There are many important factors to consider when planning a meeting. One of the biggest is to determine where to host your meeting or event. Different spaces are better tailored than others to suit a specific meeting type.
According to a 2019 survey completed by Social Tables, “72% of event professionals believe most properties are best suited for a particular type of customer or event.” With this in mind, we have put together 7 items to consider that will assist in finding the best venue for your meeting or event:
Desires of the Client
The first items to consider are the desires and goals of the client. Some may want the big feel of a convention center to feel “official” or need one due to high attendance, while some may want the cozier feel of a hotel or smaller event center. Set a time to sit down to collect the information needed that will guide you to a conclusion on what type of venue would suit the meeting best.
Desires of the Attendees
Next, think of attendee demographics and their desires. Some attendee groups may want the hustle and bustle of a large city location with fancy restaurants and entertainment nearby, while some may be more comfortable with a suburban location where they can avoid the traffic and noise of the city. If you pick a location that the attendees may not like, it becomes a potential deterrent for attendance.
If you are unsure about what your attendees may want, it is always a good idea to create a pre-event survey to ask specific questions about what they want in their meeting.
Now, continuing with the topic of attendees, attendee travel is something to consider. Are attendees local, or will they be flying in for the meeting? If they are flying in, locations near a major airport with easy transportation to/from the meeting location are vital.
Similarly, if it is a meeting that draws national attendance, a meeting on the East Coast will be harder for West Coast attendees to travel to. Therefore, locations in the center of the country make travel easier, which may help to increase attendance.
If travel is involved, flight costs can make or break an attendee’s decision. For example, Hawaii sounds like an exciting tropical destination for a meeting, but travel expenses to get there are often a major deterrent for attendees. Did you know, the overall cost of travel is up 18% compared with April 2019 and up 2% versus the same month in 2022 (NerdWallet, 2023)? So, know your audience, what they are willing to commit to, and research the costs of travel to help decide on the location of your venue.
In addition to the location of your attendees and travel, it is important to consider the weather that may occur at the time and location of your event. For example, a client may want their meeting in Chicago, as that is where they are headquartered. In that case, hosting the event in February and competing with a Midwest winter, is likely a bad idea. Similarly for cities in the Pacific Northwest - it's likely not a good idea to host outdoor events in an area famous for its yearly rainfall. Weather can help make or break your event, so consider what the weather will be like that time of year and in the specific location you desire to have your meeting.
Did you know? 79% of companies allocate a specific budget for events and team gatherings (TravelPerk, 2022). During the site search process, it is crucial to keep this in mind and regularly update the budget as the planning moves forward. Ask yourself, “How much money does the client have for venue rental fees in their budget?” This can be one of the biggest determining factors in sourcing 5-star vs. 3-star venues. Also, be conscious of balancing meeting the need for good optics with a nice location, while respecting their budget restraints.
For more budgeting tips, check out Budgeting 101: Best Ways to Budget to Get the Results You Want.
Lastly, amenities are desirable or useful features of a venue that will enhance your meeting. Consider what amenities the venue has in-house vs. what you will source from an outside vendor for. In-house services such as catering, A/V, linen and furniture rental, and so on can help an event run smoother as it streamlines the number of individuals involved in planning. On the other hand, outside vendors could potentially help lower costs of F&B and A/V, while adding to the complexity of communication and day-of logistics.
These are our top 7 items to consider when finding the best venue for your meeting or event. Site search and selection includes researching weather, venues, flight costs, availability, etc. By knowing your goals and objectives, we as experts in bringing your meetings and events to life, find the best fit — for location, budget, and overall success.