By Beth Buehler
One of the first orders of business when planning a meeting or event anywhere in the world is finding the best hotel for business meetings and events that fits the specific parameters for your gathering. In fact, this important task should happen in tandem with considering destinations, as who wants to select the place and then find out the lodging and meeting venue piece isn’t a fit? I’m pretty sure we can all agree that being back to square one is no fun!
In prior blogs, I’ve written a fair amount about selecting a destination, so this one is specifically about how to find the best hotel for business meetings and events. Colorado has seen significant growth in the number of new properties and a incredible number of well-done renovations.
What is the purpose of the gathering? When organizing a new product release, sales meeting, conference, leadership summit, incentive trip, team retreat, board meeting or client event, it’s important to not use the same template for every occasion. It’s important to know the ultimate goals and tone of the meeting or event at hand and the potential attendees to select the right hotel.
How many guest rooms are needed? This is pretty basic but can narrow down the selection quickly. If your meeting or event is smaller, are you okay with being in a larger hotel or is the preference to have a property to yourself? If your gathering is large, it might require one primary host hotel and nearby partner properties.
What type and size of meeting/event space is required? Again, this is common sense but go into the search knowing what you need in terms of a meeting room that can hold everyone at once for a keynote or gala, trade show space, number of breakout rooms, pre-function and registration areas, etc.
What is the budget (for the hosting organization and attendee)? This also is a top concern. Find out what it will cost for guest rooms, function space, food and beverage, A/V, technology, parking and more and understand other contract requirements. There are often two considerations: what your organization will spend and what attendees will have to pay out of their pockets.
Is there a local entity to help narrow the search? Destination Colorado helps connect planners with hotels across the state through one easy RFP process. Destination marketing organizations can assist at the local level, and some also have a central RFP process.
What condition is a hotel in and does it have the features your group needs? Hotels that are used to hosting groups can provide all the basic data you need including size, shape, capacity and flow of meeting and event spaces. It’s important to do on-site visits to get a real understanding of how it all comes together and if a hotel is in good shape or perhaps in the middle of a renovation that could disrupt. Or if the hotel is set to launch in the near future, will it be ready in time?
Is there experienced and congenial staff on hand to assist? On-site staff are an extension of your planning team, so you want to make sure they have solid experience with groups as well as property and destination knowledge. Is there one main point of contact who can connect you with culinary, A/V and other needs? Is there a personality connection with and confidence in this point person?
What are attendee expectations? What level of property will they expect and want? Do they like name brands or boutique hotels? Do they want a resort hotel in the mountains, an city hotel surrounded by all things urban or a property in a smaller community? Will attendees be seeking a nice workout facility?
How will attendees get to the hotel? If attendees are driving, know the parking situation (is there enough, fee or free, etc.). If flying in, how will they get to the hotel (public transport, ride share, hotel shuttle, transportation company, etc.)?
Does it matter if the hotel is close to attractions, activities and potential off-site venues? This is a key to not only the budget but oftentimes attendee satisfaction as well. Do you have a group of people who like to explore their surroundings during free time or is location a non-issue? Can your group walk to an off-site reception and dinner or hop onto public transport? If attendees can bring a guest or family along, can they access fun things to due in free time?
Is the goal to be all about business or to mix in some free time and relaxation? This can greatly influence the type of hotel selected and add to the list of requirements like a nice swimming pool, hot tubs, spa, lobbies for lounging, activities for spouses/guests, and out-the-door access to things like hiking, skiing, biking and more.
Hopefully these 11 tips get thoughts churning about how to select just the right hotel for your next meeting or event!
Beth Buehler is editor of Colorado Meetings + Events and Mountain Meetings magazines, has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado in all seasons.