American Express Meetings & Events’ Danielle Puceta lists some primary considerations you should make before deciding on a location or venue for your event.
Regardless of the purpose or budget of an event, it is often the location which is the most hotly discussed topic. 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 such as activities, technology requirements and attendee numbers.
Whilst convenience and functionality are important, we must also 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. As meetings management experts, we advise our clients that while a memorable experience is desirable, it is crucial we 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 with 41 per cent of respondents expecting demand to increase by at least 1-5 per cent this year. We are also seeing increased interest in hosting meetings in countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar, South Korea and Taiwan. These countries are still seen as exotic and therefore desirable for meeting planners. A number of global hotel brands are also opening up properties locally, making it easier for planners to host meetings.
In the foreseeable future, we are likely to see large cities in the Asia Pacific region continue to be the primary location for events, but interestingly respondents to the Forecast predict the shift towards second-tier cities will be higher in Asia than in North America or Europe. Lastly, possibly due to the ongoing economic uncertainty, demand for luxury and resort properties in this region is predicted to be flat in 2013; however, mid-tier properties in Asia are expected to experience a slight increase in demand, of 2.3 per cent.
By properly considering the event objectives, budget and key success factors from the outset, we can narrow down the venue choice significantly before any site visits take place. Planning, preparation and background research should ultimately help make the all-important decision on venue a lot easier.