Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Choosing the Right Venue

When working with various clients to plan a meeting, conference, or event of any kind, one of the big pieces is the site selection. Site selection is a process with a purpose. The site has to have the correct parameters for the event that will be held there.

The size of the plenary session needs to be adequate to comfortably fit all the attendees in a comfortable setting and one that makes sense for the topic and attendee participation, if any is expected. The meeting planner also needs to take into consideration if any large screens are going to be used, what media will be used, will the attendees be able to see easily, and what room set-up is preferred.

Meeting “flow” is another area that is important for each event. The number of meeting rooms and the size and arrangement of the meeting space to be utilized can have a large impact here. How large is the General Session room? How many breakouts are needed? Where are they located? Are they on the same level as the rest of the event? Can attendees access them easily? Can the rooms easily accommodate the audio-visual equipment needed?

And, how far away is the food? Yes, that is always an important question for everyone! RDL staff never likes to use the same rooms for meals that meetings are being held in when they can avoid it but we do want it close by. (Having meals in a separate space gives people a chance to get up, stretch, and move a bit. Plus, the change of scenery can be good for a mental break as well.) And attendees don’t like to be too far away from the food either. Considering all the flow and potential uses of space before selecting a site is incredibly important.

Another important thing to consider when selecting a venue for a client is the location of the event. Is it convenient? Is it located close to public transportation? For those flying to the event, where is the airport in relation to the venue? How about the subway/train? And, for those driving in, what parking options exist? Take into consideration ADA access & limitations, such as the location of elevators in relationship to sleeping rooms & meeting space. Where are the restaurants and the recreational facilities and how easy is it to access them?

One of the final, but vitally important, considerations for many clients is the price. What will it cost to hold the event there? How much are the sleeping rooms? What is the cost of the food & beverage? Is there a cost for the meetings space? Is the venue willing to work with us to meet budget limits? Can the client afford it?

All of these items are important and will help guide the client towards selecting the most appropriate venue for their event. Keep these suggestions in mind and enjoy your next event!

~ Cyndy Hutchinson • Executive Director, RDL enterprises