So you're organising a conference and need a venue. Your first decision is invariably: residential or non-residential?
Both serve a purpose, and while they might seem interchangeable, they cater to different needs and audiences.
With that in mind, how do you choose which one is right for your event? Here’s some insight from St Catherine's College Oxford conference facilities.
Residential Conference Centres: Home from Home
One of the most obvious features of a residential conference centre is that it offers accommodation. This means attendees can stay on-site, eliminating the need to commute. This is especially beneficial for longer conferences or those located in remote areas.
At venues like St Catherine's College Oxford, not only is accommodation provided, but meals and other facilities too.
All-inclusive offers attendees a complete experience, freeing them from meal planning or finding dining options in an unfamiliar city.
With attendees staying on-site, there are increased chances for networking. These come courtesy of evening discussions and/or social activities. All these options can lead to valuable connections.
Cost: While the inclusive nature of residential centres is a plus, it can mean a higher cost per head.
You always need to factor in accommodation and catering expenses, which can inflate your budget.
Non-Residential Conference Centres: Flexible and Straightforward
As the name implies, these venues do not offer overnight stays. Attendees must find their own accommodation, which can prove a drawback if the centre is not close to hotels or in a city that’s particularly expensive.
Without the distractions of finding somewhere to stay, non-residential centres often provide a more concentrated conference experience.
Attendees arrive, engage in the conference, and leave… making the day's events more direct and to the point.
Generally, without the added expenses of accommodation and meals, non-residential venues can be more affordable. This can be beneficial for shorter conferences or for those on a tighter budget.
How to Choose?
For conferences lasting more than a day, a residential centre may be more convenient. It takes away the hassle of commuting and provides a self-contained more immersive experience.
If you're working within a tight budget, a non-residential venue might be a more cost-effective option. However, remember to factor in those expenses attendees might incur for meals and accommodation.
If your attendees are local, a non-residential centre might be preferable. But for an international or out-of-town audience, the convenience of a residential centre can be a big advantage.
If fostering connections among attendees is important, the close-knit environment of a residential centre is more beneficial.
The environment you want to create also matters. Residential centres often provide a more relaxed atmosphere, better suited to discussions and brainstorming. Non-residential venues might be more business-like and focused.
Both residential and non-residential conference centres have their pros and cons. At St Catherine's College Oxford, we offer a wide range of conference services suitable for all numbers and budgets.
Your final decision should hinge on the specific needs and objectives of your event. Whichever you choose, ensure you make the most of the unique strengths of the venue to deliver an impactful, memorable and enjoyable conference.