Venues-what are we looking for?

by Jade Comben & Natasha Pullan Tue 28 July 2015, 5:10 pm

From the Shard to The Dorchester, from London to Wakefield, we have explored numerous venues for event purposes and scoured the country for the perfect location.

Irvine Sellar addressing delegates at the Aqua Shard restaurant during Sitematch London

From The Shard to The Dorchester, from London to Wakefield, we have explored numerous venues for event purposes and scoured the country for the perfect location.

For our delegates, the venue can make or break an event. We have to bear in mind that our guests are attending numerous networking events and conferences throughout the year, so we want our events to be memorable. An interesting venue is often the key. With our events in which up to 250 guests attend getting the right space is often a challenge and therefore we are always on the lookout for new  and interesting venues across the country.

However, whether we are looking for a breathtaking venue for a full day conference or a simple office space for a launch, the same criteria apply.

What we are looking for when choosing the perfect venue:

Space

Does the venue have enough room to meet our needs? What kind of numbers are we expecting? Will the guests be able to move about the room comfortably and be able to converse with each other in a welcoming environment? Or is the room too spacious? We need it to be comfortable and intimate but not such a lot of space that the room looks empty and lacks atmosphere.

Cost

Managing the budget is a crucial aspect to any event and no venue is worth breaking the bank for. Ninety-nine per cent of our work is for the public sector so budgets are always tight. Venue costs can range from £40 per delegate to £100 per delegate and we always negotiate.

Natural Light

Depending on the type of atmosphere that we want to create at our event, having a source of natural light can be a welcome addition, particularly for a full day conference. We need to help keep people’s attention and focus and dark rooms do us no favours. For networking events we can have darker, mood lighting to create an intimate and welcoming atmosphere. We also love venues that have the ability to mix up the colour of the lighting. A great way to continue a theme, represent a certain brand and to generally make the space more inviting.

Catering

It is important to establish whether catering is done in-house or whether we need to hire external companies. We often look to get testimonials and a good idea of the type of food and drink on offer and then check whether it will fit our event style and format. For example, bowl food and canapés are always good options for networking events. However we also love creative ideas such as food stations and outdoor BBQ’s. At a recent Chiswick House event we had an outdoor BBQ theme and that worked really well. Delegates love anything that is different as they go to a number of networking events a year, usually with the same kind of catering and it is always useful to create a talking point.

Unique Features

What makes this venue stand out from the rest? As mentioned, our delegates attend event after event, so if we can find a venue that has special features or something different to the rest, that can be a big draw. We love a venue with a view and that can be helpful when we are trying to showcase the best of what London has to offer developers and councils alike. However, old historic buildings such as the Crypt at St Paul’s offer a different view of London and help create talking point for our guests. We do love a bit of history and a unique fact or two!

 

3Fox top London venues:

The Aqua Shard Restaurant

The venue for two of our Sitematch events. We love this space because it provides the stunning, sweeping views of London that really showcase what the city has to offer. This is perfect when hosting an event about land opportunities within the city and what a venue to do it in-such elegance.

The Exchange Rooftop Café, London Bridge

The Rooftop Café proved to be the perfect location for the Southwark Magazine launch in 2013, providing an informal café environment with the imposing vista of The Shard looming over us all, as guests enjoyed unique food served in cups.

Views from The Exchange, Rooftop Cafe. Photo courtesey of David Fernandes

St Paul’s Grange Hotel

This was a flexible space, giving us all the room we needed to conduct a two-day conference. There were great branding opportunities throughout and impressive views of St Paul’s Cathedral from the rooftop bar (can you tell we love a view?).

The 3Fox team at the ACES Conference, St Paul's Grange Hotel. Photo courtesy of Phoebe Fox

BNP Paribas Real Estate UK Offices

Again, another spectacular view over the city from these bright, modern offices in the heart of London. The team at BNP Paribas Real Estate have always been great to work with, providing a seamless service.

The Brewery

A Grade II-listed venue in the heart of the city The Brewery offers an historic space that has a versatile use. Particularly useful are break out rooms of a range of available sizes and spaces, making it the perfect venue for any of our conferences and networking events.

 

Getting our attention

When we visit venues to scope them out, there are several ways in which the venue and their sales can attract our business:

Having helpful and articulate hosts - we expect the member of the team that is showing us around to clearly outline all the selling points, as well as taking an interest in our business and what we do in order to marry the venue to the event effectively. It is always helpful to point out branding opportunities, such as opportunities to have floor tiles and vinyls and opportunities where we can showcase our work, such as plasma screens and smartboards.

Flexibility – venues that have too many restrictions can be off-putting. A space that is flexible in terms of set up, numbers and format is the key. With, for example, a magazine launch, we do not require all day set up for an evening event so if a venue is flexible in this then that is great and makes us more likely to see it as a viable option. It is not cost effective to pay for all day set up if we are only going to be doing so for a few hours.

Advertising – advertising a venue is always important but if there is something to take away at the end or a slide show that we can show other members of the team that is always useful. Often we do not all attend site visits so having all the necessary information and images to present when we get back and to showcase why we loved a venue is an important tool and makes our lives much easier. Small booklets highlighting the venue's key aspects and showcasing plenty of photos are good. As is anything that is going to make us remember the venue - a drink on arrival, some marketing products to take away. And we are always more likely to choose venues which go that little bit further!

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