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Using Conference Centres

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 16 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Conference Centres Venue Conference Size

You might think using conference centres is the obvious thing to do if you're running a conference but in fact many of them are too big for anything other than a major event. Conference centres have been built, usually with public funds, in many cities and towns in the UK because of the money that is generated when company people descend on them, attracted by the venue.

If you are organising a large conference then conference centres have to be near the top of your short list of event venues. They do not generally have accommodation for delegates but will be located in an area where there is a variety of different hotels on offer, from palatial to budget conscious and every level in-between. They will also have catering facilities on site so they can offer you a complete solution and will be used to catering for the vagaries of dietary requirements, food intolerances and allergies.

Technology and Conference Centres

Conference centres are more likely to have the most up-to-date technical facilities to enable presentations and speeches to be well received by all the attendees. The competition between conference centres is so fierce around the United Kingdom that none of them can afford to fall behind in the race to have the latest wireless networks and projection, light and sound systems and all the other gadgets and gizmos that today's speakers require.

The technology isn't all computer related though. A modern conference centre will be able to be reconfigured in a number of ways, so retractable tiered seating can disappear, revealing a hall with a flat floor for an exhibition section. There will be direct vehicular access which not only makes it easier for your company to load and unload conference equipment but also allows vehicles to be used as part of a presentation if that's what's needed. Check that the floor will take the load before you drive in though.

Multitude of Size Options

Having said at the beginning of this article that conference centres are really only for major events, many of the newer conference centres have a selection of different size halls so it's worth checking before discounting them. It will also depend on whether you require separate rooms for breakout sessions or private sub-meetings, something that's often required with a company meeting, for example.

The capacity limits of the halls will vary depending on the layout that's required. Setting a hall out like a theatre gives the largest capacity and a classroom setting will cut the number of attendees by roughly half. There will be different size limits for other layouts such as dinner tables or boardroom tables, so find out the expected size of the audience for your conference and check it out with the company running the venue.

Professional Company Attitude

The real benefit of using a conference centre is that the whole company running it will be experienced in making conferences work for their customers, and for their customer's delegates. With a conference venue that's a subset of another operation like a hotel, college or stadium, then you can't be sure that there will be that focus.

In those situations staff may have other jobs to do and could consider conference guests as a subsidiary concern. Conference centres only do one thing so you should expect them to be good at it.

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