Article: Top 10 Tips for Choosing The Perfect Meeting Venue
You've got the meeting agenda and you've made up the guest list. But the nightmare every planner faces is choosing the perfect meeting venue. Worry not because the award winning Sundial Group, have come up with a list of the top ten things to look out for when choosing the ideal venue for your business meeting.
1. The Location
Deciding where to hold your meeting or conference can by tricky so it's important to assess your business's needs before you make any decisions. According to the Sundial Group, the location is one of the most important factors things when choosing meeting venues. If you want calm and serene, choose a Surrey meeting venue like Barnett Hill. Set in 26 acres of beautiful gardens, it provides an intimate, distraction free environment for those all important meetings.
2. The Cost
As tempting as it might be, DON'T make a budget after you've seen great, expensive venues. Make a budget right at the beginning and stick to it. Booking a five star hotel when you can't really afford to could make a big dent in your business bank account. Provided you choose a good quality, experienced venue committed to making your meeting productive and interruption free, as well as keeping delegates nourished and hydrated with food, drinks and snacks, you'll get just far more from the event.
Always look at the facilities in a venue before you book it. Many venues claim to have ‘dedicated meeting facilities' but not all do. Look out for the following if a site is claiming to have dedicated meeting facilities:
- Does it have a meeting room or function suite?
- Projection screens and LCD televisions available?
- Does the venue use high quality, heavy duty cables and offer free, unlimited Wi-Fi access?
- Are there suitable light fittings, power points and unobstructed views in the meeting room?
All of these should be a part and parcel of any UK meeting venue that claims to have says it has dedicated meeting facilities. Members of organisations such as the IACC (International Association of Conference Centres) are what Sundial Group consider to be true conference venues. They provide a distraction-free environment and have either purpose built or single-use facilities.
4. Response Times
When you've found a conference centre you like, see how quickly the venue's sales team responds to your enquiry. This can be indicative of what the venue's service will be like throughout your booking. Always see if you are offered a site visit. Site visits are important because they give you a chance to see the venue and decide whether you like it or not, and whether it will fit your requirements.
5. The Site Visit
When you have booked a site visit, always make a note of the most important things you want in the venue, a few days before you go to view it. This way, you won't get distracted on the day and will know exactly what you are going in for. When you reach the venue, consider the following:
- The welcome you receive from reception and your sales representative (as it is likely all your delegates will be greeted in the same way).
- Is there a car park, and if so how full is it? Is it free?
- Is there somewhere to have lunch? If there is, try to have lunch there to assess the quality of the food and menu choices before you book the venue.
- How does the staff behave? If they greet you and other clients in passing, this shows that they're warm, friendly and welcoming.
- Have you been given all the information you need and have the training and conference facilities been explained to you before you leave?
6. Type of meeting
Consider what kind of meeting you want to have before choosing the venue. If it's going to be very corporate then choose a venue such as Woodside, Sundial Group's Warwickshire meeting venue that prides itself on class and professionalism. If it's going to have an element of fun, then perhaps try to find an outdoorsy place or somewhere where there's a bar to allow you and our colleagues to let your hair down after the meeting or conference.
7. Food and Drink
As mentioned earlier, if you wine and dine your delegates well, then the type of venue probably won't matter! Ensure your guests have enough to eat and drink, and if needed, do a tasting session with the chef to ensure the food is of the right taste and the menu offers both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. Highgate House, Sundial's Northamptonshire meeting venue offers contemporary, elegant dining on a par with the finest dining anywhere in the region.
It's no use booking a conference room to accommodate that can fit 250 people in for just a couple of delegates. Likewise, it's not worth booking a smaller room to accommodate fit in more people than it can hold just to save money, as you may end up with a lot of disgruntled associates.
9. Car Parking Costs
If the UK meeting venue is charging for parking then make sure your guests know before they arrive on the day. It can be a huge inconvenience, especially for those who just carry around credit or debit cards and not cash, and you can end up with grumbling colleagues. Where possible always choose a venue with free on-site parking for minimum hassle.
If your meeting or conference is going to run for a few days, what better for your delegates than overnight accommodation with free, unlimited Wi-Fi facilities? Choose a hotel with adequate conference and training facilities (see point 3) to kill two birds with one stone.