10 Tips for Choosing The Perfect Conference Venue
1. Accessibility: The location of the event venue is paramount for maximizing event attendance. At 63%, accessibility is the biggest factor in choosing an event destination (EventMB). Before determining the location, ensure that transportation is readily available to the venue so that attendees can easily arrive by air, rail or automobile. If your attendees are comprised of VIP’s or high level executives and the only flights available require more than one leg, you may lose participants. Also, confirm that there is ample parking or valet services for attendees who chose to drive to the venue
Additionally, Make sure that there are restaurants or other attractions nearby that are open either pre or post event to maximize additional event networking opportunities.
2. Lodging Accommodations: If the venue is not located within a hotel, there needs to be suitable lodging accommodations within a reasonable distance of the event. If the venue is not within walking distance, check to see if the hotel will provide a shuttle service. If not, factor in the availability and expense of taxi or car services for participants.
Source: American Express
3. Availability: Once you find out if the venue is available, check to see if the outer/other spaces are available as well — considering the 4% growth in demand for non-traditional venues in the last year. Be sure to determine if this is the venue or locale’s peak season. This will impact the amount of traffic in the common spaces and may preclude organic event networking opportunities (pool, VIP lounge, etc).
4. Suitability: Does the proposed venue reflect or detract from the event’s image? It’s important that the venue is clearly aligned with not only the image that you are trying to project, but also that it’s the most appropriate place for your target audience as well.
Be mindful of stakeholders and sponsors. Ask the venue coordinator if there will be other on-site events that clash with your event or branding message.
5. Costs: Considering that 32.8% of planners have an event spend less than $100K — budget constraints should be conveyed to the venue from the start. However, if you have found the perfect fit for your event, ask if they would consider lowering the cost in exchange for a multi-year contract. Don’t be afraid to negotiate!
6. Staffing: Find out the attendee to venue staff ratio to determine if there will be enough wait staff, concierge support, and security for your event. You will have a lot on your plate during event day, so check if there is an on-site dedicated venue coordinator or designee to assist with any issues that arise. Also, see if the staff will help you with surveys or onboarding and promoting your event app to your attendees.
7. Facilities: Seek out a venue that has all of the components that 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, as well as if you’ll have the ability to engage outside vendors and utilize break-out rooms.
8. Branding: 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 itself. Can you utilize an in-house electronic marquee or place signage in the elevator space? These are questions to ask before you sign a dotted line.
9. Technical: It is important 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 aimlessly around the event searching for Wi-Fi — according to a 2018 study, 78% of event professionals agree that WiFi availability and performance remains as one of the biggest nuances at their events.
10. Food and Beverage: Parched throats? Not at your event! Most venues provide onsite food and beverage facilities. However, considering that 34% of event organizers spend most of their budget on catering — be sure to ask if you have the ability to bring in outside vendors. Ask if they can accommodate food allergies or special diets, if they can manage additional last minute attendee requests, or if attendees are able to order a la carte during the event.
Now you can tackle one aspect of the planning process and not miss a beat! If you have any other tips to help with venue selection leave it in a comment below. There are many other aspects of an event to worry about, including event technology. Learn more about an award winning event planning platform by clicking the button below!
This post was originally published on April 22, 2014 and has since been updated.