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Company conferences and offsite meetings can be quite a significant undertaking for those tasked with the delivery of the event. However, choosing the right partners, suppliers and in-house team can really lighten the load. We have outlined some of our well-rehearsed tips further down this page, but here are some of the questions and items you might need on your list to get started:
- What is the purpose of the conference? Perhaps a well-needed opportunity to get everyone together, or perhaps you are unveiling a new direction and strategy for the business. Answers to these questions will likely drive the theme and content for the event, along with some criteria for venue suitability.
- Is there a need for overnight accommodation and/or evening functions/entertainment. Both will have an impact of the venue search and budget.
- Number of delegates – any specific requirements amongst attendees including accessibility needs, dietaries and so on. Do you need to use an external ticketing system to keep easy track of replies and requirements?
- Date and time of year – availability can be limited for such events in popular months such as May-July and September and October
- Technology requirements- what audio visual requirements are there? Does your chosen venue support these needs or do you need to engage with an external supplier?
- Food and drink requirements – keeping delegates suitably fed and watered can have a positive impact, and even enhance, the memories of the day
- Transport – consider venue proximity to transport links, ease of access and parking
- As our COVID experience has taught us to be flexible, is your event best delivered as a live, virtual or hybrid conference?
- Speakers, activities and entertainment – in the interest of delegate engagement, many conferences will include some or all of these.
Whatever the size, nature and requirements of your conference, we are on hand to help you source the right venue and so much more.
Continue reading for some Party Pages tips to help you on your way…
Size and capacity…
The number of attendees will have a bearing on your choice of venue. Too large and the conference can feel poorly attended and lack the necessary atmosphere, too small a space and it can impact on the comfort and enjoyment of the day.
Consider if there is a requirement for separate spaces, i.e. a welcome and refreshments area, main conference room/hall, break-out spaces, evening entertainment or perhaps an outdoor activity. There isn’t always the need for a separate space for each requirement, especially if the budget doesn’t allow, but the venue will be best placed to advise on what is possible and how quickly spaces can be adapted and turned around.
Knowing these requirements will help you narrow down your venue search very quickly.
Technology is great when it works…
The size and content of your conference will likely dictate the needs on the tech front. Your event might be deliberately off-grid, lowering the demands on wifi for example, but if wifi is critical, always go and run a test if possible to do so. Each venue operates differently, start by outlining what you need in the way of presentation equipment. Share visual examples with the venue so there is no miscommunication – a screen has many forms. You might want to engage an external audio visual provider to install the required equipment and to be there on the day to ensure smooth running if there is a heavy visual and audio content.
Deadline contributors so that you have time to check the tech!
Food and drink…
Could be a highlight of the day for many. It can also be fun to try and carry through important themes for the day into these elements too. Check out the venue packages and see if they tick the right boxes. If not, many will flex and come up with a bespoke offering. Or you might have the freedom to appoint an external caterer if you wish.
Allow sufficient time for refreshments to be enjoyed – simple things like the number of loos available can have an impact on break timings, so consider the time allowed and the way in which refreshments are offered to delegates. If timings or space limited, refreshments served to delegate tables during the day can really take the pressure off.
Ask for dietary requirements with RSVPs and pass these on in good time to the venue/caterer. A venue’s kitchen might have the ability to make something up on the spur of the moment, an external caterer might not.
If it is possible to do so, we always recommend a visit to your chosen venue/s. It gives you an opportunity to test the transport routes, parking, accessibility, wifi, perhaps sample some of the food, see the spaces and make a plan how to best utilise and decorate. But perhaps most importantly of all, it allows you to assess the venue team who will play a crucial part in working with you to deliver a successful event.
Teamwork makes the dream work…
There is a lot to be said for this well spoken adage. Many who are tasked with organising work meetings and conferences are also trying to balance their regular workload. If appropriate, we recommend forming a team to share the load and to help contribute ideas and confirm decisions.
Your choice of external suppliers will also make a big difference to your own enjoyment of the day – getting the right suppliers in place can turn dread to joy. If you would like any recommendations, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Advice, helpful hints and tips
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