Considerations When Selecting a Venue for Your Next Conference

When it comes to selecting a venue for your conference or event, there are a great number of things to consider, that could make or break your event and/or budget.

What are your event requirements? It is important to consider the scope of your event – i.e. how many days the event will be held? how many concurrent sessions you will be holding? where you can host your social functions – either on-site or off-site, in close proximity to the venue? what are your audio visual requirements? Can the venue meet your catering needs? Do you require the venue to be easily accessible to transport, restaurants, entertainment? Does the venue provide reasonable accommodation options for your delegates? Is there on-site parking? Does the venue have Wi-Fi for your delegates?… and the list goes on.

Over the coming weeks, I am going to address these considerations, one by one, starting with…


Will the Venue Fit the Event?

First and foremost, make sure you select a venue that can not only cater to your expected numbers, but exceed them. You want to ensure, that should you event gain traction, you do not have to cut-off registration (ultimately, revenue) due to the venue’s limitation. If your event historically attracts 150 delegates, ensure the venue can seat up to or over 200 people comfortably.

Depending on the format and duration of your event program and sessions, you want to consider the seating configuration in each function room. The space required to accommodate 200 delegates can vary greatly depending on whether you would like your delegates to be seated in theatre style, classroom style or cabaret style. Each seating style is conducive to different formats of events, and where a function room can comfortably fit 200 delegates in theatre style, it may only seat 170 in the classroom style and 140 in the cabaret style.

Most conferencing groups prefer to sit at a table during plenary sessions, so they have somewhere to take notes, set up their devices, and in the case of the cabaret seating style option, have interactive discussion with others at their table. Theatre style seating is often more preferable for shorter breakout sessions, that do not exceed 30 minutes.

Theatre StyleClassroom StyleCabaret

Be sure that the venue has enough rooms to accommodate the number of streams you are planning to hold at your event. If you are running a 4 streamed conference, be sure that the venue has at least one larger plenary room and 3 breakout rooms. Alternatively, identify if the main plenary room can be broken down into 2 or more concurrent rooms during breaks. This could save you on additional breakout room hire charges. Most venues with a ballroom or main function room are able to divide the room with moveable partition walls. This can easily be done during a 30-minute catering break. In this instance you need to pre-plan and ensure that your program does not timetable and plenary and concurrent session back-to-back. Also, it is imperative that your selected audio visual company is aware of the room change, so that they set up their equipment accordingly at the start of each day.

If you are running a multi-day, multi-streamed conference, consider how long it takes to move between the concurrent rooms and break rooms that are available. This will certainly affect the way in which you need to format your program and the time given to move between sessions. Also, no-one likes to have to walk their daily quota of 10,000 steps before morning tea, so if possible, select a venue that has all of the function rooms in close proximity to one another.


I’ll be back next week to address the question… Is the Venue Accessible with Plenty of Transport Options?

Published by:  Michelle Glasson, GEMS Event Management

One Comment on “Considerations When Selecting a Venue for Your Next Conference

  1. I’m actually trying to plan a conference right now, so this was very helpful. I liked your advice about the type of seating setup. Since there are going to be short breakout sessions, the theatre style would work great. Thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

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