If you have decided to host your own event. It could be a workshop, a training intensive boot camp or even a multi speaker summit. After you have established your vision, objective and strategy, the next item to plan is your location. Here are some helpful tips for the site selection process. The first thing to narrow down in the site selection process is the area. This will mainly depend on where the attendees are. If you are planning a local workshop, it is easy. You will want to stay in the town your customers are in, or close to it. If you are in a major metropolitan area and you want to draw from different areas of the city, you may want to do a series of workshops and advertise in the local community papers.
There are a variety of facilities to consider when you are planning a meeting. Each has their own strengths and purpose. Many beginning event planners immediately think of hotels, but there are also conference centers to consider. We will discuss the differences in hotels, conference centers, convention centers and unique venues and the purpose of each.
There are many hotels that are geared towards the business and leisure traveler and have limited meeting space. Even with limited meeting space, they may work if you are hosting a small workshop. However, there are many hotels that have catering to business meetings as a large source of their revenue. You can find them in all different sizes and in the metropolitan and suburban areas, as well as near the airports.
Conference Centers are specifically built for meetings. Many are smaller and are perfect to accommodate meetings for 30-75 people. However, there are some that can handle meetings that are substantially larger than that.
If you consider a conference center, you want to make sure that they are a member of, and accredited by IACC, the International Association of Conference Centers. The accredited centers have to meet stringent standards for business meetings, including dedicated conference rooms, ergonomic swivel chairs with arms, tables with hard writing surfaces and walls that are suitable for tacking up flipchart paper.
Conference centers also offer a Day Meeting Package, which includes your meeting room, standard AV, continuous break stations (snacks and drinks), as well as lunch. A Complete Meeting Package includes all of the above, plus a sleeping room and breakfast and dinner. This makes it easy to budget for your meeting.
Convention Centers are designed for very large meetings, trade shows and conventions. They are typically owned by the city or by a public/private partnership. Although some also have smaller meeting rooms, you really only want to consider a convention center if you have a very large meeting, need quite a bit of exhibit space or need to have your meeting coincide with a tradeshow or meeting that is already booked at the convention center.
For workshops you can also use a unique venue. These encompass everything from your local library, to restaurants, to community centers, banquet halls, museums and other event venues. If you have a short workshop and do not want to provide any food and beverages, a venue like a community center or library might do the trick. You do have to check what kind of facilities they have. Do they have enough tables and chairs? What is the environment like?
Remember your vision and your objective and keep your ideal attendee in mind. If you have a vision of comfortable and lush environment, you do not want to set up in the local elementary school cafeteria, no matter how much money you can save.