Whether you’re running a huge annual conference or a small meeting with friends and business partners, the right venue makes all the difference. Here are our top 9 tips that will help you choose a meeting venue that’s perfect for your needs.
For people to attend your meeting/conference, you need to make sure you’ve thought about potential accessibility issues. If not centrally located, you’ll have to somehow guarantee that people will be able to get there in time. There should also be ample parking and/or valet services for attendees who decide to drive to the venue.
To promote additional event networking opportunities, it’s also good to consider venues that are close to bars, restaurants and other attractions.
You want to make things simple for your attendees. So why not provide them with a link to your mobile event app? With GPS maps, driving directions and all kinds of useful information, you’re much more likely to hit maximum capacity.
Most top venues are located within hotels. Often they offer special accommodation packages and deals for delegates and attendees. If that’s not the case for you, you’ll have to consider suitable lodging choices within a reasonable distance of the event itself.
People are much more likely to attend if they know they’ll have somewhere to rest and relax after the main event is over. If the venue is not within walking distance, check with your hotel to see if they can provide shuttle service. If you rely on taxis and expensive shuttle services that are not included with the conference package, many people might decide to give it a miss.
It goes without saying that if you’re inviting 100 people to the conference, you shouldn’t book a venue that can only seat 50. It’s highly unlikely that everyone will attend, however, it’s not worth the gamble.
If you’re planning on providing your attendees with refreshments, it’s a good idea to discuss this with the hotel venue in advance. More often than not, you’ll be able to take advantage of set menus or all-inclusive conference packages that will help make sticking to your budget much easier.
Aside from the actual space itself, services and amenities can make or break an event. What are the venue’s kitchen facilities and will they be able to cater to your specific event? Are there any alternative food providers that you can choose from?
For high-profile events, you may even want to sample the food offered in advance. If it’s not to your standards, it might create a negative impact on your delegates’ experience.
You can save quite a bit by making use of the venue’s available items. If their tables, chairs and decoration go well with your theme and ambience, it’s probably a good idea to keep them as they are. If not, you’ll have to factor in the extra cost of hiring additional equipment and event styling.
By the time you decide it’s time to book your venue, you should have a rough idea of the type of activities that will take place. This also includes the needs of your team and attendees. Before you make a choice, grab an illustrated floor plan of potential venues and make note of important features that may affect the layout (e.g. position of outlets and AV equipment).
One way to make a well-informed choice is by thinking about the flow of the event. Do you expect people to gather in the lobby or close to the bar? What are the different configurations available, and how will they affect the flow of the event? What kind of activities do specific layouts allow for? These are all questions you’ll have to consider.
Layout and amenities are essential, but you need to pay special attention to the venue’s existing decor. What does its architecture convey? Is it appropriate for your specific event? If there’s an ambience/theme mismatch, you may end up with an environment that doesn’t help you get your message across.
Sound is crucial to any conference and event. If you’ve ever attended an event at a venue with bad acoustics, you’ll probably know what it feels like not being able to hear anything—and losing your voice as a result.
The way sound travels through a venue can completely change the whole experience. Low-ceiling venues tend to get really loud when packed. In contrast, larger venues that are underbooked may result in unpleasant echoes (aka reverberation).
It’s hard to test a venue’s acoustics when the place is empty. This is why it’s better to visit the space when it’s full.
The best way to strike a great deal with the venue of your choice is to be flexible with your desired dates. Venues tend to have open dates on their calendar that they desperately want to fill in. If you’re fixed on a specific date, be prepared to pay something more, especially if that date falls on a Friday/weekend during peak season (spring and summer).
You can avoid unpleasant surprises by visiting your meeting venue several months before the big event takes place. It’s even better if you can attend a function similar to yours.
Here are some things to keep in mind during your visit:
Those were our top tips for choosing the perfect meeting venue. Stay focused and prepare well in advance to wow team members and delegates on the big day. Keep our list handy to organise a fantastic event that will be remembered for years to come!