So it’s your task to organise the next conference at work. Do you have a default venue you tend to fall back on, or are you already looking for something to give your next event the wow factor? Whether it’s set apart by its awe-inspiring design, compelling heritage or unique story, a really special venue will have so much to offer.
We all know conferences don’t have to be synonymous with rows of grey chairs and jugs of orange juice in a hotel function room. With a little inspiration, and a well-thought out checklist, you can create a great lasting impression on your delegates.
Unusual venues versus bog-standard hotels
We’ve pitched the two against each other to see why you might want to move away from the hotel conference room…
▪ Increased attendance: Your choice of venue can make or break an event. If there is another event or appointment in a potential delegate’s calendar for that day, then the choice of venue could ultimately determine whether there’s a ‘tick’ or a ‘cross’ on that RSVP.
▪ Exclusivity: A quirky, prestigious or downright interesting venue will bring in the numbers. As long as you can avoid dodgy WIFI, uncomfortable seating or naff food and drink, you’ll have an exclusive venue at your fingertips.
▪ Team building opportunities: Delegates expect fully immersive events and location plays a really important part in this. We recently worked on an immersive training event for Kia at Magna Park, a 500 acre logistics centre. Perhaps not an obvious choice, but with roads and space aplenty, perfect for an automobile event.
▪ Benefits below the surface: Of course, it’s not all about looks. Venues can set themselves apart by what contribution they make to aspects such as society, the environment or charity. For instance, 15 Hatfields is a leading, sustainable events venue in London and will align perfectly with your green policies.
▪ Creating memories and shareable moments: A unique venue, for whatever reason, is going to cause a bit of a media buzz, which is great for organic marketing and growing your audience.
Your venue checklist
Looking for a new, ‘outside the box’ venue is exciting, but don’t forget the basic requirements that will make sure your conference continues to run smoothly.
In the first instance, the venue should:
● Fit with your conference objectives – what the event aims to achieve and the key messages you want to get across
● Align with your company ethos and/or values
● Fulfil any logistics requirements such as location and travel
● Be within your budget
What you need to consider once you shortlist a venue:
● Facilities – is there enough space for discussions, presentations and break out? Can the venue fulfil all of your tech requirements?
● Access and permissions – if it’s a working venue (i.e. not solely an event venue), how long before the event starts will your delegates be able to gain access? Will you need to factor in time for security checks?
● Bedrooms – either on site or nearby, suitable accommodation will be needed if guests are expected to stay over, or if the location is a couple of hours away or more
● Catering – does the venue provide what you want, or will you be able to get external caterers in?
● Transport – the venue needs to be accessible; if people can’t get there with relative ease, your attendee numbers are going to fall.
Some inspiration to get you started…
– National Space Centre: A museum and educational resource covering the fields of space science and astronomy, along with a space research programme based in Leicester.
– Battersea Art Centre: A beautiful old town hall with a rich local heritage of creativity and inspiration.
– Magna Park: As mentioned above, the perfect venue for events in the car industry and more.
Check out our venue finding blog for more ideas…
Our creating fun in conferencing blog may also inspire you…
Our experienced venue finding team can help you source the right venue to fit your objectives, ethos, theme and, of course, budget. Give us a call to see how we can help with our free venue finding service.