I served as ABA Family Law Section Director for 14 years throughout the 1990s and late 80s. Each Section Chair thoughtfully approached site selection for our three major national meetings. Would the location draw members? Was it convenient (i.e., multiple planes, required renting cars)? Many brought their families. Was there enough to entertain spouses and kids? Was it affordable and a great value for the experience?
In choosing the destination, we relied on site inspections. We usually visited 3-4 properties. Ideally, at least one of us would stay there to experience the sleeping room. We walked through meeting space, taking copious notes about which rooms work best since we ordinarily had plenary and breakout sessions. And we would spend a good hour meeting with each hotel’s salesperson, asking questions from a checklist.
After viewing all of the properties, we would assign points (indicating priorities) and discuss pros and cons. Then we selected our top choice and began negotiations. I can also think of at least one instance where we vetoed the destination altogether. Although it received high marks for member-participants, there wasn’t enough to entertain their families over 4-5 days.
Today’s Associations Now e-zine features a recent study, The Site Visit: Revisited, on what 350 event planners and properties seek in site selections. Not surprisingly, planners and sales do not see eye-to-eye in priorities beyond the first priority — Location Location Location.
Meeting planners’ priorities are: 1) location; 2) value cost; 3) aesthetics (look & feel); 4) logistics; and 5) trust in venue partners. [NOTE: I concur about the importance of trust because a vital component to success is the partnership between the meeting planner and venue conference staff.] On the other hand, properties’ priorities are: 1) location; 2) meeting space; 3) amenities; 4) other!!!; and 5) value cost. Notice the priority disparity of value cost between meeting planners and venues.
You may read the survey at http://go.socialtables.com/l/35952/2016-03-15/jtdbp1.