Being given the task to research and book a conference venue can seem pretty daunting.  However if you break it down into small, logical chunks, it soon becomes less daunting and some might even view it as fun!  So what are the factors to consider when booking a conference venue, for example conference venues in Manchester?

1) The first and most important decision to make is what location you want to hold your conference in and what date it will be on e.g. Manchester City Centre on 1st July 2012.  To do this you need to understand exactly what the purpose of the conference is and who your delegates are.  For example a conference to host a graduation ball versus a conference to exhibit different products require two very different types of venue as there are two very different types of audiences.  Therefore for the purpose of this explanation, the aim of the conference is to deliver a corporate team building exercise looking at conference venues in Manchester.   To make the decision you would need to consider how to get there and back (transport) and the itinerary i.e. will you be going off-site i.e. what local amenities do you require.

2) Once you have decided on your location, the next step is to research the site facilities, for example what sort of space do you need and how do you want it to be set up e.g. meeting rooms set up theatre, classroom, or boardroom etc.  Do you have any special requirements such as disabled access, parking, audio visual requirements or any additional presentation facilities?   You may need to accommodate your delegates overnight, in which case you need to determine how many and if there are enough rooms available.

3) Depending on the amount of time your delegates are going to be at the venue, you will need to decide on what the catering requirements are.  This means coffees and/ or pastries, lunch including any special dietary requirements and even whether you want the food to be placed in the room or outside of the room.

4) The next key decision is budget.  When you have made this decision, approach the potential venues and confirm your requirements.  Bare in mind that certain venues might have a seasonal price list. Always try and negotiate with venues. If they have spare capacity on your chosen date they may discount your rate.

5) Once you have made a tentative decision on the venue, it is really useful to go and visit it yourself.  You can check that it meets the standards that it promotes as well as all your requirements.  Furthermore, it is a good opportunity to have a run through of the conference itself so that you can ensure you cater for all eventualities.  For example, will the lifts fit all your conference kit in?  Is there adequate parking that is accessible in the time period that you require?  Is the room next to anything that might detract from the conference itself  i.e. builders etc.

6) Finally once you have made a definite decision, you need to formalise this with the venue itself via a form called a ‘Request for Proposal (RFP).’  Most conference centres including conference centres in Manchester have their RFP online.  Once you have submitted this, the process of sourcing and booking a venue is complete.