For experienced event organisers choosing the perfect conference venue is a doddle, but for us lesser mortals where is the best place to start? There are literally thousands of conference venues in London alone so it can be a big challenge to ensure that you choose the right one.
First of all you need to decide on the location for your conference. Think about travel options for delegates – the easier it is to get to the venue, then the more people will attend. There is nothing worse than having to take multiple trains/buses and also having to walk quite a long way for putting people off. Parking can also be very important, and if you do need onsite parking then consider Zones 2 and 3. Nearby hotels are also handy if some of your delegates are coming a long way to attend.
Set a budget and stick to it! Usually the main room hire will be included in the Day Delegate Rate, but if you require additional breakout rooms bear in mind that these will be at an additional cost. (If you decide to use a specialist venue finding company to help you to find the perfect venue, they will be able to do some hard negotiating on your behalf to get you the best possible rates.) Also if you can be flexible on the day of the week, this can often affect the rates too.
Make sure that you choose a venue that can comfortably accommodate all of your delegates. Too big and it looks as though lots of people didn’t bother to turn up; too small and it can look as though you are trying to cut corners and save costs.
Think about what you want your delegates to be doing at your conference. If they are there purely to listen, then theatre style will be perfect. If they are to take notes and use laptops etc, then cabaret style would be more appropriate. With theatre style you will need to have a breakout space with room for your delegates to mingle with refreshments etc.
Most conference venues can offer in-house AV or have a dedicated AV supplier. Don’t forget to check whether there is any tech support on site in case of problems. Many events incorporate a hybrid component that will allow conferences to accommodate both those who will attend in person as well as those who cannot or choose not to. Video conferencing and recording capabilities should be considered if this is in your plans as well. Make sure that there is disabled access and lifts if required. Catering should be able to accommodate food allergies and special diets.
Whether you choose to hold your conference in a hotel or in a dedicated conference venue, make sure that you are appointed a dedicated event manager on the day to help. You will also need a concierge to direct people on arrival as well as AV support onsite. For a full day event the venue will also need to supply sufficient waiting staff for refreshments and lunch.
This is a very important element, particularly if you have sponsors. Try and choose a venue that is aligned with the image you wish to project. It is also a good idea to check what other events are in-house on the day to avoid any clashes with your brand message. If you would like to include signage and advertising, check what the possibilities are to ensure that your message is loud and clear!
If you have delegates travelling from far and wide, then you will need to be able to offer accommodation onsite or at last very close by. Check out hotels near to your venue to see what availability and rates are like. Most hotels will allow you to reserve rooms and release without charge a week or so before the event.
If you would like any help in finding the perfect conference venue for your next event, contact Conference Venues London today.