A crucial component for any conference is the venue. It can be the determining factor whether a conference is a success or a failure.
It may seem simple right - “We just need a venue for a potential X number of delegates with the ability to provide Y and Z services”
Yes, it can be that simple, but with so many options out there, it is important to establish criteria for what you may need. This will help you shortlist the most effective venues to meet your conference objectives.
This blog provides five important considerations to help you establish a criteria for what you need in a conference venue.
But firstly, write down what the objectives for your conference are, so these always remain top of mind for finding a venue.
Consideration 1: Location
The city or town that you wish to stage the conference in will be aligned with your objectives. Important factors here are the experience you wish your delegates to have, how far they need to travel and overall cost implications.
If you have a city or town in mind, here are key questions to ask in sourcing a venue in this destination…
- How accessible is the venue from transport hubs?
- Do you need it to be close to an airport?
- What accommodation options are located nearby?
- Are there any ‘off-site’ experiences that you need the venue to be close to?
- What do the answers to the above mean in regards to transfers for your delegates?
- What is the reputation of that location?
Consideration 2: Venue
Some basic venue details can quickly assist in reducing your venue shortlist…
- Is the star rating for the venue aligned with the image of your company, conference and target delegates?
- What is its availability for the dates you require?
- What is its history hosting conferences?
- Does the venue include other services that you may require for the conference such as accommodation, catering, audio visual?
- Can it host the number of delegates you wish to attend?
- Is the venue wheelchair accessible?
- Is it likely to fit within your budget?
- What other extras does the venue have that can impact on a delegate’s experience such as parking and wifi?
- How and where will the venue allow you to display your conference branding and other signage?
- During your site inspection, does the venue exhibit friendly and attentive staff and a clean environment?
Consideration 3: Conference Rooms
Within the venue itself, your delegates are likely to spend the key time in a conference room so it is imperative it ticks all the boxes for what you need…
- Does the conference room have the space you require?
- What are the possible room configurations for the number of delegates likely to attend?
- What range of chairs and tables does the venue offer?
- What is the air conditioning like with large numbers of people and your ability to change it if required?
- What is the ability of the venue to facilitate your lighting and audio visual requirements?
- What are the acoustics like in the room?
- Does the room have natural or artificial light?
Consideration 4: Accommodation
Your delegates are also likely to spend a lot of time at their accommodation whether it is at the conference venue or close by. Thus accommodation can provide a vital experience for delegates to judge the conference on.
- How long will it take delegates to travel from their hotel room to the conference room?
- Does the standard of accommodation venue match the conference venue?
- What are the room types and bed options?
- Is there wifi available in rooms?
- What is the air conditioning like in the rooms?
- What other extras does the accommodation venue have that can impact on a delegate’s experience such as transfers, recreational facilities, business centre, restaurant, room service and parking?
Consideration 5: Catering
Whether it’s a single day or multi day conference, you will need to provide catering for your delegates. It can even extend to catering at the conference room as well as accommodation venue (if separate from conference venue) and even other off-site experiences.
So wherever it is, consider these questions…
- What menu options can be provided?
- What are the dining options such as sit down lunch, morning and afternoon teas, canapés, formal dinner?
- Does the venue offer catering packages and what is included for various minimum and maximum numbers?
- Can they cater for special dietary requirements?
Ok so you have just read a lot of questions in this blog.
Before you even ask these questions of potential venues, you should answer them yourself to create your ‘ideal venue’.
Another tip in your research is to source feedback from past conference clients of the venue. Trip Advisor can be a useful tool here or the venue itself can refer you on.
It is also vital that you conduct site inspections of the potential conference venues and accommodation so you can review all of these questions in-person. Nothing beats using all your senses to experience the venue.
Going in well planned will save you a lot of time and effort in shortlisting suitable venues and ultimately deciding on one that meets your conference needs and objectives.
Rachael Ziccone is Conference & Events Manager for Corporate Challenge Events and member of the Professional Conference Organiser’s Association in Australia. Corporate Challenge Events provides a free Venue Finding service for conference clients.