Business Event Basics

Selecting a venue

There is a multitude of things to consider when organising a conference or business event. However, choosing the right venue is the one which will have the biggest impact on the success of your event.

Finding a venue can take a lot of time and that’s where the Convention Bureau can help you. We are an experienced team with wide ranging, up-to-date knowledge about venues and business event suppliers in the Hamilton & Waikato region.

The Convention Bureau offers a complimentary service to help you find the right venue for your event - from making suggestions and obtaining quotes through to organising site inspections (famils) and preparing tender documents (bids). Nobody knows the region better for business events and conferences.

Before looking for your venue, you should know the goals of your meeting or event – this may have critical impact on your choice of venue. You need to establish your budget, know the likely number of attendees, type of event, duration and dates - is there any flexibility around dates? Know the timings of your event and remember to detail time required for setting up and packing out.

The more lead time you allow the greater chance you have of securing your preferred venue and dates within budget.

Factors to consider when looking for a venue:


Think about your attendees and where they will be travelling from and the geographical location of the venue. Do you require a central city location, somewhere midway for people travelling between cities, a secluded setting or somewhere close to the airport? Is the venue easy to find? How far is parking from the venue? Is there a charge or subsidised rate for parking?


Approximately how many people will be attending? What is the capacity of the venue? The foot flow? What are the acoustics like? What style of seating – cabaret (also known as café), theatre, classroom? The trend at the moment with organisers of larger meetings is to have a mix of seating styles within the room, e.g. cabaret, theatre, lounge and bar leaners. Do you require breakout rooms, exhibition space, separate area for catering (seated lunch?), media room or conference office? Can the main conference (plenary) room also be used for one of the breakout sessions, saving venue hire and audio visual (AV) cost? Where will you hold registration? Is space for storage required prior to the day – during the event?

How easy is access for packing-in and out?

Do you need space for a cocktail function or dinner onsite?

Do you require accommodation? If so do you want accommodation onsite (conference hotel), or will delegates travel to the event venue by own arrangements or transport provided by the organisers?


Can the rooms be set to help support the goals of your meeting? What sort of venue or space will your attendees feel comfortable in? Is the atmosphere conducive to your event objectives? Do you require natural light? Do the lights dim? Is the sun likely to strike the presentation screen? Are there black-out curtains or blinds? Most large and newer properties are “blank canvases” – they provide the space and the support, you determine your physical requirements including room dressing, technical support etc, and you will contract for these separately either from the property or external suppliers.


Is catering done in-house, does the venue have an exclusive contract with a caterer or a panel of suggested caterers, can you bring or your own caterer, or do your own catering? Can the caterers cater for any special dietary requirements (some charge extra for special dietary requests e.g. gluten free)? Has the caterer got a liquor licence?


What is included in the venue hire? Does the venue work with a preferred supplier or can you bring in your own supplier? Some venues have built-in AV equipment included in the venue hire, some even include a technician. However, most AV equipment and support is outsourced so remember to allocate budget for technical requirements.


Understand your attendees. What is the venue’s physical environment? Check its suitability for the mobility challenged - can they access the building and amenities? Consider guests of all ages, check the rest restrooms. Is there a hearing loop system?


Has the venue got a Health and Safety Plan? Appropriate procedures for managing external contractors? With the increased focus on health and safety issues, and the new legislation relating to health and safety, there is renewed focus on planning a safe event. When you plan an event you are responsible for the health and safety of everyone at the event.


Did the venue respond to your enquiry in a timely manner? How knowledgeable about your requirements and their venue were the staff when you did a site visit? Were they professional? These are indications of the service you are going to receive going forward.

When comparing venue quotes, it is difficult to compare “apples with apples” because venues quote differently. Some venues have additional costs which you might discover after you have confirmed the venue, set your budget and are well into your planning. We suggest setting up a spreadsheet of costs for short listed venues so that you can capture venue hire, catering, audio visual, parking, security, furniture, tablecloths, cleaning etc.

Make sure you know whether quotes are inclusive or exclusive of GST.


Does the venue have good quality Wi-Fi available for attendees? Does it have a Qualmark rating? Does the venue have a sustainability/environmental policy? Is it a member of the local Convention Bureau? Can the venue provide references from previous clients?

How much deposit is required? For large events some venues are open to putting a payment schedule in place. What guarantees do you require, can the venue provide these, and does the contract include penalties for either party? Read the contract carefully and make sure you understand it and any payment schedule, where possible seek legal advice before signing.

Written by: Amanda Graham - Convention Bureau Manager 

For help finding your next venue
Contact Hamilton & Waikato Convention Bureau,
Hamilton & Waikato Tourism:
Tel: 07 843 0056