There are times when you need a venue away from your own office or premises to hold important meetings, for either confidentiality reasons, for more space or to create a sense of occasion.
With many thousands of meeting venues and conference centres to choose from across the country, it’s important to really narrow down what your requirements are so that you can find the most suitable location for your needs and budget.
Here are some helpful criteria to consider before beginning your search:
Where do you need your meeting or event to be held?
If you need to host a short day meeting, somewhere near to your office might be the most convenient, but if you’re looking to host a longer meeting or event, somewhere further afield might be more suitable, with the benefit of providing a change of scene with the option of on-site facilities including restaurants, bars, accommodation, leisure facilities and parking for your attendees.
The environment you choose is very important in setting the right tone to your meeting, and is best determined by your meeting subject/objectives and who your attendees are. These factors will affect whether you choose an informal or formal meeting location.
If you have an environmental policy, you might need to choose somewhere more easily accessed by public transport or with a green policy (for example, serves jugs of water instead of bottled water).
You may wish to conclude your meeting or event with some entertainment. For example; a dinner, game of golf, or perhaps team building activities. If so, this too will also impact your choice of venue.
The number of meeting attendees you plan to have is important in determining the most suitable room for your needs. Too big a room will make your attendees feel lost and will affect the atmosphere and tone of your meeting. It could also make it hard for attendees to hear each other. Too small a room will be uncomfortable for attendees, making them feel cramped, and lacking in personal space.
Generally, there is a wide range of room styles available, depending on your needs:
- Standard rooms – these are ideal for small meetings of up to 6 people. Perfect for small team gatherings, interviews and video conferences.
- Boardrooms – these are suitable for up around 24 attendees and are often used for formal meetings and AGMs.
- Classrooms – if you are looking to impart knowledge and need a room in which to use for training, the classic classroom style room with the speaker at the front and chairs facing forward are ideal.
- Cabaret-style (or crescent) rooms – these are ideal for meeting forums and open discussions.
- Theatre rooms – if you need to run a presentation to a large number of attendees, theatre rooms help you reach a wider audience.
Whichever style of room you choose, it is important that there is good natural light available, with windows that can be open and shut to allow for fresh air and that the meeting organiser has access to (and understands) the air conditioning and heating controls to ensure all attendees are comfortable.
Nearly all meetings require some additional equipment to help them run smoothly and to assist the productivity of the session. It is important to check with your venue that they can provide some or all of the following within the booking fee, depending on your needs: flipcharts, pads and pens, LCD projectors, flat screen televisions, telephones with speaker functions and Wi-Fi.
Refreshments and Food
In order to help keep attendees focussed and energised, they need to be watered and fed. This is especially important in meetings where there is little social interaction and attendees are predominantly there to ‘listen’.
Meeting venues can offer anything from water, tea, coffee and biscuits, through to brain boosting breakfasts, sandwiches, buffets and four-course sit-down hot meals. Your requirements will very much depend on the nature and duration of your meeting. Sometimes it’s important to step away from the meeting room itself for drinks or lunch/dinner. In these instances a bigger conference venue or hotel might be more suitable than a city virtual space/office.
Service is another important factor to consider when choosing your meeting venue. Do you want you and your guests to be formally welcomed and supported during your meeting or event? If so, you may need to pay a little more for this.
Some venues can provide dedicated support teams to help set up your meetings and provide technical assistance. Other venues can provide catering staff to ensure your guests are well watered and fed throughout your meeting or event.
Whatever meeting or event you’re looking to run, there are many things to consider. Sometimes it can be difficult knowing where to start and you may need help. SOS venue finding agency has over 50 years experience in the hospitality industry and their experienced consultants really understand the importance of good up-front meeting planning to create successful meetings and events. They will take the time to understand your needs and will often think of things you’ve never thought of!