Picking the perfect venue for your event is one of the most important elements in the full equation that is your event. As a meetings or events planner, you already know you can find everything you need to plan a successful meeting or spectacular event online. What’s more, you absolutely should check the venue’s reputation online, as the venue itself is one of the things your attendees will be the most curious about.
It’s not just the content and the networking potential of the event that brings people together, it’s also the venue! You may not realize that what customers are saying online about a venue is just as vital as the information you find about a location’s square footage, costs, and amenities.
Step One: Check The Venue Reputation Online
A hotel or meeting venue’s online reputation should be a key consideration as you prepare to select the ideal setting for a particular client. What past customers are saying about a hotel or other setting—either good or bad— can actually influence the level of service your client will receive. Meeting venues are familiar with what reputation management companies like Reputation emphasize all the time: knowledge is power, and knowing what your customers have to say about you gives you the energy and opportunity to make a difference for your business. Complimentary reviews of a hotel incentivize the staff to maintain the property’s online reputation; negative reviews often motivate the staff to quickly resolve problems or make systemic changes to improve or enhance the experience of future guests.
In this day and age, it’s not that hard to find what kind of a reputation a certain event venue enjoys. Head over to Tripadvisor or Yelp and search for the particular property you’re interested in and read other guests’ reviews. But since hotel guests can usually only vouch for the rooms and not for the conference potential of the location, you can check what kind of a presence the venue has on social media platforms, such as Twitter or Facebook. And last but not least, check whether the venues you’re considering are part of Cvent‘s list of the top 100 meeting hotels in the United States.
Step Two: Visit The Venue
While it’s definitely possible to plan an event without ever visiting the venue, it’s still a good idea to check it out – especially if you’ve never been there before. When you’ve narrowed down your list of potential sites and it’s time for visits to properties that have piqued your interest, be on the lookout for these five elements: image, impression, appeal, amenities, and availability/accessibility.
At the venue, consider the style, ambiance and size. See if it fits the corporate image your client is trying to portray. That segues right into impression: what are your takeaway impressions of the site? Do you sense a commitment to professionalism and accommodation among every staff member you meet?
The appeal of the property often springs from the overall impression and the extras – the little perks that are promised as part of the meeting package and, especially, the partnerships the hotel might have with local attractions to add some fun to the meeting. Consider how large the conference rooms are and whether the hotel offers adequate audio-visual services. Is there an updated, well-equipped business center and a spacious fitness center with the latest equipment? Put yourself in your attendees’ shoes!
Availability should be more than whether the hotel can accommodate the dates you need. You want a decent price, not necessarily a low price. The location has to be easy to access (think close to a major airport), or people may have some trouble getting to the conference.
Before you proceed with a site inspection, however, take time for a thorough online vetting of a hospitality venue’s reputation. It just might change your perception of a property – for better or for worse.
Choosing A Platform For A Virtual Event
In 2020, the world made an unprecedented shift into the virtual sphere. Even giant events, such as CES, had to abandon their venue and host the event online. Rather than choosing a venue, virtual event planners have to pick a virtual platform. Even though the workload seems much smaller with venues of the equation, there is still a lot of planning that goes into virtual events. And same applies here: reputation matters! It’s just other things you need to be aware of while planning. What you need to be on the look out for are networking solutions, cybersecurity, support, and virtual audience engagement strategies, among other things.
Hybrid Events: Where Platforms & Venues Meet
Hybrid events are events that bring people together at a physical venue, but also include a virtual audience. It’s where virtual platforms and meeting venues collide! It might sound impossible, but the events industry has so far produced quite a few jaw-dropping hybrid events.
Since hybrid events are the most challenging production-wise, the reputation of your venue matters even more! To make things even more complicated, there are several different hybrid event models to choose from. You have to find out whether the venue’s bandwidth will suffice for the virtual portion of your event and whether you can bring in all the AV equipment you need to broadcast the event. Again, online reputation does matter, but you’re very unlikely to find these things out online, though. If it all sounds like too much, though, chat with us and we will do all the talking for you!
One of the first things you have to consider when planning an event is the venue and its reputation. After all, choosing poorly reflects badly on you as well as your clients! First, you need to check the venue’s online presence as that’s very likely what the attendees will do as well. If that checks out, you can visit the venue and see it for yourself.
A plus side to hosting a virtual event is not having to worry about venues and their reputation. But don’t be fooled into thinking that virtual events automatically mean less workload and planning. Platforms are the venues of the virtual world: they either make or break the experience.
About the Author: James Mcmahon is a financial advisor who manages ad word campaigns and product placements for several ad agencies. He enjoys offering advice on marketing for small businesses.
Editor’s Note: This post was updated by Anja Grcar on April 21st, 2021 for clarity purposes.