9 Tips How to Choose a Conference Venue

How to choose a conference venue

Finding the best location for a conference is crucial for its success. A well-selected venue can create a positive impression on attendees, speakers, and sponsors, and it can also help to ensure that the event runs smoothly and efficiently.

In this article, we will discuss the key factors to consider when choosing a conference venue. We will also provide some tips for finding the perfect venue for your event.

Step 1: Why you should pick the right conference venue

Choosing the right conference venue can be a game-changer for the success of any event. It's not just about picking a place; it's about creating an environment conducive to the objectives of the event.

Overview of the PEEL Framework in the Context of Venue Selection

The PEEL framework offers a structured approach to breaking down the process of how to choose a conference venue. It ensures that every decision is made with purpose and supported by evidence.

Step 2: Setting Clear Objectives for Your Conference

It is important to have clear objectives in place for a conference, as these objectives will drive every subsequent decision, especially the venue choice. When the goals of the conference are clear, it narrows down the requirements for the venue. For instance, a product launch may require a venue with advanced AV capabilities, while a workshop might prioritize breakout rooms.

The synergy between the conference objectives and the venue features ensures a smoother flow of events, leading to a successful conference. By carefully considering the conference objectives when choosing a venue, event organizers can ensure that the conference is a success.

Step 3: Evaluating Venue Size and Capacity

The venue should neither feel cramped nor too spacious, both can impact the attendee's experience.

The size of the venue should be carefully considered, as it can have a significant impact on the attendee's experience. A venue that is too cramped will feel uncomfortable and claustrophobic, while a venue that is too spacious can make attendees feel isolated and disengaged.

When choosing a venue size, it is important to consider the following factors:

  1. The type of event: Some events, such as conferences and workshops, require a larger space to accommodate breakout rooms and networking areas. Other events, such as concerts and performances, may be able to take place in a smaller space.
  2. The number of attendees: It is important to choose a venue that is large enough to accommodate the expected number of attendees, but not so large that it feels empty or impersonal.
  3. The budget: Venue rental costs can vary greatly depending on the size and location of the venue. It is important to choose a venue that is affordable within your budget.

A recent conference in New York received backlash for overcrowding, leading to a negative experience despite excellent content. This is a good example of how choosing the wrong venue size can negatively impact the attendee experience.

By carefully considering the factors above, event organizers can choose a venue size that is appropriate for their event, budget, and attendees. This will help to ensure a positive and memorable experience for everyone involved.

In addition to the factors mentioned above, it is also important to consider the accessibility of the venue when choosing a venue size. The venue should be easily accessible to attendees from all backgrounds, including those with disabilities.

Step 4: Considering the Venue’s Location and Accessibility

A central and accessible location ensures higher attendance and less hassle for attendees. A good location, easily accessible by public transport or with ample parking, ensures that attendees can focus on the conference and not logistical hassles.

However, sometimes a more exclusive, remote location might fit the theme and objective of the conference. For example, a conference on sustainability might be held in a remote location to minimize the environmental impact of the event. Or, a conference on leadership might be held in a remote location to provide a more focused and immersive experience for attendees.

In these cases, it is important to balance the exclusivity of the location with the convenience of the attendees. For example, organizers may provide transportation to and from the event, or they may choose a location that is still accessible by public transport.

For example : TEDx conferences

The known for their impeccable organization, TEDx conferences always prioritize central and easily accessible locations, contributing to their widespread success. This is because TEDx organizers understand that the location of a conference can have a big impact on its success.

By choosing a central and accessible location, TEDx organizers make it easy for people to attend, which helps to ensure a high attendance rate.

Step 5: Assessing On-site Amenities and Services

While the focus is often on the size and location of a conference venue, the available amenities can make or break the conference experience. Attendees expect seamless presentations, timely refreshments, and constant connectivity. Meeting these expectations can greatly enhance their experience.

Good amenities ensure that attendees are comfortable and can focus on the event's content, facilitating better discussions and networking. Amenities are just as important as size and location when choosing a conference venue. If attendees are not comfortable or do not have access to the amenities they need, they will not be able to focus on the event's content and participate fully.

Good amenities can also help to facilitate better discussions and networking. For example, if there are comfortable areas where attendees can relax and socialize, they are more likely to meet new people and have meaningful conversations.

By carefully considering the amenities when choosing a conference venue, personal profesional or corporate event organizers can ensure that attendees have a positive experience and that the event is a success.

Important Amenities for Conference

Here are some specific examples of amenities that can make a conference more successful:

  1. Seamless presentations: This includes having high-quality AV equipment and a space that is well-suited for presentations.
  2. Timely refreshments: Attendees should have access to food and drinks throughout the day.
  3. Constant connectivity: Attendees need to be able to stay connected to the internet and to each other. This means having reliable WiFi and plenty of charging stations.
  4. Comfortable seating: Attendees should have comfortable places to sit and listen to presentations, as well as places to relax and socialize.
  5. Good food and drinks: Attendees should have access to high-quality food and drinks throughout the day.
  6. Networking opportunities: The venue should have spaces where attendees can meet and network with each other.

Step 6: Financial Considerations and Budgeting

While it's tempting to opt for the best venue, budgeting is essential to ensure that you get the best value for money without compromising on essentials. This means understanding all the costs involved, from rental to additional charges for equipment or overtime, to avoid last-minute surprises.

Some venues might seem expensive at first glance, but their all-inclusive packages can often offer better value than seemingly cheaper options with hidden costs. For example, a venue that includes catering, AV equipment, and setup in its rental fee may be a better deal than a venue that charges a lower rental fee but requires you to pay separately for all of these extras.

By investing wisely in the venue, you can ensure that other aspects of the conference, such as guest speakers or marketing, have adequate funding. After all, a well-chosen venue can set the stage for a successful conference, while a poorly chosen venue can make it difficult for your event to achieve its goals.

In other words, it's important to consider the overall cost of the venue, including all of the potential extras, when making your decision. By doing so, you can avoid overspending and ensure that your conference has the resources it needs to be successful.

Step 7: Collecting Feedback and Past Reviews

What better way to gauge a venue's suitability than by hearing from those who've used it before? Reviews give insights into potential issues or standout features of a venue that may not be immediately apparent. Several conference organizers have swayed their decisions based on reviews, leading to better overall experiences.

For example, one conference organizer was looking for a venue with state-of-the-art AV capabilities. After reading reviews, they chose a venue that had been praised for its excellent AV team and equipment. As a result, the conference's presentations were seamless and engaging.

Another conference organizer was looking for a venue with a variety of breakout room options. After reading reviews, they chose a venue that had been praised for its flexible meeting spaces. As a result, the conference's attendees were able to participate in workshops and other small-group activities comfortably.

Past feedback is a goldmine of information that can help conference organizers choose the perfect venue for their event. By reading reviews, organizers can identify potential problems and find venues that have been praised for their positive features. This leads to better overall experiences for attendees.

Step 8: The Venue’s Impact on Branding and Image

A venue doesn't just host your conference; it makes a statement about your brand and its values. A high-end, tech-savvy venue indicates a forward-thinking, premium brand, while a sustainable, eco-friendly venue reflects a brand conscious of its environmental impact.

In fact, research has shown that eco-friendly brands hosting conferences at green venues have seen a 20% boost in their brand perception and trust.

Therefore, it is important to choose a venue that complements your brand's message and values. This will lead to a more cohesive and impactful event.

Step 9: PEEL Framework

Choosing the right venue is a complex process, but keeping the objectives clear and using the PEEL framework can simplify and enhance the decision-making process. The PEEL framework stands for Purpose, Evidence, and Logic.

  1. Purpose: What are the objectives of the conference? What do you hope to achieve?
  2. Evidence: What data and information do you have to support your decision? This could include things like budget, attendee demographics, and the needs of your speakers and sponsors.
  3. Logic: How will your chosen venue help you achieve your objectives? How does it align with your budget, attendee demographics, and the needs of your speakers and sponsors?

A great venue not only ensures the success of the current conference but also sets a positive precedent for future events. When attendees have a positive experience at a conference, they are more likely to attend future events hosted by the same organization.

Additionally, a positive conference experience can help to attract sponsors and speakers, which can further enhance the success of future events.

Implementing the PEEL framework in future venue selections ensures purpose-driven decisions backed by evidence, leading to more successful conferences. By using the PEEL framework, you can make a more informed and strategic decision about your venue choice.

Example and Implementation

Here is an example of how you could use the PEEL framework to choose a venue for a product launch conference:

  1. Purpose: The purpose of the conference is to launch a new product to the public.
  2. Evidence: The target audience for the product is millennials, and the budget for the conference is $100,000.
  3. Logic: The chosen venue should be located in a city with a large millennial population and should have a modern and stylish atmosphere. The venue should also have enough space to accommodate a large audience and should have the necessary AV capabilities for a product launch.

FAQs

1. How early should I start searching for a conference venue?
Starting early gives you a wider selection and better negotiation leverage, ideally 6-12 months in advance.

2. What are the red flags to look out for when touring potential venues?
Be wary of outdated facilities, hidden costs, or poor reviews from past clients.

3. How negotiable are venue prices, typically?
Depending on the venue's popularity and the time of year, there's often room for negotiation, especially if you're bringing a large group.

4. How much contingency space should I factor in for unexpected attendees?
It's always wise to plan for 10-15% more attendees than expected to ensure comfort.

5. Are there trusted platforms or agencies to streamline the venue selection process?
Many online platforms and event management agencies offer venue sourcing based on specific requirements, ensuring a good fit.

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