Pricing a dry hire venue

Written by Paul
Jun 25, 2014

London is packed full of venues and there seems to be multiple new openings popping up every week. The majority of the new venues we see opening aren’t new buildings, but existing ones whose owners have realised there is a potential income to be made from hiring them out. More choice is (nearly) always a good thing, especially where a middle man is concerned(!), however many of the newer venues are being offered on a dry hire only basis meaning you get a bare space and it’s up to you to hire in the furniture, catering, staff, AV etc. This often applies to historic or unusual venues i.e. livery halls, galleries, museums, for who venue hire is a secondary income and activity. These venues are often more exclusive and tend to offer the ‘wow’ factor which many clients now demand.

Venue hire - dry hire venues generally fall into two categories, those that want to see the venue used and are happy for any additional income and then those that will only rent their venue for a decent return to maintain standards and exclusivity. Sometimes these exclusive places will also only rent to certain clients, such as members and specific industries, or only for certain events that fit with their ethos and image. The keen venues will be easy to negotiate with and bargains can be had if you’re flexible, the others will very much be a case of what you see if what you pay. A guide price here is nigh on impossible as will depend on the venue and the space require. Livery halls can be found from £1500 for a large hall from 9 to 5 whereas the Saatchi gallery can be hired in its entirety for a day and evening at £25,000.

Catering - many dry hire venues will partner with catering companies, either in exclusive contracts, where you are obliged to use their designated catering company, or where a preferred list is offered. This is generally the most costly area of the event given the level of infrastructure that needs to be shipped in and red tape that must be addressed. If possible try to use a venue with a catering kitchen, this will save a significant amount on bringing in kitchens for an event. Sandwich lunch - £15-£30pp Hot fork buffet - £20-£60pp 3 course dinner - £25-£150 Canapés - £10-£40

Notes; Unless bound to one caterer always shop around for quotes, the difference in prices can be huge with negligible difference in quality. Catering companies are springing up at the same rate as venues so make sure whoever you use is up to the job and has good recommendations and reviews. The quality of the food can easily make or break an event.

Furniture - most catering companies will offer a basic level of furniture i.e. banquet chairs, 5ft round tables, trestle tables, linen, but for more unique items you may have to look to an event themeing or furniture hire company.

Notes; It’s generally cheaper to get furniture from the catering company, they make their money from food and as such tables/chairs is offered more as a clincher/convenience to the client. You will also have to pay additional delivery charges if hired through a separate company.

AV/PA - the cost here will depend entirely on the event. If you just require a projector, screen and small PA system the price could be as low as £300, however should you be putting on an awards show with staging and backdrops, film crews, lighting etc then you best look at taking out a mortgage.

Notes; Here it’s often best to work with the venues preferred supplier as they will know the venue inside out, which will make planning, setup and de-rig very quick and efficient. If you’re just after the basics it may be cheaper to bring your own projector/screen if you have one lurking in an office cupboard somewhere.

Other costs - These are not applicable to all venues or all events but give an idea of additional charges you my incur on a dry hire venue. Security - often insisted upon in places such as galleries/museums where expensive items can be easily accessed and possibly damaged by guests. Budget around £20-30 per hour per guard. Cloakrooms and attendants - primarily for evening events, can often be supplied through catering companies. Staff - again usually supplied through catering companies, otherwise look to event staffing companies such as Lola Events or At Your Service. From £12ph depending on roles and locations.