When looking at potential venues for a business conference, it is important to make sure that each venue provides exactly what you need.
There is no point in visiting a venue if it does not meet all your requirements, as you may have to end up paying more money out in order to get the facilities and the supplies that your conference needs in order to run successfully. It is far better to have a venue that is fully equipped to deal with anything you have to offer, than to have to cart a bunch of extras around because the venue cannot supply you with enough plug sockets, for example.
Of course, having a stricter set of requirements will put some venues off the list for good. However, if you want to be able to organise and run a successful conference without having to worry about hiring any extra features, then it is important that you have a detailed list of everything you need. This allows you to go through potential venues in a swift and successful manner, without having to spend too much time on the venues that may not provide everything you need.
Here, Mike James – working with Function Fixers, a UK-based venue sourcing service has compiled an essential list of 10 items every conference venue should have or should have access to, where needed:
1. Designated parking
For delegates who travel by car to the venue, it is important that there are designated parking spaces available, or, at least, a nearby car park where attendees are able to park. Your delegates may feel a little miffed if they have to pay for parking, but pay and display parks are better than having to find a space on some side street and run the risk of getting a ticket.
2. Signposts or clear directions to the venue itself
If your delegates are unable to easily find the venue or even receive easy directions to the venue, you may end up having to delay a number of talks in order to wait for late arrivals. This will look bad on the organisation and the conference in general. If the venue is easy to find, it will certainly kick-start good organisation for the rest of the event
Toilet and washroom facilities are a must for any good venue. While it might seem like a necessity, the venue chosen may not have enough toilets to be able to properly cater to all your delegates’ needs. One toilet and an overflowing sink will not be adequate when a conference holds enough room for 80 people. You’ll want to make sure that your chosen venue has more than enough facilities for everyone.
4. Comfortable seating
Long meetings can be made worse due to uncomfortable and awkward seating. Hard backed plastic chairs are all fine and good for a ten-minute assembly, but when your meetings run for hours on end, your attendees are going to need something a little sturdier. Venues should provide a range of different seating, with more comfortable seating available for longer meetings.
5. Clear acoustics
When making a speech, it is important that you are heard loudly and clearly. Good acoustics is not only essential in a venue, it can make or break a speech. While you may be well versed in taking meetings, at conferences you may have to address a far greater number of individuals so it is important that you are heard. You can easily check out the acoustics of any venue if there are two of you, so certainly give it a go when you can.
6. Adequate electrical equipment
If the venue doesn’t have a proper lighting or sound system set up and you need to make a speech that will be both seen and heard throughout the hall, you are going to have some problems. Make a list of all the electrical equipment you will need and see whether or not the venue is able to provide this. If you require more specific equipment, of course, you might have to look into hiring it separately.
As with electrical equipment, if you don’t have enough plug sockets to be able to use all of your speech equipment, you may end up looking disorganised and unprofessional to your colleagues. Check to see how many sockets you will need for a presentation and make sure that any potential venue has more than enough to cover them.
Organising refreshments with your venue is a must, particularly with longer conferences. For those due to last more than a few hours, delegates will expect lunch to be provided or a cafeteria and a menu at the very least. As an organiser, you need to feed and water your delegates if you want to continue having an intelligent discussion with them!
9. Accommodation available
Sometimes events may last for a couple of days and the venue may offer a place to stay. However, if the venue itself does not provide accommodation, you will need to look elsewhere. Venues within easy reach of hotels and hostels are preferable for long conferences as delegates will not have to make the long journey to and from the venue every morning and evening. Ask any potential venues if there is accommodation nearby.
10. Nearby entertainment
While not an essential part of the venue itself, if your work conference is occurring over the course of several days, having some form of entertainment where your attendees can sit back and relax is essential. Even business conferences need to take breaks, otherwise, you will simply burn yourself out talking about business matters. Whether the entertainment is in house or just down the street, a business venue will need to have a ‘cool down’ area nearby.
Of course, there will always be the concept of ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ if you find yourself strapped for time. Ultimately if you have a conference set for a certain date and you can’t find a venue that provides everything you need in good time, you will have to start making compromises. However, this list provides a good idea of what you should be looking at in a venue and what you should start thinking about when organising a conference in the first place. Best of luck in your search for the perfect conference venue.