By Jeffry Farman, past global president of the International Association of Conference Centres.
Choosing the venue for your conference sounds like an easy task but it is one fraught with pitfalls that could not only leave a bad impression on attendees but also drastically impact your budget.
When starting your search make sure you avoid these five common venue booking mistakes.
Mistake 1. Not understanding the purpose of the meeting.
If you don’t understand the purpose of the meeting how can you choose the best fit venue? Ideally you should understand the expected outcomes for the meeting. Then try to match the goals to the experience and facilities of the venue. Good selection will enhance the prospect of a good outcome.
Advice: Write a simple Outcomes Statement for the event.
Mistake 2. Not working to a budget.
Once your idea for the event is clear, budgeting is the next important step. Allocating a budget to each different area of the event, including the venue, catering, speakers and staff costs. Get the budget signed off by management.
Advice: Think about every single detail of the event. Allocate a budget to each item.
Mistake 3. Thinking you have plenty of time.
If your conference is not for another 12 months, thinking that you have plenty of time to book a venue can be a really big mistake. Good conference venues can often be booked a long time in advance.
There’s a good chance that the dates you want we be popular with other organisations. Therefore, if you don’t reserve space, leaving your booking until too late will really limit your choices.
Advice: Ask potential venues to pencil in your conference dates early.
Mistake 4. Failing to select a venue with conference expertise and professionalism.
All venues will be keen for your business. For some it will be just “top-up” business. Not their mainstream. You will probably need a venue with proven meetings experience where conferencing is their mainstream. A venue that can enhance the success of your meeting.
It would also be nice to know that an experienced conference co-ordinator will be assigned to your event. Someone who knows how to help you make your event the success you want.
Advice: If the outcome of your event is important to your organisation, choose well. Choose a conference venue with a focus on, and a proven track record of successful delivery in the corporate event area.
Mistake 5. Not focussing on venue flexibility
Many venues will have you work to their timetable. Lunch is when they say so. Dinner is at a time of their choosing. No adaptability. This may not suit your event. Better if you can find a venue that is flexible enough to work to your plan and your changing needs.
Advice: Find a venue that is adaptable. Willing to work to your timetable.
CountryPlace has almost 30 years of experience specializing in conferences and corporate events. The venue has a hard won reputation working with some of the largest corporations, universities, schools and government departments.
To put our experience to good use we have produced a helpful venue finding checklist incorporating all the important questions to ask a venue to assist with your search. And it’s FREE