A well-designed conference space can be a great additional revenue stream for your hotel, but design mistakes can cost you repeat customers. Today I’m looking at six things to consider when (re)designing your hotel conference facilities.
The most important thing to consider with any conference space is whether or not delegates will be able to hear the speaker. If you have a large space you may want to factor in a microphone and speaker set-up when designing the conference room, but this will be less crucial in a smaller space.
With or without a microphone, however, there are lots of ways that sound can disrupt a conference and make it more difficult for attendees to hear the speaker. Scraping chairs, squeaking furniture and loud footsteps from latecomers can all prove distracting. You therefore want to design your space to minimize acoustic distractions as much as possible.
Choosing high-quality furniture and implementing a regular maintenance schedule will help avoid unstable, noisy furniture, and choosing cushion-backed carpet tiles will help to reduce structure-borne sound such as furniture movement or foot traffic by as much as 50% compared with hardback carpet.
The design of your conference space influences how visitors view your hotel, and you’ll need to carefully consider your color choices. For example, bold colors and patterns may draw attention away from conference speakers, so walls will be better-suited to neutral or muted tones.
However, flooring offers you an opportunity to be creative, and create a distinct look for your conference space. Modular carpet tiles offer design capabilities that broadloom does not, and certain carpet dye technologies allow you to create extremely accurate, high-definition repeating patterns as small as a postage stamp, or as large as your conference space. So whether you want the company logo, brand colors, or a specific pattern, flooring is a great way to give your conference space that ‘wow’ factor.
A popular conference space will get a lot of use, so you want to know that you’re investing in furniture, technology and décor that will stand up to heavy, frequent use.
You don’t want chairs that need replacing every few months, and you don’t want furnishings that look tired and in need of replacement within a year. This is of particular concern if you’ve chosen a very modern carpet design: you don’t want it to look worn-out after only a few months of use. In this case you will want to consider the TARR rating of your carpet, and ensure that your carpet tiles are durable enough to meet the needs of your conference space.
Your choice of furniture is key to the aesthetics of your conference space, but you need to consider it from a practical perspective first - particularly the comfort and functionality of your furniture.
When planning the layout of your conference furniture, you want to ensure that your delegates have enough chair and table space to ensure that their attention is on the conference, rather than their seating. You don’t want people to be so close together that their elbows are touching and no-one has enough space at a table to take useful notes. While it may lower the capacity of your conference space, it will mean that your visitors have a more comfortable, enjoyable experience and are more likely to return.
Lighting design is particularly important in your conference space: your delegates need to be able to give presentations or show videos, and your attendees need to be able to take notes. This means you want an evenly lit space to minimize shadows or glare on the screen, but you still need to provide enough light for note-taking.
A layered lighting approach would work best, with ambient and task lighting. You will be able to dim the ambient lights but keep the task lights on, so attendees will be able to see the display screen, but also be able to take and read their notes.
Additionally, you want to make sure it’s easy for speakers to operate the lights. Can they turn lights on and off without interrupting their presentation, or is the light switch located at the other end of the room? Lighting control systems have improved significantly over the past few years, so you can get advanced controls at a reasonable price. A small investment here can make a big impact on your conference space.
There are two crucial considerations for the technology in your conference space. First, you need to have up-to-date, industry-standard technology that meets the expectations of your delegates. The last thing you want is for a speaker to show up expecting to share a video, only to realise your conference space isn’t equipped with sound.
Secondly, you need to make your technology as easy-to-use as possible. Anyone giving a presentation worries that something will go wrong with the technology they are using, or they won’t know how to make it work. If your technology set-up is easy to understand, your delegates will thank you for it.
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