1. Safety and security of people and property: No matter how great the meeting content is or how stunning the venue, if
people and property are not safe, nothing else will matter. Start with
these questions and expand to include guest room and other safety
concerns related to the specifics of your particular group.
• How many AEDs are on property and in what location?
• How many staff members per shift are trained in CPR?
• Are there landlines in guest and meeting rooms to notify security of emergencies? How quickly can they respond?
• What are evacuation procedures from each area of the hotel?
• When was the hotel last fully inspected for building safety?
What were the results? What new efforts has the hotel put in place?
2. Owners, brand and management company: It is
possible your organization or company cannot meet in a hotel
with non-U.S. owners, or in one with owners who are competitors
of your company. It is the one area I consistently see unchecked
by planners. Even if there isn’t a dispute that results in legal action,
the name of the owner, the management company and the brand
(flag) are critical to learn. (Follow the news so you know who may
merge with whom, as this can greatly affect hotel procedure.)
• Who owns the hotel and where are the owners incorporated?
• What is the management company name?
• Under what flag (brand) does the hotel fly?
• What is known about an anticipated change of ownership, management company or brand?
3. Competition for space and attention: Other groups or
events in the hotel, or the city, can interfere with your group’s ability to operate smoothly, to secure additional space or the availability of off-site venues or services—think a city-wide event while your
100-person meeting seeks ground transportation—or to have the
full attention of the CSM. It’s easier to adjust your planning needs
if you calculate this information ahead of time before selecting the
• What groups are already contracted over the dates desired or
proposed for your meeting in the venue and destination?
• What other events are going on in the city or the venue immediately before, during or immediately after your dates?
• When will a convention services manager (CSM) be assigned?
How many other groups will that person manage at the same time?
4. Staff and staffing: Long ago, we could be sure that those
who worked in a hotel (or other venue) were employees of that
entity. No more. Many positions are outsourced and the reporting
structure, though you will be told it’s seamless (and it may be),
may not be appropriate for your group. Understanding that the
hotel hires people reflective of your group’s participants will help
you meet potential diversity guidelines of the meeting sponsor.
Each meeting, and the circumstances under which it is created, is different. There is no one-size-fits-all site selection
checklist. The checklist I use for clients,
excluding demographic and day-by-day
meeting details, is easily 15 pages long.
The responses to the questions asked in
the RFPs (requests for proposal) are used
to develop site inspection checklists and
to determine what will be included in
the contract. Site selection (of a hotel,
convention center, conference center or
other venue) and the information gleaned
form the basis for our recommendations
and contract contents.
10 key details that can’t be overlooked
10 areas of site selection to learn (and questions to best inform your decision).