GERALD MAPSTONE
Executive Director
Life Impact Ministries
The Christian and Missionary Alliance
Lancaster, Pa.

When we look at a small city, we look at its airport facilities and the number of hotels that are close to the event.

For some of our events, the convention center has to be the first thing that we look at. Our youth convention needs 900,000 to 1 million square feet and 2,500 room nights. There will be 10,000 attendees in Orlando, Fla., in 2007, so for that event, that's where we start.

We will celebrate our women's event again in '08 in Louisville, Ky. That starts a little bit differently; we look at hotels. We can do an event for 1,000 to 1,200 people in a hotel that has nice meeting rooms and a ballroom. We do most of our catering on-site, so we don't worry so much about restaurants.

If people come from international sites, we look at the airports.

I like the smaller cities in the sense that they don't have the turnover in the industry. In bigger cities, there's more turnover in convention and hotel staffs.

DENISE ADAMS
Co-Chairperson
National Convention
Church of Christ
Tallahassee, Fla.

Hotels are the main factor for us, and shopping.

We try to put the 85 to 125 attendees of our women's retreat in a four-star hotel. It's hard in a smaller town, but it's doable.

St. Charles, Mo., invited us a few years ago. The city is very small to me, but I was very surprised to see it was workable. They were able to pull it off because the Holiday Inn was very nice and up-to-date. They did such an excellent job.

We like to pamper our ladies and give them a chance to stay in an upscale hotel. The other reason hotels are important is the food; upscale hotels are more likely to have a better selection and have better food. We always have a banquet and always have breakfasts.

As for shopping, we look for something small-town, reasonable, so malls or outlet centers. One of our hot priorities is to take the women shopping.

JUDITH JANZEN
Administrator
Church and Synagogue Library Association
Portland, Ore.

The No. 1 way we choose a place is by waiting for a chapter to invite us. There are 150 people who attend, but the hotels have to be large enough because we tend to be space hogs. We need five breakout rooms besides exhibit rooms, and we generally have at least six meals. Price is a big thing, too; we try to stay around $100 a night.

REBECCA ROSS
Planner
Gathering of the Children Ministry
Milwaukee

Hotel accommodations. We usually need meeting rooms, and for another group I work with we need meeting rooms and maybe a ballroom. Usually if you get the hotels, they don't have a ballroom.

We prefer larger cities, but usually for the dates we want, it's harder to get into the larger cities because they prefer to book larger conventions. My board meetings and regional meetings usually draw 100 to 200 people.

JOHN BLAKE
National Event Coordinator
Fellowship of Christian Cheerleaders
Lawrenceville, Ga.

Location — proximity to other large cities — and niceness of the city and area attractions and price are our criteria.

For travel, we like being able to pull people from another larger area conveniently. For example, if it's an hour from Atlanta, I know that I have a lot of customers in the Atlanta area.

I use small towns for smaller conferences, such as coaches' conventions where there might be about 100 attendees. Our larger conferences gather about 2,500.

For smaller conventions, you want to have a small-town feel, a cute little place.

We try to keep the meetings on-site in the hotel, but we also may plan one excursion off-site, such as dinner at a local place, or in the case of Gatlinburg or Branson, or Augusta, there are more local attractions that you don't want to miss out on.