By the end of this year the Events Team at Cogora will have produced, marketed and organised 32 conferences across five brands throughout the UK. The conferences range in size from a 100 delegate seminar to up to a 1, 000 delegate conference accompanied by a large exhibition. Finding the perfect conference venue in a specific location is sometimes one of our biggest challenges. In large cities there is often too much choice which is the complete opposite in smaller towns where there can be nothing suitable at all. The type of venue you choose can hugely affect the success of the event and happiness of the delegates. Below are six points to consider when venue searching: 1. Location This is the most important factor that you should take into account. It is vital to know who your target audience is and where they are travelling from. The venue needs to be easy to get to with good transport links, as well as easy to find. This will help prevent the delegates from arriving late or getting lost and showing up frustrated. A city centre location is not always best if most of your delegates will be driving to the conference. It could be worth considering a venue close to a motorway junction so delegates do not get caught in early morning city traffic. 2. Size of the Meeting Space Before embarking on your venue search take some time to plan what capacity you need to fit in each room and what layout will work best for the programme content and audience interaction. Cabaret style setup allows for a greater amount of audience interaction, however theatre style enables more delegates to fit in the room. You need to make sure the room is the right size, not too small to cause delegates to feel squashed and not too big to make it look like half the delegates failed to turn up. 3. Ceiling Height The average shell scheme stand is three meters high. If your event includes an exhibition area, it is important to make sure the shell scheme is a safe distance from the ceiling and not interfering with any light fixtures or fire sprinklers. In the plenary room itself some venues have low hanging chandeliers; although beautiful they can often cause problems with the delegates’ line of sight which has a knock-on effect on the height of the screen and where the stage set can be built in the room. Ask the venue to provide you with CAD plans so your audio visual company can plan exactly where the stage set and screen will sit. You can then work out what remaining space you have for the audience table and chairs. Some venues can remove the chandelier or raise any low hanging lights, so it is worth asking. 4. The Event Flow and Floor Plan The event flow refers to how the delegates will move from one part of the event to another. It is imperative that the flow of an event is planned and executed on the day. You need to carefully consider where you want your delegates to be, the path they take to get there and how to keep them in that area. If you have an exhibition area you will want the delegates to be visiting the stands during the breaks and not sitting on the comfy sofas in the hotel lobby. Putting catering stations at the far end of the exhibition is a great way of encouraging delegates to walk through the exhibition. Baffling off unused, open spaces also reduces areas where delegates can stand and not engage with the event. 5. What does the venue provide? Ask the venue what equipment is included with the conference space being hired. Some venues have built-in LCD projectors and screens which are included in the cost. This will help to reduce your audio visual costs. It is also worth checking if the venue has staging that can be used or if you need to hire this from an external supplier. Small extras soon ad up and it is worth negotiating these items prior to signing a contract. 6. Cost Before embarking on your venue search, it is crucial to set a budget that works for your business and stick to it. Without this clear guideline from the start it can be very disappointing when you find your perfect venue, only to realise you cannot afford it. Having a budget in place also means that once you have found the venue you can proceed quickly with securing the space as some venues only hold your preferred dates for a short amount of time and other companies may be able to take your dates. Some of our events... Pulse LIVE, Nursing in Practice, HPE LIVE, Management in Practice and Commissioning LIVE.