7 steps for choosing the perfect conference venue

Any manager of events will probably agree, venue selection is among the most challenging aspects of planning a meeting, conference or event. There are many considerations required, but the right venue can make all the difference to the success of your event, as well as the enjoyment of your guests and the long-term value they take away from it.

Naturally, the right venue depends almost entirely on your event type and goals – but there are some factors which will almost always be important. Here are our tips for choosing the perfect venue for your next event.

1. Find a great location

A venue renowned for its state-of-the-art facilities isn’t much use if delegates have to travel for hours upon hours to get there. The location of your conference venue is equally as important to a successful event as the quality of the facilities themselves.

The locations of academic venues are designed to manage large numbers of people that meet and learn, and is just one factor that makes them great places to hold events. Always consider how delegates are going to arrive, be it by road, rail or air. Ensure it is as easy as possible for delegates to make their journey, with direct and easy to understand directions available well in advance.

2. Find a cost-effective venue

It’s important to set a budget for the event right at the start. Overspending in the pursuit of unnecessary additional features and facilities can be very damaging to the overall success of your event, so choose a venue that offers good value. You must also be aware of any additional costs you may incur that aren’t listed in your original quote. As a rule of thumb, most event managers know to expect the final costs to exceed estimates in certain areas. Not all expenses can be forecast.

3. Cater for all

Whatever the length of your event, drinks should be in constant supply for its duration. The best events will cater for as many tastes as possible, including hot and cold drinks and alcoholic beverages. Catering is an important aspect of any conference, meeting, or event. Avoid the post lunch slump by providing tasty and nutritional meals, helping to keep delegates focused and energised throughout the day. 

It’s important to consider a venue that can cater for a wide range of dietary requirements including:

  • Vegetarian/vegan options
  • Gluten free/coeliac options
  • Precautions against known allergies 

Remember if you are planning on serving food at your event, you should always give delegates a way to communicate any dietary requirements to you when they register.

4. Accomodation for guests

All events should have suitable accommodation within a reasonable distance for delegates who are travelling to your event. This does not need to be at the venue itself but having high-quality and affordable accommodation options as close to the venue as possible is a huge plus for any event. 

If accommodation is not available nearby, you should certainly consider providing a shuttle bus service to take your delegates to the nearest reasonable accommodation. Academic Venue Solutions can boast access to over 53,000 bedrooms during the summer months, the majority of the rooms have en suite bathrooms or showers and superb catering facilities.

5. Technical requirements

Using technology for conferences and events management is a given in 2018, and you may be surprised how many key technical requirements some venues are unable to provide. Remember to check all possible technical requirements, including: 

  • Projector: Does the venue have adequate projection and group viewing facilities?
  • Audio: Does the venue have its own PA system, or do you have to hire one out yourself?
  • Lighting: Does the venue have its own lighting rig? Does it have remote control?
  • Wi-fi/mobile data coverage: Delegates will see a strong network connection as a given, especially for networking events. Any downtime in signal will be very unpopular indeed.
  • Charging outlets: For a longer event, there may be a lot of laptops or tablets that need a charge.

There are many more technical requirements, so be sure to complete a full technical specification for your event in the early planning stages to ensure all requirements can be met before committing to a venue.

6. Branding and suitability of venue

Your event is as big a representation of your company as anything else. The way your company is perceived will therefore be directly linked to how your venue is received, both practically and in terms of image. If your brand is cutting edge and forward thinking, you will want your venue to share these same ideals. Likewise, if your brand is more traditional, a slightly more vintage venue might be more suitable. Also consider your target audience and what you think will excite them about a venue.

It’s also important to consider opportunities for branding, remember to ask the venue what signage, TV display and other opportunities are available.

7. Deliver quality service and experience

Your guests must feel valued, and a large part if this boils down to the professionalism, knowledge and friendliness of event staff. Poorly received staff can make an otherwise perfect event very disappointing for guests. 

Your team staff should be friendly and helpful, but they should also be fully briefed on all goings on and aware of any potential issues that may arise. It’s also worth selecting a venue that offers ongoing support or a dedicated team to help with the smooth sunning of the event, helping to make your experience less stressful.

Summary

A great event should be creative, practical, entertaining and efficiently managed from start to finish. Choosing the right venue and staff is central to all of these factors. Your conference venue checklist does not end here, but we hope this guide has helped your venue search get off to the best possible start.

Academic Venue solutions offers high-quality conference venues and accommodation across the UK. Why not start your search right now?

Published On Wed 1st August 2018