Is it the Venue? (WMaCG series)
Wesley’s second question in the “What Makes a Conference Great?” series – respond here with a comment or visit Linked in to respond.
Okay, obviously much of the comment in relation to location can be applied when we narrow the focus to the venue itself. On top of that you can add another few criteria:
- Integration – We are very strongly focused on venues that provide conferencing facilities and accommodation under the one roof. I believe that the need to move between venues for living and learning significantly weakens the link between the activities, and so too the social / networking side of the conference. We don’t want people to have to decide between one more drink with the group vs the trip back ‘home’
- Conferencing facilities ideally would be all on one floor – again, this is to maximise the community feel – 2 or more floors potentially means some people might not run into each other.
- Exhibition and catering facilities reasonably central to the conferencing space. Again this fosters interaction between sponsors and exhibitors and the attendees. We don’t accept exhibition applications from organisations whose products we don’t believe would be of interest to you, so, with those we do accept, we want to make sure you have a chance to see what they have to offer.
- Control… If we can find a venue where not only do we fit, but where we also use the place up, that is perfect. That sense of everyone you see in the venue being there for the same reasons as you, and sharing a common interest with you, is priceless.
Obviously, we have been at venues in the past that would rate more highly than Wollongong in general terms on luxury, but it is somewhere, in the Sydney Basin, that we have not been before; that manages to meet all of our criteria (surprisingly hard in Sydney!); and that, in this case, also gives us the opportunity to do a bit more in terms of ‘theming’. Heidi, Natasha and I recently returned to the venue to discuss layouts and ideas, and I believe we have some pretty cool things worked out.
Granted, we are an AECO industry event, so the quality of the space itself comes into more scrutiny than other groups might apply, but we believe that even then, Wollongong is a good fit, the Novotel works well in responding to our functional needs, and the event itself will be both and enjoyable and informative one.
Given the size of the conference (which, at 4-500 attendees, is now capped), we are actually quite limited in venues that can fit all of our location and venue criteria. As a result, I am sure that we will be returning to some venues in the future, such as the Sebel Albert Park in Melbourne, or Jupiters on the Gold Coast. Having said that, next year’s venue is a corker!
What other criteria would you apply to a venue? Room service? Day Spa? Availability of Coke vs. Pepsi?