The first thing every meeting host has on their to-do list in the vast majority of cases is finding a suitable venue. And, there is nothing easier than that. Go online to browse those that have online presentations, find their contacts, give them a call and that's it. Yes, there is a chance that you will find a good meeting venue that way. About one percent chance, to be more precise since picking a suitable meeting venue without a filtered search based on precise criteria almost equals the odds of winning a lottery.
For a place to meet the criteria of being a good meeting venue, it needs to incorporate several important features, none of which can be taken for granted. The advertised venue may list some or all of them in its presentation, but it is strongly advised that every detail is individually checked. This article will focus on 9 features needed for a venue to be considered as a suitable place for hosting a meeting.
Easy to reach
Getting to and from the venue in the easiest possible manner is deemed by meeting attendees as one of the most sought after features. This is utterly understandable, given the fact the fast-paced way of living and working the majority of working people lead nowadays. Time is probably the most valued resource and no one likes spending it trying to overcome the complicated route that gets them to a particular venue or figuring out how to get back on the right track if they accidentally make a wrong turn.
Therefore, the first thing that a good meeting venue needs to feature is that it is easy to reach. This primarily goes for reaching it by car, since the majority of people will get there in their vehicles. If a venue is located near a public transportation station, it would be another plus since it will provide additional options for the attendees who live locally. Naturally, if the venue is featured on Google maps or any other GPS map, this makes things a lot easier since the majority of drivers use them every day. Finally, if the nearby streets feature signposts that in a precise and timely manner direct the approaching visitors on how to get to the venue from there, then everything is fully covered.
The fact that you reached the venue in the easiest possible manner gets quickly forgotten if you need to spend half an hour looking for a place to park. It happens even easier if you have to walk another half an hour from the spot you left your car to the venue itself. Finally, if you have to look at your watch every hour or two to extend your parking, the entire event could easily slip into somewhat of a catastrophe. And will surely turn out to be when you walk back to your car once the meeting is over and discover that it was damaged, or even missing, with no one to tell you when and how it happened and whom to ask for compensation.
This would naturally be the worst-case scenario, but it paints a clear picture of how important secure and convenient parking is. Therefore, the venue needs to have its private own parking area, a supervised and ample enough space with a capacity that is sufficient to accommodate the cars of all their guests. This will enable them to enter the venue relaxed and fully concentrate on the meeting itself, knowing that their cars are in a safe and monitored place.
Regardless of the type of meeting that is going to take place at the chosen venue, there are some specific technical aids that will be required. This may include simple thing, such as a sufficient number of power sockets to far more demanding stuff that require trained professionals to operate them.
For example, if there are public speakers and the number of attendees is such that they will not be heard without a microphone, a PA system will be needed for everyone to be able to hear the speaker. If the venue is advertised as a place suitable for such type of events it should have such a system set up and ready for use. Furthermore, if a meeting includes some kind of a video presentation, the presence of a projector accompanied with a suitable video wall or a projection screen will separate a good meeting venue from an ordinary one.
Very often these things are taken for granted and people end up in dire straits once they arrive at the venue and discover that technical support is not included in the lease. If you have ever been in such a situation, you'll surely forever remember how hectic and stressful finding the equipment at the last moment was.
What good is the venue with the best location, equipment available and fashionable and comfortable space and layout if the people who work there are untrained, uninterested to provide adequate service or simply not up to the task? Everything that was enlisted here so far falls short if the overall service is inadequate. For things to go smoothly from the moment an initial contact with the venue manager was made to the moment the last of the meeting attendees left the premises everything needs to be in perfect order.
This goes for every member of the staff. It all starts with a manager who needs to know the capacity of each staff department; the parking crew needs to be aware of every car that enters or leaves the parking space and the number of available slots at any moment and waiters and caterers should be observant and prompt to react. Finally, all additional technical aids that may be used need to be set and operated by a professional individual or a team able to resolve any potential issues promptly.
Space and layout
Meetings come in all sizes and each has some specific requirements that need to be met. A good meeting venue has rooms of various capacities and with such a layout that it can be adapted to suit the specific needs of its users. It should feature both bigger and smaller rooms and the staff able to meet the needs of the users and advise them which of the rooms available would be most suitable for the number of people expected to attend the meeting. A meeting room that is too small to accommodate everyone leaves an equally bad impression as the one that is half full.
When it comes to the layout of the rooms, a conference meeting venue will surely have a different setting and a seating arrangement from a board meeting one. However, if the layout is flexible and customizable, a room can easily change its original purpose and meet the specific requirement of every individual type of meeting.
Also, the spaces outside the main meeting room are often overlooked, but they are equally important for the success of the event. This is where the delegates meet each other in a more relaxed atmosphere and the connections made there has a strong impact on the final results of the meeting. A good meeting venue recognizes the importance of these spaces, as well.
If the meeting lasts more than one day, or if the single day meeting has such a tight schedule that there is a strong possibility it will not be concluded in time, the attendees will have to spend a night somewhere in town. Naturally, the closer the accommodation is to the venue, the better and a venue that offers on-site lodging would be a perfect choice. The runner up place would go to a venue that is located nearby a suitable hotel. In both cases, easily available accommodation is always a plus for a meeting venue and is in most cases featured.
Also, when meetings take place for more than a couple of hours, let alone several days, catering becomes an important feature of every good venue. These could involve either a sit-down meal or a buffet-style one. In any case, it is always more convenient if they are organized within the venue itself. This way there will practically be no time loss between the meeting sessions since people will have more time to relax and get to know each other better, which always leads to more successful meeting outcomes. Finally, a greater variety of meals and beverages offered will provide additional value to the venue.
Presentation and atmosphere
The process of choosing a meeting venue is complex and takes time. People looking for a suitable place for their next meeting in the vast majority of cases first check the available online data. Then, if pleased with what they saw online, they ask their family, friends, and colleagues for any personal experience with a particular venue. Finally, those that are meticulous and professional will undergo a personal visit to be certain everything they heard from previous users or saw online was still valid.
What does means in practice is the venue needs to have an impactful, detailed and depicting website and an engaging presence on social networks and media. These include both leisure ones, such as Facebook and Instagram, as well as those primarily aimed at professionals, such as LinkedIn. Furthermore, the atmosphere at the venue needs to be welcoming and friendly to the same extent as it is professional and authoritative. From the moment potential clients come for an initial visit to the very last moment of their actual meeting, they need to feel an atmosphere that is a perfect mixture of two feelings. They need to feel at home, peaceful and warm and at the same time safe for being in the hands of professionals, knowing that if anything happens to go wrong, there are people who will take care of it in an expert and timely manner.
Successful meetings are all about communication. And, so is everything involved, before, during and after the actual date when they take place. For a venue to be competitive on the meeting venue market it needs to have virtually flawless communication with its potential and actual users. This goes for verbal communication with the clients, as well as all the non-verbal ones related to media presentations, email correspondence, and social media interaction.
The messages need to be conveyed in a precise and clear manner, open-hearted and welcoming at all times. All the answers and potential dilemmas need to be answered and addressed promptly. The clients need to trust the venue staff from start to finish and on every possible detail the venue advertises, regardless of how important they may seem at first glance. For example, it the list of things that are included mentions toothpicks, they need to be available even though only cakes and water are being served at the moment.
Nearby additional features
Having regular breaks during meeting sessions is necessary in order to maintain a fruitful atmosphere and enhance a decision-making process. People use these breaks in different ways, according to their affinities. Some like to engage in some kind of physical activity, such as a short walk or a game of basketball while some prefer to grab a snack or use the break to smoke a cigarette and have a drink. Finally, there are those who like to make use of the free time and interact with other meeting attendees over a game of pool or darts and those who use it to read a book on their own.
Providing facilities for these activities is another feature of a good meeting venue. A pool room coupled with some darts machines, a secluded room for those who like to separate themselves from the crowd during the break and a nice walking area outside the venue is a clear sign that the owners had taken the importance of additional features seriously and that certainly will not go unnoticed by the potential customers. Coupled with everything else mentioned here, these additional features could easily be something that will give them an advantage over the competition.