Whether your event is an overnight conference for 200 international delegates, or a breakfast briefing for a couple of hours, it is equally important to showcase your company in the best way possible. The beginning of every event starts with the venue – it is surprising how influential this can be on the overall success of your event.
1.Decide what you want
Before you start looking for venues you need to create a list of your requirements to ensure you find the write thing. For example, if your event is a training event, your delegates are likely to be taking notes and would benefit from a table, therefore a u-shape, cabaret, classroom or boardroom setup would be ideal, theatre on-the-other-hand would not. If you decide on your delegate numbers as 100 for the event, then you could limit this further to a cabaret or classroom layout.
The main things you will need to decide upon before making a call are:
· Location – Whether it be a local event, national event or away-day it is important to consider travelling to and from the event when creating an event brief.
· Dates – This could include a series of possible dates or, a definite date. For business events avoid school holidays, Mondays and Fridays (although these could sometimes be cheaper).
· Number of delegates – Decide on the maximum and minimum number of delegates you think will attend, remember to include trainers or speakers in this, although they might not need to be included in the layout, they will need to eat!
· Main room layout – Decide what layout would best suit what you want to achieve, think about if you’ll need any extra tables for equipment etc.
· Syndicate or Breakout rooms – Decide on the layouts and purpose of these and if they need to be near to the main room.
· AV Requirements – AV requirements such as back projection will reduce the capacity of the room, it is therefore best to discuss this from the initial enquiry to ensure that you will get put in a room that is big enough for your equipment and your delegates.
· Refreshment requirements – If your delegates are travelling a long way, you may want to consider things like breakfast rolls upon arrival. In most venues, lunch is usually a 2 course hot and cold fork buffet, however, you might prefer a finger buffet in the room.
· Accommodation – If your delegates are travelling a long way, or your conference extends over two days you might want to include accommodation and dinner the night before, the middle night or both. You may want to organise private dining for your delegates with some entertainment rather than eating in the restaurant, equally you may not want to.
· Other requirements - Don’t forget to consider things like taxis to the venue, dietary requirements, disability requirements such as hearing loops and accessibility. Do you need grounds for outdoor activities such as team building?
2 . Venue Finding
It is important to understand the terminology that venues use with regards to event rates. A Day Delegate Rate (DDR) is the rate per delegate this usually includes a the room hire, a minimum of 3 servings of teas, coffees and refreshments and a 2 course buffet lunch. A 24 Hour Rate (24hr) includes the same as a DDR, however, it also includes bed, breakfast and dinner. It is important to ask for a breakdown of costs e.g a room hire rate and prices for refreshments, (surprisingly these can sometimes be cheaper).
Although there are many ‘free’ venue finding agencies around, they will take a commission from the venue for placing the event for you. Although this service saves a lot of time with regards to venue finding, you will probably still have to organise things like requirements for the initial enquiry, rooming lists, delegate packs, and any special requirements. Despite being a ‘free’ service, the agency will take a commission from the venue. With the industry standard commission being from 10% most savvy venues will add 10% onto the rate they quote the agency so they won’t lose out. At Grapevine we have the knowledge and expertise to find appropriate venues, without taking a commission.
Most large hotel chains have a central conference desk, this will mean you only have to give the details once and they will do the rest. Independent or smaller chains can offer just as good service and are sometimes very unique so can help you to add that special something to your event.
Things to consider:
· Have a budget in mind and let the venue know the budget, the majority of times they will work closely to the budget in order to secure the booking
· Don’t be afraid to ask for value-added items such as fresh juices, or private dining; venues are likely to include this if you agree to confirm the business.
· Ask for capacity numbers for the room you are allocated – you need to know the capacities you are working to should more people want to attend your event than first envisaged.
· Check what equipment is included with the DDR, 24hr and room hire rates, it is not unusual to expect to have a LCD projector, screen and flipchart included.
· Agree minimum chargeable numbers – these are usually 10% below the agreed delegate numbers, however, they are likely to negotiable.
· If the venue can accommodate your event then ask the provisionally hold the space.
3.Never book a venue without seeing it first
The brochure may be glossy, but is the venue? In the industry visiting a venue is known as a ‘showround’, and it common practise to ask for one. Not only will you get to see the venue, you will get to meet your events co-ordinator who should be able to advise you on how to get the best from your event.
Things to look out for on your showround:
· How easy was the venue to find?
· Think about the logistics, will all your delegates fit in the restaurant at the same time? If you are having breakout or syndicate rooms, where are they in relation to the main room?
· Does the room have natural daylight and air-conditioning, does it have blackout blinds if required?
· If you will be dining, ask if you can try the lunch
· If you require accommodation, check the standard and cleanliness of the rooms. If there are speakers and delegates that you particularly want to look after, ask if you could have a couple of complimentary executive room upgrades.
· Are there any planned refurbishments when your event is planned for?
If you would like to go ahead with the event ask for the contracts, however, be mindful that the event isn’t confirmed in the venue’s eyes until the contract is signed.
Grapevines marketing services can include venue finding as part of your contract. We can advise on all requirements, source the best venue you and even visit it to ensure your company is portrayed in the right way. As a professional marketing company, we offer event support, from creating event literature to guiadance and photography on the day. If you would like further information, contact us here.