Scouting for a conference venue is not as easy as it may seem at first – there are more things to think about than you may originally think. It all comes down to the purpose of the conference itself; only if you understand the purpose of the meeting will you be able to organise it properly and hence, find the right venue. Location is important (you want to make sure it is accessible to all concerned), but so are factors such as accommodations (if necessary), available space and equipment, possible catering, and of course, you have to deal with limitations of budget and transportation.
To make sure you find the right place for your needs, here are the most important questions you should ask a prospective venue’s manager before choosing.
Your venue needs to be accessible to all those who organise and all those who attend. It’s not just about making sure that your guests are comfortable – that’s the bonus. There are more practical reasons. A conference tends to be tiring; it requires concentration. Making sure your guests are not tired after a long trip or frustrated after hours stuck in traffic will make sure everyone can come to the table with good spirits and a mind that can focus on what’s important. Easy access means optimum productivity. A conference venue Midlands, for instance, is only 90 minutes away from London and accessible by car and by rail.
It’s not just about the availability of the room, but also about the availability of accommodations if you require them, as well as availability of equipment you may need at that time. Ask the manager what is available, when, and at what cost. Ensure everything is ready.
It’s more important than you may think. If you’re hosting a conference about IT innovations, a rustic atmosphere may not be very conducive to high-tech thinking. Make sure the atmosphere of the place matches the topic of the conference.
It’s easy to forget how important other services that are on offer can be forgotten. Is the venue staff available for last minute requests? Catering? Other services you may need?
Of course, there is still the issue of cost to discuss; the reason you have a conference is because it is projected that it will profit you in the long term. Your costs, therefore, should be within your budget and the expected returns of the meeting (although often hard to gauge) should make the expected investment worth the effort.
However, it’s not just initial costs you should worry about – make sure you also read the fine print in the contract, and beware of liability issues before you sign the paper. The best way to find the right venue is to have a list of requirements and to stick with them; talk to the manager and make your demands clear.