Site Selections

Site Selection

The site makes the meeting. Ask the right questions to choose the best venue for your meeting.

Types of Sites to Consider:
  • Conference centers
  • Hotels
  • Resorts
  • Convention centers
  • Universities and corporate centers
  • Sleeping Rooms
  • Think about the number needed as well as the room types. Your audience profile and history will help you determine how many one or two bed, non-smoking or smoking, or ADA-accessible rooms you need.
  • Meeting Space
  • Before you begin the selection process, you must know the format and space needs of your program. It’s helpful to use the history of a similar meeting to determine meeting-room needs.

    Factors to consider:
    • Soundproofing
    • Individual-room HVAC (heating/ventilation/ air conditioning) and lighting controls
    • Flexibility of use, including 24-hour holds on space (with or without a charge)
    • Sound systems
    • Access to/quantity of telephones, restrooms
    • Recent renovations
    • High-speed Internet and Wi-Fi
  • Meeting Equipment
  • Request an inventory list to determine what kinds of equipment (tables and chairs, water pitchers, sign easels, etc.) are available from the facility for your meeting.
  • Other Groups
  • If you work for an organization that needs to keep security in mind, discuss with the site what your organization does, who the participants will be, and who your speakers, if they are high profile, will be.

    Ask what other groups are booked in-house and in the city during your program dates. At some point, you may want to determine what speakers are booked for other in-house groups. If one is a controversial figure, is there potential for demonstrations or picketing?

    Ask how the site coordinates with the Conventions and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and other hotels to avoid booking incompatible groups.

  • Costs
  • The obvious: Sleeping-room rates (or at conference centers, complete meeting package rates), taxes, and food-and-beverage prices.

    The not-so-obvious: F&B taxes and gratuities, service charges, and whether these are taxed; phone access fees including fees for high speed and Wi-Fi access; fees for using vendors from outside the facility or not on the facility’s preferred list; meeting room setup and rental charges; and surcharges such as resort fees or energy fees.

  • Life Safety
  • Check The Following:
    • Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) on site, and the number of life-safety-trained personnel on property as well.
    • Full-time security personnel and experience.
    • Location of hospital and fire/police and other emergency contacts relative to the site and to offsite events.
    • Site’s record of reported incidents.
    • Compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act and fire-safety laws.
  • Ancillary/Support Services
  • Obtain lists of service providers from the CVB, but also discuss your needs with the site. Types of services you may need:
    • Audiovisual equipment/services.
    • Business and office supplies and services.
    • Interpretation services for persons who are deaf or who speak another language.
    • On-property car rental or airline desks.
    • Exhibit decorators.
  • Transportation and Parking
  • Costs and availability of spaces and services (self vs. valet) may impact your meeting if you have many local participants, day guests or car renters.
  • Renovation Construction
  • Ask for details of the last renovation (hard and soft goods).

    Ask about future plans for renovation and expansion, or if the facility will eliminate meeting space or guest rooms in a renovation.

    Ask how the site has prepared to protect your meeting, just in case there is any construction work to be conducted in or around the property while your meeting is in progress, or work not completed prior to the group’s arrival.

  • Site Policies
  • Ask to see a list of site policies that may impact your meeting’s financial or operational scope. Consider:
    • Charges for early departures from, or extended stays in, guest rooms.
    • Substituting one participant’s name for another in the room reservation list.
    • Per-person daily resort or other fees for ancillary services.
    • Additional servers for meals above what a facility’s labor contract specifies.
    • Meeting-room rental charges if your group does not meet the hotel’s room block, even if there are scheduled food-and-beverage events.
    • Policies governing attrition, cancellation and termination.
  • Contractual Issues
  • Before deciding on a site, ask to see a copy of the facility’s standard contract, and specifically request to be informed of any language that is not negotiable.

    If your organization uses its own standard contract, provide any clauses that are “must-haves” for your meetings.

    Key clauses to consider: “walking” guests (relocation to another hotel), attrition, cancellation, termination, guest room name substitutions, reservation cut-off dates.