Your venue will have the largest impact on your event. From its size and accessibility, to its ambience and layout, everything about your event will affect how your expo is run. We’ve previously created an educational piece on the best venues across Australia for your event, check it out here. Now, we’ve out together 12 factors you should think about before jumping to a decision on your venue.
Image credit: C&i Expo at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
Your venue will need to be within a distance from your target audience. If international visitors are travelling to attend your event, then choose a venue that is close to the airport or close to hotels. Make it easy for them to travel to the venue. Provide all venue location information, including a map, public transport available, directions.
Availability of dates
Some venues, especially those that are very popular, will have limited dates available. Discuss within your team about what specific date you want and whether this can be negotiated. If not, look for a venue that is flexible with their dates and you can work with them to set a date that suits you both.
Look at whether the venue is in close proximity to parking or has available parking for visitors who don’t live nearby the venue. Being easily accessible will make your event more attractive to people interested in attending.
Size and Capacity
Estimating the number of attendees, you are expecting will help you choose a venue that has the capacity. If you choose a venue with a small capacity, you will need to be prepared to close the doors if you start receiving more attendees than allowed. Don’t attempt to fit 400 people into a venue only has the capacity to fit 250.
Does the venue have a kitchen, or does it provide catering? If not, you will need to outsource these services for your event? Some venues may also have tables and chairs that you can use for seating areas near food and beverage, while some won’t. Consider whether you are prepared to hire an external company to style the event, or whether you prefer to use the basic furniture provided by the venue. Each will impact your event differently and have an impact on the overall ambience of the expo.
When choosing a venue, it’s handy to have a rough idea of the activities you hope to feature and the number of stands that will be present. This will help you decide whether a venue will have the ability to cater for this. Taking into considering the stands, seating areas and activities, will the venue allow a natural flow of foot traffic? Think about where entrances, exits, toilets etc are located and how your floor plan can be organised to suit.
The interior design and architecture of the venue will affect the overall atmosphere of your event. Consider whether the style will suit the theme of your expo and how attendees will interpret the space. For example, if your expo showcases new technology, then choosing an old, historical venue won’t suit your goals. Instead, choose a new, modern venue to match the theme of your event.
Does the venue fit within your budget and how flexible is management with the price? Whilst it’s tempting to go for the cheapest option, sometimes spending a little more money will provide you with a venue that is better suited to your needs. An older, smaller and less service equipped venue will often be less-expensive, but might not suit your needs for high capacity, adequate rigging or style preferences.
A positive reputation
The reputation of the venue will indicate the style and success of its previous events. You can gain a good understanding of the venue by doing a simple google search and noting the results that appear. Has the venue appeared in the news for positive or negative reasons? Has the venue won any awards for their previous events? Is there a common theme in the types of events they hold? When choosing your venue, make sure the reputation is one you are happy to be associated with.
It’s vital that your venue is easily accessible for both visitors and suppliers. Exhibition stand builders and suppliers will be arriving with trucks and vans full of equipment so they will require a loading bay and large doors to unload. You will also need to make sure that your venue is easily accessible for visitors. Ensure there are multiple entrances and wheelchair access.
All lights, speakers and LCD screens at your expo will need to be hung safely. Signage for any VIP areas, lounge areas, guest speaker stages, or food and drink will also need to be hung to ensure visitors can navigate the floor plan easily. Your exhibitors will also want to use rigging for overhead lighting, signage and support for their stand.
Your chosen venue needs to have the ability to supply enough power for the event. Aside from the power that you, the organisers, require, exhibitors will also need power for their stands. This issue is more common with older venues.
Bonus tip: Look for customer service
Planning an expo with a venue will require teamwork, so choose a venue with staff that is supportive and responds to your needs and requests. It’s beneficial to secure a venue that agrees to have staff on site during the event to assist exhibitors and attendees with any concerns they have.
When choosing a venue for your next expo, keep these factors in mind to ensure you choose a space that is suited to your event and will help you achieve your goals. If you’d like more information on the best expo venues, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.