As any planner knows, a good portion of any event budget is spent on the venue. And it is one of the most important decisions made when planning an event. The venue sets the tone for your event, not only in the environment and amenities but also in sentiment. If you book a venue that has a negative reputation or bad reviews of past events, you may be setting yourself up for the same. Not to mention the obvious implications of selecting a venue doesn’t fit your needs. There is a lot to consider when choosing the best place to hold a conference. Here are 4 DOs and 4 DON’Ts to consider.
DO Think Outside the Box
A successful conference does not have to take place in a hotel meeting room. Demand for non-traditional facilities in on the rise. Find a new and non-traditional venue option that will set your event apart from the crowd. Look for co-working spaces, micro-breweries, wineries, museums, or art galleries. Don’t just choose the hottest space. Pick a venue that offers the space and amenities you need as well as sets the right tone.
DON’T Bottleneck the Technology
Every attendee will bring at least one Internet-connected device that needs an electrical charge. Many will have more than one. It’s important to ensure that your venue’s Wi-Fi access is strong enough for your expected attendance. If you have to, supplement the service so that there are no slow-downs or blocked access. Also, count the number of outlets in each room, especially breakout rooms. Attendees will appreciate having plenty of options for device charging.
DO Be Accessible
It’s important to check the ADA access for every room, especially if you are using a non-traditional venue. Check not only for ample parking, elevators instead of stairs, and accessible bathrooms, but also the acoustics and lighting in each room and the height of drinking fountains and tables. You may need to bring in small fixes such as temporary ramps or shorter tables. Make sure to add the ADA details to your ticketing website so that attendees know what to expect.
DON’T Gridlock Your Guests
Before choosing the venue, address the intended flow of traffic through your event. How is the agenda scheduled? What are the traffic patterns? Is it possible to keep people circulating throughout the venue easily? What areas will see the highest traffic? Are the hallways and check-in areas large enough? Are the bathrooms large enough? These are important considerations when choosing the right venue so that attendees spend their time learning and networking, not waiting in lines.
DO Think About Acoustics
Conferences are all about sharing knowledge. It’s difficult to do that when the speaker can’t be heard, both in a classroom or a networking setting. Consider the acoustics of each room when choosing a venue. This involves not only how sound carries in a room full of people, but also how clear and precise the audio-visual system is. It’s a red flag if it’s not powerful enough to reach the back of the ballroom.
DON’T Just Offer Classroom Style
Choose a venue that offers you flexibility when setting up your meeting and breakout session rooms. The room set up impacts how guests engage and interact with the speaker and with each other. For certain sessions, you might offer a better experience by setting up in a non-traditional style such as multiple small round tables or even one large boardroom-style table.
DO Think About After Hours
Find a venue that offers or is located near activities for attendees after the meetings are over. Look for interesting restaurants, bars, shopping, community centers, or fitness centers nearby. Or work with a venue to bring in a special activity such as arts and crafts or a service project. Your guests will appreciate the special experience and the engagement with a local attraction.
DON’T Be Surprised By Extra Charges
Choose a venue that provides you an itemized list of all potential charges when booking your date. Review it carefully so that there are no surprises. Some venues may only offer estimates on certain event day fees such as load in, load out and corkage fees. You may not know exactly what your final bill will be but you’ll at least have an approximate one.
Your event planning skills are put to the test when looking for the best conference venue. There are a thousand details to consider. The right venue not only ensures a positive attendee experience, but it can also be a market differentiator. These 4 DOs and 4 DON’Ts will send you on the path to success.