Different business events call for different venues and this is an aspect that can really set the mood and ensure the success – or failure – of the day. A large-scale conference or awards ceremony calls for a grand venue with plenty of space in the main hall, lots of break-out rooms and rest areas and an impressive location that perhaps overlooks a stunning vista.
Smaller events, on the other hand, suit a more intimate space much better. A pretty room in an interesting location will add character to the day, no matter how small it is, and provide a great talking point. No need for imposing halls and endless seminar spaces here. Here are some more points to consider about room sizes.
You should have a rough idea of how large the event is going to be from an early stage. Sorting out the guest list is one of the first things to do, and as invitations are sent out and replies returned, you will be able to gauge how many people you can expect to attend. Think about the type of people you hope to attract. Are they older and in need of comfortable seating, or young and keen to move around and keep active? Will you have VIPs whose stature requires a separate ‘posh area’ for presentations, speeches, costume changes or refreshments? Will delegates have a lot of luggage, or require a cloakroom – this often depends on the time of year and the thickness of overcoats, scarves etc. Will overseas attendees need to store luggage or are you expecting young families with pushchairs or people with wheelchairs and walking aids?
How a room is laid out is vitally important, as it tells participants what to expect from the moment they walk through the door. Large-scale presentations call for drama and a theatre style layout with chairs in rows for the audience facing a stage. Serious discussions work well in a boardroom layout – a large table in the centre of the room with chairs spaced out around it. Water jugs and mints offer welcome respite when talks go on well into the day. Tables and chairs laid out in a cabaret style, i.e. in small groups with a few chairs set at several smaller tables invite discussion and team working, and are perfect for training sessions. Work out how you want your tables to be placed early on to allow you to judge the size of the room required.
The type of event you are hosting will also have a large impact on the size of the room required. Will it be a large conference with a panel of speakers and questions from the floor? Are you planning to hold seminars or feedback sessions in smaller break-out rooms, or keep everyone in one place? Will your event discuss potentially sensitive issues that require a greater element of security and privacy? You may find that booking the whole venue for your exclusive use is preferable in this situation. Don’t forget refreshments and breaks. Where will your delegates go for tea and coffee? Lunch? Cocktails or even dinner? Can this happen in one space or will you need several separate areas?
Finally, what facilities will you need on the day? Conferencing equipment? Speaker platforms, lecterns and microphones? Hearing aid loops, large screens and subtitles? Will you be bringing display materials, posters, banners etc.? Products, books or samples to sell or advertise? Most venues do not allow things to be stuck to the walls, so you will need to make provision for free-standing holders when considering what space you need.
Make a list of everything you need and everything you anticipate happening in and around the conference hall at your event before you pick up the phone to any venues and you will find that creating your shortlist will suddenly become much easier.