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Location Setting the Date Negotiations Timeline 


The meeting site is your meeting's environment. Once your meeting gets under way, there is little you can do to change it; for this reason, the location of the meeting is one of the most important steps taken in planning any meeting.

Convention Bureau / Chamber of Commerce Service

If the meeting requires more than one hotel, the services of a Convention Bureau or Chamber of Commerce are available in most cities in the United States and Canada. Both bureaus and chambers supply data on the hotels in their cities, will offer lists of suppliers for audio-visual equipment and photography, and will provide brochures on sightseeing and interesting facts about the city and its institutions.

Give the Bureau (or Chamber) details about your section, its recent meeting history including attendance, and your preference and the range of flexibility concerning potential dates, types of meetings, and exhibit patterns.

With the information returned, you have a clear idea of where and when your meeting can or cannot be handled, so you can now shelve the paperwork for awhile and get down to some legwork.

Types of Facilities

Your planner/coordinator will ask you for input regarding the different type of venues you can hold your event at. There are typically six types of facilities for your meeting: university facilities, convention or conference centers, large metropolitan hotels, airport hotels, small hotels, and resort hotels. Each differ by relative location to other activities, meeting space, services, and rates.

1. University facilities. Although unbeatable for rates, university facilities may lack contiguous space needed for convenient management of the meeting. This applies especially to exhibits and registration space, which should always be part of the main traffic flow.
University facilities often have a conference staff that can be very helpful; however, other services may be difficult to get. Good quality equipment and services are very important in arranging for audio-visual and decorating services. Electrical hook-ups and phone outlets are increasingly important and frequently in short supply in campus set-ups.
2. Convention centers. Convention centers come in all shapes and sizes, but are most often operated by the city or state, which sets the predetermined rates and terms of use. The advantage is that the space is adequate for convenient set-up of session rooms, exhibit and poster booths, registration, and offices. Use of convention centers helps to keep your registrants together in one location and encourages colleague contact.
Many convention center catering services offer food and beverages at lower cost than hotels. You may be sharing the building with another group and should always know the details about this group and its requirements.
3. Large hotels. Large hotels usually offer the most in facilities—more meeting and banquet rooms and more hotel rooms and suites. You have a greater choice of rooms for your sessions. Another advantage of a big metropolitan hotel is that it usually is in the heart of the city, near major attractions. There is usually a broad range of after-hour activities. This may also prove to be a disadvantage in that all the outside attractions might siphon off your attendees.
4. Airport hotels. Airporthotels are a relatively new kind of facility for meetings. Built on the outskirts of the city and near major airports, the new airport hotels rival many downtown hotels in facilities and services.
The advantage in transportation is great. Parking is little or no problem for those who drive. A disadvantage of the airport site is its remoteness from the downtown for those who seek after-hours entertainment and for those who want to shop during the day. There are fewer distractions at the airport facilities, but when attendees do wander off to the city, you may lose them for the entire day.
5. Small hotels. The advantage of a small hotel is that you are the prime customer. Your group gets the attention because, in effect, you take over all or most of the facilities. A disadvantage is that you have less choice in meeting rooms and sometimes there are less sophisticated staffs to service specialized needs.
6. Resort hotels. Resorts offer many advantages for meetings. Fun and recreational facilities are abundant. In addition, attendees are likely to stay together and you have more control over the group. Services at resorts tend to be more personal, and meeting facilities usually are good. Off-season rates can be especially attractive.

Investigate the Site (see checklist)

With your input, the planner/coordinator will narrow down a list of viable options to hold the meeting. A site visit will be arranged such that the local committee can tour each facility. Notify the Director of Sales at the facility that you want to inspect the property with the possibility of scheduling a meeting.

What specifically are you looking for during this inspection?

1. General condition of the facility and its meeting rooms.
Ask questions! When was the hotel last renovated? Is a renovation scheduled? Will construction be planned during your meeting?
2. Accommodations. Ask to see a selection of rooms. Standard, King Suites, Parlor Suites, and Executive Suites. Rooms should be checked for cleanliness, conveniences, condition of furnishings and décor, and noise. Compliance with ADA standards is a must!
3. Service. Remember to look at the place through your members' eyes. Ask to see the “Back of the House”. The kitchen and food service areas, housekeeping, corridors, and dock areas are important. Look for cleanliness.
Do the same at Guest Check In, Lobby, Bell Stand and Valet.
Take note of how the staff interacts with the guests and with each other. Professionalism behind the scenes is a good indication of how the staff will carry themselves in front of guests.
4. Meeting Rooms. Number, size, and type of meeting rooms; notice pillars, obstructions, and ceiling height. Do the rooms have built in Audio visual equipment? Can we you use an outside vendor for AV and Decorating services? Check for the presence of outside distractions (i.e. windows and street noise).
5. Transportation facilities. Look for frequency and convenience of cabs, shuttles, trains and flights.
How far away is the airport?
6. Exhibit space in an appropriate location. Exhibits should be located in a highly visible space with room enough for easy flow of traffic. Your welcoming reception will coincide with exhibits opening so plan for enough room.
7. Registration area. A location visible to arriving guests and close to meeting space is best. The registration area is a busy area and serves as badge pick up as well as onsite registration. Enough space needs to be provided to handle several people arriving at the same time.
8. Facilities, equipment, and services; assess this in terms of what the facility will supply, what the Convention Bureau will supply, and availability of outside sources for other materials.
9. Discuss possible plans for renovations or expansion of facilities.
10. Compliance with ADA standards.