I have been organising Software conferences at Software Acumen for the last three years and before that I worked at Reed Exhibitions. I like to think I know what I am looking for when choosing a venue and know what works.
Over the last few months I have been sourcing new venues and have been amazed by some of the sins that venues are making. Many seem to think that we are still in the 1990’s. Anyway here’s some advice to venues of about what we really want and the best (or should it be worst) sins that venues are still making.
Please don’t charge additionally or tell us you have great Wi-Fi when we have better at home. We will check when we visit with a speed testing app (free and easy to download I like Ookla speed test). Most humans now see Wi-Fi as the same as water (a basic human right) so provide great Wi-Fi and we will be happy and book.
I know it’s not green (we can balance with other elements at the event) but conferences take a lot of power. Ideally I need at least ½ a socket per delegate so they can charge their devices plus more for speakers and sponsors. Power is again seen a basic right and 4 sockets in a room will not do. On this same note: During the conference keep it safe – no-one wants to take a broken ankle home from their favourite event of the year having fallen over a badly laid cable.
We want to find you, we really do. You may know where to go as you’re here every day but it’s all new to us and our participant. If someone has to ask even once, then your sign is badly placed or too small.
Don’t hide costs or forget to tell us things. We will find out and won’t book next year. If we know everything up front then we can make an informed decision.
Projectors are not all equal. I have learnt this the hard way. Colours alter and blur when the projector is old or the bulb is about to go. Make sure you know how old the projector is and that it is maintained on a regular basic. You would be amazed how many conference managers have no idea what a projector spec is, this is why our delegates to come to learn and listen and a clear clean projected image is vital.
Well this is the only true sin: Gluttony! Keep it interesting, keep it local and if possible recycle leftovers to food banks and compost heaps. That way, if there is waste we will not feel so bad about it! Also (signage again) let us know what we are eating and don’t hide the veggie food in with the rest of it. If you’re a veggie, you really don’t want you food tasting or smelling of meat.
Heating and Light
Basic really. We need the room to be warm enough not to need a coat but not so warm that we go to sleep. Participants are coming to learn and need to feel comfortable. We need air-con in the summer and heating in the winter and a fan just will not do. It is 2014 invest in a decent temperature controlling system. Regarding lighting, natural light is best and if a bulb needs replacing then ensure it is replaced promptly. What is more distracting than a flickering bulb? Our participants are coming to learn and need not to be distracted.