Claudia Gorski Director of Meetings, American Meteorological Society, Boston
We look for the traffic flow of the hotel/convention center. Since so many of our attendees jump from one session room to another, we need to have the rooms in close proximity to each other. We also want to have a variety of food options nearby, ranging from take-out to sit-down meals. Having our contracted hotels in walking distance to the center is also important for our attendees.
Margaret Trotter Meetings Manager, the Society for Clinical Data Management, Milwaukee
We Want to be close to an international airport, no further than 15 miles. SCDM's international participation has increased in the past few years and continues to grow each year.
We need a large venue for our awards reception. It has been at interactive event locations in the past [Dallas Cowboys Stadium in 2008, Seattle's Experience Music Project 2009]. The space needs to be large enough to accommodate all of our attendees at an awards presentation.
We prefer meeting space on one level. If it is not on the same floor, it is a huge negative. We have made it work in the past, but we are getting more used to having space on one level.
Room rates and concessions offered by the hotel are important. Our chair receives a complimentary suite every year; this is something we would like to continue. Also, we are very concerned about the comp rooms and upgrades SCDM receives because we give these to the VIP speakers.
Finally, the room rate is very important as this conference draws attendance from all levels of SCDM. Therefore we have to be cautious as our attendees have not experienced huge room rate increases throughout the years.
Paula Rigling, CAE, CMP President, Meeting Planning Professionals, Austin, Texas.
What I look for varies depending on the size of the meeting, its purpose, and the needs of the group. For a large conference for 1,000 people or more, I look for a hotel in an area surrounded by a variety of attractions, restaurants, and shopping for their free time.
In the meeting space, I'm looking for enough room for all our breakouts, convenience of rooms to each other, preferably on one level to maximize group movement during breaks and passing periods, and adequate onsite outlets to handle the group's need for networking and gathering on their own in lounges, bars, or restaurants.
For a board retreat, I look for unique areas and venues on property to host various breaks, receptions, meals, and after-dinner get-togethers in order to break up the monotony of spending all their time in meeting space.
Jo Angela Maniaci, CMP Owner, Special Events Planning LLC, St. Paul, Minn.
Before I even think about doing a site visit, I work through a process I created that sets the event's Return on Objectives. This process is usually completed with a conference planning committee and answers all the questions needed to shape the event, including defining the type of site needed to support the outcomes/objectives established for the meeting.
Once the specifications of a property are clarified and communicated through a well-crafted RFP or lead request, I have already narrowed down the types of properties to consider for the event and, thereby, the number of site visits I need to make. When it is time to do a site visit, it is merely a matter of seeing how well the property fits and supports the ROO parameters. Then I look for other things, like in-room coffee makers, hair dryers, and other amenities that are secondary to ensuring that the site enhances what you have defined during the ROO process.