Selecting a meeting site, whether for a presentation to 10 local real estate professionals or for an annual education event for 200, is a critical factor in the success (or failure) of your meeting. To select a proper site, you must identify the needs and objectives of your event and find a venue that can properly accommodate those needs and satisfy those objectives. Overall, you’re looking for a comfortable and pleasant environment that is logistically suitable for your event.
The site selection process can be divided into eight steps:
1. Identify meeting objectives
The primary purpose of your meeting may be to deliver education, discuss business, or simply be for social interaction. The meeting’s objectives will help determine the proper setting.
2. Gather historical data
Gathering information about similar past events will help you with your plans. It also helps a facility determine if your meeting is a valuable piece of business. Historical data includes dates, size and location of past events, sleeping room requirements if applicable, food and beverage spending, etc. A facility will use this information to decide whether or not to accept your business.
3. Determine the physical requirements for the meeting
These include preferred dates, sleeping rooms, meeting space, catering needs, exhibit space, etc. The historical data collected in Step 2 will help you project attendance and other factors that dictate physical requirements.
4. Consider attendee interests and expectations
Ask yourself what surroundings will please attendees. Is a quiet setting preferred? Will guests be invited?
5. Select an area to hold your meeting and type of facility
Consider travel convenience, cost, accessibility, etc., as you narrow your selection.
6. Prepare meeting specifications and a request for proposal (RFP)
A well-constructed RFP allows the facility to evaluate the appropriateness of what it has to offer for your particular group. RFPs should be submitted to several properties that meet your needs so that you will have comparisons available to assist you in making a final decision.
7. Review and evaluate sites
Based upon your RFP, the facility will determine if it can satisfy the physical requirements of your meeting. If it can, you should receive a proposal with detailed information on what it can offer. Carefully review each proposal to determine which facility best satisfies your meeting requirements and attendees’ expectations.
8. Select the site
Once you have made your decision, inform the facility of your intent to bring them a meeting. In turn, you should receive a letter of agreement that outlines the space requested and held. Negotiations on space and costs should follow, and then, when all sides are comfortable with the specifications, you are ready to go to contract.
By following these eight steps, you should end up with the perfect spot for your important event.