When you start planning your conference, no doubt you have in mind an event fizzing with enthusiasm, delegates engaging enthusiastically, and the room being blown away by the keynote speakers.
The quality of your conference reflects on your organisation, and your priority should be to host a dynamic event which is talked about for all the right reasons, creating memorable experiences for the attendees.
Don’t rush in to selecting a conference or meeting venue – there are many things to evaluate before you take the plunge and make your booking. A City like Cambridge may appear to have an abundance of meeting rooms to hire and venues to choose from but assess what you need from your venue before hitting the “book” button.
What is the scale of your event? Are you simply looking for somewhere off-site to host a boardroom meeting, or team building exercise, or is it a full-scale conference requiring significant space and accommodation? How many delegates are attending and what is your budget?
Make a list of all the “must haves” before you start your search and then weigh up all the pros and cons of each venue. It’s not so easy is it? To assist, we’ve put together a list of helpful hints and considerations for when you start your venue search.
Venue location is key
Choosing an appropriate venue location should be right at the top of your priority list. It’s important to consider things like transport links and accommodation for delegates. Hotels here in Cambridge that offer parking are few and far between and parking anywhere around the City Centre is tricky and expensive, so bear that in mind when searching for your venue.
If delegates are coming from far and wide, think about what they may want to do with their spare time. Cambridge is a popular tourist destination, with an abundance of sight-seeing opportunities, so consider somewhere within walking distance of the university buildings and historic town centre.
If you can find a venue which is centrally located, offers high-quality conference facilities, free parking and accommodation on site, you’re on to a winner.
Consider venue space and layout
Whether you’re looking for a small meeting room to hire or a giant space for a full-size conference – layout is an important consideration.
Make sure your venue is equipped with spaces to suit your ideal layouts. A versatile venue with multiple rooms that vary in sizes and can cater for different set ups are worth their weight in gold.
A theatre style set up may suit for certain parts of the event when keynote speakers are delivering to all of the delegates, but think about whether a boardroom style set up might be needed elsewhere for a more intimate, seminar style discussion.
Your delegates may take it in turns to present to a smaller audience during your event, so a U-Shape or cabaret style set up may be required.
Depending on when your conference takes place, think about whether your delegates would benefit from some outside space for activities or simply to relax during their downtime.
The catering can make the difference
One sure-fire way to dazzle delegates is with amazing food, so it’s crucial to ensure that your conference venue is up to standard when it comes to catering. If your conference is being held over a few days a varied menu of high-quality, sustainably sourced cuisine is key.
Regular refreshments to stimulate the brain and keep energy levels up are a must along with different options for each part of the day – a buffet for lunch for example, private dining experiences in the evening and barbecues if outside space is available and the weather is kind.
Creaky technology can leave a real cloud over a conference. You want to avoid key presentation being interrupted or video content failing to make the required impact. Make sure the venue you choose is equipped with up-to-date tech befitting your event.
High quality AV equipment, lightning-fast Wi-Fi, online meeting facilities to dial in to delegates overseas are all elements to consider.
The chances are your expertise won’t stretch to technical support, so make sure your venue has technicians readily available to help with any glitches.
For your event to be a success, good customer service and collaboration with the team at your conference venue is crucial. It may be possible to gauge the standard of customer service from your first enquiry.
- Did the person you enquired with have a warm phone manor?
- Were they knowledgeable about the venue?
- Did they show a willingness to collaborate with you?
If you have a vision for your event, there should be ambition from the venue team to leave no stone unturned in helping you deliver it.
The Møller Institute: The conference venue
So, as we’ve established, there are many things to consider when choosing your conference venue or meeting room, so let’s recap:
- Getting the location right is of paramount importance
- Varying room sizes and layouts are a must
- Modern, high-quality, reliable technology can make or break your event
- On-site, high-standard accommodation can wow your delegates
- The quality of the catering can leave a lasting impression
- Top-notch customer service is key to a successful event