Executive Secretary for Leadership Development The United Methodist Church New York, N.Y.
“The primary things I look for are space, accessibility, and audiovisual equipment, in terms of whether they have an Internet connection that we can use for our presentations.
“Our conferences require many meeting rooms, including two ballrooms and several breakout rooms for separate sessions. As far as accessibility, I not only mean accessibility to the airport and local attractions but also accessibility within the hotel. I just attended a conference where attendees had to walk up a flight of stairs to the meeting room, and we want to make sure we find a location that is wheelchair accessible.”
C. Richard Rogers
Allegheny West Conference/Seventh-day Adventist Church Columbus, Ohio
“The main thing I look for on a site visit is the security of the facility. I've planned conferences in the past for young people, and it continues to be something that I find very important.
“The second thing I look for is cleanliness of the lobby and an attractive decor. Usually the condition of the lobby is a good indication of how the rooms are going to be. I also consider the friendliness of the receptionist or person checking me in and try to sense if they have strong organizational skills. If there is a concierge and/or bell captain, I also see if they are friendly and welcoming. First impressions are very important to me when visiting a potential conference site.”
Associate for GAC Administration General Assembly Council Presbyterian Church (USA) Louisville, Ky.
“We need a lot of space for breakout sessions at the sites we use. For example, our meetings could be divided into four divisions, and those divisions are broken into subgroups. So, for a couple of days during the time that we are there, we may need as many as 10 meeting rooms or more. We also look for a site that is easily accessible from both the airport and from area restaurants and attractions. We also like to have the meeting rooms within close proximity of each other so attendees can get to the meetings easily.”
Dianne Campbell Fuller
Tenth District Accountant and Convention Planner Tenth Episcopal District/AME Church Houston
“The biggest things I look for are convenience and comfort. I look for sites that are in an area where the hotel or convention center is close enough for our attendees to walk.
“I also look to see whether they provide nice amenities such as room service, early morning breakfasts, and a comfortable environment geared toward our needs. Do they have free shuttle service from the airport to the hotel? Is there a bell captain who will help our attendees with their luggage and get them settled in the hotel quickly? You can tell when the people greet you at a hotel whether they are genuine and whether they will extend this kindness to your attendees.”
Center for Anabaptist Leadership Pasadena, Calif.
“The people we deal with are what we're really looking at. The facilities themselves usually don't differ too much from place to place. What we're really looking for are individuals committed to the success of our conference.
“Also, our conferences are multicultural, drawing people from various parts of our country and the world. Some don't have much experience traveling and may be concerned about feeling like an outsider. We go to great lengths to make sure the people we work with will help to create an environment in which these individuals feel welcome and are an integral part of the experience.”