If you are planning at hosting a conference, the biggest decision you will have to make, is where to host it. The venue has a direct impact on the success of any event. By choosing the right venue, you’re more than half way there. Guvon Hotels & Spas co-ordinators have vast experience with hosting all types of conferences, meetings and events and offers the following advice when choosing a venue:
1. Who will be attending?
The very first thing to do is to identify who will be attending your conference. Obtain a realistic estimate of numbers – don’t even start looking at venues that fall outside this figure. Also consider who the delegates are, their average age, interests and expectations. You want to be sure your venue adds to the lure of your guest-speaker and the subject of the conference
2. Mind your Budget
Know what your financial limitations are. Ensure that all items are taken into account when budgeting – Good venues offer great facilities and services as standard. Benefits you can expect as part of your package include: your main meeting room, standard meeting equipment, stationary & refreshments which makes budgeting so much easier. Always asked what is included and/or excluded for your conference so that when the final bill is presented, you do not receive any nasty shocks. To limit bar expenditure it is a good idea for delegates to pay for their own alcoholic drinks.
3. Finding the right venue
Once you have an idea of numbers, preferred dates and how much you have to spend, look for a venue that falls within these parameters and also offers something unique.
4. Site inspection
Once you have narrowed your venue options down to three, you must arrange a site visit so that you can experience each venue for yourself to ensure that all your delegates will be catered for.
It’s a no-brainer – to book a venue, it has to be available on your chosen dates. If you pick a venue that can host several events at the same time, it might be useful to check the availability of the other spaces to clarify the details about access to shared areas and expected venue traffic.
6. Make sure it is Easy to Access
The first and foremost thing that you need to consider is the ease of access. If you want to make sure that the majority of the delegates are able to attend the event, you have to ensure that they can easily find it and travel to it. If it’s too far out or difficult to find, you may find that your delegates are late or arrive irritable & harassed, which is never a great way to start a conference.
Secure parking should be a given for all delegates arriving in their own vehicles. If you are providing transport for your delegates, always check that there is coach parking and if it is close to the venue.
8. The right size venue & break-away rooms
Always ensure that the size of the conference room suits the number of delegates and your required seating arrangement. Don’t be tempted taking a smaller venue, where the delegates will sit theatre style when they need to take notes and want to use laptops. Likewise, if a conference room is too big, you will lose the intimacy required for interaction and sharing of ideas. If you have to break into smaller groups for brainstorming sessions or smaller presentations, make sure that there are suitable break-away rooms/areas close to the main venue. The ideal venue is one which offers a selection of different sized conference rooms.
9. Catering for the Guests
Food is an important factor and you should never ignore it. You should make sure that you are able to accommodate any food allergies and special diets. The guests that you have invited need to stay happy and relaxed and for that, it is important that they are properly fed. . Find a venue that is known for supplying fresh, healthy food, so your delegates will return after the break feeling refreshed and ready for work again. .
10. Make sure the Staff is Professional
If you wish to make sure that all of the guests are treated perfectly then it is essential that the staff at the venues is professional. Organising a conference can be stressful and tiring, but if your venue has professional support personnel. Professional staff can easily look after your guests in the best way.
11. Do not ignore the Importance of Technology
These days Wi-Fi is as imperative as good audio-visual equipment. Make sure that the venue is able to hold all the technical equipment.
12. Facilities & services
After a long day of conferencing, your delegates will want to relax and unwind – so choose a venue with a hospitable bar, a good restaurant, and possibly a spa with facilities like a sauna and Jacuzzi.
13. Good accommodation
Provide comfortable accommodation for delegates is a given, unless you are looking at hosting a one day event. Ensure that the venue has sufficient number of bedrooms and that if delegates are required to share (for budget purposes), twin beds are supplied.
14. Wheelchair friendly
It goes without saying – the venue should be able to cater for disabled delegates and have easy wheelchair access to the conference and breakaway rooms, accommodation, bars and facilities.