During 12 years of negotiating with convention centers, Beth Hecquet, CMP, CMM, director of meetings and events, National Association of Sports Commissions, has compiled a list of questions to ask to help her control costs. Here is a sampling:

1.             Do you charge for table linens?  

2.             Do you charge for tables and/or chairs?

3.             How many room sets (or turns) are included in the rental fee before additional fees apply?

4.             Do you charge for pens, paper, mints, and water service at tables?

5.             Are there any days of the week or times of day that the dock is not accessible for load-in/out? What are your dock fees?

6.             Where and when is security required, including move-in/move-out days?

7.             Is a freight elevator operator required? If so, what is the fee and minimum time?

8.             What are the point and rigging fees and what are rules, regulations, and rates for riggers?

9.             What power is available in all meeting spaces under contract and what are the power fees, including electrician?

10.            Do you charge for lecterns and/or staging? If so, provide fees.

11.             Are there stagehand labor rules and regulations for load-in, show call, and load-out?  If yes, provide rates and contract(s).

12.             Is there a fee for using your house lighting system?  And is it customizable?

13.             Are there clauses required in venue contracts? If yes, share clauses/contract.

14.             Is your audiovisual provider exclusive? If not, are there financial penalties for bringing in an outside company? 

15.            Does venue have union contracts or other related contracts not allowing outside production vendor to use its own engineers and technicians? If yes, share contract(s).

16.             What other events are booked up to one week prior, during, and one week after our conference?