10 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Conference Venue
Whether you’re running a user conference or hosting a partner event, choosing the best space can make all the difference. Beyond checking for availability well before your event, we have 10 additional tips for helping you choose the perfect conference venue.
1. Prioritize Accessibility at the Venue
The location of the event venue is paramount for maximizing event attendance. Scope out your venue in advance and ensure the infrastructure is accessible to people with physical disabilities. Here are some considerations:
- Door openings need to be at least 32 inches wide to accommodate wheelchairs.
- There must be at least one ADA-compliant door or doorway leading into the facility. E
- Ensure the venue has more than enough spaces available for guests with disabilities.
- Choose a venue close to public transportation options.
- Check that the venue is comfortable for using sign-language interpreters and service animals.
- Ensure the facility offers accessible and inclusive bathroom options.
Learn more about achieving ADA compliance at your next event in “What You Need To Know About ADA Compliance for Events.”
2. Ensure Hotels Are Nearby
If the venue is not located within a hotel, suitable accommodations must be within a reasonable distance of the event. If the venue is not within walking distance, check if the hotel will provide a shuttle service. If not, factor in the availability and expense of taxi or car services for participants. You could also incentivize public transportation or partner with a rideshare company like Lyft to offer event-specific discounts.
3. Think About Sustainability
These days, event attendees prioritize sustainability and expect event organizers to do the same. Here are a few considerations:
- Assess the venue’s Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards, as well as its power sources, management policies, and commitment to sustainability.
- Check for the venue’s third-party sustainability certifications (e.g., LEED, APEX/ASTM, Green Key, and GreenLeaders).
- Ask whether the venue has recycling bins, composting bins, and other bins for separating garbage and encouraging sustainable practices.
- Check their catering options for low-carbon and environmentally friendly options.
Get more tips for running a sustainable conference with “The Ultimate Sustainable Event Planning Checklist.”
4. Stay Within Your Budget
The venue will likely be the most significant expense of your entire conference. Be mindful of stakeholders and sponsors, and ensure that the venue’s vibe suits the vibe of the event you’re running. For example, if budgets are tight and there were recent layoffs, you might not want to book The Venetian in Las Vegas. Instead, look at second-tier cities and outside-the-box venues.
Also, inquire about multi-year contracts for lower prices, flexible or off-season dates for discounted rates, and other discounts they might offer.
5. Ask About Venue Staffing
Find out the attendee-to-venue staff ratio to determine if your event will have enough wait staff, concierge support, and security. You will have a lot on your plate during event day, so check if there is an onsite dedicated venue coordinator, designer, or tech support to help with day-of-event issues. Additionally, ask about staffing to welcome attendees, encourage event app adoption, push participants to check-in kiosks, and so on.
6. Inquire About Event Venue Features
Seek out a venue with all the components you will need available for the event. This includes audiovisual equipment, stages, and microphones. You also have to be mindful of the set-up capacities, paying specific attention to seating arrangements and sponsor areas and if you’ll be able to engage outside vendors and use breakout rooms.
It’s also essential to see if the venue offers charging stations and Wi-Fi availability for your attendees. If not, this is an additional element you will need to provide. Also, determine if there will be tech support available onsite during your event. Nothing aggravates attendees more than having their mobile device stall or wandering around the event searching for Wi-Fi.
7. Ensure You Can Brand the Venue
It’s very important to consider the ease of branding opportunities. Branding is key, so make sure you can do it! Ask the venue coordinator what signage and branding opportunities are available throughout the facility, not just in the event space. Can you use an in-house electronic marquee or place signage in the elevator? These are questions to ask before you sign a dotted line.
8. Don’t Forget Food and Beverage
Parched throats? Not at your event! Most venues provide onsite food and beverage facilities, but be sure to ask if you can bring in outside vendors. Ask if they can accommodate food allergies or special diets, manage last-minute attendee requests, or if attendees can order a la carte during the event.
9. Ensure the Venue’s Layout Makes Sense
Lastly, don’t choose a venue on visual or budgetary appeal alone. Choosing a venue that suits your specific conference needs is important. If you’ll have many breakout sessions, be sure the venue has plenty of space to accommodate. If you are planning major keynotes for hundreds of attendees, ensure there’s a big stage and space.
10. Evaluate Attendee Sentiment from Past Events
Lastly, don’t forget to look back at post-event attendee surveys to see what people liked and disliked about past venue choices. It’s essential to understand what your attendees want and expect and to balance their expectations with your budget and event goals. If attendees felt like the space was cavernous and empty, try finding a smaller venue with plenty of breakout room space. If attendees felt crowded, try going bigger or consider a venue that has indoor and outdoor options to mix up the experience.
Get Started: Choosing a Conference Venue
Before we let you go, it goes without saying that you have to choose a venue with good customer service. You want to work with a responsive, helpful venue willing to go the extra mile to ensure your event succeeds. To find the best conference venue partner, research the venue’s reputation by checking reviews and testimonials from previous clients.
Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, head to a generative AI tool like ChatGPT or Google’s Bard to ask for venue recommendations! Check out what Bard had to say when we asked for conference venues for 1,500 people in Omaha, Nebraska:
Editor’s note: This post was published in April 2014 and has been updated for relevance and quality.