It likely comes as no shock that the top concern of event planners in selecting meeting space, according to our annual survey of corporate meeting and event planners, is price. More surprising is the second most important element—the design of the space.

Today’s modern meeting venues have evolved into one-stop shops with a focus on ease and access for every person involved in the meeting. No longer are pieces, components, and vendors stitched together in a hodge-podge team. Instead, modern meeting venues and staff accommodate multiple types of needs with an integrated solution that yields less worry for the event planner, fewer negotiations, and an astute venue team that is in tune with their goals and mission.

A recent survey by EventMB identified that 47% of event planners believe that the venue influences whether or not an attendee attends an event.

 

 

 

When specifically surveying corporate event planners, the venue was ranked the second most important concern for the events they plan. No one should underestimate the importance of good venue selection and how it can impact, or enhance, all elements of the event.

So what should event planner expect from a modern event venue?

The options might surprise (and delight) you…

 

Human-Centered, Design-friendly Space, and Focus on Experience

Although 32% of professional event planners listed experience as important, only 30% of those we surveyed expected their budget for creating a better event experience would increase this year.

Creating a memorable event experience often begins with the venue as it will set the tone for the meeting, as well as reflecting the brand of the company behind the event. For example, a meeting at Disney World conveys a different message than one set in an office building. Venue selection also sets unspoken expectations for attendees. Will your meeting be all business or whimsy? Formal or relaxed and creative?

But setting the tone and assisting with individualized solutions isn’t the only thing venues can affect. Meetings can, and should, involve interactive experiences. The right property will enhance that by suggesting different room layouts, enabling technology, and employing a team that can make suggestions on the best flow and layout for achieving the meeting goals.

Some modern venues can even provide interactive technology you may not have used before like tossing mics (microphones that can be easily passed in the form of boxes or balls) in order to facilitate a fun question and answer session. A few may even have props that can help you connect with your audience in a light-hearted way.

 

Consider these questions to ask your venue about the experience they provide:

 

  • How does your venue add the “wow” factor?
  • What do other event planners think of your venue?
  • How does your venue differ from other venues in the area?
  • Do you have any ideas for improving engagement?
  • What are the options in terms of room setups and furniture?

 

Elevated Food & Beverage

The third most important factor in choosing a meeting venue is food. The modern venue often employs executive chefs and a commercial kitchen that rivals most high-end restaurants.

Event planners now have more options and can often customize menus to fit the needs and interests of their attendees. You can even name dishes and beverages after things, names, or products that are meaningful to the organization. This is yet another way to personalize your meeting.

Memorable and unique breaks take center stage to become picture-taking opportunities and social media-worthy moments. Modern venue food is presented in unexpected ways for greatest impact, like a candy sushi spread or a bacon bar tasting concept with multiple kinds of bacon. In both of these examples, something common (sushi or bacon) becomes tantalizing (and a prime topic of conversation) with a new twist. Food can also be used to reinforce branding. Imagine snack food themes in your corporate colors.

 

Questions for today’s venue kitchens (aka moving past the assumed “minimals” questions):

 

  • What dish are you most proud of?
  • What’s the most creative food spread you’ve done?
  • What inspires you from a culinary perspective?
  • Can you talk me through the food service?

 

Infrastructure and Technology

As touched on earlier, personalization is a trademark of today’s meeting venue. Select a venue where infrastructure, room flow, and design options focus on interaction while remaining in tune with your meeting objectives. Personalized spaces can include anything from a traditional boardroom setting to a coffee shop-like comfort that facilitates casual discussion. An event planner can help understand the business needs of the event and translate it into a room design that will facilitate achieving that.

79% of event planners believe that Wi-Fi availability and performance is still a big issue for venues. At a time when delegates are relying on more devices and faster connectivity, the modern meeting venue requires the necessary power: Wi-Fi and tech, capacity, and speed.

 

Questions to ask your venue include:

  • Are Wi-Fi and tech managed by venue staff or contracted out?
  • How recently have Wi-Fi connectivity points been upgraded? (Tech moves very quickly these days and systems become outdated.)
  • Does the venue provide usage reports?
  • Is there on-site IT as well as AV support?

 

Cybersecurity in the modern meeting venue is essential. Meeting attendees and organizers will connect to the venue network—they must be assured it is safe and data can be transferred without concern of exposure. There should also be security protocols for data and an infiltrated network. Too often an exposure at one location can lead to an issue with a company network as well.

 

Customer-Focused Staff

This expectation may not be a new one in the broad sense, but good staff means more in today’s venue than simply meeting expectations and doing the job contracted for.

A modern venue provides a streamlined operation by allowing the client to deal with one entity. In the past, a client may rent the venue and contract with an outside caterer, AV company, decorator, and designer. It was up to them to convey the same message to everyone involved. If someone was remiss in doing so, a critical element could be left out or overlooked.

With today’s venue, one meeting planner is able to coordinate a whole team across areas that work in tandem to ensure the success of the event. The event venue staff becomes true partners in their client’s success.

A good venue team also provides local expertise that your team may be missing if you’re planning something outside of your area.

 

Questions for your venue on their corporate culture:

  • What’s the one quality you look for in all of your staff?
  • How would you describe your venue culture?
  • Is everyone who works for you at an event employed directly by you (it’s important to find out if they subcontract and if so, in what areas)?
  • How are all the departments linked in your venue? Is there an on-site coordinator and regular status meetings that occur? How do you ensure the event details get communicated to everyone?

 

Today’s event planners are charged with creating an experience, not just a meeting, and the venue goes a long way to helping with that. This takes more than fresh glasses of water and pens that work. The venue choice you make can influence whether or not someone chooses to attend and reflects back onto your own brand. That means the space you use is more important than ever.