What makes the ideal Meeting Room? From our years of experience of catering for a huge range of meetings in Sheffield at many diverse locations here are our top 10 ten factors to consider.
Our special 11th factor just for January and February this year is FREE ROOM HIRE at our own meeting, dining and event space in Attercliffe, Sheffield. See here for details.
- Is it necessary? Before selecting a venue a key question is what is the purpose of the meeting. Could everybody save time by not actually holding it or could a "Virtual Meeting" be held or even the good old fashioned telephone put to use?
- Location. Having decided it is beneficial to get together face to face the geographical location becomes an important consideration. However, its not always a case of making it the most convenient venue for the majority. I remember when working in Scotland for Bass Taverns the meetings I attended were all in Birmingham necessitating a long jouney for the smaller Scottish contingent. An enlighted Director once decided to turn the tables and organised an Edinburgh meeting. Not only were the Scottish managers grateful but they enjoyed showing off their city and the other delegates appreciated the change of scenery.
- Size of the venue. A trick of PR agencies is to cram a small space with lots of people to ensure all the pictures show how well attended the event was! Not a great idea for productive meetings where people need plenty of space to feel comfortable. This extends to allow areas for networking and break out spaces for refreshments leaving the tables for formal meetings and business sessions separate.
- Flexibility of the venue. Having the ability to set up the room in a variety of layouts is useful along with the flexibility of the venue owners to change this rapidly and possibily mid conference is also useful. The audio visual support should also be adaptable to work equally well in each format. As caterers we also appreciate the need for adaquate space to set up refreshments and lunches preferably in a way which does not disturb the meeting in progress.
- Food and Drink. Often the most keenly anticipated part of any meeting, conference or training session! Good food delivered in a timely fashion combined with warm personal service skills can make or break the success of an event. Look for a proven track record of quality from the caterers, what their food hygiene status is (local authority inspection results for over 1/2 million restaurants and caterers can be found here) and if they have experience of delivering the type, quality and scale for your event. Ideally the caterer should be making food from scratch, using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. Having some unique products as well as good sustainability credentials is also a bonus, as is there ability to cater seamlessly for any special dietary requirements.
- Wall Space. Perhaps a lesser consideration but any good training event should generate plenty of flip chart sheets for display. Flat and avaialble wall space on which to display is useful along with the blessing of the venue owner for plentiful use of blu tack!
- People. We all like to deal with people who get the job done efficiently but the really excellent providers are those who make it a pleasure. Its worth seeking out venues where the team in charge not only fit your needs but are able to anticipate, tailor their product espcially for you and delight. At PJ taste we have been lucky enough to work with Andy Hanselman and strive to embody his 7 characteristics of a 3D business in everything we do.
- Licensing and additional services. In order to serve alcohol, play live music or show film a venue must have the appropriate license from the local authority. These can be useful adjuncts for a venue as can their flexibility to provide for one off requests. As an example at a recent event for Tesco held in our venue Upstairs@PJtaste we sent out for more helium when the organisers supply for her gold ballons failed!
- Transport Links. Rather than relying on cars as the only feasible means of access having good public transport links is sensible. Being on a tram, train and bus route gives delegates the opportunity to leave the car at home and perhaps enjoy that complementary drink inbtoi the bargain.
- Quiet with no disturbances. For most meetings where the business outcomes are important, large picture windows onto interesting scenes are not necessarily going to be the most productive. Likewise noise pollution from ajoining rooms, external building works and noisy caterers are also to be avoided.