Have you recently organised a meeting or conference? From your point of view, what made it stand out from other events you have run? Was it the location of the venue or the catering, the event production, the delegates themselves, the venue staff or the actual venue and it’s facilities?
When planning an event there are so many things to take into consideration and it can be a daunting task. First of all, cast your mind back to other events that you or your colleagues have recently organised and work out what it was exactly that made it work so well. You can use this information to help you make the right choices all the way through the event planning process.
A lot of emphasis is put on location and rightly so – it is no use whatsoever in holding an event in a place that is difficult to get to as it will put people off attending which totally defeats the object of holding an event in the first place. Choose the location carefully – if it is in town make sure that it is well serviced by public transport and has parking nearby. If you prefer a rural location then you need to ensure that there is plenty of parking on site and public transport as close by as possible. Coaches are a good option to transport numbers of delegates back and forth to train stations. If you make travelling as easy as possible, then attendance will be high.
Once you have chosen the location, turn your thoughts to a venue. What sort of venue would you like? A hotel, a conference centre or something a little more unusual? You will most likely have done some extensive research on locations and venues but if you find this the hard part you can always use a venue finding company which specialises in sourcing venues for any type of event. They will usually offer this service for free, so there is no need to worry about incurring any additional costs if you do decide to go down the venue finding company route.
Think carefully about the type of event you are planning and try and fit the venue to the event rather than fit the event to the venue. There are so many venue options available that it really is possible to make a venue work specifically for your event. Decide on the style – historic, contemporary, chic, rustic, blank canvas etc and look at options that will allow you to structure your event the way you want to.
Before committing to a venue, it is worth while looking at the catering options that are available either in-house or whether they allow you to provide your own catering. Own catering means that you get what you want but with the added headache of providing it, outside caterers means that you get a choice of caterers and of the types of food they can offer which means that you can get something that you really want. In-house catering will give you a choice of menus that will be included in your day delegate rate. If you choose the external catering route, you will pay a “dry” hire fee for the venue and all additional catering and refreshments will be an additional cost. Depending on the venue you choose, it could be a cheaper option to self-cater or use external caterers, but many venues hike up the hire fee because they want you to use their in-house facilities, making the “dry” hire a more expensive option.
Once the location and venue is decided upon, think about event production – what AV, staging etc will you need? Many venues have their own production team in-house, but it is usually possible to provide your own if you have your own team. It is wise to let your team have a recce of the venue before you sign a contract as you don’t want to find out too late that your plans will not work in the chosen venue.
Lastly, but not of any lesser importance, be sure to advertise your event well to ensure that as many delegates will attend as possible. After all, there is a huge amount of work that goes into the planning and running of an event and the last thing you want is for people not to hear about it.
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