VENUE SOURCING: The ultimate guide to finding your next conference venue
As we highlighted in our previous blog, “Venue finding: what makes a great conference venue,” every year, countless professionals, experts, and enthusiasts eagerly await these gatherings to gain insights, make connections, and explore the latest trends in their respective fields.
But, as event professionals, we all know that the success of a conference greatly depends on choosing the perfect venue that aligns with the event’s objectives, audience, and technical requirements. Therefore, in this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the essential steps to find your next conference venue successfully.
Why do people want to attend conferences nowadays?
One of the primary reasons people want to attend these events is the opportunity to gain knowledge from distinguished speakers and thought leaders. The chance to participate in workshops, seminars, and panel discussions allows attendees to broaden their horizons and stay at the forefront of industry advancements.
Networking is another compelling factor that draws people to conferences. Engaging with peers, potential clients, and partners in a face-to-face setting can lead to meaningful collaborations and lucrative business opportunities.
Moreover, attending conferences allows individuals to rejuvenate their passion for their work by connecting with like-minded individuals who share their enthusiasm.
How to find your next conference venue
1. Create a budget
Creating a well-thought-out budget is one of the first and most crucial steps in finding the right conference venue. Without a clear budget, making informed decisions about other aspects of the conference planning process becomes challenging. Begin by considering all the necessary expenses associated with the event, including venue rental, catering, audio-visual equipment, promotional materials, speaker fees, and any additional services required.
When creating the budget, it is essential to strike a balance between the event’s aspirations and the available financial resources. Aim for a budget that allows for a memorable and impactful conference experience without stretching your organisation’s finances too thin. Be prepared to allocate more funds to critical aspects like venue and audio-visual requirements, as they directly influence the overall quality of the event.
Additionally, leave some room for unexpected costs that may arise during the planning process. Being prepared for contingencies can save you from unnecessary stress and financial strain down the line.
2. Know your audience
Consider factors such as attendees’ age range, professional backgrounds, and the industries they represent. Are they predominantly local attendees, or will they be travelling from different regions? Understanding the geographical distribution of your audience will help determine the best location for the conference venue.
If possible, reach out to potential attendees through surveys or focus groups to gather feedback on their preferences regarding venue type, location, and amenities. Incorporate this feedback into your venue selection process to ensure that the chosen venue aligns with the expectations and needs of your target audience.
3. Location matters
Proximity to accommodations is another critical factor to consider. Attendees will appreciate a venue with hotels within a reasonable distance, as it saves them from long commutes and allows them to rest and recharge between conference sessions.
Additionally, think about the local attractions and amenities available near the venue. Choosing a location with nearby restaurants, entertainment options, or cultural landmarks can enhance the overall conference experience for attendees, allowing them to explore and unwind outside of the event schedule.
4. Capacity and Space
Consider the layout and seating arrangements within the venue. Are different spaces available for various conference activities, such as plenary sessions, breakout sessions, workshops, and networking areas? Flexibility in room configurations allows you to tailor the space to different session types, fostering a dynamic and interactive conference environment.
When visiting potential venues, visualise the flow of the event and assess whether the layout supports smooth transitions between sessions. Walk through the venue as an attendee would, noting any potential bottlenecks or areas that might confuse.
5. Technical Requirements
Begin by evaluating the venue’s audio-visual capabilities. Is there sufficient sound equipment, microphones, and projectors for presentations? Test the internet connectivity to ensure it can handle many simultaneous connections, especially if there will be live streaming or virtual attendees.
If your conference will involve interactive sessions or workshops, check if the venue can provide additional technical equipment like interactive displays or electronic voting systems.
Having a dedicated technical support team on-site is invaluable, as they can quickly address any technical glitches that may occur during the event. Ensure you have clear communication with the venue’s technical staff and that they are aware of all your requirements well in advance.
6. Venue Ambience
For example, for conferences with a formal and professional focus, consider venues with a sleek and modern aesthetic. On the other hand, if the conference aims to foster creativity and innovation, opt for venues with more artistic or unconventional settings.
The venue’s lighting, decor, and general ambience should align with the conference’s objectives and the emotions you want to evoke in attendees. A well-designed and visually appealing venue can create a positive and memorable experience, leaving a lasting impression on participants.
Additionally, take the time to explore the venue’s amenities, such as lounge areas, breakout spaces, and outdoor settings. The availability of versatile spaces can facilitate impromptu discussions and networking opportunities, enhancing the overall conference experience.
7. Visit the Shortlisted Venues
Visiting the venues allows you to experience the spaces firsthand, get a feel for the environment, and assess whether they meet your requirements.
Arrange a site visit with the venue’s management or event coordinator, who can provide you with a detailed tour and answer any questions. Pay close attention to the overall cleanliness, maintenance, safety, and condition of the venue, as these factors can indicate the venue’s level of professionalism and attention to detail.
During the visit, visualise how the conference will unfold in each venue. Consider the flow of attendees, the ease of navigation between sessions, and the overall accessibility of various facilities. Take note of any potential challenges or advantages each venue offers regarding layout and design.
It is also beneficial to take photos and videos during the site visits, as they can be helpful references during the decision-making process and when presenting the options to your team or stakeholders.
8. Negotiate Contract Terms and Make Your Decision
During the negotiation process, don’t hesitate to ask questions or seek clarification on any aspects that may seem unclear. Be proactive in addressing potential issues or concerns upfront, as this can prevent misunderstandings later.
Keep in mind that some venues may have set policies regarding event planning, cancellations, or additional fees. Understanding these policies and aligning them with your event’s needs can help you avoid any unexpected surprises down the line.
Once you have negotiated the contract terms to your satisfaction, proceed with making the final decision and securing the venue. Notify the selected venue of your intent to proceed and ensure all necessary paperwork is completed promptly.
By creating a comprehensive budget, understanding your audience’s preferences, considering the location, capacity, and technical requirements, and evaluating the venue’s ambience through site visits, you can ensure that your next conference is a resounding success.
Remember that the right venue can significantly impact the conference experience, making it a memorable and valuable event for all attendees. So, contact the Black Book team and start planning your next conference!