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.

How do venues make money?

How do venues make money?

Event venues come in all shapes and sizes, but often there are common income sources across each. Understanding what these are and how to maximize them is key to turning a profit with your events.

Venues make money through the sale of event tickets, food, drink, merchandise and venue hire. Additional sources of income include sponsorship or VIP experiences

I was a venue manager for over ten years, there is plenty to be said for the profession, it can be extremely rewarding, but you have to have your wits about you to make sure that your venue can make money and a profit. It is true that sometimes venues can be free (see my other post on this), but there are many other ways that event venues can make money.

Music Event Venue

Venues can host many different types of events such as music concerts, weddings, conferences, art exhibitions and many more. Broadly a venue will fall into one of these groups:

Music / Arts Venues – The kind that host live music, arts, or cultural shoes

Business Venues – Those specifically tailored to conferences or exhibitions

Personal Event Venues – Those tailored to personal events, mainly things like weddings. 

Multifunctional Venues – Those with the capacity to host a mix of the above using highly configurable setups.

Generally, the income and profit are likely to be lowest for music and arts venues. There is little margin in the business model of short events (like music shows) where there may only be a few hours to sell some drinks. 

On the other side, high-standard business or personal event venues can command significant venue rentals and these events benefit from a much longer dwell time. Dwell time is the time you have to sell attendees additional products like food, drink or merchandise. 

How to plan an event

FREE guide to planning an event

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

How do event venues make money?

Each of those different venue groups above will have various sources of income, some of which will be more lucrative than others. Here are the most common forms of income for event venues:

Venue income from event tickets

Many venues that promote their own events or shows will sell tickets for them. This can be a small or very large fee depending on the show or entertainment. In the case of live music, the price is defined by the popularity of the headline artist. See our post on how to price event tickets here for more information. 

Venue income from food

Food is a great source of income for many event venues, particularly those that host dinners, weddings, or parties. Food can also be a good source of income for business events which often span several days and so must provide food to their delegates. The price of the food will depend on the quality of the food and of the venue. It is likely many venues will offer food menus in a variety of different price ranges to suit different clients. 

Venue income from drinks

As with food, selling drinks can be highly lucrative. For business events, this will mainly be refreshment but can involve some alcohol sales. For those music/arts venues or wedding venues, selling drinks is an essential part of the experience for attendees. As with food, the price will largely depend on the quality of the drink and the service style (bar or table service for example). Some venues often bring in mobile bars if they don’t have an in-house service. 

Venue income from merchandise

Merchandise can be another great source of income for certain venues. These is typically music/arts venues and form part of things like live music concerts where people wish to take home a memento of the event. It’s unlikely (but not impossible) that business or wedding venues might sell some merchandise.

Venue income from VIP experiences

Those event venues that operate their own events, particularly music events, can upsell VIP packages such as booths or drinks in order to raise additional income. Typically these have a very high margin and can be very lucrative.

Venue income from venue hire

For many venues, this will be the biggest source of income and the basis of their business model. In essence, venues will charge people to use the space. Venues often offer different packages for different event styles and budgets in order to appeal to the widest possible audience. There are commonly two types of venue hire: 

Event Venue Dry Hire

The venue is hired as an empty shell and the hirer must provide all content and decorations themselves.

Event Venue Wet Hire

The venue provides additional services such as food, drink and decorations.

How much does it cost to run a music venue?

There are numerous costs associated with running a venue, and while there are some nuisances with different styles of venue, there are often common overheads. 

Venues are expensive to run, with operating costs ranging from anything from $100,000 to multiple millions of dollars. The size, type, and location of the venue play a large role in how high these costs will be.

Let’s look at some of the major overheads you would face running a music venue right now. 

Event Venue Costs

Rent, mortgage, or loan repayment

This is often one of the biggest costs and depends on the circumstances of the venue. Often venues are leased and so regular rent is due and this is set by the landlord at the start of any agreement. This should stay reasonably constant whether the venue is trading well or badly. 


This is another major cost and venues often rely on a high number of temporary or part-time staff due to the nature of the business. Some weeks can be very busy and others not, some using part-time or flexible staff is key to keeping on top of costs. 


This will depend largely on the kind of venue in question. Some venues do not take the risk of promoting their own events and so leave this to any hirer or promoter. A small music venue may choose to do this and so will incur the costs of booking things like bands and the associated costs (sound and lighting) needed to put on the show. On the other hand, business events can be largely dry hire, where the venue is hired as an empty canvas. 

How can I make money with a small venue?

There are three main ways to make money with a small venue: dry hire, wet hire or promoting events. Each carries a different level of requirement and risk for a venue owner.

As mentioned above, dry hire means hiring the venue as a blank canvas to someone, wet hire is the same, but you are able to sell add-ons such as food and drink. Promoting events means taking all of the risks of getting attendees to the venue yourself and then selling them add-ons like food and drink.


So there you have it, a full list of everything that goes into the average event venue’s budget. Of course, every venue is different and will have unique costs depending on its size, location, and amenities. But this should give you a good idea of what to expect when planning your next event. If you are interested in starting your own event venue or space, then check out this post I wrote on the subject.

How Can I Get A Free Venue? Six Top Tips

Events can be expensive if you’re on a budget or just starting. You will be shocked to see some of the rental or hire costs of some venues so anything you can do to the venue for free or at a discount is going to massively help you.

There are six steps to follow to try to get a free venue: Ask correctly, approach venues on quieter nights, use an online venue finding service, Use co-working spaces or use some personal space.

To give you some idea of what a venue can cost, I used to run a 1,000-capacity music venue that had a hire fee starting at £1,000. I also once hired a 10,000-capacity arena for a show, and that cost £20,000 a day.

Tip 1: ASK in the correct way

Asking might sound like the obvious answer to the question, but the reality, it’s about HOW you ask. I’ve seen year after year through my event students, a hesitation in picking up the phone and calling a venue. 

Be mindful that a ‘cold’ email to a venue asking for free venue hire is unlikely to get you very far. Venue managers are busy people, and when they see an email like that, they find it very easy to ignore. Trust me; I was that person for over ten years!

The key is to do your research, understand the type of event that the venue has hosted in the past, what would they be looking to get out of any hire agreement, would they consider a profit share deal and what work can you offer to do that will help them to reduce the venue cost?

Put all of that together into a proposal that outlines the benefits of the deal and event. Call them or visit the venue to introduce yourself, tell them about your plan and ask if you can email over the proposal. Offer to follow up with them in a few days.

Most importantly, don’t cut and paste that proposal text into a dozen emails to different venues. You need to add a personal touch to build a relationship with the venue.

Tip 2: Approach venues on quieter nights

Depending on the event you want to organise, approaching a local bar, pub or restaurant may be a great idea. If you’re looking to host a social event, these types of venue will be very interested in listening to you.

They may be willing to let you use their venue on a quiet night for free, perhaps on a percentage split basis or minimum spend.

There can be two types of percentage split. Under a ticket percentage split, you agree to share some of the ticket income with them in exchange for free venue hire. If it is your first event, this can be a great way to keep your venue cost down.

The second type of percentage split is on food and drink. Again, the venue hire is waived, and you split the takings or profits from the bar. Be clear about which of those two figures you will be working to as they will be very different.

Takings are the actual money coming in, paid by customers. Profit can be either gross profit (after the cost of the food and drink has come off) or net profit (after all of the venues costs have come off). Ideally taking a % split from takings is your best option, but don’t expect to get 50:50!

In both cases, you need to have a degree of trust with the other party that they will share accurate data on income. Profit splitting should be recorded in a formal agreement or contract between both parties.

In the case of a minimum spend arranged with any venue, there will not be an upfront hire fee for your venue, so it appears free.

However, the people you bring to the venue will be required to spend at least the amount of money specified by the venue. If they don’t, then you will be subject to a venue hire fee. This method puts the risk on the hirer rather than the venue to make the event successful.

Tip 3: Use An Online Venue Finding Service

The internet is full of venue finding services, and they can be a great resource if you’re not familiar with the area where you want to host an event. That said, they tend to favour business events over social as they are dominated by venues such as conference centres, hotels and leisure facilities.

That’s not to say that if you do enough research, you might be able to secure a free venue. One trick to try is to look at which venues have recently opened or been taken over by new management. Check out the Tripadvisor score (if applicable) and see what kind of reputation the venue has.

A poor venue that has recently been taken over by new management will be keen to get events through the door to try and improve any review scores. You could certainly use this to attempt to secure the venue for free, with perhaps a minimum spend or percentage split on food and drink.

You can find good venue finding websites in your region using Google, but here are some of the more interesting ones here in the UK:

My Community Space (UK-based)

My Community Space has more of a community focus to their listings, although there are some commercial office listings included. Many of the listings have prices attached, but it may provide a starting point for you to negotiate! (UK-based)

Venue scanner allows you to search across major cities in the UK for different types of venue space. Their filters will enable you to search by the number of people, your budget and type of space. They have some venues listed that have a ‘minimum spend’ rather than a hire fee. This will likely mean you won’t pay an upfront cost but will be required to have your guests spend a certain amount on food or drink. (UK-based)

Venuefinder doesn’t carry as much information about prices and search results are mainly restricted to those venues who have paid to be in there, although one-line listings are included for other local venues. The focus is on hotels, business centres and leisure facilities over community spaces, but it might give you some ideas.

Tip 4: Use Community Spaces

Using community spaces is a great way to secure a free venue. Many community spaces will have social objectives (over purely economic ones) that they are required to meet. You should do some research into a venue space to try and see if your event meets those social objectives.

Community spaces include venues like village halls, school buildings, churches, museums or parks. There is a real variety of spaces available out there if you can put in the time for some research.

Community spaces are often run by part-time volunteers so be prepared to wait for a response to any emails.  Be nice in responding, understand they are only volunteers!

Tip 5: Use Co-working Spaces

Co-working spaces often have communal areas that they allow people or tenants to use for meetings and events. Approach the space operators to see what they can offer in terms of a deal.

These types of workspace are popping up in towns and cities across the world, so some proper research might be able to help you. Try to pick out spaces that are about to open or have opened recently. They may be more likely to give a discount to get people using the venue in the hope it will attract more regular tenants to the space.

Tip 6: Use some personal space

Finally on this list is using personal space at your own home if you have it. This depends heavily on your personal circumstances, and if the space is suitable for the event, you want to host.

Daytime or early evening meetings with just a handful of people may be possible. If you have a smaller space or a family (particularly young kids!), then this option may not be good for those.

This is not to discount hosting business social events at your house. People (in my opinion) do like to see a personal side and this something that has changed in recent years.  


A final thought on this topic: venues have staff and overheads that need to be paid. Be realistic about what you ask for and consider the fact that while the venue may be free, you may have to pay for other costs such as equipment hire and refreshments. Try to make the deal as fair for every party involved; you never know when you might want to use the venue again in the future. Pick up the phone or visit the venue; this shows real interest, emails can be ignored!

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