Refurbishing your event spaces

Much consideration is placed on the look and ambience of event spaces, these rooms are the bread and butter of an events-driven venue. It is therefore vital that their role, and the technology required to deliver this, is carefully considered as part of any refurbishment cycle.

Design vs. Functionality

You should not have to trade off design for functionality. With careful planning, the functionality of a space can be delivered alongside beautiful design. 

To create a successful events space it is vital that the technological aspects are considered alongside the visual appearance of the room as part of the planning process; not just what you need the technology to do, but what hardware is required in order to make this a reality. If carefully designed together, a holistic approach to lighting, audio and video needs can be seamlessly integrated into the design of a room, to deliver the functionality required in an unobtrusive, even invisible manner. When done effectively, this actually enhances the overall ambience of the space, as sound and lighting are critical in creating the optimum guest experience.

What Hardware do I need?

With Martyn’s Law coming into force in 2024, it will be key for a venue to plan for any acts of terrorism and other such things that we all hope we will never have to face.  If the unthinkable happens, a good PA system will be essential to take control of the situation. The specifications of these will depend on the acoustics and size of the venue. 

It is also vital that the key usage of the room is understood. Requirements for conference delegates may be very different from wedding guests, and may differ again for those attending a charity fundraiser or gala dinner. Understanding how you wish to position your events space is key to delivering the best technology to suit your guest’s needs.  Many venues may find that they require facilities which are flexible, to meet the requirements of all these kinds of events. 

In addition to usage requirements, different types of customers also need to be considered. Sometimes spaces are hired out directly to the end user, who will need the venue to provide all of the facilities.  At other times, they are hired by an events or production company who will provide their own technology and room dressing.  Each has a very different set of requirements for the events space.

Designing the most flexible events space

Flexibility is often the answer, as many venues need to be able to adapt to suit many different requirements. As such, it is important to own a certain level of hardware to allow in-house events and conferences, as well as to have the ability to provide an adaptable and technologically compatible venue for events companies to hire. As a basic requirement, most venues need their own PA, (and possibly a projector system), to allow for background music, speeches and announcements. 

It is always worth discussing your customer’s needs with your lighting, audio and video integrator during the planning of your refurbishment. They will be able to suggest the best solutions for your particular event space.

How do I make my facility appealing to event companies?

Increasingly, large companies are employing event organisers to deliver important events on their corporate calendars. In turn, event organisers need reliable venues to work in partnership with, as they strive to be as professional as possible. They need interesting and unique rooms to hold events within or the ability to easily create a unique environment within an existing space. This relies on three key attributes;
1. Accessibility
2. Power
3. Compatible technology

These in turn need to be designed into the structure of the room to ensure that they are as seamless as possible. This will subsequently free up more space and therefore enable maximum occupancy within the room.


Dressing a room, building a stage or bringing in lighting & PA equipment requires a large team, lots of boxes and often odd-shaped things! 

If you have the opportunity to consider the loading route for a venue, it is helpful to allow vehicles as close as possible to the events room and if possible, allow the main loading path to be on a level route or one with ramps rather than steps. If this is not an option, lifts are an alternative, but these need to be goods lifts, (with a good internal volume and load rating) and not guest lifts, as even the best handles of a flight case can bang, scuff or dent a lift interior.


All events need power and lots of it! It is vital that event rooms have a good number of 13amp sockets in a suitable number of circuits, spread around every wall and between multiple doorways. If you have a venue large enough to justify a stage or a flown lighting rig, it will be worth fitting what is called hard Power; some large Cee Form/commando style connectors offering higher currents of single or three-phase power. To allow the staging area to be effectively lit these are most usefully placed:

  • near the side of a stage
  • just outside the loading doors near backstage or 
  • behind panels in the room, where the desk/amps might be or where the cable runs to the lighting rig may come down

Compatible Technology

Sound: It is essential that your systems are never compromised in the desire to make your facilities as appealing as possible to events companies. When considering sound requirements, it is paramount that your ‘main racks’ and ‘controls’ are not touched by any third party as this will void your warranty with the installation company. If your existing room sound configurations do not meet the requirements of an events company, it is always safer to allow them to provide their own systems for specific requirements. If however you have established a good working relationship with a particular events company, it is possible to allow them to connect to the front-of-house audio or video sockets to use the house system in parallel with the events system. If you feel this is beneficial for you, it is always advisable to contact your installation company to ensure that relevant safeguards are in place, and any training required is conducted with the relevant events company staff.

Lighting: There are positive benefits in allowing an events company to integrate their DMX lighting desk with your in-house lighting system. Working with your lighting system provider, it is possible through the installation of DMX sockets and a DMX merge unit to allow the events company to take control of the lighting within a designated room or area. Your lighting system provider can ensure that this is set up such that the events company can only control the area you choose and that this will not affect any other areas of the venue or safety measures such as ‘lights to full’ in the event of a fire. Once established, it will enable the events company to dim house lights and bring up stage lights seamlessly.

Hiding the Hardware
By their very nature, events and functions are temporary affairs.  With them they can bring cables, rubber mats and gaffer tape, running around your beautifully decorated venue! To minimise the visual impact, however, the events room infrastructure can be designed to hide a large proportion of this temporary hardware. This in turn will free up more space and therefore enable maximum occupancy within the events room. Some options include fitting:

  • Removable skirting board  – which has a void and trap doors to enable cables to be routed around the walls without being seen.
    • A trough in the floor around the perimeter of the room – to allow cables to be laid in and covered. (This works well as it allows cables to cross doorways without impeding pedestrians or wheelchair access).
    • Vertical panels in walls at strategic points – to allow floor-to-ceiling cabling to be hidden behind panels. (This allows the connection and control of lighting equipment without the need for big tripes of cable hanging down from trusses).
    • Video screens in the ceiling – as the use of video is becoming more and more prevalent in events to enable video, data and lighting projection. (If screens are pre-fitted in the event room ceiling, it produces a clean finish as these screens are nearly invisible once installed. It also reduces the need for stands and rigging, allowing projection to be done swiftly and easily).
    • Rated flying points in the ceiling* – Having properly rated flying points in the ceiling, which are compatible with the systems used by the events companies you work with, will enable a rigger to fly all of the lighting rigs and speakers from the ceiling, leaving you with the best possible space for your guests.

* Flying points always need to be designed with your structural engineer to ensure stability. Likewise, it is always advisable to check riggers’ qualifications and insurance before their arrival on site even if they work for the events company.

What else should I think about?

Your own staff or events coordinators will often know what will help to make a room work more effectively as they experience how they function every day. This may involve moving doors, changing the direction in which they hinge or the type of hinge they have fitted, to allow silent access for minimum disruption. 

It may also be prudent to fit general-purpose cameras that can be accessed in back-of-house areas or the kitchens, to allow staff and the events teams to have an unobtrusive view of the event room to enable them to deliver seamless, timely service to guests. 

It is also important to ensure that you have the relevant PPL and PRS licences to enable music broadcasts without any legal infringements.

In Summary

Getting both the design and functionality right will deliver flexible and desirable events spaces, which in turn will pay dividends for your venue. 

It is vital to work with your lighting, audio and video integrator during the planning of your refurbishment, to ensure that the best solutions are designed for your particular event space needs to maximise your return.

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