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.
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
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.
Convention centers. Convention centers come in all
shapes and sizes, but are most often operated by the city or
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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!
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.
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).
Transportation facilities. Look
for frequency and convenience of cabs, shuttles, trains and flights.
How far away is the airport?
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.
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.
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.
Discuss possible plans for renovations or expansion of facilities.