They say location, location, location – and that is definitely true when choosing any event for any occasion. But for a corporate event, it is even more crucial.
In difficult economic times we have to consider how delegates will access a venue more than ever. Can they get there by low-cost airline rather than the dearer scheduled flights? Can they car share, hire a mini bus or catch a train from their offices? Is the venue centrally located to save time (time is money folks!)? Is there free parking on offer or transfers from the airport/train station? And all that before you even look at whether it has the right access, capacity, service, quality, atmosphere, catering and so on!
Once location is sorted, My next biggest criteria is quality. Do they offer a quality product and service. This is down to the choice of menu, quality of the fixtures & fittings, service ethos, response times to my enquiries and those ‘added extras’ such as the inclusion of A-V equipment in room hire (and I don’t mean a flip chart). A venue can add value into its offering with booking bonuses such as free delegate parking, enhanced stage lighting, staging, free guestrooms for key speakers and so on. But at least make what you offer of good quality – don’t just offer the same as every other venue. Or better still, bespoke the offering to the planner’s needs. That way you get their attention, and often, the business.
Finding a uniqueness is also a big factor in choosing a venue. Yes, it has to meet the needs of the event – capacity, resources, availability, budget etc., but more than that…does it add some kudos or special factor to the occasion? I see the Canadian convention centre has won the TED2014 conference for being ‘venue to inspire creative thinking’…now that’s the way to promote a venue! Click: TED Being able to offer heritage, innovation, superior architecture, award-winning delegate food…these all add to the overall feel of the event. So venues out there, focus on delivering something special to your offering to set you apart. For the planner, I seek venues that become a part of the overall event message. If they can offer me a special quality that works with the client’s brand, it moves them to the top of the list.
To finish, we cannot forget the importance of delivery. As a professional event planner the buck stops with me – so working with venues that can demonstrate service and event delivery is vital. I need to work with venues that are one step ahead – thinking about any issues before they happen, on the ball with their staffing, happy to work hand in hand on ensuring the event runs seamlessly. I choose venues that I am confident can deliver through personal experience, recommendation, site inspections, awards and open, frank communication about the levels of delivery I expect.
OK, so I have skipped over the individual ‘nitty-gritty’ elements of choosing the right venue – room logistics, negotiation on costs & terms, in-house A-V, accommodation and the like, but I tend to find if you work with the top line factors first – it eliminates those venues that will never work for you. After that, its a matter of whittling down to a shortlist of venues that have potential and starting that process of site inspections.