February 1, 2011 by Jeff Hurt
Image by ervega.
While a journey is a road, not a destination, most meetings are about the destination not the road.
Choosing the right destination is critical to a meetings’ success. Effective meting professionals focus on two key factors in the site selection process:
The needs of an event must be identified first and then aligned with sites that can properly accommodate them.
Here are eight steps to successful site selection.
What is the purpose of the meeting? Is it to deliver education? To discuss business? To provide an exhibition of products and services? To network? Most meetings serve several purposes.
Collect past records of this meeting including attendance, attendance at each function, amount of meeting and exhibit space used, financials, food and beverage requirements, room block pick-up and schedules. A review and comparison of the past three years of history serves best.
If it is a first-time meeting, assemble historical data from similar meetings you conduct. Note: in today’s volatile economic climate, customer surveys may serve you better than historical data.
The meeting format and objectives will dictate most of the physical requirements.
Read Meeting Site Selection Cheat Sheet: Attendee Perspective for more information.
Many organizations establish a rotational pattern for future meeting sites, moving from one region to another. Consider travel convenience and cost for the maximum number of potential attendees. Then investigate major airline availability, total number of seats, etc. Once a general area is identified, determine the type of facility: airport hotel, conference center, convention center, downtown, resort or suburban?
There are numerous options to release RFPs to CVBs, hotel chains and multiple sites. Third parties can source your site options and often provide more buying power and klout than direct bookings. Hotels are most aggressive when they know that they are one of a handful of hotels being considered.
Site inspections are invaluable to judge the appropriateness and condition of the property. For larger programs, CVB’s and hotels may be willing to pick up your air after confirmation. Online features allow for virtual site inspections as well. Use a site inspection checklist like this one from Destination Meetings.
Each of these eight steps plays a key role in selecting a meeting site. How well the meetings needs are aligned with the facility will determine the success of the meeting.
How do a meeting’s objectives impact the site selection process? What additional questions would you add to step three, establish physical requirements?
Other Cheat Sheet Posts that might interest you.
Meeting Site Selection Cheat Sheet: Attendee Perspective
Cheat Sheet For Hiring And Paying Professional Speakers
Go Hybrid: A Live Streaming Cheat Sheet
Meeting Planners Cheat Sheet: Food
Meeting Planners Cheat Sheet: Beverages
Filed Under: Event Planning
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Jeff…great post, sometimes we just need to get back to the basics and good core practices. With that said the “network backbone” of facilities is greatly improving, but in many cases not at the rate of usage required by many events for items such as networked meeting rooms, digital signage, web casting, heavy wireless usage etc. No longer it is enough to ask if these services are available…the key is to understand the capabilities and capacities of these services and how they align with your meeting requirements to insure success. Your partners for these services can easily provide you specific ‘technical’ areas to look for.
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