When meeting planners consider venues, they typically focus only on things like location and meeting room space. While these are important, few factors can have as much direct impact on a conference's success as how well you communicate with your meeting venue.
Too often a conference's success is overshadowed due to poor communication with the venue management and staff. How well you are able to communicate your goals and expectations, along with your meeting space, food and AV needs, will have a profound impact on attendee satisfaction.
5 tips for communicating effectively with your venue
Communicate early in the process
Most meeting planners understand the importance of checking facility availability early on in the process, but locking in your preferred dates shouldn’t be your only point of communication. Don’t wait until a few weeks before the conference to discuss your expected attendee numbers, general traffic flow, audiovisual needs, and budget. Choose your conference theme early and relay this to the venue’s staff, who will likely suggest ways to tie your theme into food, activity and decorating ideas.
Provide a clear picture of your attendees
You are familiar with your industry and the likely expectations of your attendees however your venue staff is not. Are your people used to formal banquets or are grazing stations and a bar more appropriate? Will they need to conduct business onsite? Will they be looking for environmentally friendly meeting practices? These are just a few examples of the kind of information you can communicate to venue staff about your attendees to help assure meeting success.
Clarify your expectations
Most meeting planners have very clear expectations of their venue. Unfortunately, far fewer actually voice these expectations to the right people. Clarify roles and responsibilities. Plan to repeat specific expectations multiple times as you speak with a variety of key facility staff, but be consistent.
Share checklist details
Start a planning checklist about 6 months out from your conference date. Eventually, this checklist should incorporate meeting setups, for every conference session. Providing your primary venue contact with an updated checklist and communicating any changes that affect the facility will avoid unwelcome surprises.
Stay on course
Ask your venue for one primary contact person while onsite and know the best way to reach him or her. Allow this person to communicate your concerns with the rest of the staff as necessary. Voicing a concern about room lighting or food to the wrong staff member is likely to leave you feeling frustrated when your issue is not resolved. Instead, communicate politely and clearly to venue staff in position to help.
CountryPlace Retreat has a long and successful history in conferencing. With over 1000 residential meetings completed, CountryPlace is well qualified to provide conference advice. The venue was the first Australian venue to be accepted for membership of the International Association of Conference Centres. It is also the only Victorian conference venue to win five Tourism Awards in the Business Category.