If you want your conference to be a success you’ve got to get the venue right. People will only put up with a poor location, difficult transport links and sub-standard facilities for so long, regardless of how amazing the event is. But when you’re busy scouting for a location, gathering speakers, securing sponsors, it’s easy to get caught up in minor details and overlook something critical for your conference’s success.
So how do you go about choosing the right venue for your next corporate event, congress, conference or a trade-show? Here are 6 steps to help you make the right choice.
- Know your event
The Scout’s motto works well for event planning too: be prepared. Before you begin your search, it’s incredibly important to get a proper handle on the basics of the event. You will be able to compare venues more effectively and you’ll know what to ask for when visiting the location. You will need a good understanding of your event’s:
- Required meeting spaces
- Expected footfall
- Attendees (national or international delegates, speakers…)
- Type of event (formal, high-tech, etc.)
- Know when to negotiate
As a cost-conscious organiser, you may want to keep the venue cost down to allow more room in your budget for food and beverages and entertainment. You can try to lower the costs by negotiating a multi-year contract or simply be flexible on the date as certain days of the week tend to cost less. However take care about opting for cheaper venues as you may compromise on service or be stung with hidden costs after the event has taken place. Take the time to review customer testimonials and their credentials as well as search for industry awards the venue might have recently won.
- Find the right location
The location of the conference venue is paramount for maximising event attendance, yet a convenient location means different things for different events. Is the conference held over more than one day? If it is then you’ll have to think about availability of accommodation, restaurants and attractions. How about transportation, is it readily available to the venue? Here’s what you should keep in mind:
- Accessibility (road/rail/air links)
- Lodging accommodations (availability across a variety of price points, and expenses of shuttle service, taxi or car services to the venue)
- Local food and entertainment scene
- Look for suitability
Seek out a venue that not only has the right capacity but also fits the company’s image. It’s important that the venue is clearly aligned with not only the image that you are trying to project, but also that it’s the most appropriate place for your target audience. You will need to be mindful of:
- Set-up capacities (seating arrangements and sponsor areas)
- Ability to engage outside vendors and utilise break-out rooms
- Signage and branding opportunities
- Layout and floor plan (flow of traffic and event activities)
- Get familiar with the services and amenities
In addition to the appearance and capacity of the site, it is also important to take into consideration the services and amenities that the venue offers. Consider the following:
- Food and beverages (F&B minimums, catering options, food allergies/special diets options and last minute requests possibilities)
- AV capabilities (audio-visual equipment, stages, and microphones)
- Technical services (Wi-Fi, charging stations, tech support…)
- Don’t forget the venue staff
Find out the attendee to venue staff ratio to determine if there will be enough wait staff, concierge support, and security for your event. You will have a lot on your plate during event day, so check if there is an on-site dedicated venue coordinator or designee to assist with any issues that arise. Also, see if the staff will help you with surveys or on boarding and promoting your event app to your attendees.
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when choosing your event’s venue. However, if you take the above into consideration when doing your research, you’ll find the perfect venue for your next congress, corporate event, conference or trade-show.