There are many variables to consider when selecting a venue for your upcoming conference. From picking a host city to setting a budget and understanding the parking situation, here’s an essential venue-shopping checklist we’ve compiled to better detail the process.
Finding the right location
Selecting a host city is the first step in securing a great venue. A city and its culture, like everything else at the conference, should match your goals and the event’s personality. Most importantly, however, the location should also align with your guests’ travel preferences.
Ask yourself what would incentivize your guests to travel a long way to attend your conference. Is it the destination or convenience? For some, the idea of a Hawaiian resort getaway will certainly be enough to book a flight. For others, it might be knowing that the conference is taking place at a centralized location where industry leaders from all over the region, nation, or the world can easily come together for a summit. Which would your guests prefer?
Sending out the right vibes
Once you have the host city pinned down, it’s time to consider the cultural aspects and visual aesthetics that will wow your guests. Trendy, modern spaces provide attendees with a sense of being on the cutting edge of their industry. Historic venues, on the other hand, can help set a more refined and reflective tone for your event.
Like location, your decisions on culture and aesthetics all come down to guest preferences, so take the time you need to think about their style. Are they into flash and glamour or do they prefer the understated? Once you pinpoint the right vibes to bring out the most energy, excitement, and engagement from your guests, seek out a venue that matches.
Don’t forget catering, parking, capacity, and fees
Assuming your vendor caters or has preferred catering vendors can lead to headaches. Please don’t sign a contract without understanding catering requirements and/or how flexible the venue will be if you want to get creative in the absence of their services. For example, do they have room for a catering tent? And would they be okay with you pitching one if they have the space?
Parking and alternative transportation options are another under-researched aspect of venues that can cause a lot of grief. We can’t stress enough how important it is for you to know the parking situation. Transportation in and out of your venue will be the first and last impressions a guest has of the event. The better prepared you are, the less likely your guests will encounter chaos and frustrations.
Big or small, a conference should feel as intimate as possible. Attendee and exhibitor enthusiasm grows the more connected they feel to one another and the event as a whole. Seek out a venue that’s appropriately sized for your guest list, then get creative as to how you employ breakout sessions and lounges to bring everyone closer in between sessions.
Lastly, make sure your dream venue actually meets your budget. Hidden fees can easily break the bank and create havoc as you negotiate rates for speakers and beyond, so please reach out to the Coterie Spark team if you have questions or concerns about your budget or anything else mentioned in this checklist. We’re eager to share our hotel sourcing and venue shopping expertise with you to help find the perfect location for your upcoming conference.