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default-16x9 offers itself as a gateway to 4000 venues around the UK.

Launched in September this year by individuals with much experience of the conference market, the site offers access to venues available for conferences and corporate events, together with access to hotel accomodation. Information can be searched for by region, county or postcode, and details of room capacities and late availability can be accessed up to six months ahead (hence the website name). Contact details are given for tourist boards in the UK and overseas, while a directory of overseas venues is developed for the site. There are also links to related services such as event management, video conferencing and even train and helicopter hire! The site doesn't actually offer online booking, but this is not necessarily a bad thing for this sort of site, as very few seem to be doing it successfully at present.

The site offers listing space for venues which can be edited and updated by suppliers themselves, allowing them for example to change information on late availability. It is however lacking in specific information on costs - nowhere on the site does it tell you how much advertising will be. Instead, you're invited to submit a form-to-mail and a quote will be sent on to you.

In terms of the actual content of the venue listings, more detailed records for more of the venues listed would be useful - many areas only have three or four venues with full details (there are no maps or other details for any venues in North Wales, for example) with the remaining places just listed with a 'phone number. Some venues do have links to their own websites or e-mails and a map giving details on how to reach them, which is more useful, and for those with more detailed records available you can view room prices and availability online. The search facility allows you to search on late availability, conference rates, venues, special offers or weekend breaks. When we checked there were some special offers available, but not that many - West Central London only yielded one special offer, Surrey had three, Tyne and Wear one again and Oxfordshire one.

If you register on the site you can add your potential bookings to a list to be remembered for later. The website will also forward your details on to all the venues listed, presumably so that they can contact you themselves, although this isn't made clear on the site. Given that you can't actually book online this service seems to be of limited value, and given that you can access all of site without registering it's difficult to see what real benefit you gain from doing so, apart from 12 e-mails a year which they will send you with information on 'new and important developments in the conference industry'.

To conclude, has the potential to be a really useful site, but like many still in the early stages of development it's lacking in content. It could also do with a bit more information on the benefits of registering and more emphasis in general on the benefits of using the site, either to search or to advertise - it doesn't really jump out at you enough!

Similar sites to try:
TrainingZONE's own venues directory at


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