Although we are currently thinking of summer holidays, before we know it, conference season will be upon us and it will be time to plan the next European Works Council.
A well thought out meeting venue will ensure not only that your discussions run smoothly but that your delegates enjoy the event and take away a positive image of the company. As Interpreting Projects Managers we have worked in a huge variety of venues across Europe, some excellent and some with challenges. Here are our top tips when considering a venue for your EWC:
1. Firstly, consider the geographical location. Is the venue easily accessible by public transport from all the participating countries? Increasingly, we are seeing companies are choosing to hold their meetings in hotels near a major airport so that delegates can arrive directly at the meeting and avoid long and costly journeys into city centres. For more local delegates, these hotels can often also provide reasonably priced parking.
Another solution clients are increasingly investigating is using their own meeting rooms; as an added bonus it means that attendees from other countries can see facilities and meet the wider team in the host country. Unlike hotels though, these building are not purpose built for large meetings so it’s even more important to check that it’s suitable for purpose. A good venue should certainly be able to offer you a site visit and/or detailed floorplans. Make sure these clearly show fire escapes, pillars etc so there are no surprises on the day.
2. Once you’ve decided on the city, you need to look at how practical the venues on your short- list are. Remember the larger the meeting the more time and space you will need. Is there enough room to fit all your booths and set the room up for participants in your preferred style? Can all the booths clearly view the presenters and participants?
Large meetings require a lot of technical kit so make sure when you are booking the room that there is adequate time to build up and test all the booths prior to the start of the meeting and there is sufficient time to de-rig before the next event. For large meetings you may well need to book the room for the day or evening before which has implications for your budget. It’s also worth checking you have exclusive use of the room, if the hotel books out the ballroom you are using for another evening event, you don’t want to have to take down and build up the booths each day. It’s possible but it will add extra expense.
Talking of practicalities, you also need to make sure there is an adequate loading bay. Remember to double check any time restrictions, some cities only allow unloading at certain times of the day. If the room is not on the ground floor, is there a suitable service lift.
3. Finally you might just want to check on any extras, for instance does the meeting room provide screens, projectors, wi-fi, sound system. Are they extra or included in the price? Is there enough accommodation at or near the venue? If you have a formal dinner is there a nice restaurant on-site or within reasonable distance?
If this is all sounding a bit much, remember a good project manager will be happy to help and act as a liaison between your venue and the interpreting and technical teams. Although many companies organise an EWC once a year, we are doing it every week so we are used to planning in advance and spotting any potential hiccups!