How to find a conference venue?
6 March 2017
Securing the right conference venue, when a specific location and date have a significant role to play, can be a really challenging task. Often companies choose to outsource the task in order to find a unique conference venue that complies with all of their requirements for a corporate meeting, especially if it’s the first time the event has been held or the company’s own agent does not have a vast amount of prior experience in planning industry conferences.
Large cities tend to present conference organisers with an excessively broad selection of venues – so as you can imagine, making the right choice in this case is something of a challenge. You can just imagine how time-consuming managing all those venue contacts is going to be!
On the other hand, towns may only be able to provide smaller venues for business meetings, or if they do have venues with a capacity big enough to host a conference, the chances of them already being booked up for the chosen day and time are much higher.
Within the hospitality industry, booking the right venue for a conference is considered the first item on your to-do list that should be ticked off – once your company knows its budget available for hiring a venue that is.
How to pick a conference venue?
The type of conference venue, whether audio/video (A/V) equipment is included in the hire charge, the location and parking spaces available, the nearby options of accommodation and whether snacks or catering are provided will have a huge influence on the satisfaction of the delegates who attend your conference. The lion’s share of these aspects that can define the success of conferencing events and business meetings, can be secured at the very beginning; by hiring the right venue.
Conference venue’s location
Hosting your conference at a landmark event venue makes it easy to find. Generally, booking a conference venue in the centre of the city should pose no trouble for delegates making their way to the venue. However, if there are other events organised at the same venue at the same time, make sure the invites you send out clarify which entrance your delegates should use in order to avoid confusion (if there is a separate entry point for each event space for example).
Knowing your target audience and where they live/work will help you determine the suitable location of a conference venue you should book. Centre of the city conference venues with good road routes are the most comfortable option when most of the delegates will be driving to attend the event.
Conference venues in suburban areas should be easily accessible via a taxi or bus from the centre of the city. If your conference takes place on a working day for example, delegates should be able to arrive at the venue travelling directly from their workplace, as many of them more than likely work in or around the city centre. Or some may travel by car or train if they are coming from home.
On the outskirts of cities and towns, conference centres will be often accompanied by a hotel, which come in very handy for corporates travelling from afar to attend the meeting, if they decide to stay overnight (once the after party has finished!). In venues located far from the city centre, plenty of parking space will usually be available for the attendees as well. In this case, it is important to ensure there is enough space available for the expected number of vehicles by enquiring at the venue. For multiday conferences or training days, consider hiring private transportation that will allow the delegates to travel safely between the conference venue and their accommodation, if the distance is too far to walk.
All of these practical arrangements and logistics should be explained on the invitations, if you can plan the details ahead of time. Otherwise, hosting a social media event group for the conference gives you the chance to make all arrangements known to the public (note: depends on the conference’s target audience).
If you plan to send out notification emails to make it known that there have been changes to the agenda, or you want to send out details regarding arriving at the venue and accommodation – make sure you’ve got all of the information in one email. Not all guests will appreciate receiving multiple emails about changes to the order of things.
Consider the right space size for the number of delegates you expect
Seating arrangements, alongside the expected number of conference attendees, will determine the most suitable size of the event space you should hire.
Before commencing your venue search, consider the venue layout. How many delegates need to fit in one room at once? Does the conference schedule require all attendees to be present in one space at the same time, or in multiple spaces? Are networking and audience interaction a key part of the day? Cabaret-style table arrangements facilitate networking (especially over the course of standing cocktail after parties!), while theatre or classroom seating styles allow you to fit the maximum number of people in one room.
Take some time to decide which seating style is adequate for each part of the conference schedule. You do not want the attendees to feel squashed and cramped in the space, nor do you want the conference room to feel too large and empty as if you’ve had a lot of non-attendance.
What’s included in the conference venue hire fee?
A complete guide for choosing a conference venue cannot go without mentioning the importance of A/V equipment, screens and LCD projectors, exhibition stands, kitchen hire and a cloakroom being available for the delegates over the duration of the conference.
Prior to signing the contract, enquire at the venue about what type of A/V equipment is included in the hire charge – this does not only reduce additional costs, but can save the hassle of trying to arrange for an external supplier to step in.
Before you close the deal, ask the venue how much time will be available for the caterer to set up tables and prepare meals – if you are going to provide refreshments at the conference, or are planning an evening banquet for the delegates. Find out what the venue’s load in/out time is.
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