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Tips on how to run a successful conference: Part 5B Finding the Right Venue for an Event

Location & Meeting Space for the Event:

  • Location is a very important to consider: make sure that the venue is easily accessible for all attendees.  Will the delegates be coming from near or far, do they need overnight accommodation, Is the event best suited for a city centre or country location, near an airport or train station, easy access to public transport, or do you require near access to motorways and a venue with plenty of parking?
  • Accommodation:  Is the event just one day or over several days? Do you require on-site accommodation or a conference centre or venue with a selection of hotels near to the venue?  Even if the event is only for one day you may still need accommodation for the set up staff, or delegates and speakers.
    • The programme of a conference or seminar will dictate how much time you need to hire the space for setup, rehearsal, exhibition set up if linked with a conference, and de rigging if you have much staging after the event.  You will need to take this into account when finding out what space is available on the dates you require.
    • Understand how many meeting rooms and what size, breakout rooms, exhibition space, registration area and lunch. coffee break area you require and on what dates. It is easiest to set this out on a spreadsheet and add to this the number of overall attendees you expect at each session.  You need  to understand how many rooms you require and their layout such as theatre style will not require as large a room for 50 pax as one set out for cabaret style, or classroom style for the same number.  Always make sure that you have adequate space for your delegates to be in a meeting without feeling cramped, this is also important for the coffee break or lunch areas where the delegates will want to network.
    • The facilities – Staging,  A/V, multi-media and technical support must be taken into consideration.  Each session requirement will affect the size of room required.  Ceiling height restrictions, weight load bearing factors and easy access is important to consider when the space is being used for exhibition.  If the event requires simultaneous translation you will need to leave adequate space for booths to be set up.  The plenary room may require, back projection with stage set this will take up quite a large area of the room.  Note that some venues already have tiered theatre seating and in-build A/V in their meeting rooms.  If wishing to have a private lunch area consider whether this will be a stand up fork buffet suitable for a networking lunch which will not require such a large area as a seated buffet lunch.  Coffee break area’s should be with-in easy access to the meeting rooms or a central place where the main exhibition area is set.

Venue Search and Site Visit

Venue search can be done by a specific venue search agent who do not charge a fee but get commission from the booking.  Alternatively an event company used for managing the event can do a venue search and booking on your behalf.  If you prefer to do this yourself, then tourist offices, hotel chains, trade directories, the internet, can all assist.

Once you have a short list of venues you think are suitable you must always do a site visit to inspect the venue as brochures and website will never compensate for an actual visit and understanding the layout of the venue and how the delegate flow and programme will work.  When doing a visit always have an inspection check list, (If you require further information on the check list please contact B2B Event Management and we will send out.)  When you do the site visit you must also be prepared to discuss your programme, and give the venue as much information to enable them to understand the best use of their site for your event.  Before making a final decision make sure you understand the contract and cancellation policies. It is also advisable to see if you can get any references from other organizations  who have used the venue for their events.

Reference reading:

John G Fisher – How to run a Successful Conference

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