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5 essential tips for picking a conference venue

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Sourcing a conference venue is a challenging but exciting task.  There are five generic but essential tips for choosing a conference venue, however for this illustration Bristol conference venues will be referenced.

Research

It is absolutely essential to research different venues for your conference.  The first internet search engine result for Bristol conference venues gives you nine different categories ranging from ‘unique’ venues to ‘green’ venues and 65 different venue options.  Therefore you need to be absolutely certain what the aim of the conference is and who your audience are.  Make a shortlist and narrow down from there.

Location

Choosing the right location is imperative.  Consider where your delegates are travelling from geographically as for example if most of your delegates are based in the North, a Bristol based conference would be costly and logistically challenging.  Consider transport to your chosen location i.e. if there are a lot of delegates, is there adequate parking in the city centre, or would it be more appropriate to host the conference outside of the city centre where space is not so much of an issue.

Size

Selecting the right size of venue is essential.  Even if you are utilising one part of a venue e.g. 10 of the 21 meeting rooms at the Bristol Marriott Hotel, consider who is using the additional capacity.  It could be occupied by a sports club or a wedding party which may negate from the conference that you are trying to deliver.  Size of individual meeting rooms, car parking spaces and accommodation needs to be considered and must provide adequate space for all guests to feel comfortable.

Facilities

You need to ensure that your chosen venue has all the facilities that you require.  This can include disabled access, catering, audio-visual equipment, lifts to transport heavy marketing materials, flip charts, pens and anything that you may require on the day.

Cost

Last but by no means least, cost for hiring a venue plus the use of all the facilities must be carefully considered.  Bare in mind that it is easy for costs to start escalating when additional requests are made e.g.  amending accommodation details or requesting additional staff assistance.  It is therefore essential to keep track of costs both on the run up to the event and on the actual day.  Ask for all costs to be quoted in writing from the venue as this is common practise (often referred to as a Request for Proposal).  Bristol conference venues offer many different solutions therefore you do not need to stretch the budget as there will always be a more appropriate solution to fit your needs.needs.

About the author: Paper Free Invoices started out as a small blog for my invoicing software business Paper Free Billing but has morphed into something much more useful. I’ve really enjoyed reading the guest articles and speaking with guest publishers so much so I’m always looking for talented bloggers to contribute. If you have any questions or feedback on this article, please find your voice in the comment section, we will try to answer every genuine comment!

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  • Venue Detective

    One other think is additional breakout meeting rooms, which are really useful for larger conferences, as they allow you to hold smaller private meetings for groups on individual topics, or ad-hoc meetings using the time to dicuss areas not related to the main conference.A lot of the purpose built and large conference venues have these, but they need booked separately.

  • Mr Ed Pierce

    I have used conference venues in both big and small towns and either way, logistics is the key to running it smoothly. Bigger cities have transportation and traffic issues but plenty of hotel space while smaller cities don’t usually have the hotel space. I have since gone to online conferencing networks so everyone can participate and you get a much bigger turn out.

  • Phyllis Moore

    I think it’s ideal when a conference venue is within a hotel or adjoining the hotel. Once people have arrived in the city or town and are settled in their accommodations, easy access to the meeting space is ideal. It is also helpful as it will foster networking and informal gatherings.

    Also I think access to public transportation is important as well for those who are not staying within walking distance. Anything and everything that can be done to cut down on transit time and increase time for meetings will be much appreciated by the participants.

    • Very good comment, yes the hotel is a good point for people who are literally visiting that place for the exclusive reason of attending the conference.