Clients often ask me, what should they look for in a venue that will support a creative conference? Where possible I do my best to recommend a venue, and explain why I like it, but unfortunately even in our busy cities the number of ‘understanding’ venues are too few. Too many venues, especially hotels, are still designed and to house traditional conferences.
Finding a creative venue and what to look for!
If you want to run a creative conference, one that uses Meeting Design you have to find a venue that will really support your conference. In this post I thought I’d add a little Meeting Design Venue Check List!
Let’s not be too despondent, there are great venues out there and the number of venues are steadily increasing in many towns and cities
To prove that, I have looked at a venue in one of Europe’s most popular cities for events: Barcelona. I thought I’d detail what marks out a venue as one that supports and truly understands a creative approach to conferences. The venue is Valkiria hubspace which is located in a thriving and cosmopolitan area called Poblenou.
Of course every venue has to check certain boxes before you can event consider it as a possibility. No matter what type of event you run you need a venue that is within budget; located in the right area; has quality event management support, and offers all of the basic tech and catering needs. But once your venue has checked all of those boxes, it’s time to asses its “event creativity support”: So here’s my Meeting Design Venue Check List
1. Staff, who’s default position is to say “YES”
Recently, I had the experience of organising an event in a venue were the default answer was ‘no’. Can we arrive early to set up, NO, can we put things on the wall, NO, can we use some of the furniture across the venue, NO……And you know this is a pain!
A venue that understands meeting design will do their upmost to say yes to your EVERY request. They know that the modern day event organiser wants their event to be memorable and innovative and they have to say YES to all they can.
2. A large, flexible space
Meeting Designer’s are excellent at fitting an event into a space. However the bigger and more flexible a space the easier it is to design a flexible event; and creativity is all about flexibility. Note: I have not said a “white space” For Meeting Design it is better to have a venue that has character.
3. Overall, an informal and relaxed environment is what you are after
If you are running a creative conference you need a space that supports creativity. One of the best ways to do that is to have an informal atmosphere, as less a corporate space as possible is really what you are after.
4. A flexible and funky stage set
Even at a creative conference, which texturises the content and the style of presentations, the stage will still be central to the day. So it is important that the stage sums up your event. It should be low key, informal and flexible. It should be easy to alter in size and easy to bring furniture on and off. It should also be easy for the venue to remove. A flexible organiser may not even want a stage!
A venue that supports creative conferences will have a variety of options for your conference seating, as well as occasional furniture. Furniture is key in creating the right kind of environment for your meeting. You won’t see a standard banqueting chair in a creative venue!
6. Has useful stuff just lying around!
It may be a registration desk, like the one below. Or picture frames that anyone can use. Or large metal frames which will support large graphics. Or chalk boards. Or clips or hooks suspended from the ceiling. The point is that a creative venue will want to help you make your event special; so they will have already lined up some creative support.
7. Refresh when you want
No venue that wants to support a creative conference would hold you to 3 x T&C breaks. Refreshments (and not just caffeine based) should be available across the day. You want to encourage your attendees to be able to take the day at their pace, and the venue has to support that.
8. Should have breakout spaces
This is not a necessity for every creative conference, however most conferences that stretch across a day should have breakouts sessions. The spaces used for breakout sessions should offer a different environment and feel from the main space. The change in location as well as environment will aid learning.
9. Technically up to scratch!
The space should excel in its technical assistance. It should have brilliant WiFi. It should be very well lit, with the ability to control the lighting and should have up to date projectors and plasmas.
10. Not too expensive
Obviously some organisations have more money than others, and what seems expensive to one event organiser is a steal to another. However, my general point is that meeting design is about maximising value for all of the stakeholders. If you spend an unnecessary amount on the venue, the value returned to your client would be lower.
Event Organisers often tell me that “creativity costs”, a myth that I try to dispel as often as I can. Creative venues are not expensive. In my experience the most create spaces tend to sit solidly in the mid price range for a good venue.
We believe that Meeting Design is more than creating sessions on a programme. As experienced event organisers we ensure that EVERY aspect of an event is covered to make it truly engaging. If you think we can help drop me a note.
Good luck with your search for a venue that supports a creative approach to events and I hope this post has helped.