Consider your current office space: It has probably evolved over time to best serve the company’s needs—including the daily needs of all of your employees. The space has changed to offer the best layout and furniture and lighting. And so have the processes that happen within the space. All the different parts have come together over time to make a complex and well-oiled machine.
For an off-site meeting or conference, you’re planning to leave behind that infrastructure for a brand new site that hasn’t yet had the chance to respond to and evolve with your needs and operations. But that’s not all bad! Remember the advantages of getting out of the usual flow of routines and habits to get some fresh perspective and fresh focus, to revamp your goals, and refine your secret sauce recipe.
So, it comes down to choosing a conference center around Santa Cruz that has the structural and logistical capacity to support a swift micro-evolution like the one your home office has taken years to perfect. I know it seems like a tall order, but if you know what to look for—and you don’t look over some of the critical elements for success, this kind of venue relationship is absolutely within reach.
10 Things to Look for in a Ready-to-Go Santa Cruz Conference Center
What we’re focusing on here are the ingredients for a dynamic and progressive conference that you might take for granted and, ultimately, miss. So, when you’re narrowing down your list of potential conference centers throughout the Santa Cruz area, keep these considerations in mind—because if these things were to fall through the cracks, you don’t want to be the one scrambling to put the pieces back in place.
- Generous and Versatile Space
The space itself is a huge piece of this puzzle. You won’t really be certain about a venue’s suitability until you visit and see for yourself. Keep an eye out for these elements as they relate to your needs and goals:
- Variability of meeting space: suitable areas for registration, orientation, whole-group gatherings, breakout sessions, networking, dining, and breaks—including some quiet spaces for individual reflection and unwinding. It’s great when there are also some walking trails or other outdoor spaces to stretch.
- Versatility of space: If there is one primary meeting space you’ll be using but in different ways, it’s important that it can be adapted for these purposes.
- Accessible (and clean!) restroom facilities: Don’t take this one for granted. If it’s an older or converted property, those elements may not be as conveniently located as you might expect.
- Atmosphere: The overall feel of the place matters as much as the logistics. Is this venue going to inspire the kind of attitude and productivity you’re aiming for?
- Natural light: This is another element you don’t want to overlook. Are the meeting spaces shut in with few windows? Scientific research even promotes natural light over artificial light for alertness and productivity.
- No-Interruptions Guarantee
Many venues host multiple events at once—in different areas of the property—and there may be no guarantee that your conference won’t experience distractions that are out of your control. Then, there are venues that offer exclusive use, meaning yours is the only private event during your reserved time. Plus, in this exclusive case, you’ll enjoy the bonus of having all of the staff’s attention, unlike in the case of simultaneous events where they are stretching their energy and attention among different groups.
- Direct Support
Early on in the planning, you may be willing to take it all on, but when it comes time for the conference, you’re going to want to focus on your leadership function and interaction with attendees. Someone’s going to have to take charge of the logistics behind the scenes. To review: not you! Ideally, your conference center offers comprehensive support, including:
- Collaborative planning leading up to the event
- Setup and breakdown assistance from a full staff (especially when it comes to converting spaces for different uses)
- Coordination and troubleshooting during the whole event
- Transparent Pricing
Don’t waste your time with packages and pricing that aren’t clear and complete. You will be subject to certain service fees and taxes, but it should all be spelled out in the total price presented. Your ideal meeting venue will promise you no hidden costs and will be willing to communicate proactively about expectations on both sides.
- Technical and Business Tools
Once you’ve narrowed in on your meeting goals and the list of tools you’ll need to achieve them, be sure to bring that list along with you when visiting conference centers. Your best venues should be able to assure you that they have what you need or that they can help connect you with the necessary resources—like a partner vendor recommendation.
- Integrated Catering
Dining will be a part of your conference agenda, whether it is just a day meeting or a conference spanning days. It’s a surprisingly important part—that people will remember—but beyond the planning stage, it’s not something you should have to worry about. You may need to contract with an outside caterer, and you’ll need to work together to establish expectations, so meals do not interrupt the flow of intentional conference progress. Some venues actually offer in-house catering, and you can be sure they are experienced in operating around your needs. In-house catering can offer an important advantage of refreshment services throughout your conference, in between designated meals. So, your participants will have coffee, water, and small snacks ready to go as the real work continues.
- Vendor Recommendations and Partners
You may find that you need to contract with an outside vendor for technology help or entertainment. Your best-case scenario is when a venue can recommend reliable vendors who they know work well in the space and offer a stellar service. These conference centers are plugged into the Santa Cruz area network and have developed valuable connections along with experience.
- Ample Parking
Don’t let the issue of parking slip your mind. On the day you visit a conference center, you may find a space no problem, but are there enough spaces to accommodate your whole guest list? Is the parking free? And is the lot easily accessible, within a short walk from the venue itself? If you’re answering no to any of these, you may need to work an additional plan into your process—for shuttles or less expensive parking options in Santa Cruz.
- Nearby, Comfortable Lodging
Since your conference is going to benefit from your attendees’ immersion, your best bet is to have lodging options on site. This gives people a chance to retreat to their personal space for breaks, but it also keeps them connected to the conference flow. And it saves time compared to off-site lodging that would introduce a commute and potentially the need for shuttles.
- Team-Building Opportunities
If you have the chance to incorporate some team-building experiences while everyone is together and really present in this place, the potential benefit is immense. It’s one thing to just plan some simple exercises in the midst of your regular agenda events. It’s another thing if you can introduce unique and memorable experiences such as a ropes course or other activities dedicated to building team spirit and cooperation. (Check out some of these great team-building opportunities near Santa Cruz.)
When a Santa Cruz Conference Center Has All-Inclusive Amenities
How could you possibly take advantage of the clarity and expansiveness that comes with a spectacular setting change if you’re trying to pick up all the missing logistical pieces that didn’t really transfer over? When your Santa Cruz conference center can be your home away from home, you’ll be able to focus on your most important tasks and trust that your attendees will be well taken care of. Combine an ideal venue space capable of answering to your needs with that fresh and expansive perspective to kick your whole team into a new gear.
An all-inclusive meeting venue could mean the difference between an event you need to hold together all along the way and seamless success. That’s why Kennolyn offers everything at once, including attentive support from expert coordinators and staff. Give us a call to plan a visit and see if our Santa Cruz Mountain conference center inspires your goals.