Choosing a Venue

As an event planner, destination management companies and convention centres across the globe will vying for your attention, employing numerous incentives for you to select them as your location of choice and introducing you to a number of venues that they would like to promote in the area. Choosing the appropriate one can be a decision that makes your project either seamless or a nightmare. Their goal is to draw the funding that comes from your event and yours, is generally, to provide the greatest possible experience for your client. If the two should coincide, everyone is a winner.

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There are many enormous trade shows that are focused on this exact convergence. Walk the floor at the MPI World Congress or at the ISES EventWorld and you’ll be inundated with tourism boards, hotels and the like trying to win your favour. Many will employ hosted buyers programs to bring you to their location, covering accommodation and travel and touring you through some of the best venue in the area. If you are managing event budgets in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, you’ll be a target for these and while they seem glamorous and a great way to experience a destination, you only have time to do so much so you’ll need to select carefully.

One time saver that you might use is to explore one of the many venue search engines that have popped up over the last few years. On these sites, you can input the criteria of your event and have the search engine do the legwork on your behalf, thus narrowing your choices to a manageable level. Once you do get closer to a selection, in some cases, you can use an automated process to collect quotes from venues at the different locations so that you can analyze the cost factors and make a qualified decision.

Budget and capacities should be your top considerations but you’ll also want to be aware of other factors in making your selection. Exclusivity of suppliers can have a huge impact on your budget if these are being controlled by the venues. Catering, AV, and setup professionals can be resistant to negotiation if planners have no choice but to use them due to exclusivity agreements. While the venue might cut you amazing deals on room space, you’ll pay a premium in supplies and they’ll kick back to the venue and your budget will take a huge bite.

You’ll also want to consider the needs of your audience and the costs that will be directly their responsibility. Travel expense, airport accessibility and variety, different levels of accommodation all play a huge role in attracting people to your conference. If you set up a dream meeting that no one can afford to attend, then it won’t be attended and your event, as beautifully planned as it may be, will be a failure. These are considerations that work in conjunction with selecting your venue but over which your venue has little control.

Some of the best reasons to attend tradeshows for the events industry is not, in fact, to hear the pitch of the hotels or convention bureaus but rather to speak directly with your peers about their direct experience with a venue. If they had a positive event at a particular place, chances are that your group will as well and if they were fraught with hidden costs and undelivered promises, the same will likely apply to others hosting an event at that venue. Learn to trust them and be very open to sharing your own stories with them so that they can also make informed decisions.

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