Ever shown up for a meeting where there is plenty of natural daylight but no way to dim the room to make your key speaker’s slide demonstration visible? Or the chairs were those plastic stackable ones they use for backyard BBQs?
Nothing makes a company meeting or conference less motivating than an awkward, uncomfortable space where the guests feel shut out or ill provided for.
“Awkwardness is one of those things that differentiates events that feel “pro” from those that feel thrown together,” suggests Paul Campbell, of event registration company Tito.
On the other hand, Zach Inglis, creator of Hybridconf says, “You leave a good conference re-energised — full of zeal for your job and bursting with fresh ideas.”
Venue choice is the way to set the stage for a successful event — it’s a make-or-break type decision. While some companies opt for the use of hotel conference spaces, there are clear benefits to choosing a dedicated conference venue over a multi-functional hotel space.
So why choose a niche conference venue over a hotel for your next meeting?
Dedicated, purpose-built facilities
Comfortable chairs, ergonomically designed rooms, up-to-date audiovisual equipment, sufficient infrastructure to manage tech requirements and comfortable break out spaces are all key amenities for a niche conference venue – things which a mixed-purpose space like a hotel cannot necessarily provide.
Break out spaces allow attendees to relax and socialise with colleagues on breaks, without being completely abstracted from the conference experience, while ergonomically designed rooms and seating ensure the comfort levels are maintained.
It's these aspects of purpose-built amenities that help to create a fully immersive and focused experience for guests, retaining their attention from the get-go, and reducing the amount of unwanted interruptions that may occur in a hotel setting.
Tyler Bishop, writing for Ungerboeck Software International explains that an immersive experience is what separates your event from others and helps guests to be fully engaged.
“While it is convenient to have all the hotel amenities located inside the same building as your event, it can also distract from the experience of your attendees and sponsors,” he says.
Similarly, Senate House Events in the UK observe, “Inevitably, this atmosphere is compromised when your event is at a hotel.”
Dedicated staff support and tech assistance
While a hotel venue can offer meeting and conference room facilities, staff will be dividing their time between multiple hospitality duties and may not always be able to meet your needs instantly. The last thing you need is a stretched-thin hotel employee stumbling over guests while scrambling from the coffee station back to front reception.
A dedicated conference venue has the ability to focus specifically on your event, and provide dedicated staff support that a hotel cannot.
This is especially important when it comes to audiovisual requirements. A niche conference venue will have professional AV staff to handle the tech stuff.
Nothing is more damaging to the attention of your audience than having AV fail at a crucial moment. A video demonstration that fails to roll can throw off your speaker and distract the audience so that the impact is lost even if it does begin to play. And a pixelated video conference is just a little embarrassing.
“Some of the most common things that go wrong are minor technical issues — microphones not working, laptops not connected to the projector — so having a skilled person there to fix issues as soon as they arise [is] invaluable,” according to Inglis.
Cater to the needs of the hungry masses
Hungry, dissatisfied attendees don't focus well on slideshows, no matter how smoothly they’re introduced.
In a case study published at Taylor & Francis, researchers found that catering not only empowers an attendee’s “sensory memory” of an event, but that nutritiously balanced food may also enhance an attendee’s learning ability.
Eventsolutions in the US also emphasises the importance of some good event tucker, observing, “Professional catering… improves people’s attitudes, gives them a sense of camaraderie with the company and increases their input when the meeting resumes.”
A conference venue (like Karstens) that offers in-house catering can ensure food arrives on time, fulfils diet requirements, and is presented and served as efficiently as possible, by dedicated staff familiar with the room layout and timing.
That means fewer headaches, and happy, concentrating faces paying attention to the material your speakers worked so hard on.
A conference venue that offers dedicated conference and meeting spaces, has the amenities to keep guests comfortable, and is in a position to deal quickly and efficiently with any challenges that arise. This means reducing tech mishaps, avoiding catering chaos and making sure all the hard work put into event planning reaps the hoped for return.