If you have no equipment of your own, make sure the venue has everything you need. Do not take their word for it. Before signing off on a venue, make sure that the equipment is not only there, but is in perfect working order. Projectors, lighting switches, remote controls, audio equipment – all must be functional and fit for your purpose. Equipment advertised might be too old and incompatible with the wirelessness of modern technology, for example. Equipment also includes ventilation and air conditioning. You will gather a large number of people in a single space – make sure they will be properly warm or kept cool as the case may be. Neglect simple creature comforts, and that will be the most memorable thing about the conference you organise.
The theme of the conference and the interior in which it is held must, at the very least, not be in conflict. If you are holding a conference on the latest innovations in space lasers, you probably don’t want to house it in a victorian-style theater. You can, but your choices will be judged. Make sure that the interior is fit for the crowd. Think of it this way – if your conference is aimed at the corporate world, then the guests will naturally assume formal or business casual attire. The interior must also then adhere to that dress code. Another reason to pay attention to the interior is branding. Most conferences have sponsors, so it is safe to assume yours will too. Those sponsors will want their logos prominently displayed during the event for branding. If you put their logos on the background of old yellow wallpaper, they might not be terribly pleased, reducing your chances of attracting the same sponsors again.
Amenities are not central to your purpose, but they should not be overlooked. A conference isn’t just a lecture you sit through and move on. There will be break periods and time designated for networking – these activities need to be accommodated too. Attendees won’t expect a mini theme park, but a cafeteria, a lobby with soft furniture, even a green area outside where they mingle in fresh air – these go a long way in leaving the right impression with your audience. If your venue is small and doesn’t offer very much in terms of its own services, you’ll probably need to organise catering. If there isn’t enough space even for that, make sure to partner with local businesses. Ask them to be prepared to serve a large crowd come lunch time, in return for you advertising them as a potential option for a place to eat.
You won’t just be given the keys to the place and left alone with it. There will be venue staff to assist you. Make sure that staff will be enough, both in terms of numbers and in terms of skill. You’ll probably need an IT person who knows the venue’s infrastructure well. Concierge staff should be plenty to greet and navigate attendees in the right direction. Security should not be overlooked either, since they will manage access control and safekeeping of any personal belonging in temporary storage.