Regardless of the purpose or budget of an event, the location is the most hotly discussed topic.

Danielle Puceta
Director JAPA,
American Express
Meetings & Events




And perhaps rightly so. Location and venue selection can be one of the more glamorous and dare I say, fun, tasks associated with meetings and events. The venue can make or break an event.

When deciding upon a location, it is critical to bring the whole team together, including external meetings management consultants where applicable, to discuss objectives, budget and key success factors from the outset.

The primary considerations for an event location are the purpose and objectives. For example, is the event an incentive or reward where the primary goal is to treat the attendees to a unique experience? Or will the event take a more serious or confidential tone?

The next considerations are the meeting budget and the geographic proximity of the attendees. If you are planning an event for very senior, typically time-poor, business people, obviously one of your most important considerations should be travel time and ease of access. Once we have narrowed down a geographic area, we then need to prioritise the most important functional aspects like activities or technology requirements and attendee numbers.

While convenience and functionality are important, we also must balance this with creating the right impression. Hotels and conference centres have traditionally been the most popular venues. These are usually purpose-built venues with specially trained hospitality staff and scalable facilities to accommodate many different meeting types.

We have also seen an emerging trend in recent years towards more creative or adventurous event spaces like museums, private houses, boats or even private islands. The advantage of unconventional locations is an opportunity to create a unique and memorable experience but, it is crucial to get the fundamental elements of staff, logistics, technology, equipment and accommodation correct first.

It is also important to take into consideration the audience, industry and tone of the event. An adventurous space might be suitable for a creative or informal meeting but might not set the right tone for a highly confidential meeting. According to the 2013 Meetings Forecast by American Express Meetings and Events, demand for non-traditional meetings spaces in Asia is expected to grow slightly by at least one to five per cent this year. We are also seeing increased interest in hosting meetings in countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar, South Korea and Taiwan.
Planning, preparation and background research should ultimately help make the all-important decision about venue a lot easier. m