Choosing the right venue for your conference can either make it a huge success or a complete failure. That’s true whether no matter who you’re planning the conference for. It takes the right space to carry it all out.
We understand that it’s challenging even to contemplate finding the right venue. So, we’ve put together some tips to help you out. You may want to consider using these tips as a checklist when you start the search for the best conference venue.
1). The Budget
Determine how much your company can afford to spend on the conference overall. This will include the venue, catering services, and more. A conference is a significant company expense, so calculate how much you can afford to spend before the search.
Once you’ve determined the amount that can be spent, be sure to stick to that amount. It’s very tempting to go over budget when what seems like the perfect venue is more expensive. However, that’s not a good fiscal move for the company.
Also keep in mind that you may be able to save money by having the conference on an alternative date. And don’t hesitate to negotiate on the price—you may be pleasantly surprised.
2). The Location & Accessibility
Next, consider the location and accessibility of the conference venue. These are essential when it comes to getting more people to attend the event. The venue should be centrally located and be near public transportation links, as well as motorways. Plus, it should be easy to reach for those who are arriving by plane or rail.
Ensure the area has plenty of parking to accommodate conference attendees. Nothing is worse than arriving to a conference, only to find no parking is available for those arriving by car. In that case, they must take time to drive around the area looking for parking. Then they may face a long walk to the conference, which could even make them late or get lost.
So, ensure the venue has plenty of parking at the venue or close by. And ensure there’s enough parking for the number of attendees you expect.
Conferences usually go for more than one day; for this reason, you’ll want to make sure the conference venue has hotel accommodations nearby. However, if the event is in a hotel, then you’ll want to see if they can accommodate the number of attendees you expect.
Looking for hotels that are within walking distance of the conference, if possible. Otherwise, it’s best to search for accommodations that can provide shuttle services to the event. If this service isn’t available, then check to see if there are taxis and other transportation methods, such as Uber, that can be used.
When you find a venue, check to see if it’s available on the date you’ve chosen for the conference. If not, ask if they might be available on other dates, and see if they might give a discount for being more flexible. It can’t hurt to ask.
When searching for the right conference venue, you’ll also want to ask yourself if the venue is suitable for your company or conference image. Does the venue reflect the brand and imaging expected by attendees?
Remember to also ask the venue what other events may be going on at the same time. These should not be damaging to your brand or image or cause a distraction for attendees. You want to avoid a business conference taking place next to an event for young kids and their families, for instance.
7). Facilities & Technology
When you’ve found 3-5 venues that might be a good choice for your conference, check their facilities and technology. For instance, do they provide WiFi, audio/visual and other technology? What about seating arrangements? Is their venue flexible to accommodate a different layout than they currently have?
On your list of venues, choose only those that offer technology and facilities that are a perfect fit for the conference. Otherwise, you’ll have to spend additional funds for tech needed on site, and may not have the perfect layout for attendees to enjoy.
Running a conference is a lot of work, so you may want to consider conference venues that include staffing. Staffing varies from venue to venue, so be sure know what you need before speaking to the venue coordinator.
For instance, will your venue require security? Or will staff be available to help setup tech for the conference?
If possible, look for a venue that provides a team for the entire conference. In some places, the team may be able to set everything up for the conference in advance, including the tech. Staff may also help with welcoming and reception services. This way, all you have to do is take care of attendees and presenters and speakers.
9). Catering Services
No one wants to attend a conference only to end up parched and hungry during the event. For this reason, most venues provide catering services, which include food and beverages. You may want to even ask if they can deal with food allergies or special diets, even at the last minute for attendees. Another option is to see if the venue allows for a la carte orders during the conference.
Some venues may even include catering services in their contract. This makes it much more affordable for your budget.
Remember to ask about all of the charges and fees involved with your conference at a specific venue. Don’t hesitate to see if they’ll negotiate the fee—you never know! It doesn’t hurt to ask!
Some venues have an all-inclusive fee, which covers everything for your conference. However, be sure to ask exactly what’s covered and ensure there are no hidden fees.
Searching for the right conference venue isn’t easy. There’s a lot of consider in addition to the price. Remember, focus on venues that have all-inclusive contracts and those that offer the services you need, at a price that fits your company’s budget.