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Event Planning: From The Beginning

Event Planning: Before You Begin Your Search For The Perfect Venue

Choosing the perfect conference venue for your event is one of the most important decisions that you will need to make. Step one? You need a strategy! Let’s review some of the key factors you need to think through beforehand so that you are fully prepared before you begin your search.

1. The Timing: The timing of the event is key to its success.

  • Avoid national and religious holidays
  • Dodge school holidays (such as Spring break) if possible
  • Research the industry: know who your competitors are and avoid any scheduling conflicts
  • Be aware of seasonal rates: hotels have off peak times that can be beneficial when negotiating the contract and help your bottom line

2. The Audience: analyze the interests, preferences and concerns of your attendees

  • How many attendees do you expect?
  • Are your prospective attendees clustered in specific cities or regional areas?
  • How difficult is it for them to get away from the audience – is convenience going to be critical? Maybe a city location near an airport would be best.
  • What are their interests? Is networking important? Could a resort location be more conducive for your attendees and your program format?
  • Does this event need to be placed in a 5 star venue or is a practical 3 star location going to work?
  • How important are the time and expense of potential travel?
  • Sleeping rooms – do you need them and, if so, how many?

3. The Program Format: What are your space requirements?

  • How many meeting rooms do you require and/or need simultaneously?
  • Determine seating requirements (e.g. theatre, schoolroom, hollow square)
  • Space for catering functions during your program
  • Will there be an exposition hall? If so, how many exhibitors are anticipated and what are their space requirements?
  • Is outdoor space a consideration?
  • Where will you place the registration area?
  • Don’t forget about ancillary rooms such as a show office, speaker ready room, press room, lounge areas, etc.

4. Your Budget: It’s all about the bottom line! Knowing your financial parameters will immediately set the direction you take on your venue outreach.

Based on your answers to these questions, your next step is to produce a Request for Proposal… here for a list of the 6 key elements to include in your venue RFP.

Do you have additional best practices to add to this list?