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:
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.