Stealing the scene

The Emirates Spinnaker Tower,
Portsmouth, UK

In your haste to ensure your venue has the latest high-tech spec and newest innovation in event technology, Cora Lydon asks whether you’re overlooking something very simple but very important: a venue’s outlook and view

Whether it’s sweeping panoramas of rolling hills, the bustle of a big city skyline or the rolling waves of a beachside spot, your venue’s view can really add something special: clever PAs are getting this very basic requirement spot on before focusing on the bells and whistles.
Of course, that’s not to say you should shun all venues that have no more to offer in the way of interesting vistas than four brick walls – views should simply be one of many factors you take into consideration.
Think about how that view will enhance your event – will it draw people in? Is it a scene that people won’t want to miss and, therefore, RSVPs for your event will be healthy?
But you also need to think about how appropriate it may be: if you’re organising a networking event, an incentive group or an occasion to thank staff and clients then a good view can do wonders – and if it’s a group of people who don’t yet know each other it can also be a great ice-breaker.
However, if it’s an internal meeting, conference or boardroom-style meeting then other factors (like the AV capabilities, accessibility or on-site amenities) can take priority.

Aim high
PAs would be wise to spend some time considering what their event’s main aims are and then combining this knowledge with what various venues can offer in order to pair the aim of the occasion with the view on offer.
Big skies and crashing waves at seaside locations can be awe-inspiring for delegates tasked with developing new ideas and innovative thinking. And if you have reason to believe it may be a long and tense session, a beachside location can allow delegates space to relax – there’s a reason why so many relaxation CDs include the sound of lapping waves.
Big cities also offer plenty of scope for a magnificent view – try to make it spectacular and take people up on to a rooftop to really take their breath away. A city centre event is also likely to be less of a logistical nightmare for you as the organiser: travel options will be plentiful for both guests and any services you’re bringing in, such as catering and entertainers.
It might also be time to think outside the box too: a view doesn’t even have to be an obvious green space or seascape vista. It could be relevant to the topic being discussed or something totally off-the-wall – what about somewhere that’s been used as a movie set, offering a view delegates have seen on the big screen?

Weighing it up
As a PA holding the purse strings you need to weigh up whether working with a view is worth any potential extra cost. Almost any venue with a decent view will come with a premium; the amount depending on other factors like the location and standard of interiors.
If you’re trying to cut costs, look for where you can negotiate. During the summer, rooftop city terraces are in hot demand whereas in the winter they may not be as attractive – except at Christmas, perhaps, when they’re transformed into winter wonderlands. Why not secure the dreamy venue with a discount out of season and dress it up with heaters, cosy blankets and glasses of warming mulled wine?
If you have your heart set on a location, consider whether the view is such that you can cut back on the dressing of the room and allow the vistas to speak for themselves. Will the outlook significantly improve the overall impact and success of the event? Or would an alternative luxury venue without a view be just as impressive?
You need to consider the view alongside all other points about the venue: if it has a view to die for but it’s tricky to access, your guest numbers could dip – or you may end up splurging on helicopters to ferry your guests to some remote spot.

Making it work
Once you’ve secured your view, make the most of it. Which parts of the occasion will really benefit from the view? During important meetings it could be too much of a distraction but at registration it gives lonely delegates something to focus on and a talking point for networking.

Finally, do always think outside the box: everywhere has a view but the question is whether it’s a view that can add to your event. Stunning views come in all shapes and sizes so don’t immediately opt for the obvious: a great view is one that will elevate the occasion, provide a talking point, entertain guests, boost numbers and keep people talking after the event.