5 Questions To Ask Before You Book Your Conference

Posted on: 6 October 2015

If you are putting together a conference and need a conference center to host the event, you will likely have several choices. However, to find the best conference center for your organization, you need to ask the following five questions. 

What portion of the conference fee will be taxed? 

When you receive the estimate for your conference, the quote may or may not include taxes. Usually, the food and beverage portion of the conference will be taxed at one rate while the accommodation, if your conference guests will be staying at a hotel associated with the conference center, may be taxed at a different rate. With a hotel tax rate of 14.5% in Washington DC, this could drastically change your overall quote. 

Before comparing your quotes, it is important to make sure that all taxes and fees have been included in the quote so you are comparing similar services from various convention centers.

Does the conference center provide catering?

Most convention centers will provide private catering for their guests. However, some centers will only allow their guests to use their on-site caterers or will have rules regarding the use of their food and beverage equipment if you opt to use an outside caterer. Furthermore, if a conference center has a liquor license, you may only be able to obtain alcoholic beverages through the conference center, and if they do not have a liquor license, you may have to bring your own alcoholic beverages even if you engage the conference center's caterer. 

If you have specific catering needs, it is important to discuss them with your potential conference centers before making a decision. If you are open to suggestions, let the conference centers tell you what they have to offer and you may be amazed at some of the catering options available. 

What are the room sizes and capacities?

Ideally, you will be able to visit a conference center in person before you book your conference. However, if you are unable to or you have too many centers to choose from and you want to narrow down your options, it is best to ask for the room sizes in addition to their capacities. While the room capacity can be helpful to know if you will have enough seats for people, if you are planning on setting up informational booths or engaging in activities that involve moving around, the actual room size and shape will give you a better idea of whether the conference center is a good fit for your needs. 

What technical equipment is included in the rental price?

Is video recording important to your organization? What about simultaneous translation? Some conference centers include their technical equipment in the basic rental price of their space. Others have a basic price for the space and chairs and an additional package if you need technical equipment such as projectors, video cameras, and translation rooms. If you do not need these extras, you may save money by opting for a center that charges separately for them. 

Will you be allowed to attach posters and other information to walls? 

Conferences tend to be a time to share as much information with the attendees as possible, which generally means that you will have several visual aids that you may want to display throughout the conference hall. Some conference centers welcome posters and other displays while others may insist on the usage of easels and booths to display information in order to protect their walls. If you have a lot of information to display, discuss with your coordinator about how you will display it before making your final decision.

Deciding on a conference center for your next large gathering may depend largely on location and finances, but make sure you ask these five questions before you make any final decisions about where to host your conference. Contact a venue service, like 4-H Youth Conference Center, to discuss what options they have available to you.