How to choose a conference venue

Choosing the right conference venue can make or break your event. After all, the venue will have a big impact on your budget and set the tone for your entire conference. Critical details, like the date of your event, are dependent on the space you select, so it’s important to choose wisely. To help you out, here are 7 things to consider when scouting venues.

1. Budget

Keep the bottom line in mind when tackling the logistics of your event. If you’ve found the perfect conference venue, it’s worth asking whether you can get a lower price in exchange for a multi-year contract. Being flexible on the date can also help you secure a discounted rate, as certain days of the week tend to cost less. Don’t be afraid to negotiate!

The Garry Weston Library at Southwark Cathedral is one of London's most unique conference venues.
A truly unique conference venue, the Garry Weston Library in London

2. Location

Maximise attendance at your conference by choosing a convenient location. Don’t forget to ask about public transport links, airport access and nearby hotels. Ample parking or valet service is also important for attendees who choose to drive on the day. You can provide additional networking opportunities by making sure that restaurants and other attractions in the area are open before and after your event

The Canada Water Culture Space is perfect for for corporate training or community events.
Conveniently located above Canada Water tube station, this modern venue has panoramic views and can accommodate up to 50

3. Capacity

Ensure attendees have comfortable seating in all sessions, as well as space to relax during breaks. Don’t choose a venue with theatre-style seating when delegates need to take notes or use laptops. Similarly, a conference room that’s too big will make it look like half the attendees failed to show up.

The Zilkha Auditorium at Whitechapel Gallery is a work of art in itself, with its colourful seating designed by Turner Prize nominee Liam Gillick.
Right next to Aldgate East tube station, Whitechapel Gallery boasts six versatile spaces for hire, including a purpose-built auditorium, light and airy studios and a spacious ground-floor foyer.

4. Features

Book a venue that has all the amenities you need for your event. This includes A/V equipment, microphones, kitchen facilities and wheelchair access. Be mindful of the set-up capacities, paying attention to seating arrangements and sponsor areas. Check whether you can utilise break-out rooms and exhibition space, or hire the caterer of your choice. If the venue provides on-site catering, ask whether it can accommodate food allergies or special diets.

This conference venue at RSA House is ideal for large meetings, drinks receptions and awards dinners.
Catering at RSA House is provided by Harbour & Jones Events, Event magazine’s ‘Caterer of the Year’. They create seasonal menus using sustainable, ethically sourced ingredients.

5. Staffing

You’ll have a lot on your plate on the day of your conference, so make sure there will be enough concierge support, wait staff and security. You should also determine whether there will be a dedicated venue coordinator on-site to assist with any issues. Check whether there will be tech support available during your conference, so your presentations run smoothly and attendees don’t end up wandering around in search of Wi-Fi.

The Royal Institution's 400-seat theatre is familiar to those who watch the Ri Christmas Lectures.
This impressive Mayfair venue has an in-house A/V team that can help set-up the tech for your conference or meeting

6. Branding

Be mindful of stakeholders and sponsors by choosing a venue that’s clearly aligned with the image you want to project. Don’t forget to ask the venue manager if there will be other on-site events that clash with your conference or brand message. It also pays to find out what signage and branding opportunities are available. Can you place signage in the elevator or advertise on in-house plasma screens? Branding is important, so make sure you can do it!

The Crystal’s state-of-the-art auditorium and flexible meeting spaces are ideal for corporate conferences, product launches and private dining events.
Conveniently located only 10 minutes from Canary Wharf and London City Airport, the Crystal is the capital’s most technologically advanced and sustainable conference venue.

7. Accommodation

If your event runs all day or over several days, it’s often best to choose a conference venue with on-site accommodation. That way, delegates can relax at the end of the day without any added travel.

The Foxtrot is ideal for conferences, team meetings and away days.
 This modern hotel conference venue boasts great views across the River Thames, with packages starting from £39 per person