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It's usual to book a conference venue well in advance so that you can prepare the publicity material, book speakers, arrange for catering, etc., and so that people can set aside time in their diaries and plan their travel if necessary.
The venue is a key component of a successful conference. It's the most difficult decision to make and you are definitely making progress when a suitable venue has been found. Urban location or country retreat? New Zealand offers plenty of both. Near the airport or motorway exit, or in the CBD? Near sites of interest so that delegates can go sightseeing at the end of the day or during weekends?
 How many:
The format of the conference will determine how large a venue you need. Will there be major addresses to the meeting where large numbers of people will be sitting theatre-style? If people will be breaking into smaller groups to discuss particular items, you may need several break-out rooms. If you need a smaller area for people to retire to for conclusions, you may need a boardroom seating 10 to 12.
You will need to check on the availability of microphones, video-audio equipment, OHPs, screens, flipcharts, whiteboards, etc. Most venues offer some or all of these, but it pays to check nearer the time of the conference with a visit to the venue. Also remember to check on modem connections and mobile phone reception should delegates need to keep in touch with their work.
Practical considerations:
Natural light is a plus. If the conference is held during the summer, you may need air-conditioning - and in the winter you may need heating. Is there adequate parking? Is there disabled access to the venue? To the toilet facilities? Is smoking allowed? Is there a conference coordinator to provide support?
Unwelcome distractions:
Is there anything happening in the vicinity of the venue which is likely to be an unwelcome distraction to your delegates? Noisy construction project outside the window?
Many venues provide catering, and can also cope with any special dietary requirements you may have. Others provide a list of caterers to choose from or are happy for you to organise your own. Some venues have in-house bars - a plus for after-conference relaxation - while others can make arrangements for drinks as required.
Do you require accommodation? If so, is suitable accommodation available at or near the venue?
You usually need to pay a deposit to book a venue in advance. Is the deposit refunded if you cancel the booking? Are any extra fees payable? If there is a written contract covering the hire of the venue, make sure that the points you agree with the managers are covered.
 Last Word:
Give yourself enough time to get the selection of the venue right. Carefully put your requirements against what the Venue has to offer. Avoid any nasty surprises by, if at all possible, visiting the venue in advance!!!
Other Venue Selection tips: | Choosing a Wedding Venue | Outdoor Wedding Venue tips | Party Venue - Getting it right |

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