WE LOOK FOR CLEANLINESS and how professional the staff is. I work with a very unique audience (professional athletes), so we make sure the venue is beautiful and it's someplace I'd want to go. We want our groups to feel welcome, so we check that the transportation company is friendly.

We make sure that we have a good workout facility, maybe a spa for the wives, and that it's a relaxing getaway. We also look for first-tier cities.

And we look at food. The athletes are really conscious about what they're eating, so I try to get healthy menus. The trend is to get more and more healthy.
Darci Hanley
Conference Manager
Pro Athletes Outreach
Issaquah, Wash.

WE NEED CAPACITY for our crowds. Our largest event, which happens every four years, gathers 10,000 to 12,000 teenagers. We have to keep them safe without having to hold their hands. With such a big venue, we usually just need a convention center, with housing close by.

We try to avoid hiring buses, as it gets expensive quickly. We rely heavily on foot power — hotels within walking distance are ideal because that's free.

We had 10,000 teens in St. Louis in 2007, and the light-rail system was able to handle massive amounts of people at once, instead of kids trying to get taxis.
Teri Wagoner
USA/Canada Coordinator Assistant
Nazarene Youth International
Kansas City, Mo.

WE'RE VERY AUDIO-CENTERED. We need good acoustics and a location that is more than just a room.

I'd love to say that we could do it all over the Internet, but there you can't see if you can control the lighting in the room, or if the bathroom is way down the hall and then it's the nursery bathroom, or even how wide the hallways are. Six-foot hallways are useless. You can't get two meal carts down those hallways. Our director of technology goes on the trip along with the conference director.
Arvid Olson
Director of Development
Faith Baptist Ministries
Lafayette, Ind.

I LOOK AT THE CUSTOMER SERVICE of the property. Sometimes before I begin the formal site search with sales, I will just walk around the property to see how the staff will treat me. I also look at:

  • The actual upkeep/maintenance of the property;

  • Sleeping room and food and beverage cost for the specific program;

  • The flexibility of the hotel staff in working with my group and the special parameters of my organization; and

  • Actual location (distance to airport, entertainment and restaurants).
    Nicole Haliburton
    Conference Planner
    Victory Christian Ministries International
    Clinton, Md.

WE LOOK FOR THE SIZE of the accommodations and definitely the atmosphere. The atmosphere, ambience: Is it conducive to help enhance the message and execute the goal of the conference?
Michelle Grasso
Donor Relations Manager
World Hope International
Alexandria, Va.