Our contemporary Conference Centre, 54 St James Street, has been operating for 4 years now, and we have gathered a wide range of tips and advice to those organising an event or big conference.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Here are our top 5 tips!
Managing the time and following the agenda on the day is crucial. Make sure you allocate a person as a ‘Time Keeper’ during the day that controls the discussions and co-ordinates with the facilitator to keep on track and fit in the time frame for each of the agenda item. If one agenda item overruns, it means the other ones will either get less attention or will be rushed and some crucial information might get missed.
Be prepared and have all the presentations saved on separate USB sticks. Things happen, the laptop decides to go on strike on a day of the conference, the IT at the venue is not compatible with your laptop, a speaker forgets to bring his/her presentation, etc. But as long you have a backup and have them all saved in one place, you will save yourself a headache. Also, make sure you liaise with the venue closely what IT equipment is included and available in the room.
Always, always have a map of the venue and circulate it with the attendees of the conference in advance. People might be travelling from different cities, even abroad, some drive, some use public transport. The map should be specific and identify all possible access to the venue. And usually the venue itself tends to have the best map already ready, so get one from the venue and ask all the questions of how to get there, parking possibilities, specific landmarks to help to direct people. Find out if disabled car parking available. We have a very detailed venue map prepared and always advice the event organiser to share it with the attendees.
Venue Opening Hours & Access
At the stage of booking the venue firstly enquire about their normal opening hours. Always add at least half an hour or a whole hour before the conference for preparation (setting up your registration table, badges, delegate packs, stationery on desks, etc.). The same applies to after the conference – to gather all the paperwork from workshops/activities, pack up the banners, clear the room, etc. give yourself some time for that as well. So when you book the room for the event tell the venue when the event actually starts and finish and when you will require access to the room from to. Don’t just presume that you can arrive at any time and gain access to the room. Here at 54 we are very interested to hear what type of event you will be holding, to have a feel what your expectations might be, is it very formal event or a flexible team building event? This was we are able to accommodate it in the best possible way.
If you require catering for your event make sure you familiarise with the menu. Most conference centres have their own caterers, so before you book any food/drinks make sure you have your event agenda in place, so you know how many breaks there will be. If the flow of the event changed throughout the day and break times are shifted slightly, inform the venue as soon as you can, so they have plenty of time to make arrangements. Our in-house caterers Siren are very flexible in adapting to changes, but some notice always guarantees an efficient service delivery. Make sure you ask the delegates of any special dietary requirements, e.g. allergies, vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, halal chicken etc. Ask the venue to cater those separately plated and labelled. My advice – have at least 30% vegetarian options of the food.
There is so much more involved in organising a conference, but hopefully these 5 Top Tips were useful!
If you are thinking of booking a venue for an event please visit our website for some information or simply contact us on 0151 706 8100 or firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a viewing.
By - Sandra Sipaviciute
Conference and Events Coordinator at 54 St James Street