If you're looking to stage a conference, event or exhibition, one of the first decisions you've got to make is about location - where is the event going to take place? There may be a number of options available to you, but how many are really suitable for your needs? How can you tell a great venue apart from an average one?

There's a whole range of factors to consider, and you need to weigh up the importance of each as you look for the best possible site. Think about the practicalities of staging your event, the comfort and convenience for your attendees, and the size of your budget among other issues.

This should help you make the best decision, and secure the optimum site for your needs:

1. Is the size appropriate?

You don't want exhibitors and other attendees to be cramped for space, or have a restricted view if they are attending presentations or meetings. But equally, you shouldn't book premises that are far too large. If you're only going to use a quarter of the room, there's a danger the event will appear small-scale, even unprofessional.

2. Are there a variety of rooms?

Perhaps you want to set up a main room for keynote speeches and presentations, but also run smaller-scale seminars and workshops on the same day. If so, you'll need a number of meeting rooms to complement the main communal space, each fully fitted and equipped.

3. Can the space be customised?

Each event is different, and requires its own set-up and design. As such, a one-size-fits-all approach is useless. If you can't move around furnishings and fitting, and set rooms out according to your own requirements, this is likely to impact on the quality of the event and the satisfaction of those who attend.

4. Is the equipment up to scratch?

Any conference venue you book should have the latest equipment on-site for presentations, group addresses and group meetings. We're talking about strong, reliable connectivity, presentation tools, microphones and good lighting. Without these, you're going to be working with one hand tied behind your back.

5. How good is the catering?

Ideally, a conference, exhibition and event centre should have high-quality dining facilities, such as an on-site kitchen and restaurant. You should have a range of catering options, from high-class dining to a hot and cold buffet, depending on the size of your event and the requirements of your guests.

6. How accessible is the venue?

There are some delightful conference venues in picturesque settings which are just too difficult for people to get to. If the site is miles away from the nearest town and can only be accessed by narrow, difficult roads, this may dissuade people from attending. The best venues can be reached easily via a number of different forms of transport, including road, rail and bus.

7. Is it affordable?

To some extent, the quality of venue you can book will be in proportion to the amount you can afford to pay. If there is an unlimited budget at your disposal, then every luxury option is available to you. But still, some sites represent better value for money than others. You have to bear in mind the need to see a return on investment.