What’s the first order of business when putting together a conference? For many event organizers, the first consideration is location. In fact, there’s not much you can plan until you’ve decided where to host your event. With so many amazing cities in the US and throughout the world, what factors will help you narrow it down? Read on for tips to make the process easier while ensuring you and your attendees have everything you need.
1. What Matters to Your Attendees?
Some attendees prefer the amenities and attractions of a large, world-class city, while others might prefer a smaller destination. Consider the needs your attendees are likely to have and the wants a majority will share. Factors to keep in mind include the location’s walkability, family-friendly attractions, cost of traveling to and staying at the location, availability of cultural or mainstream attractions, as well as distance. Determining what is important to your attendees will make it easier to select a location.
2. Budget Breakdown
Your event’s location can make a big difference in cost for both you and your attendees. For each of the cities you’re considering, you’ll want to prepare two sets of budget estimates: one tabulating the cost of hosting the conference and one for the cost of attending. For hosting costs, consider speaker fees, move-in/move-out costs, audio/visual, transportation, food & beverage, and meeting space fees. For attendee cost, consider conference fees, lodging costs, transportation, and food expenditures. Which location strikes the best balance?
3. Hotel and Meeting Space
Will your conference fit into the destination space? Consider whether the event spaces, square footage, available lodging, and layout will work for you. Are there enough hotel rooms for your attendees as well as adequate tradeshow space, event space, and meeting rooms? Don’t forget to factor distance from hotel rooms to the convention center. Are your attendees likely to enjoy the hotel and meeting spaces?
Make attending your event easy for attendees by choosing a destination in a desirable and convenient location. Where are your attendees traveling from? If the event is less than 200 miles away, they will probably drive. If the event is further away, are flights available? Would your attendees be interested in mass-transit options?
5. Destination Appeal
If you’ve ever hosted a conference you know the destination can add to the appeal of your event. There’s no doubt a desirable location will increase attendance so make sure the destination has fun, interesting, and unique amenities outside of the meeting space. What does the city offer that you won’t find anywhere else? Also consider whether the city is safe to explore on foot, especially during evening hours after your event has adjourned for the day.