This Space For Rent

So last week’s post, we happened to talk about the need for more larger event spaces near Downtown Austin.

For the last few years, Red Velvet Events has received an increasing number of calls from realtors and investors who want us to look at a piece of real estate and tell them if it could be transformed into the next desired event space for Austin meetings and events (unfortunately for the most part these have been for smaller spaces than the ones we really need which is a column less 20K sq ft or more). While we certainly appreciate the interest, we thought it might be useful to take a moment and shed some light on what works, what doesn’t, and what to watch out for if you are thinking it’s an easy flip.

1. Not all Spaces are Created Equal.

A space may have a lot of square footage – like say, a warehouse – but without the proper investment into remodeling it, it may not make the grade. Yes, we hear all the time “rare,” “raw” and “uniquely Austin” event space but when it comes down to practicality, a corporate client wants to find the space inviting, clean, and functional for their group needs.

2. Looking for Management

Hiring the right venue event manager to sell the space can make – or break – an event space’s success very quickly. In fact, this one role may be even more important than the space itself. A good sales person will understand how to sell your space for various events, not just weddings or just concerts as an example.

3. Ease on Down.

If vendors / setup personnel / attendees / valet / etcetera can’t easily park or get in and out of the space, this may be your Achilles heel. A lot of the newer venues these days have this as an issue so try to address it early on before it completely cripples your sales efforts.

4. Compliance, Please.

Restrooms absolutely must be ADA compliant. You also have to consider mobility issues at the entrances and exits, as well as throughout the space. Don’t underestimate how much this will cost you in the remodeling phase.

5. Location, Location, Location.

Although venues are needed all over town, including the suburbs, the most popular destination is still the central business district area downtown. When conventions come to town, the attendees don’t always rent a car, but they do need to be able to walk from the convention center or host hotel to the party location. Now with Uber, Lyft, and even pedi cabs, the radius has definitely increased; but you will want to keep location in mind.

6. Won’t You Be A Good Neighbor?

If you want to get permits approved for your space, you’ll have to play well with those next to you. If you’re about to rock your neighborhood each night with a loud band, and you are backed up to a residential area, get ready for some challenges. I always advise venues to build out the space so that amplified sound is muffled or greatly reduced to keep everyone happy.

7. Rated “R” for “Reasonable.”

Know what reasonable event rental rates are for spaces like yours through out the year. What you might charge for, say, SXSW is not what you could charge the rest of the year – and you might even have guests balking at your SXSW rates so keep it real folks. We know you’re for profit, but no one wants to be price gouged.

With a little help, some event spaces can become prime event properties – but it doesn’t happen for all of them, and it definitely doesn’t happen overnight. And remember that, in order to make money off of an investment like this, you’ll have to strategically invest and plan for it first!