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Before you choose a meeting venue, have you considered…

By on December 17, 2012



As a meeting planner, what’s on your basic list of venue requirements for meetings and events? Convenient location, capacity, F&B quality, costs…

What other key questions should you ask yourself before booking the space? Do you routinely consult the AV supplier or meeting producer before you sign?

In my role as a meeting producer, I sometimes get called in after the venue has been selected. Ideally, it would be beneficial to be brought in as early as possible to collaborate in the planning process. This will have a positive impact on the meeting format and content.

Here is what producers need to know before they can get to work on the creative concept and budget.

How big a “show” needs to be produced and consequently, how much time is needed for AV set-up, tech rehearsals and presenter/ entertainer rehearsals? All too often, a space is reserved for the day of the event only. How can you start a meeting at 8 am if you only get access at 6 am? Even with a midnight set-up start, you are living dangerously, without a contingency to solve potential technical challenges, and even less time for last minute changes requested by the presenters when they arrive just before the meeting starts.

Is there enough space for rear projection? If not, and you have to go with front projection, do you have enough ceiling height to hang the projector on an angle to project over the head of the presenter and avoid casting a shadow on the screen?

Can you fit in a large enough stage to handle the action? This depends on how many presenters are on stage at the same time and whether there will be a panel discussion with furniture, a dance troupe or live band. With a larger group, the presenters will appreciate an extra wide stage so they can roam and get closer to their audience.

Can you fit a control table comfortably in the room? In one case, our client requested an immersive environment with one continuous projection surface on 3 walls, but we were left without space for the controls once all the AV was installed. Solution: we set up in the adjacent service corridor and monitored the live action through closed circuit cameras in the room.

Are there rigging points in the ceiling to install a truss for lighting, sound and projection? Depending on the size of the group and the floor plan, you may need to suspend some equipment, including screens.

What about electrical power? That is usually not an issue in updated properties, but could be in older ones. At one event, we were forced to run electrical lines between floors!

Are you planning a product launch or a major announcement that will require pumped up music or audio branding? If so, most air walls will not contain your sound and you’ll end up disturbing the meeting in the room next door. If you need to blast it, make sure in advance that you have the privacy to do what you need to.

If you have entertainers, in most cases they will need dressing rooms and space to eat. It is helpful to have this space close to the meeting/event space to reduce your time running around to put them on standby near the stage, especially if there is a last minute change in schedule.

I am confident that you, as an experienced planner, are well aware of most of these questions. If you haven’t yet considered it, please try consulting with your meeting producer before you make a final venue choice. This will ensure that you have both the tools and working conditions to deliver the content and style of meeting needed to satisfy your client’s strategic communications objectives.



Michael Caplan is the founder of Sensix Communications & Events. Widely regarded as an expert in the creation and production of world-class meetings and events over the past 30 years, he has been honoured as Canadian Producer of the Year and has consistently led his team to many STAR and Special Event Gala awards.


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