What does it take to find the right venue for your next corporate event? Is it as simple as setting a budget, or is there a lot more to the job if you’re going to achieve the goals you’ve set out?
Venue selection can be as simple or as complex as the nature of your event warrants. What that means is you need to have a clear plan for matching your event strategy with the best venue options. Here are five key questions you can ask to achieve outstanding event-venue alignment:
What kind of event are you planning and how many guests will attend?
The first priority is to consider what kind of event you are producing, plus the size of the audience. If you’re planning a three-day trade show for 5,000 people, there are only a few venues in any given market that will meet your needs. Then again, if you’re producing a corporate planning retreat for 20-30 people, you’ll have numerous options that will meet your criteria – but perhaps only a few that will create the right ‘feel’ for your audience.
When do you want to hold this event and what is it in aid of?
Are you planning a domestic UK event, or will this potentially be an international affair? Where will your delegates be coming from and how will they arrive? London and other major cities offer the advantage of domestic and international airports which are well supported by intercity rail networks and also by motorways.
Also, you need to decide whether you want to use a highly energized, urban location such as King’s Place in London, an easily accessible suburban location such as The Heston Hyde Hotel or do you want to take the event into the heart of the tranquil countryside such as Norton Park near Winchester.
What style of venue would you prefer?
This is one of the most critical questions which will impact your event the most. It is easy to take the easy way out and think of hotels and the usual conference centres, but there are companies out there who will help you to find more unusual and unique venues which will create a much more unique experience for your attendees.
For example, The Wellcome Foundation in London offers an auditorium with cutting edge technology, the light and airy Franks and Steel room for a more relaxed meeting atmosphere and the fascinating Medicine Now Gallery for evening receptions.
Most cities have these kinds of options. In Manchester, the IWM North offers the Libeskind Rooms for daytime hire and the Watershard Café & Kitchen provides a light and airy space for guests to take a break throughout the day, whilst the Main Exhibition Space is available for gala dinners and reception in the evenings.
Make sure to research colleges and universities, museums, art galleries, public gardens, cultural venues, private clubs, historic sites and houses for your audience. An interesting and engaging venue can take your event from ‘good’ to ‘great’ in one step. Very often, these unusual and unique venues will be flexible and creative in helping you get the most out of your program.
What are your technical requirements?
You always need to make sure that any venue can meet your technical requirements. Can they support the size of your attendee list? Will they have the right floor plan for the flow of your event? Is the venue accessible for disabled delegates? Can lighting and audio rigging be supported? Is there a loading bay? These are just a few of the questions that should form part of the brief.
What are the catering and service providing options?
Look at the whole picture when considering a venue. Sometimes a venue will not charge a hire fee, but will offer catering packages. Some will charge a hire fee and insist that you use one of their preferred caterers. This can prove to be quite expensive, but some venues will allow you to provide your own catering, AV, production etc providing they have the necessary accreditations.
In many cases you will want to use your own companies for event production and management, so any venue you choose will need to demonstrate flexibility in allowing you to use these.
Selecting the right venue for your next corporate event is a demanding decision, but the more research you do in producing a dynamic and engaging list of options that create a memorable experience and evoke the right emotions for your audience, the more successful your event will be. Set the bar high, and start looking for next event venue today.