Many factors have a bearing on and should be considered in selecting the meeting site, all of which are affected by the size of your budget. Consideration should always be given to use of UW Facilities, UW/State/Big 10 contract hotels, minority vendors and properties which adequately accommodate persons with disabilities. Utilization of a UW meeting planning department should be considered.
Understand the purpose of the meeting and its objectives. Obtain information on the demographics of the group in order to better determine their needs. Review attendees' gender, professions, geographical location, etc.
Be selective when choosing meeting dates. Consider holidays (religious and other) and peak workload seasons for those attending the event. Don't rule out weekends if air travel is involved. The savings could be considerable.
Consider using the local Chamber of Commerce or Convention and Visitors Bureau to guide you to the right hotel for the event. In addition to recommending the hotel/conference center or local transportation company that will be right for you, these organizations know whom to contact to secure out-of-the-ordinary services, such as hanging a banner, housing a mascot, etc. This site [http://www.thinkwisconsin.com] has considerable information to help you plan your meeting/event.
Consider new properties or recently remodeled older properties. Ask whether there are any major renovations scheduled during the month of your meeting. Consider using unusual properties, i.e., bed and breakfast establishments, inns, condos, villas, resorts, etc. Off-season rates at these properties often offer the amenities received during high season with more personalized service. Find out who else is meeting at the property at the same time. Who will be in the next room? Make sure no conflicts of interest will arise between groups. Ask about off-season, weekend or other values.
Consider safety and the needs of handicapped participants. Does the hotel have well lighted parking areas, a sprinkler system, trained security staff, etc.?
When possible, take someone along when checking out the meeting space. A second pair of eyes might spot something one person misses. The UW System Travel Office has materials on file and has conducted site inspections of properties both in-state and out-of-state. Consult them for advice in selecting a site. Contact other meeting planners who have held events at the facility within the last six months. Ask questions such as:
- Was check-in smooth?
- Were reservations handled promptly and courteously?
- Was everything completed on time for the event?
- Was the quality of food and service as anticipated?
- Was staff friendly?
- Was management available to assist with problems?
- Was the bill orderly, easy to understand and correct?
Provide the property with a copy of the meeting program so they know the beginning and ending times of each session.
Check into transportation options to and from the airport as well as around the property. Airport locations should be considered to reduce transportation costs. Inquire about the availability and cost of limousine or shuttle service between the hotel and the airport, and the cost of parking. If parking is not complimentary to hotel guests, inquire whether the hotel can provide complimentary parking spaces for official use.
Ask participants to complete a questionnaire at the end of the event rating the facilities, food, etc. Provide feedback to the hotel after the meeting. Let them know what kind of a job they did. It builds a future relationship.