High-Tech Site Inspections A recent meeting in San Jose, Calif., demonstrated to me how much the high-tech demands of meetings have evolved. More than half of my group had notebook computers, and various Internet requests. At a first-class property, we still had to "borrow" power from neighboring meeting rooms. Even in terms of power usage--for a laser printer, laser pointer, and LCD projector for PowerPoint presentations--it was clear that our needs had grown beyond the hotel's capabilities. And this was for a "simple" meeting.

To ensure that a property meets your needs, check it out ahead of time. Here are some things to look for:

In the Meeting Rooms * Today's hotel meeting rooms should be wired with ISDN telephone lines and should offer a T1 line when needed. Start with a knowledgeable audiovisual company with technicians who don't pale when asked for ISDN lines. Some hotels already have them installed; others need two weeks notice to notify the local phone company. Be prepared to pay the tab.

* Facilities should make available electrical (power) drops for groups with heavy electrical needs. The hotel engineering department can often provide this service, but you must ask for it well ahead of the meeting.

* Before selecting an AV company, make sure it will provide a technician who understands computer projection.

* Ensure that the number of pixels on the LCD projector is the highest available.

* Look for lighting, sound, and temperature controls in each breakout room.

* Check out the sound system. High-quality sound is integral to a successful high-tech presentation. Try to attend an event on-site before your contract is signed to evaluate acous-tics--including how loudly sound carries from room to room.

* Make sure there are hang points on the ceiling that can support heavy equipment.

* Check for adequate ventilation and individual high-velocity air conditioning in each room.

In the Guest Rooms Attendees are no longer satisfied with balancing their notebook computers on their beds. More and more guest rooms (or concierge-level floors) now include computers, fax machines, and printers. Look for the following:

* In-room Internet access

* In-room voice mail

* Computer modem jacks

* At least two power outlets

* Multi-line phones

* Electronic check-out and a listing of hotel charges via a closed-circuit television channel

* A business center offering copying, computer and printer access, fax service, and desktop publishing.