Organising a conference can be an exciting yet daunting task. The list of requirements and the checklist for what must be done can be overwhelming. To pull off such an event successfully, it’s important to choose the right location. Here are 10 tips on how to choose a conference venue to ensure your event is a successful one that all attendees will remember.
Capacity is an important aspect when organising a conference venue. How many attendees do expect to come to the conference? If a conference is being organised in-house for employees of a company, the capacity will be set to the amount of employees invited. A smaller venue may be required as opposed to a conference centre that can cater for a large number of people.
A conference that offers training or networking opportunities for like-minded professionals may require a maximum capacity offering. A hotel or resort may be able to offer both conference rooms and accommodation lodgings to attendees. You can cap your numbers by offering a select number of tickets, or by inviting a limited number of participants. Once you have this number sorted out, you can move on to verifying suitability.
Does the location of the conference cater for the maximum amount of people who can attend the conference? There is no point booking a conference venue that can’t cater for your attendees. Depending on the way you are organising the conference, you may also like to ensure your venue has room to expand if numbers increase. If your event is a sell-out, will you offer extra spots at the last minute?
The suitability of a venue should also align with the image of the conference and the company organising the conference. Is it an appropriate place for your target audience? Check there are no compromises with the brand of the accommodation and sponsors of the conference – do their ethic align? How about your own brand? If you have green credentials, for example, be sure your conference venue also supports these ideals. Suitability is important because it can affect sales of tickets to the conference. A venue that is unique or popular is a great way to secure ‘bums on seats’ – but the last thing you want is any controversy about the venue’s offerings.
To maximise event attendance, the location of the venue is very important. Where do most attendees reside? Once this is considered, choose a location that is accessible to the majority of attendees.
Transportation to the conference venue will be a vital issue. If you have delegates arriving on flights or trains, consider offering a luxury car service like Hughes Limousines to transport attendees from the airport to the conference destination.
If the conference venue can be accessed by car, ensure there are enough parking spaces or valet services to assist attendees that drive to the conference.
Often free time at the conference allows for attendees to explore the venue region, too. Ensure the venue has attractions or restaurants nearby so patrons can network away from the conference rooms.
The majority of conferences will run for one to three days, so it’s important for the conference venue to be held at a hotel or within easy distance of a number of hotels. Attendees who are flying into town will need comfortable, practical places to stay. But even local guests may choose to stay close to the conference venue for convenience.
If the venue is not within walking distance to accommodation, consider organising a conference shuttle service to transport guests to and from the conference venue and their lodgings. Attendees shouldn’t have to rely on a taxi to get to and from their accommodation and conference destination. This could be a deciding factor on attendance rates.
Conferences cost money. Ticket fees and sponsorships are good ways to mitigate expenses, but your venue can also make arrangements for mutual benefit. Negotiate with the venue to see if they can offer a reduced rate in exchange for a multiple-year contract. If the conference is being held at a hotel, special accommodation rates for attendees can assist with an individual’s cost of attending the conference. If the accommodation or cost of travel is out of reach for attendees, you may lose part of your audience which can affect the viability of the event. Remind your venue of how much extra money your delegates will bring to the site via food and beverage purchases!
Consider any major events that could clash with the timing of your conference. Your conference venue needs to have maximum availability. It may not be ideal to run the conference in conjunction with another event at the conference venue.
Organising your conference during peak season could hamper networking events if lounges and restaurants are booked to capacity because of other patrons.
Your conference venue should be able to provide the technical provisions you require. The venue should offer audiovisual equipment, stages and microphones for speakers at the conference.
Social media presence and awareness at conferences is a must to draw awareness to the event. Ensure there is WiFi onsite and have a mobile device stall so mobile phones can be recharged when needed. Offering free WiFi to attendees is a great way to offer extra value to those who attend the conference.
Having enough staff at the venue is important to ensure attendees can be served during the conference. Ensure there are enough wait staff, concierge support and security for the event by considering the staff to attendee ratio. Insufficient staffing across these areas leads to queues and delays, which can seriously impact your running schedule.
The facilities are an important factor when choosing a conference venue. Having the right room setup is important to ensure all participants can see and hear presentations, and feel comfortable to take notes or use portable devices during sessions. What seating arrangements will the conference venue offer? Can room set ups be altered from round tables to rows of seats, for example?
It’s also important to consider any additional rooms you may need beyond the main presentations. Does your conference require breakout rooms for different segments of the conference? Are separate rooms needed for networking opportunities?
And most importantly of all, are there enough bathroom facilities to cater for the number of guests attending the conference?
A good conference will ensure enough food and drink has been catered for everyone. Food allergies and special diets will need to be considered. Can your venue offer this onsite or will you have to organise a catering service to provide food and drink to attendees? Having drink stations available so people can have water at any time is a considerate provision for attendees so they avoid leaving the conference to purchase a drink.
There is a lot to consider when choosing a conference venue, but this checklist will ensure the right venue is secured.
If you require transportation for attendees, why not call Hughes Limousines? They can offer a luxury chauffeured service, including luxury mini-buses and coaches, to ensure your attendees arrive at the conference venue on time and in style. Knowing you have transport secured makes it easier to choose the perfect conference venue for your needs.