Despite any good event planner has several trusted locations, selected on positive and negative experiences over the years, it is not uncommon to have to find new accommodations for conferences in geographic areas in which we have less confidence.
What are the locations of our selection criteria?
- The needs of the customer: how many delegates will participate, serving more rooms for meetings that will take place simultaneously or a single event hall in plenary, a poster session (paper?), Multimedia facilities, one-day event or more, catering special, etc..
- The conference target: phd’s and students, amateur associations, professional or luminaries and “VIP”. The higher is the “category” higher will be guests’ expectations, as well as their needs (eg connection with his working team). Similarly, the country of origin: local, national, international … as I take them all in the location?
- The “plus” desired by the customer: relax areas, swimming pool and sports fields, proximity to particular sites related to the event theme or possible cultural outings, presence of open positions for discussion between sessions of the congress, which suggestion you want to give to your guests … and so on and so forth!
These are the elements that allow us a first screening, on paper, the locations in a given geographical area, thanks to their location, the proximity to airports and stations, to their being isolated or in the downtown, their capacity etc. etc.:
The first collection of information channels
- Website: a good site, with detailed informations, specific references for us organizers, many of the local images for previous layouts, gives a better impression of the location. In addition, according to a recent study, when are the companies organizing the event itself, the executive assistants make their choice online: consult the hotel website and verify their online reputation. A location that is attentive to what its customers want and how to listen to its possible customers, keeps their reputation online, is reputed to have careful management to customer care and is therefore also a good partner for us.
- Phone call: the competence and helpfulness of the staff should emerge clearly from the first contact. If all staffs must be able to answer our questions, then they will be able to respond to guests requests, too.
A partner who can anticipate our needs, can become a precious treasure during the conference preparation. If those who manage the location can also offer specific advice on how his location can best meet the needs and the wishes of our client, our work will certainly be facilitated.
Already on the phone so you can get an idea of the “savoir faire” of our partner: indifferent, formal, helpful but not intrusive, pushy, etc.
The final word: site inspection
The real litmus test is only and solely the site inspection: 56% of the location is chosen after 1 or 2 inspections.
Nothing like our own eyes, can convince us of the adequacy of a location, because only we know how our congress had to be. It is clear that this option is to be reserved for a maximum ofone or two locations, that have distinguished themselves as the best among all those analyzed.
Some points to be agreed prior to going on our likely partners:
- Spaces preparation: empty or equipped? If we are missed architects, we can imagine our space as we would like it, just based on the walls and a map … If not, to see how they set up the premises in a previous Congress, can help us to have a better idea. For example: 500 seats declared places, may prove to be a hoax if the chairs are so close that our guests will stay one in the other arm! Or lines so distants they have to keep the knees in the mouth!
- Dynamics of the event: it is necessary that all the points touched by the congress stream, becomes available during the inspection. It is important to understand how our spaces are positioned relative to each other, since the coffee break is near, where’s the catering, the registration point etc.
If the coffee break is served on a charming terrace-attic, definitely it does more than hit, but if it takes 10’ before all guests reach it and the same time before they are returned to room, I have to deal with the times and figure out if I can put a 40’ break in the morning session. And if lunch shifts to half past two pm? and all program blow out?
- Special Requirements: must be clarified immediately, in order to understand the flexibility and the possibilities of our location. Our congress is dedicated to Paralympic sports? There will be special accessibility requirements. It’s a conference sponsored by the celiac disease associations? Then they will have to be guaranteed certain mandatory standards in catering. It is the gathering of Alcoholics Anonymous? We must get rid of all the alcohol and the partners must be willing to accept a list of aliases in lieu of real names, etc. etc.
Once it is fully understood, the inspection will be really the most useful step to choose our location: see reachability, live in the atmosphere, ensure the logistics of the spaces, understand the availability of staff to customers, imagine how it will be our conference if it takes place there.
And at this point you’re done!