Selecting the right venue for an association conference takes smart, educated planning that involves time and preparation. You need to think like the meeting planner and the attendee to ensure you secure the right space in the right location. When it comes to having a perfect venue and successful event, association event management is essential. You want to stay within the budget, be in line with the client’s wants, and have the attendees desire to come back if the event repeats. First, make a list of everything your organization will need from a venue to make sure anything isn’t forgotten throughout the process. This should include…
The venue is the most important part. When people first show up what kind of feel do they get from the venue’s ambiance? Does it match the theme of your meeting? Another thing to consider is space. It should be large enough to accommodate all attendees comfortably in the main session and other components. You need to find the correct space size for the main event, any breakouts, breakfast room, office areas, etc. that is all under one roof. If you cannot find a venue that has separate rooms for all these events to occur, is there adaptable space for breakout sessions, networking events and other event segments in-house. While it is preferable to have separate spaces for all the different segments because of cost savings, you can take the adaptable space approach. However, good association event management will find a venue that has separate rooms for all the types of events happening with a good flow. You can look at the floor plans offered from the venue to make sure everything and everyone has enough space.
Next, look at what the venue can provide you for what the event needs. If your event is all day, does the venue have a kitchen that cold provide catering or will you need to bring in a food provider. You want to have a breakfast or lunch available during meetings. If the meeting goes multiple days, take a look at the menu that is available by the catering company. You do not want to be feeding your attendees the same turkey club all four days. Having tables and chairs are important for the event too. Does the venue provide tables, chairs, and linens? A lot of money can be saved if they do. Take into account the accessibility of a venue for those with special needs. They need to have the ability to access the building and its features inside. Are there enough facilities for all attendees? While it may seem like a small factor, it actually has a great impact.
Association event management involves knowing who your attendees are and taking that into account when looking for the perfect venue. If you are hosting an event that appeals to mostly women, check if there are enough restrooms for everyone during the breaks. It may seem like a silly thing, but it is important to the guests who are on line and missing the beginning of their next session. Acoustics is an additional item to take into account. If your event has keynote speakers or presenters, you need to make sure your attendees can hear them, but don’t want to be deafened by the sound. Overall, the perfect venue will lead to your attendees leaving with a positive thought about the event and a higher chance they will come back the following year.
Before you close on a venue spot, take time to think about if it fits with your attendees needs to initially get to the event. The key question to ask – is the venue in the right location? As you do your site surveys, put your attendee hat on and try to approach it as someone coming in for your event, are they traveling long distances or are they in the neighborhood. Say your attendees are travelling long distances to come to the even. The venue must be close to a transportation site, such as an airport or train station. Is there an easy way for people to get from the airport or train station to the venue? Is there easy access to taxis, shuttles or other transportation? It is a huge problem if they have difficulty in getting to your event. If you are hosting driving attendees, are the directions easy for attendees unfamiliar with the area?
For attendees who will be coming by car, association event management needs to review the parking situation. Is there an onsite lot and can it accommodate everyone? Nothing is more frustrating for someone coming to an event than having to hunt down a parking spot. If the event is in the city it can cause additional headaches. Attendees will wonder if the spot that they parked in is even a legitimate one after they spent all that time trying to chase one down. They will be hurrying because they are late to the beginning of the meeting, running to the venue from blocks away, while worrying if they will have a ticket at the end of the day. Also, for any parking situation is there a fee for it? People do not want to be spending a ton of money just for parking. All of these factors of their day will not leave them in a good mindset about the event. This will become something people will remember about your event, which will carry over. It’s not a good memory for them to have if you want them to return next year.
Association event management takes into account the length of the event. If the event is multiple days, then there needs to be close by lodging, dining, and entertainment for your attendees. For instance, if your venue is in a hotel, than it is perfect for your attendees to stay there. If your venue is in a convention center, make sure that there is a reputable hotel close by with easy access. A large chain hotel is the better option because there is a consistent standard upheld at them. You want to make sure the attendees are staying in good quality rooms because they will be displease if otherwise. The attendees need to be able to find food in or near the venue. For a venue that is in a hotel, is there a restaurant attached to it. If not, what type of food is around? Is there a variety? Association event management needs to take into account the amenities of the venue. This is big because attendees often want to have an enjoyable stay while at the event. The amenities can be within the hotel and can include a fitness center, pool, bar, spa, etc. Some features outside the hotel space involve restaurants, shows, museums, shopping, etc. Are these entertainment and dining options close to the hotel, either walking or taxi wise? The perfect venue will encompass lodging, dining, and entertainment that are near by for the attendees to use before or after the event, especially if the event stretched out. You don’t want your attendees to be staying in bad rooms or be bored because there are no features available at their disposal.
Association event management does not just stop once you have found a venue for the event. You need to take into consideration the fact that you might return to the venue. If you are coming back to a venue, review past events and what the feedback has been from former guests. For instance, if there was a parking fee that attendees were not pleased with, can it be worked into the package for the meeting instead? There should be an evaluation at the end of the event which can be done on Survey Monkey to get the attendees’ input of what they liked and didn’t like. Try to address what the complaints or issues were before resigning a contract or discuss them with a new venue to ensure any complaints from the last venue can be dodged. It could be very helpful to research the venue and check online reviews to see what guests are saying — both pro and con — about a place before going to see it so you can address it with the on-site planner.