Planning a Conference: Hotel Checklist

Even if you’re already familiar with a hotel or conference facility, it’s important to conduct a site inspection before planning a conference. And if you’re approaching a hotel or other venue to hold a meeting or event for the first time, a hotel checklist for your site inspection is even more important. Making sure you […]

Even if you’re already familiar with a hotel or conference facility, it’s important to conduct a site inspection before planning a conference. And if you’re approaching a hotel or other venue to hold a meeting or event for the first time, a hotel checklist for your site inspection is even more important.

Making sure you are evaluating the conference space and meeting rooms effectively doesn’t have to seem like a foreign task. But I do suggest that you carry some basic information and bring your own hotel checklist with you that includes important checklist items such as hotel amenities, facilities, A/V, food and beverage, and budget.

Here’s what you should do:

Ask about amenities. When meeting with a venue sales manager, it’s important to make sure that the property allows you to incorporate some on-site promotion for your event. The sales manager should explain limitations or availability of the following:

  • Ability to display banners/signage/directional signs.
  • Any restrictions to displaying event information.
  • Availability of concierge/information desks.
  • On-site business center and office services (request list & prices).
  • Shipping and receiving services requirements.
  • House phones in meeting rooms.

View the facilities. The venue should be updated and its facilities manager should anticipate any situation. Consider the following:

  • Condition of the grounds and parking.
  • Condition of carpet, paint, and decor.
  • Condition and appropriately sized draperies/skirting.
  • Adequate room size and capacity to hold event.
  • Flexibility to adjust room layout/tables.
  • No visual obstructions within room.
  • Indoor lighting (flexibility to adjust/dim sections).
  • Ability to control natural light.
  • Limited noise distractions in hallways/behind walls.
  • Event room away from kitchen.
  • Nearby restroom access.
  • Nearby medical access.

Inquire about audio/visual & equipment. Nearly every event incorporates one or more elements of A/V. Confirm the avqilability of each of the following:

  • High speed Internet access (wired/wireless).
  • Microphones: lavaliere system and standing (# needed).
  • LCD projectors and hand-held remotes.
  • Appropriate screen sizes and draping options.
  • Flat screen monitors, TV screens for video needs.
  • Easels, white boards and supplies.
  • Outlets (# and locations throughout room).

Explore all catering options. I can’t stress enough the importance of selecting the right food and beverage for an event. Your venue sales manager will have great suggestions, but event planners should make sure they know the full range of choices. I suggest confirming the following:

  • Full service on-site kitchen operation.
  • Detailed menu & serving options.
  • Meet the executive chef if possible.
  • Taste test the the menu you’re considering.

Document your budget. Compile all expense items, including the following:

  • Meeting facility costs.
  • Catering costs.
  • A/V & equipment rental costs.
  • Office services costs.
  • Guarantee policy.
  • Complimentary services.
  • Payment options.Availability of concierge/information desks.
  • On-site business center and office services (request list & prices).
  • Shipping and receiving services requirements.
  • House phones in meeting rooms.

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Rob is editor of Business Travel Destinations. He was voted among the top 10 business travel bloggers by USA TODAY 10Best. Rob reviews international destinations for meetings and events -- where business travelers go, the hotels where they stay and their lifestyle preferences on the road. He spent more than a decade planning hundreds of corporate events throughout the U.S. for a Fortune 50 company, including meetings, conferences, seminars, executive retreats and other special events. Rob was previously the event planning guide for About.com (owned by The New York Times Company) from 2007 - 2011. His articles have appeared in business travel publications and travel sites internationally.