From cost and location to size and condition, there are many reasons for choosing a meeting venue. If the primary purpose of your meeting is education, however, one of the most important questions to ask yourself is: Is it conducive to learning? According to The National Conference Center in Leesburg, Va., the answer is more complicated than it seems.
"While the classroom is still a good choice for some learning programs, there are now a wide range of room formations and teaching styles to choose from -- along with a host of venues claiming to offer the perfect setting for your program," the venue states in a new white paper titled "Five Things to Consider When Selecting Your Ideal Learning Venue." "However, in reality, the venue that was perfect for your executive outing may not work for your experiential learning programs."
So how do you make the right choice? First and foremost: Look for versatile venues instead of pretty ones.
"Hoteliers take great pride in being at the forefront of design -- interior designers introduce the latest colors, trendiest furniture and most creative lighting. While these make for a beautiful setting, they do not necessarily complement your learning program," The National Conference Center advises. "Look instead for a venue that offers versatility and can be modified to fit your specific needs. Studies show select colors can impact everything from your concentration to your diet. This understanding inspired the 'white space' concept. A conference center … can help you determine the best room formation, provide ways for you to brand the space or even put up walls to build entirely new areas."
To judge a venue's versatility, don't just look during the facility tour; listen, too.
"If you hear one rule after another during a site visit ('this space is used for this,' 'no, we don't allow that' and 'the space is yours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. only'), it might not be the right choice," The National Conference Center continues. "Yes, all venues must have rules, but great venues have a 'whatever it takes' mentality. It's common for venues to become set in their ways. They will simply go through the motions with you instead of asking how you plan to use the space and what they can do to facilitate the most positive outcomes. Look for a planning or sales team that begins with these questions on the first site visit and then collaborates with clients to deliver the ideal setting for their needs, even if they have to color outside the lines to make it happen. Look for flexibility."