How to choose the right conference venue in London
Choosing the perfect venue for your London conference is one of the most important decisions an organiser has to make. But conference venue hire in London can be an overwhelming world for even the most seasoned event professionals let alone for an uninitiated rookie. New spaces are launching all the time and it’s worth starting from scratch every time you begin the planning journey for your next London conference venue, whatever your previous experience.
First things first: conference venue deal breakers
London is a big old place, so you need to narrow down your search by using some of your deal-breaking criteria. Perhaps you want to be near a certain tube station, or you have a particularly large number of guests to host or it might be that you know you want a contemporary look and feel to your venue.
Take your one ‘must-have’ and start researching online, bringing in your next couple of priorities if this still leaves you with too many to choose from. Your research at this stage need only be relatively superficial to leave you with no more than 10 options.
You can now start asking the questions that will ultimately lead you to the venue that most suits your next project.
The crucial numbers
There are three Big Numbers every organiser needs to keep in mind at the beginning of any conference venue search: cost, capacity and date.
Is the venue in budget?
The price tag on conference venue hire in London varies wildly, so before you visit any of your favourites make sure you have some upfront conversations with the venue team to avoid wasting everybody’s time. Make sure you ask about catering, furniture hire, AV costs and any other extras so you can get an accurate idea of the total spend you’ll be looking at. (Not forgetting to leave a little contingency fund for unexpected extras and last-minute creative ideas).
Can the venue accommodate my guest list?
If you have an idea of your expected turnout, make sure you understand the capacities of any potential venues. This may seem like an obvious point, but it has been known for organisers to overlook the fact that you might want one space to fulfil several different purposes during a full-day event and that the capacities differ dependent on the layout of the room. A standing reception for 700 may well be possible but when set up for dinner, a space’s capacity could drop by more than half.
Does the venue have my date available?
If you’re at the stage of looking for venues, it’s likely you’ve got an idea of when you’d like to hold your event. Make sure you communicate these to every venue you contact and, where possible, get your event pencilled in while you make your final decision. It’s unlikely a venue will hold the dates for you without a deposit, but they may well do you the courtesy of first refusal if another enquiry comes in while you’re still deliberating.
Taking a closer look
Now that you have narrowed your list down to London conference venues that can cater to your basic needs, it’s time to drill down to the details…
Do I need to use the in-house caterers and are they any good?
Food and drink are a huge part of any event and it’s worth pushing the boat out when it comes to catering. You will need to thoroughly research the event caterers, if you are tied to using them. Most large conference venues in London will be able to offer you a tasting once you’ve secured your booking, but don’t be a afraid to ask to be put in touch with other organisers who have experienced the catering so you can be confident of their offering.
Does the venue have the audio-visual equipment and support my conference needs?
If you know what you need from your venue in terms of AV facilities, then this part should be easy. If, however, these finer points have not yet been nailed down, find out if there have been similar events to yours held at the venue and ask a technician to talk you through what this conference needed. This will give them a chance to discuss their attributes and for you to foresee any challenges you might face.
Will our event be the only one taking place?
Exclusivity is often important for conferences and you may need to consider exclusive venue hire. It might be that some of the content is confidential, it might be that you need security guarantees or just that you want your delegates to feel completely engrossed in your event. Whatever the reason, make sure you ask about other events taking place within the building at the same time as yours.
What time do I get either side of our event to build up and break down?
Find out how much time you’ll get either side of your actual event to create the look and feel you want, and to clear out of the space. The last thing you want is to be rushed at the start of your event as this can have a knock-on effect which could impact the rest of your day.
How well-connected is the venue to public transport links?
Most people travelling to a conference in London will be using public transport. Being under a ten-minutes’ walk from a tube station is a real selling point if any members of your guest list are in two minds about attending your event. You might also need to consider visitors who are traveling in from outside the capital, or even from overseas.
Will my delegates be applicable for any offers on local hotel rates?
If you’re expecting your delegates to be staying overnight to attend your conference, it’s worth finding out if the venue has any relationships with local hoteliers that might be to their advantage. Discounts may also be available on local restaurants and bars, which will always be a crowd-pleaser with your guests.
Will I work well with the venue staff?
As every organiser knows, the staff at the venue in which you are holding your conference become an extension of your team. Being able trust them and draw on their experience and expertise is paramount to the success of your event. You’ll probably be given one point of contact for everything, so find out who this will be before you confirm your booking so you can assess this relationship. One question you must always ask is, will they be onsite on the day(s) of your conference?
Conference venue hire in London
10-11 Carlton House Terrace is a conference venue in London’s Westminster with capacity for up to 125 people. Our range of versatile event spaces each feature their own character, AV facilities, natural daylight, on-site caterers and a sought-after central London location.
To find out more about hire of our London conference venue, please get in touch to discuss your requirements with a member of our team.