start. Food festivals can be held both inside and outside in which there are pros and cons to both.


  • Often have higher capacity/more space.
  • Easier to load event equipment in and out as there are fewer building limitations
  • Can be beautiful in good weather but can deter people if it is wet
  • Perfect for any stall cooking on needing to extract cooking fumes


  • Perfect for a wet/cold day
  • More challenging when getting vehicles in and out of the venue to build the event
  • Need to install ventilation for cooking fumes.
  • Often power and water and any Wi-Fi needed is already installed.

How do I choose my size of site?
It can be daunting working out what you can fit in the size of a location or venue. Below is a list of things I always consider and work out when looking at a potential venue’s capacity capability:

  • Number of stalls/site spaces that will fit
    • Have a couple of site space sizes in mind, e.g. 3x3m and a 5x5m. As a starter add 30% to calculated total to include required fire spaces and contingency
  • Cooking demo area
    • Again, I’d allow at least 5x5m space add 30% for audience space.
  • General event services (offices for the event manager, cashier, security, cash collection, vehicle parking areas, toilets, first aid, police, refuse collection area)
    • Allow at least 15% of the site depending on how much can be housed off-site.
  • Access (you will need roads wide enough for emergency services)
  • Car parking/public access (if this isn’t available onsite look into park and ride)

Weather is one of those completely uncontrollable factors which can change the event experience in a flash. Although in some cases high wind and treacherous weather means the event can’t go ahead a bit of rain won’t stop you!

There are a few things I always have in my back pocket to help enhance the experience when it’s raining:

  • Make sure you have planned in covered areas for people to congregate. This could be covered tents for food demos or covered seating areas.
  • Look to offer an incentive to attend your event when it’s raining. This could be as simple as money off something or free/discounted entry.
  • Look to work with a company that makes umbrellas or ponchos. They can brand these and can be handed out for free or low cost in bad weather (umbrellas work as a perfect sunshade too if its great weather!).
  • Have some hardstanding matting/tracking you can put down (especially if outdoors) this makes it more pleasant underfoot and safer.

Wind is a harder one to tackle and the one in my career, which has caused me the most grief. There have been times where my events have had to shut early due to strong winds. However, there are some best practice ways to be prepared for this. Whether it’s having sandbags, water weights or extra-strong tents with supports, it will save you a lot of hassle if you have these to hand and ready. 

Finally, don’t forget the sun! Working on event sites abroad has taught me the need for shade, so just as you would prepare for rain with a cover you can’t go too wrong with this for sun cover too!

So what about the Stallholders?

They are at the heart of any Food Festival, so it’s vital to get them on board from the start. Once you have decided what type of food festival you want to host, you will need to look to get your stallholder or vendors on board. 

From experience, it’s also essential to have a tasty variety and mix of stallholders and offerings. Although you have selected your target audience, it doesn’t mean they all like the same thing.

When reaching out to potential stallholders, its key that you have a clear plan in regards to what the benefit is to both parties. I’d recommend you have in mind the following:

  • What’s in it for you?
    • Will you make a profit on their site fee?
    • Will you ask for a certain % of their sales?
    • Will they compliment your event and do they fit with how you want people to perceive the event?
  • What’s in it for them?
    • What’s your expected footfall? If it’s a new event, use others of a similar scale as an example as well as consideration of your site size.
    • Will the % of sales be fixed or go up or down depending on factors on the day? E.g. poor weather or perfect weather
    • Will attending this event look good for their brand, and why?


Social media is such a valuable and cost-effective resource when marketing an event. The power of Facebook and other social channels can help reach volume both by consumer shares and paid for adverts.

Incentivise and encourage your stallholders. Think of all their social channels and marketing feeds. This can prove very lucrative in regards to footfall, especially if your stallholder popular.

Partnerships are a great way to get marketing out there. For example, partnering with a well-established company will help give you further marketing reach and also further event credibility helping to entice more people in.

PR – have an event stand out element. Good PR could be as simple as trying to set a small world record and getting the local newspapers down to getting on board a minor celebrity to be a special guest. 

Event imagery is critical, especially as we judge with our eyes when that’s all we have. Make sure you post regularly on social media, so it shows you are active and again credible. Share some behind the scenes pictures or insights to help keep people interested and engaged. 

One final golden rule I have learnt, which makes all the difference is to treat potential attendees well, be responsive and helpful and informative as this goes a long way.


Starting your planning with a budget is paramount. Setting out your outgoings, income and projected profit will give you a clear oversight from the start as to what you can and can’t afford. Planning also will help to highlight where you could most use sponsorships, partnerships or donations.

It is essential to know my payment terms and how much money is going out before the event. Get deposits upfront from your stallholders and paying only a deposit of % cost to your venue, suppliers etc. will mean better cash flow ensuring you are not running out of cash before you even start the event.

Cost tracking – although not the most fun part of the job, it’s vital. Like anything in life, you can sometimes get an un-expected cost or save along the way. Tracking costs will help you to have a proper oversight of how much money you have rather than having an awful shock post-event!

Income – Free VS ticketed
As an organiser and attendee, I’ve experienced both free and ticketed events; both have their merits. At any event, irrespective of entry fee, you will need to have crowd control measures in place to ensure safety. It’s essential you know the capacity of your venue so you can safely manage the numbers coming in and out of the event (if you don’t have this to hand 6 square feet per person is a good rule of thumb for a standing crowd).

Free events

When creating a new event, offering free entry can be a great way to get a volume of people to come. What is the consumer missing out on if they attend – nothing if it’s free!

The nature of a free event often then means you can either up-price items for sale slightly or simply use this as a tool to wet their appetite for the future where you could look to introduce an entry fee. 

Paid for
The advantage of paid-for events is that you then often get people who want to be there. If people have paid, they will often feel inclined to stay longer (and therefore spend more).

With anything in life, however, if you pay for something, you expect something in return. Charging someone an entry fee without giving them anything or showing them value in their purchase doesn’t often go down too well unless the price is very low or gifted to charity.

There are lots of cost-effective ways to add value for your consumer, see a few tried and tested below:

  • Offer a money off voucher for a future visit (e.g. 15% of tickets for next year)
  • A goody bag (this could contain event collateral, info booklets, free samples)
  • Stallholders (are they a well-known and in-demand business? Do they have a unique and popular product)
  • Voucher to redeem against a food or drink item
  • Branded cup to use and then take home
  • Entertainment (is there a celebrity, a live band, comfy seating areas etc.)

Both ticket methods have their places when it comes to entry for attendees. Make sure you also consider:

  • The geographical location (how much will it cost people to get there, are there transport links etc.)
  • Prices of events, food and drink can vary throughout the country so ensure that you are in-keeping and do not overprice yourself for the area.

Having stallholders also means you can make an income to help pay for the event and infrastructure. You can choose just to charge them for a site space, but also can request a % of sales they make as well as charge them for power if they require it. Do consider keeping the price lower, especially if it’s the first year the event is running to keep the offer to stallholders appealing.

Having an event partner or some sponsors are a great way not only to create a relationship with another company(s) but to generate an income source. I’ve listed a few ways they can help below:

  • Cash (giving you money to help fund the event).
  • Prize (giving you an asset or item to give as a prize to consumers attending).
  • Venue (offering the site space at a free or discounted rate).
  • Media (offer free advertisement, prints, collateral etc).

can be a great way to staff your event with minimal spend. One idea is to look for volunteering forums or even getting in touch with local colleges and universities. Students are keen to gain experience and exposure so simply will often give up their time for free. Having been a volunteer many times before I know a little goes a long way. Even a simple food voucher or discount tickets for a family member would encourage me to work hard!

So how much does it cost to be a vendor at a festival?

Unfortunately, there is no set answer as the cost is determined on numerous factors. I have organised events with site fees around the £200 mark but also events where a site is in the thousands. Below are a few things to consider and an example of cost.

  • How popular is your event and expected footfall (the higher this is, the more space costs).
  • Does the stallholder require power (if they do again usually this is charged out to help you fund generators per kilowatt)?
  • Site space size required. (the bigger the space needed by the stallholder, the more expensive.
  • Stall location (is it in a busy area where lots of people will pass and see it? The more exposure, the higher the cost)

Paperwork to consider

Risk assessments and safety are a major consideration, especially when you are opening up to the public. Correctly identifying, assessing, and mitigating or reducing any potential risks is key both when setting up the event but also during and after.

Safety and risk assessments can seem a daunting thing; however, there is plenty of guidance and ways to educate yourself on this to equip you. A great starting place or even a refresher is here. *Please note this is for UK event safety and not necessarily correct worldwide.

Public Liability (PLI) is an essential cover you will need. Think of it as an insurance policy for your event if damage or injury were to take place onsite at your event. Your stallholders should have PLI of their own (it’s good practice to ask for a copy of this). In regards to event insurance, this will either need to come from you (the event organiser).

Food Safety is an essential check. All stallholders by law have to hold health and safety, food hygiene and licensing documentation. It is good practice to obtain a copy of this when confirming their place at your event.

Council permission: Numerous elements outside the event need to be controlled. Traffic, road closures, footfall to the town all will need to be discussed with the location’s local authority.

Police, fire and ambulance: all need to be informed of the event. Having St. John’s Ambulance or some trained first aiders on site is a must. The other departments just need this on their radar in case of an emergency. (Your local authority can help you with questions about this).

Post-event steps

Finally, always do some form of evaluation. Seek feedback from your attendees, your traders, suppliers. In some cases, it can feel like ripping off a plaster when you gain any adverse or constructive criticism after working for months on your event. Still, it will continue to help you progress and grow as an event and professional.

One final tip is making notes, edits or tweaks to your documentation or processes as soon as you have finished the event. Although this can seem a difficult task after putting lots of hard work into your event, I can guarantee your future self will thank you hugely when it comes to re-planning the event.


Although there is no real right or wrong ways to organise a food festival, the above tips will help save you time and resources by starting with a straightforward foundation.

One thing I have learnt is that a lot of things until you have done them are just down to common sense. With events you will require contractors, local authorities, and other parties to provide services for you so ask them questions! Utilise everyone and keep up regular communication. Remember a problem shared is a problem halved.

Good luck with your food festival!

Useful resources (UK only):

The Purple Guide (Health and Safety)

Food Standards Agency