Booking a conference or meeting venue can be a bit challenging, especially the first time. In London alone there are hundreds of potential conference venues, and that’s just in central London. The type of venue you choose not only says a lot about your company’s credibility, but can also make or break an event. To help you out, here are our seven things you need to consider when booking a meeting or conference venue:
This is the most important factor that you should take into account. Even though it might be tempting to find a place relatively close to your head office, you should consider where your delegates might be travelling from. To prevent delegates from arriving late, getting lost, or not showing up at all, the venue should be at a more central location with good transport and communication links.
The exact location can also communicate a degree of professionalism; no one wants to find themselves rushing through a run-down back-street trying to find a poorly maintained community centre.
2. Size of the venue
Meeting rooms are always available in a variety of sizes. You need to go for the right size, not too small to cause sweating and discomfort or too big to make it look like half the delegates failed to turn up. For you to make the right choice, confirm the number of delegates expected to attend and the types of equipment to be used. A good conference facility will be able to place you in the correct meeting room.
Modern conference rooms could be equipped with various facilities such as internet access, LCD projectors, flip charts, stationery, toiletries, loud speakers, laser pointers, video equipment, microphones, and disabled facilities. It is worth checking which of these facilities are available, and whether or not you are paying extra for a service you don’t need.
4. Food and drink
Since some of your delegates may be travelling great distances and will be spending long hours in your meeting, they probably won’t be too pleased if there are any issues with the catering. This includes a shortage of basic refreshments like water/tea/coffee so make sure meals and any other necessities are catered for in advance. Hotels are particularly good at providing for conferences, though in London (and most other built-up areas), there are so many other options that you could always just advertise the event as “refreshments not included”!
Before you even start looking around for conference venues, it’s crucial to come up with a budget that suits and stick to it. This sounds obvious, but not being clear at this initial stage can cause unsatisfactory delays and you may miss out on a booking. Different meeting venues and packages have different price lists so find out what you are expected to pay for, and whether or not there are hidden extras.
If the conference or meeting is going to run for days or weeks, or late in to the night, consider getting comfortable accommodation for your delegates. You don’t necessarily have to cover the costs of this for every conference attendee, but hosting your function in a hotel, with an abundance rooms available, will make life easier for those attending.
After staying in the meeting room for long hours, delegates usually need a bit of entertainment to relax their minds and share good moments with each other. If they do go out, it’s worth making sure they don’t wander in to any unsavoury environments – to put this a little more clearly, don’t book a conference if the venue is next to a host of low-grade, pound-a-pint nightclubs.
This is especially important when booking a conference venue in central London.
See also: How to maximise attendance at an event