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What makes a good conference venue?

25th April 2019
Senate House Conference Venue Iconic External View

There are many elements to consider when organising a conference. Searching for that perfect venue for your next conference can be tricky, and it’s important you weigh up the pros and cons of each venue carefully before deciding where to put your venue budget.

That’s why we’ve put together some top tips to help you with choosing your conference venue.

When you imagine your next successful conference, how do you see the event unfolding?

Do you picture your delegates happily mingling and chatting enthusiastically in a spacious breakout area? The best conferences have great acoustics and video displays too, with compelling speakers bringing crowded sessions and super engaged delegates. If you have a regular schedule of conferences, then return visitors is a must. Top of the agenda is surely running a successful, exciting conference that enables delegates to get as much out of the event as possible. We talk you through the most important features of a good conference venue.

Conference delegates together senate house conference venue

Top Tips for Conference Room Hire

Venue Location:

Location is the first thing you should consider when selecting a conference venue.

If you have delegates attending your event from afar, it pays to opt for a centrally-located venue. This will avoid any issues around accessibility and make it easier for your guests to attend the event. There’s nothing worse than delegates having trouble parking difficulties accessing the venue. The ideal venue will be close to excellent transport links, and will provide ample parking.

If you do have delegates travelling a long way to reach the venue, the convenience of the location is particularly important. Choose a venue that’s close to a variety of accommodation and one where delegates can easily access amenities such as shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and cultural attractions. This is especially useful if the conference is over the course of a few days.

Find out more about our affordable conference accommodation, housed in the heart of Bloomsbury.  

Consider Venue Style:

Attracting delegates with a knock-out venue is a great tactic when planning a conference.
While the speakers and content are crucial to the event’s success, an interesting or quirky venue will also add to the conference’s appeal.  

You could also opt for a venue that you feel suits your conference theme, or has a unique selling point that is line with your conference or brand values. For example, venues with a lot of history will give your conference a feeling of substance and authority.

Provide a memorable experience for your conference delegates at Senate House, our flagship art deco venue.

Consider venue space and layout

When considering the ideal conference venue, make sure you take a good look round before booking. Take time to consider how the venue might respond to the event taking place.

Think about:

  • How the layout will work with your projected number of guests
  • How the main spaces will look packed with your delegates. Then, pre-empt any obstacles.
  • How the venue will handle checking in and helping the flow of delegates in between talks.
  • What sorts of layouts are possible within the venue.
    • A setting which provides a variety of meeting rooms, conference spaces and breakout areas is best, so that you can put on the best conference possible.
  • If the rooms have flexible layouts too, such as theatre style or cabaret.
    • The venue may be unable to set up the different layouts on demand but you should at least be able to see images of previous setups.

Overall, a spacious venue with easy navigation, great signage and ample space for easy social interaction and networking is best.

Conference layout Beveridge Hall

Check out the catering

Conference refreshments are core to ensuring your delegates feel looked after during the event. Regular intervals for re-fuelling are important to keep energy high. Make sure you:

  • Provide a variety of food and drink, but keep sugary and carb-loaded snacks to a minimum. This will help to avoid energy peaks and troughs.
  • If possible, ask your venue for a tasting menu so you can sample their catering style.
    • The best venues will be flexible on last minute additions and will be able to accommodate a wide range of allergies. The dream venue will provide a flexible menu package, bursting with healthy options and quality.

Look out for great customer service:

Choose a venue that offers high standards of customer service. You can get a good feel for a venue’s level of customer service from the moment you enquire.

Look for an in-house events team that is willing to work in collaboration with you at every stage of your event. The ideal venue should support you with requests such as any room specs you need or preparing bespoke menu choices.

Above all, you should look out for a venue that’s accommodating and enthusiastic, with a competent, professional and efficient team.

What are the facilities like?

Consider the following elements when visiting different venues:

  • What is the overall ambience, and do you think this will fit with the feel of your conference? Try to imagine the event taking place.
  • Will there be enough washroom facilities for the number of delegates you’re hosting?
  • Take note of the chairs too, bearing in mind that chairs for breakout spaces and areas for mingling don’t need to be as comfortable as those in the main conference halls and meeting rooms.

Breakout area foyer at Senate House Conference Venue

Does the venue have tech support?

At any conference, technology is key. So, make sure your event venue is technologically equipped. For example:

Ensure that there is a reliable (and fast) WiFi connection and the potential for additional hotspots

Make sure there are a good number of connection points.

  • Check that the venue has backup if there are any power outages.
  • Ask if the venue has a high level of technical equipment and good technical support for events
  • Enquire about the presentation options at the venue
  • Check out their screen capabilities (large v small etc)

Is the venue cost effective for your budget?

The most important aspect of choosing a venue is the cost efficiency. Make sure the venue offers price flexibility such as pricing tiers or packages. You can also check whether a venue offers an all-inclusive hire rate or if they offer more price-friendly, digestible options.

Does the venue offer pricing by the hour, or at a day rate? Are you hiring the room or the AV equipment too? Find out whether the venue has a preferred suppliers’ list or whether you’re free to use your own.

Is the venue offering a dry hire fee, where you will need to supply your own food and drink? This is often the case with ‘blank canvas’ venues, so make sure you double check.

Once you’re clued up on what’s included and exactly what you’re paying for, make sure you weigh these costs up based on the area, the city and whereabouts in the country it is. If the venue is really high-end, then you can probably expect it to be above average for what you would expect.

Prestigious Conference Venue London

University of London Venues offers large conference facilities in central London, close to a wide selection of transport links across the city. Find out more about the connections to our venue.

At University of London Venues we have a large selection of different sized meeting rooms as well as conference halls and an outdoor garden space for spring and summer events. Get in touch with our conferences team to find out more today. 

Our in-house catering experts pride themselves on their creativity, whether it’s a conference buffet, welcome refreshments or a larger meal. Find out more about our carefully chosen menus.

The University of London Venues events team are extremely experienced, and we have long-standing relationships with supporting service providers such as photographers, printers and furniture hire companies. Contact us online, by email on conference@london.ac.uk or give us a call on 020 7862 8127 today to enquire about your next conference venue.

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