Planning an off-site meeting that involves group travel? Quite a few people end up having to plan both formal and informal meetings at a location other than their workplace. The following ten items should be considered before you begin your search for a group friendly hotel or conference center.
Determine a general region that you want to hold you meeting in. If the attendees are spread out over several states, then picking a location that is central to all makes the most sense. If however, there are a couple of states that have a majority of attendees, then holding it in one of these locations would probably be the best scenario. If you are holding an incentive trip, then you need to pick a location that is suitable to those needs as well. (Ad Alert – Of course, once you settle on a city for your group travel event, you can get great group rates for hotels through our website).
This will help narrow down your search as well. Take you total budget an divide by the number of overnight rooms your training will need and that should give you an idea of what overnight room rate you can afford (e.x. Budget is $10,000 and # of overnight rooms is 100. Dividing the first number by the second will give you an average room rate of $100). Knowing this will help you narrow down your choices.
Purpose Of Trip
Is your trip a one day training or is it a corporate retreat? Knowing the purpose will help you narrow down what kind of hotel would suit your needs. For a short training, you could use an airport hotel, but for a three to four day conference, you really want to pick a downtown location that has a lot of things attendees can do when they are not at the meeting.
In any city, there are many different locations. The main ones you should be aware of are Airport, Suburban, Highway, and Downtown. Airport locations are best for short one day meetings. Suburban and highway hotels are probably best for one to two day meetings that are on a smaller budget. Downtown is really suitable for any one day seminars to ten day corporate retreats. Downtown locations also require the largest budget.
Time of Year
Planning a December meeting in Florida is very different from planning a meeting in Boston as they both have differing profiles due to their business patterns. A city like Miami is extremely busy during the traditional winter season as the weather there is quite mild. Rates will be high and hotels in the area will be inflexible to even the smallest demands.
However, setting up a December meeting in Boston would be welcomed by the area hotels as this is a “need” dates. The winter is not kind to hotels in the northeast so if your budget is tight, we would recommend holding your northeast meetings in the winter.
Length Of Stay
If you are planning a one day event, then a local hotel is probably the best bet as it will cut down the drive/travel time for most attendees. If your event is longer than three or four days, then you want to consider flight times, and what days of the week are most suitable for your attendees. Most multi day meetings will start on Monday or Tuesday and will be over by Thursday to allow for a travel day on Friday.
Length Of Meeting
Is the meeting a 9-5 event or will there be some shorter days. If the schedule is staggered, then you want to give your attendees some suggested things to do during their down time. Doing this kind of research ahead of time is always appreciated by attendees and goes a long way to creating some goodwill for when they are asked to rate the meeting.
Before you set your dates in stone, look around for any city wide events that are taking place. If there is a big event like the Kentucky Derby or Spring break, then it will be tough to find a reasonable rate at any hotel. You want to avoid locations where the hotels have the ability to dictate their terms due to their occupancy. Look for pockets of low demand and book during those times.
Hotel Chain/ Independent/ Boutique
If the meeting is about making an impression with buyers or creating a aura of exclusivity, then you may want to try a boutique hotel that offers some local flavor. If however, you are setting up a local seminar training sales people, then maybe a chain property will do just fine. The type of hotel you select tells a lot about your company and what you are trying to achieve so do not make this decision lightly.
More and more of your attendees are looking online at the hotels that they are staying at. Picking a hotel that has not so generous comments on sites like Tripadvisor may actually discourage employees/vendors/customers from attending your meeting.
If you pick a hotel with a so-so reputation and your attendees end up with a bad experience then you can expect to see lower satisfaction scores for your meeting even of everything else was perfect. Before you commit, make sure you check out what the perception of the hotel really is.
The tips above should provide a great start to your hotel search. As always, if you need the lowest group rates at hotels, fill out our form and watch the power of automation in action.
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