What makes academic venues great places to host events? H&E North finds out why academic venues hold a unique position in the meeting and events world.
Words by Natalie Williamson, General Manager at Venuemasters
Let’s get some things straight. Academic venues are great places. They harbour a multitude of historical facts, features, people and events. They are places known across the world, and known as brand ambassadors for the cities, towns and regions they represent. Academic venues are exactly what they say they are. They are places that people meet to discuss, agree, disagree, confer and debate. Essentially, they are meeting places.
So, in essence here we have great places to host events. They are not the brand-led venues that we see on our high streets, they are first and foremost seats of learning, and secondly places to meet. And the staff and support that are responsible for the operation of making the learning work, or the people who make them work as venues.
So, why are they great places to host events?
One thing that makes academic venues so different to the competition is that they are often numerous types of venues in one location. Universities, for example, are often spread across huge rural campus or city centres, and might have its original 19th century teaching building, located adjacent to a newly built lecture complex with break-out and refreshment spaces.
Most academic venues can offer something different from the standard hotel meeting space. For the most part, universities have been around for many years and while they boast state-of-the-art conference facilities and all the latest audio-visual (AV) kit that goes with that, many of these facilities may be located in the most architecturally stunning historic buildings or be set within acres of beautiful parkland.
Academic locations are designed to cope with large numbers of people – many of them active, energetic types – and provide areas open and intimate alike where they can readily congregate and communicate. All colleges and universities have one purpose – to enable groups to meet and teach. And these spaces need to have cutting-edge AV equipment and the highly specialised technical staff to support it.
Coping with 1,000 students and staff wanting to get online means superfast Wi-Fi, above and beyond the standard of your standard meeting places. Another key reason why academic venues are great places to host events.
Getting the Best Value
One of the most important factors when planning events and conferences is going to be the budget available of the venue catering and accommodation. These venues can offer a flexible approach to pricing and how they quote, which some branded hotels are often unable to do. And, many still offer exceptional value, with day delegate rates as low as £18 a person.
The Kudos of Academia
With learning excellence top priority, most academic conference teams will tell you that their colleagues in teaching departments come to them first when they need the expertise to organise their research symposium or association or institute conference.
For event profs looking at universities, colleges or training venues this is a real opportunity and advantage to link with teachers, researchers at all levels to add to an event. For example, a HR conference could benefit from a keynote speech from an expert in management training, or a sustainability event, might want to tap into some ecological, global warming or green technology research.
Sleeping and Eating
On average we sleep for 25 years of our lives, and eat around 35 tons. Sounds excessive, but shows that in the context of meeting, it is an important aspect.
Academic venues are no longer niche propositions and over the last few years now sit comfortably alongside conventional event spaces, and do not compromise on standards in facilities, service, accommodation and catering. For example, many now boast chefs that have won prestigious culinary awards once seldom found outside the kitchens of five-star hotels.
Lodgings are not just student rooms. Many now have at least one bespoke high quality conference centre with everything up to bespoke four-star equivalent as part of their package. Don’t think in terms of the kind of accommodation you may have experienced when you were a student. In today’s learning establishments, almost all the rooms have en-suite bathrooms or showers and superb catering facilities that can feed any number of delegates, rapidly with quality cuisine.
Expertise on Hand
The conference management and events teams at our venues live and breathe events. Many of the team members have been there for a number of years and have probably seen it all. Although, in this industry there’s always something new coming along. So, you will benefit from continuity, friendliness and an altogether personal service, with a dedicated event manager, ready to help.