Before you book your conference venue, it’s important to go for a show round. Not only will this give you a true reflection of what the venue can offer and a chance to see its facilities close up, but it will give you an opportunity to ask as many questions as you need to and to get to know the people you will be working with. Here are five questions to ask any potential conference venue during your show round.
What equipment and facilities are there?
The most competitive venues will have everything you need to run your conference on site. Bring a list of equipment and facilities that you will need, such as AV equipment (data projectors, flip charts, microphones, PC screens and so on) and that there is easy WiFi access. Don’t forget to ask about extras such as an office for registration, leisure facilities and accommodation, as these may set your venue apart from others that you have considered.
Benchmarking and compliance
Make sure your venue measures up by checking whether or not they are rate or accredited by organisations such as Visit Britain or Hospitality Assured, and ask about their accessibility and compliance. Knowing that your venue is regulated and follows procedures will give you peace of mind when planning your conference.
Will you have help?
Planning a conference can be a large and daunting task, but academic venues like Royal Holloway often have dedicated teams to help you navigate the planning process. From printing, signage and maps to conference assistance, help desks and full conference management services, ask about your venue’s extra organisational services.
Are all of the charges clear and transparent?
While most venues will be very upfront with you, it’s still worth checking your contract carefully to ensure that you haven’t been oversold services you don’t need or that VAT hasn’t been added on when it shouldn’t have been. Bear in mind that academic, non-profit conferences are usually exempt from VAT on most products and services, with the exception of alcohol.
How will the rooms be set up?
If you have a preferred seating style, some academic venues like Royal Holloway will be able to rearrange some of their rooms to suit your needs. Make sure that you ask about all the room layout possibilities and that you’re aware of what will be left in the room for you to use. If you would like the room to be cleared of anything, make sure that this can be done.