Finding a suitable venue for holding an industry conference or convention is a time-consuming task, and sometimes more difficult than you might think. There are a range of factors that need to be borne in mind when selecting such a venue, and a whole host of issues to be worked over before your conference can be successfully held. In this article we take a step-by-step approach to putting on major conferences, and look at the ways in which a venue finding service can help ease the load a little, should you so choose.
The first thing to do, before going to anyone else, is to consider carefully and thoroughly what your requirements and your objectives are going to be. Obviously key factors here will be the size and location of your planned conferences, but there are many ancillary considerations to bear in mind. The level of hospitality that you’ll be putting on for your delegates is one such issue. In some sectors, for example pharmaceutical industry conferences, there are strict rules about the level of hospitality you are permitted to offer attendees and potential clients. In other fields, conversely, you may be looking to put on as lavish a spread as possible! Clearly, you’ll need to keep this consideration at the forefront when selecting the venue for your conference or convention, and ensure that your chosen location can deal with you requirements.
Other issues to consider include the location of your chosen venue, the different types of conference venues available, and technical or logistical requirements such as IT facilities, breakout rooms, and any corporate hospitality events you may want to consider laying on outside the conference venue itself. All of these will affect your choice of venue for an industry conference or sales convention, and it’s important that you are clear on your objectives for the event before you approach anyone to book a venue.
Once your objectives are clear, you have a choice of two routes. The first option is to approach potential venues yourself to get an idea of their capacity, catering arrangements, accommodation rates and the like. This has the advantage of putting you in direct control of the process from start to finish; but, on the other hand, it can be extremely time-consuming.
The other alternative is to enlist the services of a venue finding company. This has several potential advantages. The first is financial. Specialist venue finders have working relationships with venues and hotels and are often able to negotiate discounted rates for accommodation and venue hire that might not be available to you if you contacted venues directly. This is particularly true of hotel accommodation, where venue finding companies have longstanding partnership arrangements that can secure significant discounts on accommodation packages. In addition, most conference venue finders offer a free service, with their fees recouped from hotels and conference venues themselves rather than from you. The net result is that you will almost certainly be saving money by using such companies.
The second is expertise. A venue finder company will have an extensive list of potential venues from which you can choose, and will be able to advise on the best ‘fit’ for your set of requirements. If you have specialist needs in terms of access, technical requirements or catering, this is the best time to flag them up. Venue finding companies will also be able to suggest unusual venues that simply might not have occurred to you as potential sites for an industry conference. Why should conventions and team building exercises always take place in hotels and conference centres?
Finally, using a venue finder allows you to free up your own time for the primary business of preparing the content for your seminars or industry conference, rather than spending many employee hours negotiating with venues over IT arrangements and room configurations.
Either way, selecting the venue for your industry conference is the start of the process, not the end point! Once the rates have been agreed and the booking made, the details will need to be ironed out. These include mundane but important factors such as room configuration and the availability of breakout rooms for smaller groups and seminars; your technical requirements, including audio-visual equipment like projectors and microphones; catering and entertainment for your delegates, whether it’s just coffee and biscuits at a pre-arranged time or a full-blown banquet on the evening of the last day (in which case you’ll need to agree seating charts, menus, and a host of other issues).