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ARCHIVED  August 27, 1999

How to choose a meeting space

Don’t go thinking that the personnel at meeting and conference facilities will know — or have — what you need for your next business meeting. You should know in advance what you really, really want.

Then what are your plans for after the meeting? As the saying goes, all work and no play` Some facilities provide tennis courts, fitness centers and swimming pools onsite.
Don’t forget the little things, such as parking, audio-visual equipment and multiple telephone lines. Those “little” things can turn into a big headache if they’re not available.
The best way to ensure that you are picking a choice space is to visit the facility. Lay down on the beds if your employees will be rooming overnight in a hotel, make sure there’s enough parking to accommodate the participants, and check out the meeting rooms to see if they are large enough.
Do you like the setup? Do you want to have big windows, or do you want a more private room? Do you want a theater-style meeting room or a classroom setting with tables or desks so that people can take notes? Does the facility have audio/visual equipment available or will you need to rent it from another company? Will you need help or a tutorial for running the equipment? What is the final cost going to be? Do they have package deals with any special discounts?
You’d be surprised how often people speak in generalities; then don’t get all of what they really want come meeting time. That’s why you should get a contract, complete with meeting date and time and the number of people expected. You should have this information before you even call a facility to schedule a meeting.
A ballpark figure shouldn’t suffice, especially if you are planning to advertise your meeting months ahead — the expected number of 100 attendees could triple to 300 on the day of the meeting.
Early planning is key. Most facilities are booked up in early summer and winter months, so lead time for a large group should be three to six months for optimum results.
If you can’t visit the facility, check with people who are familiar with the facility. What was their experience? How did they get their mission accomplished? You also might ask if the meeting facility has a meeting planners’ kit or a Web site, so that you can see what’s available.

Don’t go thinking that the personnel at meeting and conference facilities will know — or have — what you need for your next business meeting. You should know in advance what you really, really want.

Then what are your plans for after the meeting? As the saying goes, all work and no play` Some facilities provide tennis courts, fitness centers and swimming pools onsite.
Don’t forget the little things, such as parking, audio-visual equipment and multiple telephone lines. Those “little” things can turn into a big headache if they’re not available.
The best way to ensure that you are picking a…

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