Transportation Issues and Conference Venues
Location is one of the most important aspects of a conference venue, and because of the transport issues rather than the nature of the venue or the area. No-one will be pleased at having to travel for hours to get to a conference and find that everyone else comes from the area they've just travelled from, so it's important to get the location right for the majority of delegates and that it's easy to get in and out of.
Transport for International ConferencesInternational conferences are best held near airports with a wide range of flights and in the UK that really means London, although flights served by Birmingham mean that it is a decent alternative for European conference, and perhaps Glasgow too.
Many airport hotels have top notch conference facilities so using one of those is a simple option. But delegates may think that makes the whole exercise a bit soulless, so it's worth considering a central location that allows people to get out and about as well as do business. To some extent this depends on the length of the conference.
National and Regional Conference VenuesWhen it comes to a national conference in the United Kingdom, London begins to make less sense because of its internal transport problems. Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester have all made inroads into the national conference business and there are many regional options for conferences where the majority of delegates are coming from the relevant region.
When selecting a regional venue the transport issues are likely to focus on the immediate area of the venue. Despite the bad press, the UK motorway network can usually deliver people from A to B very quickly but it’s the last ten miles or so where the pain hits. Look for venues with good access to major arterial roads and use internet road traffic alerting sites to investigate the extent of congestion at the times when your delegates will be arriving and leaving.
Public Transport to and from VenuesWith public transport the issues are slightly different. In cities travelling to a conference venue is unlikely to be a problem. Public transport from train stations should suffice and no matter how much information you give on underground or bus routes, it’s likely that most of the delegates arriving by train will use a taxi to transport themselves to the venue.
It's a different picture if your conference is being held in an isolated hotel or manor house, as many often are. Drivers will need directions of course, but you will also need to check that the venue has transport to pick up and deliver delegates from the nearest railway stations. Few rural stations have taxi ranks and many these days won’t have any staff on site who can tell people about local taxis.
Grants for Conference TransportOne final point to mention on transport regarding conferences is the existence of grant funding for conference travel. It's not widely available but, particularly in the area of research and development conferences, there are grants to help delegates bear the cost of travelling to venues. This is usually to enable academics to get to conferences they might otherwise not be able to afford to attend.
If you are organising such a conference and trying to attract delegates, it's worth finding out about the available grants so that you can suggest them to potential attendees. They are usually from academic bodies or bodies that support a particular branch of medicine, science or technology.