Selecting the right venue for a business conference is crucial. The venue sets the stage for the event, and it should project an image that's aligned with your company’s vision and facilitate achieving the event's goals. Whether you’re a member of the committee that's responsible for making this vital decision or you're working solo on the task, the choice is likely to be remembered for many years to come.
Identify Potential Venues
The first step to securing the right venue is to create a list of the specific needs of your event. Ask yourself these questions:
- What is the conference expected to accomplish?
- How many attendees are you expecting? By approximating the number of guests, you can narrow the list of venues based on the size.
- What's the event budget? There are few businesses working on an unlimited budget. You may need to prioritize your requirements and consider what you can do without in order to meet cost requirements.
- Will the venue need to be readily accessible to public transportation or require lots of parking?
- How long will the venue will be needed? Don’t forget to include setup and take-down time.
- Will the venue have to accommodate specific production, entertainment, audio/visual or other technical requirements?
- Will catering be required?
Investigate Online Reputations
A business conference is an opportunity to showcase your company in the business community and increase its presence and credibility. Different venues reflect different images, and the quality of a venue's reputation is crucial to how seriously your peers and competitors will take the event (and potentially, your company). UniqueVenues.com can be a solid resource to do your initial research on venue capacity, locations, connectivity options and more.
Perform an online search to check for venue reviews. Yelp, TripAdvisor, LinkedIn and Reputation.com are all excellent resources. Before going any further or booking the venue, run each one through a few online reputation checks.
Keep an eye out for these details in the reviews:
- Is there insight into the condition of the facility, and does it reflect the high standards of your organization? It should be well-maintained, clean and appealing to all participants.
- Is there sufficient temperature control? Have previous attendees found an indoor venue too hot or too cold?
- How is the lighting and the acoustics? Have there been any issues with important technical aspects?
- What was the level of service that the company received by the venue’s staff? If there were any issues, were they addressed and resolved quickly?
- Were there any problems with Internet access or Wi-Fi?
- Was there a readily available point person to answer questions?
- If there was catering involved, what was the experience like?
- Is the venue located in neighborhood or area that could be considered a safety risk?
- Is the reputation of the venue overall a positive one?
- Are there any complaints registered with the Better Business Bureau?
Narrow Your Options
By this point you should have a short list of venues that meet the above criteria. Now it's time to contact the venue’s representative. Ask the following questions to help you narrow your choices:
- Has the venue hosted similar events in the past?
- What technical requirements can the venue accommodate?
- What's the protocol if a major storm threatens the event?
- Can the caterers provide for special diets, such as vegan, vegetarian or diabetic?
- How much flexibility can the venue offer your company and event?
When calling, do you get the sense that you’ll be treated like a VIP? Or do you feel bothersome when you make inquiries? This is a good indication of how the venue staff will treat guests. And remember, the food and beverage options are important to attendees. If poorly done, their displeasure will follow the event planner. This is another aspect to investigate with an online reputation service.
Finally, this is a wonderful opportunity for you to shine. If you've done your homework, booked a reputable venue and paid attention to details, relax; it's going to be great.
Author Bio: K.C. Dermody is an experiences freelance writer dedicated to creating high quality articles, web content copywriting, e-books and more. She has published work on numerous sites and printed publications including Yahoo! Travel, Sport & News, RunLiveLearn, The Sherpa Report and many others. You can learn more about K.C. Dermody at the following: Gravatar: https://en.gravatar.com/kcdermodywriter, Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/k-c-dermody/25/b95/434 and on Twitter: @kcdermody.