Whether you’re planning an awards dinner, a product launch, an office holiday party, or an annual conference, choosing the right venue is a major piece of the puzzle. The venue gives your attendees their first impression of the event, helps to shape their experience, and needs to be cost-effective for your business as well as aesthetically pleasing. Many venues also work with set suppliers and caterers which can have a flow-on impact to your overall event budget.
All these points can understandably make choosing the right space an overwhelming and tricky task, but we’re here to help you understand what to look for in a venue, and what questions to ask their event team to streamline your overall planning process.
A couple of things will be helpful as you begin your search for a venue and predicting your delegate numbers is one of them. An understanding of the numbers you are expecting to have will help to determine the room size you are looking for, which will in turn help to select the right space at the venue or discount the venue altogether, as you don’t want your rooms half-empty even if you are predicting a full house. However, you equally don’t want your delegates too close together, and this is something to watch out for in the current Covid-19 climate.
As you tour venues it may be helpful to take a copy of your run sheet and picture where each session or presentation will take place, and the location of any breakout rooms or trade stands. A venue like the Manawatu Golf Club is perfect for an agenda that requires multiple rooms, with three partitioned spaces and an additional area for a seated meal or networking throughout the day. If you are expecting 300+ delegates, consider Markovina Vineyard Estate with its modular rooms, areas for trade stands and beautiful gardens for your delegates to explore during any free time, or the Classic Flyers NZ venue with its unique atmosphere and five rooms that accommodate 10-400 guests. Even if you think a venue has enough room for all your activities, make sure you jot down notes as to what session will fit in what room so that you can align your agenda with the spaces available once it’s time to finalise the programme.
Room size is equally as important when it comes to a seated dinner, networking event or product launch. In this case, consider your ideal catering style - keep in mind that buffet style, while usually a cheaper option, will require more space in the room than table service. An intimate networking event or small corporate dinner may find the rooms at Hotel DeBrett Auckland the perfect size, accommodating up to 50 guests at a seated dinner or networking hour, depending on your needs. Which leads us to…
Food is an important part of any event and adds to the comfort and experience of your attendees, so you’ll want to be sure your chosen venue can accommodate your needs. Will you be providing morning or afternoon tea at your conference, and a sit down lunch for all delegates? Will your conference end with a seated dinner or networking hour? Even an intimate product launch may require canapes of some kind to accompany the celebratory champagne.
Check what kitchen facilities are available at the venue, as this will determine whether catering can be included in your venue package or whether external catering is needed. While many venues like Carrington Estate and Fairway Events Centre will have set menus to select from according to your event type, some may have pre-existing professional relationships and specific suppliers that they work with. If not, your venue rep may be able to recommend someone. Remember to ask whether bar and wait staff will be included in the catering costs, and ensure your chosen venue has a liquor licence - this is something not you’ll want to be caught short on!
The right technology and support is crucial to the smooth running of your event. While technology is most important for a conference a formal company or awards dinner may also have certain requirements for an official emcee or presentation. Check with the venue whether they will have microphones, screens and speakers available; some venues may have also dedicated staff to provide support throughout the event, while some may require you to supply your own technology or click through presentations yourself. Carrington Estate and Fairway Events Centre offer in-built projector, microphone and sound system facilities, with equipment hire and support built into your package so you can focus on the other aspects of your event.
It may be helpful to know your presenters’ requirements at this stage, or have a rough outline of each session, so you can ensure they have access to the technology they need. It is also a good idea to check whether Wi-Fi is free or included in your package to avoid any hidden fees or surprises when the invoice comes through.
Location and accessibility of your venue is the final point to consider, but no less important that the other three. Ensure your delegates and presenters have access to accommodation if your conference spans more than one day; the Crowne Plaza Queenstown is perfect for offering on-site rooms with activities and tours close by to make the trip a memorable one. For award dinners and networking hours, a venue close to transport and ride shares such as Uber helps to project a responsible image for your company - for Auckland-based companies it doesn’t get any better than Hotel DeBrett Auckland in the heart of the CBD.