London isn’t short of impressive conference venues, so how do you know when you’ve found a gem? Our event management experts reveal what to look for in a conference venue to help you plan the event you imagine.
Venue location and transport links
First things first, your venue needs to be easy for as many guests as possible. Of course, you can’t please everyone – but start as you mean to go on.
When you’re shortlisting venues, think location location location. Consider whether they are close to a tube line or overground station, or not too far from accommodation for delegates who are travelling to see you. Are there taxi ranks nearby, for example? What will people do at the end of the event, and will it be easy, safe, and comfortable for them? You may even need to consider airport links if you’re hosting an international event. Suss out what’s nearby, if it’s easily accessible and whether this will create a good experience for your conference delegates.
eve tip: Once you’ve got it all figured out, consider providing transport and accommodation information on your event invitations and give people as much information as possible
The biggest question as to what makes a good conference venue is, ultimately, whether it fits your brief and will allow you to achieve what you set out to achieve. Audio-visual capabilities are vital here.
If your speakers can’t be seen or heard by your delegates, you’ve kind of got a problem. Don’t assume that conference venues will be kitted out with top-notch tech to facilitate your conference: ask.
Ensure that you can provide speakers or panellists with microphones. Do you need screens in the room for guests who are sitting further back? If your venue won’t provide these options for you, it’s something else you’ll need to sort – including not only the equipment, but the staff to make it happen on the day (and the budget, of course…)
At eve we’ve attended many a conference – and eaten many a buffet. One of the things that truly sets a good conference venue apart is their consideration for catering and the impact refreshments may have on delegates.
Conferences are stereotypically renowned for beige, stodgy food – food that makes people tired and less able to focus – and coffee. Lots of coffee.
Whilst these comfort eats may be tempting on a Friday night – and the all-important coffee on a Monday morning – they are not optimal for conference catering. Conference catering should be colourful, nutritious, and designed to energise delegates throughout the course of the day to help stop people from losing interest or becoming lethargic. A good conference venue will work with you to find the right catering options for your event based on dietary requirements, the schedule of the day and what delegates will be doing.
Venue style, capacity and facilities
Bringing it back to your original brief, what makes a good conference venue for your particular event may depend largely on its style and who your delegates are. Will a historic Livery Hall be most suitable, or perhaps a more contemporary, bright space?
From here you can narrow your shortlist down to which venues are going to work best for your event, taking into account your numbers.
You’ll want to think about the facilities a venue provides as well as its catering and A/V – will any guests be seated near the toilets? Is there outside space for delegates to use in breaks? A good conference venue will help you figure out how your guests will be likely to use the space and what they’ll need throughout the experience.
eve tip: your venue might state that it has capacity for 500 delegates, but how are those delegates seated? Ask your venue what the most comfortable capacity is for each space: 500 people squashed into a room or 500 people with legroom and breathing space? We’ll go with the latter…
How they treat you
What makes a good conference venue is that they will help you. They should answer your questions – no matter how many you have – and provide you with support and insights as to how people tend to use their space. They’ll be able to give you examples and case studies of previous events like yours, or how they’ve adapted the space in the past. They’ll be willing to work with you!
Their input will be invaluable – nobody knows a venue better than its staff – and you should be able to utilise these insights to create a cracking conference.
In summary – what makes a good conference?
- It’s close to travel options for your delegates
- It has sufficient audio-visual facilities to pull off your brief
- It provides healthy, energising food to keep delegates engaged and positive
- Venue style matches your brief and your guests
- They provide a helpful team to support you to create a positive experience for your guests
- No guests sitting by the toilets.