For hands-on tech learning, a dedicated computer training facility can have advantages over hauling equipment to a hotel meeting room. But buyer beware, says Jeff Allen, president of Tampa, Fla.-based Knowledge Development Centers: Many rentable computer classrooms are primarily focused on public training courses.

Allen's 12 facilities around the country, as you might guess, are not. They're aimed squarely at the corporate market, with the Dallas KDC facility even having earned membership in the International Association of Conference Centers. Allen offers the following tips when selecting a computer training facility. His big point — don't skip the site inspection.

  • Is the computer facility part of an office building, with the appropriate ambience, rather than a strip mall?

  • Is there a PC for each student? Is the equipment comparable to what your company uses? Do the workstations allow plenty of space for student workbooks and other items? Are they attractive and ergonomically correct?

  • Is there on-site support to handle software installations, equipment testing, and other technical help before, during, or after the event?

  • What presentation tools are available (graphics/video projection systems, screens, overhead projectors, video players, white boards, and CD players)?

  • Do you have a 24-hour hold on the classroom?

  • Are the rooms soundproof?

  • What kind of food and beverage service is available? How and where is it presented?

  • Do the students have access to a phone bank, fax machines, copiers, lounge area, and ample restrooms?