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Colorado wedding venue & event center for sale

Event Centers and Wedding Venues for Sale

Event Centers and Wedding Venues

What Happens Behind the Scenes to Get Them Running and Profitable

By Gary Hubbell, ALC

In our job as brokers of ranches, resorts, estates, country homes, and rural businesses with real estate involved, we of course pay attention to trends. One trend in commercial and rural real estate that has not received much national attention is the trend of wedding venues and event centers. In the past decade, more and more people have realized that they own an attractive property that others would enjoy for their gatherings. They have pooled their resources and re-purposed an old barn, shop building, or defunct church to create a wedding venue or event center, often with great success.

What Type of Events Can I Host at My Event Center?

Venues can make excellent income by hosting banquets, concerts, horse events, yoga retreats, high school reunions, weddings, non-profit fundraisers, classes, and corporate retreats in addition to Saturday weddings. Many wildlife organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Wild Turkey Federation, the NRA, and Pheasants Forever are always looking for a great new venue for their fundraising banquets.

What Elements are Necessary for a Successful Event Center Business?

People might think, “Hey, I have a nice place and plenty of parking—I’m in business!” but they may be very wrong. There are many other considerations to running a successful event center and wedding venue. Issues to consider are many, but include:

  • Licensing and permitting.In counties and townships with strict land use codes, it may be difficult to get necessary permits to run an event center. The first stop for anyone intending to create an event center would be the local township, city, or county planning and development office to learn the boundaries.
  • Parking and crowd control.It’s not good enough to point to the old bull pasture and say “Park there!” For an event that may have 200 people or more, it’s quite often necessary to mark out parking spaces and have staff guide guests to parking spots. In the event that someone gets unruly, it may be necessary to have security on site. If frequent use occurs, it may be necessary to build a compacted gravel or asphalt parking lot.
  • Commercial kitchen and food prep area. Even if you’re planning to use local caterers to bring meals to your events, you still need a commercial kitchen area to keep food warm or cold and meet health codes. Commercial kitchens are much more expensive than a home kitchen, with stainless steel fixtures, warming ovens, plumbing, and expensive restaurant equipment. Even walls and floors demand a certain commercial finish. If establishing a new venture, I highly recommend you check out local health codes and standards before you invest and get a quote on what it will cost to build out what you need.
  • Adequate lodging either on-site or nearby There are not many venues that can host a couple hundred people with lodging. At a minimum, a good wedding venue or event center should have enough rooms or beds to handle an average-sized wedding party of 8-10 people. In addition to that, there should be enough hotel, motel, campsite, or BnB properties within half an hour or so to host the majority of the crowd.
  • Proximity to airports and transit centers, as well as high-speed internet and cell service You may have the most beautiful place in the world, but if you’re too far out in the backwoods and people have to drive more than 2-3 hours from the nearest airport, it’s not likely that you will be able to book major events. People today want to stay connected, and if your venue lies in a hole where no one can make a phone call, you need to talk to the phone companies about building new towers. Starlink now provides excellent internet service practically everywhere, so at least that hurdle has been cleared.
  • Nearby population centers for business demographics If you don’t have towns or cities with populations of at least 5-10,000 within an hour or two, you will have a hard time staying booked with your venue unless you’re a really brilliant marketer. You might consider hiring a consultant with expertise in marketing demographics to see if you’re on the right track or the wrong track, because a mistake in this regard could be very expensive.
  • Sufficient square footage, acreage, and distance from neighbors When you host a wedding for one of your children, your neighbors might think it’s cute and sweet that they got married on the home place. About the time that you’re gearing up to host the 10th wedding of the summer, it may not be so cute anymore. If there is a possibility that your event will cause excess traffic, noise, dust, and even roadside trash, there will be complaints.
  • Amenities and local attractions It’s always nice if a venue has something nearby that guests will find entertaining, amusing, or fun, whether fishing, wine tours, hot springs, horseback riding, mountain biking, climbing, or who knows what. A successful event center also provides activities and entertainment for at least a day or two in advance or after the event.
  • Unique attributes and features A really cool old barn, a charming old farmhouse, a pond or lake with stately large trees, or friendly dogs, cats, or farm animals. Old classic cars and farm trucks make great photo props for wedding parties.
  • Positive market conditions There are cycles in every business category. Just as many people go started with short-term rental properties and made bank with AirBnB and VRBO rentals. Now that market is increasingly saturated and bookings are starting to slide. Is there an open market for an event center in your area? Really study it before taking the plunge.

What About Buying an Existing Event Center or Wedding Venue?

 Well, that’s a very good question. When someone has already gone through the work to establish a good income-producing wedding venue or event center, why re-invent the wheel? Now that the industry has matured a bit, some owners and practitioners are ready for retirement or new ventures. Event centers and wedding venues are starting to come onto the market. In fact, we have several of them listed now–check out these properties: Antelope Creek Lodge & Event Center is located on the I-76 corridor northeast of Denver, Colorado. It has a 12,000-square-foot lodge and event center, sporting clays range, commercial kitchen, pheasant hunting preserve, and a total of 683 acres. This is a fantastic property. The Electric Mountain Lodge is a very cool mountain retreat with lodging for up to 36 people. In the winter, it’s a popular destination as a snowmobile resort. In the summer, it hosts many weddings and other events, and offers ATV rides, 4-wheeling, fishing, and horseback riding. In the fall, the local elk and mule deer hunting is excellent. This is a short-term rental property for AirBnB and VRBO guests, but it also works very well for weddings and events, given that it has over 15 acres and plenty of room for large groups.

What Are Good Questions to Ask When Buying an Event Center Property?

First, start with all the parameters that I have listed above. If you can answer those questions with assurance, then it’s looking good. There can be several different factors in the success of a venue—or lack thereof. Quite simply, a major factor can be gumption and desire. Some people take on a big project like this at a later age and find out it’s too much work. Those teams that have a well-articulated business plan, strong marketing, and a great property will thrive.

Financial history is one of the main aspects to identify a good event center candidate

Let’s say you have found the perfect property. Then the question is, “How are the financials?” Purchasing a wedding venue or event center is a mixture of a real estate acquisition and business purchase. Of course there will a value in the real estate and improvements, but there will also be value in the business. We are experts in listing, selling, and valuing rural businesses with real estate assets.

At United Country Colorado Brokers, We Know How to Market, Value, and Sell Event Centers and Wedding Venues

We are proud members of the Realtors Land Institute, an association of land, farm, ranch, and rural property specialists. In 2023 we were asked to present a breakout session at the RLI National Land Conference on this topic of listing, valuing, and selling rural properties with business components. The 600 agents and brokers in attendance rated our class as the most popular of the three-day conference. We have sold wineries, outfitting businesses (25 and counting!), restaurants, RV parks, and many other types of rural businesses. When it comes to buying or selling this type of asset, you’re in the right hands with our team at UCCB. Please give us a call to discuss your needs, 970-872-3322.

Gary Hubbell, ALC, is an Accredited Land Consultant recognized by the Realtors Land Institute. Gary is the managing broker and founder of United Country Colorado Brokers & Auctioneers. He has sold outfitting businesses, resorts, farms, ranches, mountain land, hunting properties, country estates, luxury homes, RV parks, and interesting properties all over the West.