Location, location, location: Eight aspects of venue choice that can make or break your event

Written by Kirsten Wicke on Tuesday 13th June 2017

As a medical communications agency, Succinct Medical Communications (an OPEN Health company) deliver several live events every week. Kirsten Wicke, Meeting & Events Manager at Succinct discusses the 8 key aspects to consider when choosing the best venue for your med comms event.

Content, faculty, innovation and delegate engagement are, of course key. But so is venue choice. People question and rightly so “do you really need to go and see the venue when you can look on their website?” my answer is “yes you do.”

As Events Manager at Succinct I have visited a lot of venues across the globe. So I’ve put together a list of things that I look out for when choosing the right venue.

Really, the best way to work out whether a venue is suitable is to simply go and see it.

They say that the camera never lies, but I think that a massive pitfall of the event industry is venue websites using misleading images, only highlighting the best parts and purposely missing things like the skip in the middle of the courtyard, the graffiti outside of the conference centre or the dirty old carpet that needed replacing years ago. Does a photo of four coffee cups on a tray and a pen really show what the venue can offer?

I often liken looking for the ‘perfect’ venue to house hunting and really believe ‘go on your gut instinct’, it’s usually right! Ask yourself this – what’s your first impression when you walk through the door? It’s not just about the standard of meeting space for example, what about the staff? Are they approachable? Do they smile?

1. Preparation

Do your research – you should already have some details regarding the venue and likewise they have some details regarding your specific event; don’t waste time in seeing a venue if you know it doesn’t fit your brief.

Make a provisional booking – it may be obvious, but before you fall in love with a venue, check that it is available on the dates and times you require and then hold the space on first option; this allows you time to see the venue knowing that the venue is being safely held.

Make an appointment beforehand – the venue will then be expecting you, and more importantly you will not have wasted an impromptu journey to find out that the facilities you want to see are not available to view.

Meet with the right personnel – whenever possible try to meet with the person who has been dealing with your enquiry from the initial stage as they will have a better understanding of the event.

2. Location

One of the most important things about your event is its location. A venue that is easily accessible is very important as it can help prevent delegates from arriving late, getting lost, or not showing up at all. Find out the following:

  • What’s the nearest train station and is it within walking distance?
  • Is there parking onsite?
  • How long will the journey take from the airport and how much will this cost in a cab?
3. Appearance

These indications can give you a good idea as to how much attention the venue actually pays to customer service and hospitality:

  • Is the venue clean, tidy and well-kept?
  • The welcome you receive from reception and your sales representative (it’s likely all your delegates will be greeted in the same way)
4. Space and facilities

For smaller meetings, a more intimate venue may be best suited for your needs. For larger events, a venue that can offer ample meeting space with breakout rooms, restaurants and accommodation will be better.

  • Write down individual room names, capacities and any other details that will help remind you of each room, such as the shape, whether it was bright and airy and fresh smelling
  • Think about the rooms’ layout – are there any pillars or rooms in unusual shapes that could hinder any events that you organise?
  • Ask about the facilities available at the venue
5. Size

Firstly, you need to confirm the number of delegates expected to attend your event. It’s essential that the venue’s size and capacity is right; too small and you risk being overcrowded and uncomfortable, too big and your guests look lost.

6. Technology

Take a look at the technology available and ensure the venue can provide technical support on the day. The majority of good conference/meeting venues will have high quality AV equipment. Choose somewhere that offers Wi-Fi as there’s no doubt many of your attendees will want to use their laptops, tablets and smart phones.

7. Negotiation

Don’t wait until the end of the site inspection before asking what the venue can do for you on certain criteria. As you tour the venue, throw in some key negotiation areas that are your priorities. When you sit down at the end of the tour, discuss your event from arrival to departure so that you do not miss out on anything.

8. Follow up

On departure, ask your venue contact to confirm in writing what you have discussed and agreed, plus what the next course of action to take is.

Finally, remember to take plenty of photos to help jog your memory later on!

To learn more about how Succinct Medical Communications can help bring your medical communications events to life, contact Jennifer Chilver, Strategy Director, Succinct Medical Communications (an OPEN Health company) on: Jennifer.chilver@succinctcomms.com or +44 (0)1628 481 112