A responsible choice for your event

In the past, the perception of universities as conference venues has been somewhat negative and the view was that facilities were not of an adequate standard to host events. The view today has changed with more and more investment being put into university accommodation and facilities.
    
As a result of this more and more event organisers are beginning to realise the quality of academic venues on offer. Lecture theatres are no longer shabby, nor are residential facilities reminiscent of our old student digs. They are in fact high quality, well furnished spaces built with not just the student in mind but the conference delegate as well.
    
Universities offer outstanding purpose-built meeting and accommodation facilities set in unique environments. Many universities have year round availability with a full range of residential facilities available in the holiday period. Lecture theatres, seminar rooms and bedrooms can lie empty for up to six months of the year in some instances. Increasingly Oxford University and its Colleges are opening their doors to the events market; Conference Oxford, the bureau for the University, now has a total of 55 venues on offer to event organisers.

First rate event management
Conference Oxford is the only central enquiry point for the availability of University and College facilities for conferences and accommodation, whether the organiser is planning a small meeting or a large group. The ‘Conference Oxford Service’ provides a free venue search amongst the University and its Colleges, a support network dedicated to meeting the particular needs of your group, advice and help on planning your event or day to day itinerary as well as providing information on useful external facilities and contacts locally. Having a conference bureau specific to the Collegiate University of Oxford helps to further pull together the right facilities and resources for your event and offers first rate event management.
    
So why are academic venues a good choice for your event? Well, any university aims to be a centre of excellence in learning and fundamentally learning is what meetings and events are all about. They aim to educate, inform and enlighten an audience in any chosen field.

The facilities usually used for student learning lend themselves to delegate learning too. Lecture theatres with large screens, AV infrastructure and nearby breakout rooms provide convenient spaces for such events.

Many universities also have historic buildings steeped in history that can give any event a dramatic back drop with no need for expensive dressing. Universities also push the boundaries with ultra modern buildings architecturally designed and visually stunning, offering something very different from the traditional purpose built conference venue or large hotel.

Something for everyone
The wide choice of accommodation available at universities can mean a range of prices are found, with ‘something for everyone’ in terms of meeting a budget. Universities have accommodation available on-site or close to the event location, meaning the process of researching and booking accommodation is simplified and centralised. The standard of accommodation on offer is consistently being raised in line with demand for residential events. Many university bedrooms now come with en-suite facilities and a wireless connection for delegates to be able to carry on their work away from the meeting, or stay in contact with their office.
    
Universities have also made improvements in the kitchen. Award-winning chefs are now the employees of choice, producing catering that can compete with any top venue and guests can expect the highest quality of food on offer whether a buffet or a six course silver service banquet.
    
One of the other great things about universities is the frequency of venues within close proximity to one another, this is especially enjoyed by the larger seminars or conventions where many different events are running at one time. With environmental issues ever more at the forefront of people’s minds the fact that delegates can often walk from one venue to another is an obvious bonus. Universities are often blessed with excellent public transport facilities, which mean delegates can not only arrive at an event by train or bus, but can travel to and from venues with relative ease.
    
Historic character
Most academic campuses also offer well kept grounds and historic character. Holding a meeting or event in a venue such as Oxford’s St Anne’s College, set in five acres of leafy grounds, can go a long way for any event. A peaceful and attractive environment will often provide the basis for a more attentive and captive audience.
    
Universities are also a great source of speakers; alumni keynote speakers provide a great source of entertainment as they can add knowledge of the location and their experiences to their speeches, bringing an event to life.
    
So what about the people who live and work at universities on a regular basis, how does all this affect them? Students benefit since the revenue from conferences and events offsets overheads and enables investment in services and facilities; buildings can be updated, research programmes and other learning facilities also benefit from the boost in resources.

Valuable contributor
By holding a meeting or event at an academic venue, your business will benefit from the vibrant, lively, highly cultured and sophisticated community universities have to offer. It will also boost any business’s CSR policies as the revenue invested in meetings and events is a valuable contributor, helping to pave the way for the country’s next generation of business leaders, scientists and philosophers.
    
So the next time you are looking for a venue that is truly unique and inspirational it is a strong recommendation to include academic venues in your search; you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the variety of choice on offer.

Examples of conference Oxford facilities
The Said Business School, the fastest growing business school in Europe, houses one of the largest lecture theatres in Oxford. The auditorium has hosted many statesmen including Nelson Mandela and Al Gore. The state of the art facilities provided for some of the world’s greatest business minds are also just what a corporate client is looking for when hosting a conference. Previously these event spaces were reserved for academic use but now even the most exclusive University facilities are being made available to the event organiser.

Christ Church is also another popular venue within the Conference Oxford portfolio. Any Harry Potter fan will recognise the stone staircase leading to Christ Church’s Tudor Hall as the very spot from which Professor McGonagall welcomed the expectant Hogwarts’ students in the first Harry Potter film. Christ Church was chosen for filming because of its stunning architecture and magnificent, magical quality. It now acts as an enchanting setting for all types of events including private dinners and garden parties. 

For more information
Web: www.conference-oxford.co.uk

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