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10 Mistakes to Avoid When Selecting a Conference Venue

mistakes to avoid when selecting venue (1)

The venue and location play a huge role in how guests will ultimately perceive the event as a whole. With that in mind, there is no one venue that is suitable for all types of events and needs. You have to choose the location wisely.

Here are 10 common pitfalls to avoid when selecting your next conference venue.

1. Not Adhering to Capacity Limitations

Venues that are too small means some attendees will spill over to the outdoors. On top of that, it’s also a safety hazard. Likewise, venues can also be too big. When you have 30 guests in a facility designated for 500, then the place is going to feel overly spacious.

You should have an idea beforehand of how many people are attending, including the number of potential walk-ins and look for a venue designed to accommodate that number with an extra bit of leeway.

2. Selecting an Overly Expensive Venue

A fancy venue will wow your audience for sure. However, if the rental ended up costing you an arm and a leg, then you will probably have to compensate elsewhere. This means hiring a low-profile speaker or opting for bottled water instead of cocktails.

Yes, venue selection is hugely important, but if you have to make sacrifices in other areas, then you need to scale back a bit.

On the issue of venue cost, you may be able to negotiate a better price if you secure the location during a non-peak time, such as during the week or a month when there’s no major holidays.

3. Insisting on a Single Venue

There may be a particular venue that you especially want for your conference. That venue just might sing to you and have all the right elements for your type of event. However, that venue might not be available on the desired date, or it may be missing an essential element or two, such as adequate parking spaces or handicap accessibility. These are all factors that can hamper overall satisfaction.

The takeaway message here? Be open to other venues. You should, in fact, have at least three on your top consideration list.

4. Not Double Checking with the Venue Administrator

Don’t be shy about asking the venue administrator a lot of questions. You do, after all, need to know the ins and outs of the facility, such as whether custodial services are available, or if parking permits are provided for your guests.

You should also carefully review the contract. Some venues, for example, may impose an additional fine if the guest turnout exceeds the number you indicated on your application, or if you opt for outside catering instead of the one supplied by the venue.

5. Choosing a Venue with Insufficient Branding Spots

Remember, the purpose of the event is to create brand awareness. This is why the facility should be adorned with your logo, both in the form of traditional banners and digital signage. Some event planners overlook this and choose a venue with inadequate space for displaying their logo.

You should know, for example, whether the registration area has a socket and open area for displaying a digital signage for people to see while waiting in line. Likewise, is there a blank wall where a Twitter wall can be displayed?

6. Renting a Venue with Limited Parking

This was touched upon briefly a bit earlier. Is there adequate parking? If so, how many parking spaces are there? You should also be asking the venue administrator the following questions:

  • Is handicap parking available?
  • If a permit is required, can free permits be assigned to staff and guests?
  • Wil there be a valet on duty?
  • Are there additional parking spots nearby if the designated area is expected to be full?

Parking is just one of the many questions to ask a venue administrator. Struggling to find parking will sour people’s perceptions before they even enter the venue.

7. Choosing a Venue with a Less than Ideal Location

Some event planners get so drawn into a particular venue that they forget to take the location into consideration. How far is the venue? Is it within city limits?

If you operate a local company, then the event venue should preferably be in the same city or at least within the greater area.  Ultimately, there will be some guests who will have to travel a greater distance, but this shouldn’t apply to the majority of the attendees.

8. Not Looking into Adjacent Accommodations

It’s not just the venue you’re scouting for. You also have to research nearby hotels. There should at least be one within walking distance, or that provides a shuttle directly to the venue.

Ideally, there should be both a five-star hotel and an economy motel nearby. It also wouldn’t hurt to coordinate with these lodging centers to see if you can get some kind of bulk discount for your guests.

9. Forgoing Event Insurance

Most venues incorporate event insurance into the rental fee. If the venue doesn’t require it, you should still have your own third-party insurance plan. Damages to the facility, or an injury stemming from an alcohol-related incident are real possibilities with huge financial ramifications.

It’s not recommended to forgo event insurance even if it’s optional; you never know what could go wrong.

10. Choosing a Venue that Doesn’t Fit the Theme

It’s not wise to choose a venue solely for its name recognition. You need to select a facility that matches the theme or type of conference. With that in mind, a countryside venue, for instance, will probably be an awkward fit for a tech-related conference.

Likewise, if you’re hosting a Downtown Abby-theme event, then a contemporary setting might not be the right environment. The ambiance and atmosphere of the facility is very important, so be sure it fits with the nature of your conference.

By avoiding these mistakes when choosing a venue, you’ll have a location that meets all the right parameters for hosting a praise-worthy event.

This is a guest article written by Dan McCarthy.

Dan McCarthy is an Event Manager at Ultimate Experience, an event management company based in the UK. Dan has 5 years of event project management under his belt. He has worked on many successful events, and currently he shares his knowledge by writing on the company blog. Follow him on Twitter @DanCarthy2.

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