So, you have been asked to plan the annual conference. First things first, you will want to decide on where it is being held. Choosing your conference venue will be one of the first key decisions and will influence everything else from AV set up, entertainment limitations and even how many people attend! Pick a venue that is badly connected, and you could find that you have fewer delegates than expected. Book an event venue that is expensive, and there may not be enough left in your already very limited budget to pay for high quality audio visual or great speakers. So what key points should you consider when deciding on what venue will work for your conference?
Location, Location, Location
Is the event venue well connected? We are not talking about whether or not it is active on social media or has lots of event planner friends, you want to know whether it has great transport links and is easy to get to. You do not want your delegates put off attending an event venue that is expensive to travel to or is not well served by road or public transport. This is even more important if you have overseas delegates attending. If it is an international event, make sure that there is an airport handy! Where your event venue is could be an important deciding factor for your prospective attendees.
A Bed for the Night
Make sure your chosen venue has plenty of accommodation options nearby for attendees. Many will want a bed for the night nearby, especially after a long day networking and attending talks. If you do opt for a hotel as your conference venue, make sure that they offer discount codes for delegates on their rooms. This will make the whole planning process much easier for your attendees if they can attend the event and sleep in the same place!
Don’t Break the Bank
Allocate a realistic amount of your budget for your venue, and stick to it! Blowing most of your budget on the venue and then being left with very little to pay for the other elements of your event could very well result in your event being a flop. By opting for an expensive venue you will leave yourself with very little money for food, technical services, speakers, entertainment, goody bags, event technology and everything else that you need to create a successful and unforgettable event. As well as deciding early on the amount of money you want to spend on the conference venue, look at what the venue will give you as part of the package. Make sure you have a shortlist of preferred venues and see which ones will negotiate a package as part of the deal. Some venues will offer a basic AV package and technical support free of charge. You could also try to negotiate some basic staging solutions, free breakout room hire and a basic refreshments package like free tea and coffee as part of your venue hire package.
A Bit of Personality
Is the venue quirky or unique, or does it have a bit of personality? We have all attended bland conferences that were hard to distinguish from one another, because there wasn’t anything to make them stand out. Make sure your event is memorable for all the right reasons by opting for a unique venue. Your attendees will want to attend again next year if it looks like you have done your homework and put some thought into picking the right venue. Thinking outside the box could see your delegates wanting to attend again next year. Why opt for a traditional hotel or conference centre when you could be hosting your annual conference in Brighton’s spectacular and historical Royal Pavilion, Cornwall’s stunning underground venue Carnglaze Caverns or perhaps the fun and funky KidZania in London!