Monday, June 9, 2014

Seven Questions to Ask when Selecting a Conference Centre or Seven Reasons Why I Love Aitken Hill

Many people decide on the venue for their conference based purely on price and availability. Other important factors that must be considered include the group size, the amount of travel time to get there, the facilities, the staff, the service and the food. However there are a number of other important considerations that are not so obvious. Here are seven questions to ask before finalising your venue decision.

Private dining rooms
1. Is there a private dining room?
If you wish to have an awards night or an evening event you will need a private dining room. Many venues have a restaurant that is open to the public so you may have issues if you want privacy or wish to make some noise. Be aware that some venues won't allow any sort of evening event in their restaurant.

Meal timings
2. Can we specify the timings for the meal courses?
If you are planning to include an evening event then you will want to specify the timings of the meal courses so that activities, awards or speeches can occur during meal breaks. You might be disappointed to discover that some venues dictate the times meals are served based on the requirements of the kitchen. 

Party time
3. What time does the party have to stop? 
You might think that the event can run as long as you want and then you find out that the event staff want the room vacated so they can set up the room for breakfast. Some venues will insist that you leave the room at 10 pm or earlier. It is advisable to have in writing the time the room needs to be cleared.

Support and troubleshooting
4. What happens if things go wrong or you need some extra help? 
Perhaps you have forgotten an audio cable or you need assistance with the data projector. You may need photocopying, a message delivered or some blue tack. Does the venue have a team of professionals that are available to assist with a wide range of unforeseen circumstances? 

Team building areas
5. Can we use the outdoor areas for team building? 
If you are wanting to include an outdoor team building session then you will need plenty of space. You might be surprised to learn that some venues that are surrounded by outdoor areas do not allow team building activities to be conducted. Some coastal venues require a planning permit for foreshore areas. Other venues are leased from State Parks and require a different form of permit. Many venues that have a golf course do not allow any non-golfing activities to be conducted.

Sheltered Outdoor Areas
6. Are there undercover areas if the weather turns nasty during an outdoor team building session? 
You can never guarantee perfect weather for a team building session but the stress can be minimised if there is a large under cover area that provides shelter from the rain and shade from the sun.

Vehicle Access and Parking
7. Is there vehicle access for unloading and onsite parking? 
You might be surprised to learn that some venues do not have onsite parking. This can be a burden if you have a significant amount of equipment required for the conference. You might also find that it can be very time consuming and expensive to unload equipment and then drive to an external car park. Some venues have complicated unloading requirements requiring pre-organised security passes and access through back of house locations. Many of these venues will not guarantee access to a trolley so you might need to bring your own.

Why do I love Aitken Hill?
You might think that I love Aitken Hill as it is a spectacular venue with outstanding food,  facilities and service. This is true. However the thing that I love the most is their commitment to ensuring that every conference is a success. The venue is professionally run with a meticulous eye for detail that provides a perfect environment for conferencing, team building and evening events. 

Try and identify all the key factors and specific requirements for your conference so that you can choose a venue that will best suit your needs. Ask the right questions so you don't have unexpected surprises during the conference. Price and availability are very important but there are many other considerations to ensure your conference is a success. 

About ACE Training & Consulting
A.C.E. conducts team building sessions and events at around 100 venues a year and we find that Aitken Hill is an outstanding venue for all the important considerations and equally outstanding for many of the factors that people don't even realise that they need. 

This article was written by Daniel Cohen

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