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Selecting the right venue for your next business event or conference

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There are a multitude of things to consider when organising a meeting, conference or any business-related event. However, choosing the right venue is the one which will have the biggest impact on the success of your event.

Finding a venue can consume a lot of time, that’s where the Convention Bureau can help you. We are a font of knowledge about the venues, business event suppliers and activities throughout the Hamilton and Waikato region. Our experienced team is a one-stop-shop when it comes to finding the right venue and suppliers for your event. Our services are free.

Before looking for your venue, you must have identified the goals and objectives for your meeting or event – this will impact on your choice of venue. Establish your budget, know the likely number of attendees, type of event, duration and dates – is there any flexibility around dates? Know the timings of your event and remember to detail time required for setting up and packing out.

The more lead time you allow, the greater chance you have of securing your dates with the preferred venue.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN LOOKING FOR A VENUE:

Location and parking

Consider where your attendees will be travelling from and the location of the venue. Do you require a central city location, somewhere midway for people travelling between cities, a secluded setting or somewhere close to the airport? Is the venue easy to find? How close is parking to the venue? Is there a charge or subsidised rate for parking?

Venue requirements

Approximately how many people will be attending? What is the capacity of the venue? The flow? What are the acoustics like? What style of seating – cabaret (also known as café), theatre, classroom? The trend now with organisers of larger meetings is to have a mix of seating styles within the room, eg cabaret, theatre, lounge, bar leaners, and (internationally) even exercycles! Do you require breakout rooms, exhibition space, separate area for catering (seated lunch?), media room or conference office? Can the main conference (plenary) room also be used for one of the breakout sessions, saving venue hire and audio-visual costs. Where will you hold registration/welcome? Is space for storage required before the day – during the event?

How easy is access for packing-in and out?

Do you need space for a cocktail function or dinner onsite?

Do you require accommodation? If so, do you want accommodation onsite (conference hotel), or will delegates travel to the event venue by their own arrangements or transport provided by the organisers?

Ambience

What sort of venue or space will your attendees feel comfortable in? Is the atmosphere conducive to your event objectives? Do you want natural light? Do the lights dim? Is the sun likely to strike the presentation screen?  Are there blackout curtains or blinds? Some venues are “blank canvases” – they provide the space and venue coordination, you determine your physical requirements including room styling, technical support etc, which you will contract for separately via either the venue or external suppliers.

Food and beverages

Is catering done in-house, does the venue have an exclusive contract with a caterer or a panel of preferred caterers, can you bring your own caterer, or do your own catering? Can the caterers cater for special dietary requirements? Has the caterer got a liquor licence?

Audio-visual, technical

What is included in the venue hire? Does the venue work with a preferred supplier or can you bring in your own supplier? Some venues have built-in AV equipment included in the venue hire, some even include a technician. However, most AV equipment and support is outsourced so remember to allocate budget for technical requirements.

Accessibility

What is the venue’s physical environment? Check it is accessible for any guests with mobility requirements – is there accessible parking, can they easily get to the venue, meeting rooms and amenities? Is there a lift? Consider guests of all ages, check the restrooms to make sure there are enough, particularly if the attendees are mainly female.

Things to look for

Did the venue respond to your inquiry in a timely manner? How knowledgeable about your requirements and their venue were the staff when you did a site visit? Were they professional? Are they flexible? These are indications of the service you are going to receive. If you received poor untimely responses, or the venue staff hadn’t read your brief then this is a reflection on the type of service and attention to detail you will receive going forward.

When looking at venue quotes, it can be difficult to compare “apples with apples” because venues quote differently. Some venues have additional costs, which you might not discover until after you have signed the contract, set your budget, and are well into your planning. Set up a spreadsheet of all the costs for your short-listed venues to help you capture and compare eg venue hire, catering, audio-visual, parking, security, furniture, tablecloths, cleaning etc. Make sure you know whether quotes are inclusive or exclusive of GST.

Other important things that matter

Health and Safety: has the venue got a comprehensive plan? When you organise an event, you are responsible for everybody attending the event. You must open your event on the day with emergency evacuation procedures and attendee comfort (location of the loos, water).

Does the venue have a sustainability/environmental policy? Is it a member of the local Convention Bureau? Has it got reliable wi-fi?

How much deposit is required? For large events some venues are open to putting a payment schedule in place. What guarantees do you require, can the venue provide these, and does the contract include penalties for either party? Read the contract carefully and make sure you understand it and any payment schedule, where possible seek legal advice before signing.

For help finding your next venue contact the Convention Bureau:

Business Events Waikato

Hamilton & Waikato Tourism

Tel: 07 843 0056

Email: businessevent@hamiltonwaikato.com

www.meetwaikato.com

– Supplied copy

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Amanda Graham

Manager, business events, Hamilton & Waikato Tourism

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