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What Is a Conference Centre

By Jeffry Farman, past Global President, International Association of Conference Centres.

If you value your motor car you probably take it for service to a recognised and qualified specialist dealer. You want the genuine parts and the right techniques to maintain your car in the best condition. And so it is with conferences, where conference planners would be best served employing a specialist venue with a focus on providing conference “best-practice” facilities and services for the meetings market.

A conference centre specialises in conferencing. Its focus is meetings. Its main customer base is corporates, government, universities. A hotel, motel, guesthouse that provides accommodation for many kinds of customers - holiday makers, families, weddings - that are often not in the best interests of conference clients seeking a quiet, distraction free environment.

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Conference Centre vs Convention Centre

Conference centre venues in Australia, as opposed to convention centres that provide for large meeting events, often in the thousands, are usually for small meetings of less that 100 delegates. The average group size in Australia is around 25-50 delegates. And the average stay is approximately 2.5 days.

Specialist venues offering flexibility

A specialist conference venue will provide a focus on the needs of their conference clients. They will be flexible to meet the needs of the client. If the facilitator says “we are running over time and need lunch to be shifted back and hour” the flexible conference venue will say “sure, happy to oblige.” Many hotels can be quite rigid aiming to fit the customer into their timetable.

Dedicated Conference Co-Ordinator

conference centre melbourne

An experienced conference venue will often provide a dedicated conference co-ordinator to work with the client to ensure everything runs smoothly and the sought-after conference goals are met. After all, this makes good business sense. The best outcome for a venue is when the satisfied client rebooks. There’s no business, like repeat business.

Purpose-built for conferences

A specialist conference venue will have been designed and purpose-built for the best conference outcomes. They know how important natural light is and how important comfortable, adjustable conference chairs are to the wellbeing of delegates who need to be alert, concentrating and participating in conference activities.

Residential Centres vs Day Centres

There are residential centres that provide accommodation and day centres (without accommodation). These day centres are often located in cities. Residential conference venues are often located out of town in semi-rural areas where delegates can enjoy fresh air in an environment that is conducive to learning and change programs. No distractions.

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