Tips to picking a conference venue

When you’re the designated conference organizer, scouring the web (or a particular city) for the perfect conference venue, realize this one crucial piece of information, it’s doubtful you’ll ever find the perfect venue.

Consider a motion picture that wins the Academy Award, some will watch the film amazed at the artistry and skill, while others wonder, “Why did that film win and not another?”  Your job is to choose a venue that fits in as many ways as possible with cost, comfort and ease of access important considerations.  With that in mind, let’s do our best to make your job an easy one.

You’ll want to consider three things concurrently…

  • The size of your conference
  • The type of conference
  • The atmosphere or mood you want to convey

Each of these will play an important role.

Obviously if you’re hosting a conference for just a few, your task (and choices) will be vastly different than a conference for thousands with speakers flying in from far and wide.  For the former you might consider a quiet venue located nearby, for the latter you’ll likely need 4 star hotels, nearby restaurants and a variety of leisure time activities.

At the same time you’ll need to consider what type of atmosphere is best suited, quiet and dignified, or an atmosphere that says… “Throw caution to the wind”?

CONFERENCE TYPES:  The term conference may apply to a small gathering of like-minded people, or a Fortune 500 (see this year’s results)company celebrating a sales milestone or product launch.  One type may focus on networking (meeting new people and establishing relationships) while another may seek to accomplish particular goals (possibly certification).

Extravagance vs. Economy

You’ll want a balance between lavishness and low rent, a venue (and location) that appeals to the eye and senses, but isn’t so exotic guests will be tempted to miss the conference and spend their day sightseeing.  Nor one so utilitarian they become bored and restless, watching the clock counting the minutes till they can go home.  You’ll want a carefully thought out blend, a venue that gives an attended the feeling their money was well spent, and excited for the next session to begin.

You’ll want a carefully thought out blend, a venue that gives an attended the feeling their money was well spent, and excited for the next session to begin.  A venue that provides interesting (after hours) places to unwind, enjoying a good meal, possibly entertainment; then provides a safe and comfortable place to rest in anticipation of Day Two.

You’ll want a carefully thought out blend, a venue that gives an attended the feeling their money was well spent, and excited for the next session to begin.  A venue that provides interesting (after hours) places to unwind, enjoying a good meal, possibly entertainment; then provides a safe and comfortable place to rest in anticipation of Day Two.

Getting a good deal

When speaking with a hotel (or convention) representative, ask about different conference rooms (they’ll often range from intimate to expansive). Find out what comes with your choice, and what are considered extras?  Do they offer internet access, does it cost extra?  Can you easily project images onto a big screen, or will you need to bring your own audio visual equipment?  Unless this is the opening of a new venue, the representative will likely have your answers readily available, offering helpful suggestions, they want your business, so take advantage of their expertise.

Can you easily project images onto a big screen, or will you need to bring your own audio visual equipment?  Unless this is the opening of a new venue, the representative will likely have your answers readily available, offering helpful suggestions, they want your business, so take advantage of their expertise.

Can you easily project images onto a big screen, or will you need to bring your own audio visual equipment?  Unless this is the opening of a new venue, the representative will likely have your answers readily available, offering helpful suggestions, they want your business, so take advantage of their expertise.

While this next point might seem a “Duh” moment it’s vitally important, remember the sage advice of Napoleon, “An army marches on its stomach”, no attendee will be happy unless there are good meals easily available.  If there are any doubts, speak with the convention representative about catering, snacks, refreshments, etc.

Consider Your Objective

While we’ve discussed the need for food and extracurricular activities, what is your conference hoping to achieve?  If you’re motivating a sales team, perhaps the frenzied activity of the city can serve as motivation; if you’re bringing executives together to strategize, perhaps more peaceful and relaxing surroundings should be considered.  It’s always a blend of accessibility, feasibility and cost.

Driving, Flying or Limos

Depending on where your conference is held and the affluence of those attending, its likely most will arrive by plane, with some driving their own cars.  Fairly standard, but what about parking, does it cost extra, is it provided by the venue, is it readily available?  And what of your speakers, will transportation be provided?  All small items individually, but crucial if a guest (or even worse a speaker) can’t find a parking spot or loses their keys.  Try to choose a venue with secure and validated parking.

And what of your speakers, will transportation be provided?  All small items individually, but crucial if a guest (or even worse a speaker) can’t find a parking spot or loses their keys.  Try to choose a venue with secure and validated parking.

And what of your speakers, will transportation be provided?  All small items individually, but crucial if a guest (or even worse a speaker) can’t find a parking spot or loses their keys.  Try to choose a venue with secure and validated parking.

A conference can be pivotal to your next fiscal quarter or year, choosing the right conference venue is just critical to the conference.  If you’re choosing a conference venue in London, select your venue with care and consideration; it’s one of the most important items on your checklist. That way if you should find that your speakers don’t deliver on the day,

That way if you should find that your speakers don’t deliver on the day, you conference will be remembered as the most fun and interesting for the attendees. And that means that they will be coming back.

That way if you should find that your speakers don’t deliver on the day, you conference will be remembered as the most fun and interesting for the attendees. And that means that they will be coming back.

  • Jasmin Tuta is a journalist and conference-goer who lives in London. The city and its history is her main interest, as well as fashion, writing and London’s ever-changing nightlife scene.

Author: Muzi Mohale

Hi there, am your host and I blog about the tourism industry in South Africa. You're also welcome to contribute your expert content on matters affecting the industry. You can reach me on muzi[at]tourismedition.com

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