As meeting planners, many of us are involved in process of selecting a destination for Conferences. Criteria that meet your client, company or association’s needs are an important foundation for a successful event.
The following are some areas to consider when deciding your next meeting destination:
1.) RFP-Host Bid based on the Conference’s Request for Proposal (RFP) document
2.) Physical facilities for the conference, including the convention center and hotels
3.) Destination/city’s interest in hosting the conference
4.) Access and affordability of nearest airport
5.) City attractiveness to the conference delegates
The RFP is the blueprint the spells out your needs to produce a successful event. Destinations need to address all requests in the RFP for you to rank the Bids from the interested parties. A specific, detailed RFP is imperative. Meeting space, audiovisual, housing, transportation, host requirements, food & beverage and conference dates are just some of the items that are included in the Bid Document. Each item needs to be addressed so there is no guesswork and you can effectively evaluate the Bid.
The convention center and/or hotel must be first evaluated to see if it can accommodate your meeting requirements. Size of exhibit hall, breakout sessions, meal function ballrooms, are all areas that need to be reviewed. Offsite venues availability and convenient access for the attendees need to be evaluated.
A major consideration for our association is the destination’s interest and desire to host a conference. The destination and their stakeholders hosting your event should be seen as partners with you and your organization. Are they excited that your happening is taking place at their location? Many planners have found out it is better to be a big fish in a smaller pond and get the support and attention from these types of destinations. Part of this decision making process also deals with the local CVB and the services they can provide you, including volunteers. You may be surprised at just how helpful the CVB can be. Many of these services are provide complimentary from their convention services staff members.
Airlift is an important area to look for those events that people are flying into the destination.
The airlines overall flight schedules, including direct, non-stop service and affordability will be important to consider and may have an impact on your attendance. Factoring in the time of year and weather should also be included.
The city lure or attractiveness to your potential delegates is another item that will affect your conference’s attendance. Make sure to ask about the city’s culture what makes the city unique. The more information that you can provide about your host city the easier it will be to showcase it to your delegates.
Don’t forget to ask your potential host city for references. Finding out if you city has experience to handle your group must be at the top of your checklist. Talking with other meeting professionals who have worked with the destination will provide you the insight and answer the most important questions you need answered.
Many other areas need to be factored into your decision on your site location for your meeting. Those listed above will hopefully provide you with a starting point and a blueprint necessary for you to be successful with your destination search.
Joe Cappuzzello is responsible for locating host cities for the annual Small Market Meetings Conference, as well as for Select Traveler, African American Travel, Going on Faith and Boomers in Groups travel conferences. He is the president and CEO for each of these organizations. He can be reached at 330-337-1027 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.