In late 2013, Convene launched a Meeting Planner Forum and brought together a small group of well-known and highly respected meeting planners to discuss topics of mutual interest. Our inaugural session asked the forum participants to think about the various elements that were most important to them when selecting a location for their next meeting or conference.
We’ve compiled the results into the top 10 most important factors meeting and event planners consider when selecting a meeting location (in descending order of importance):
1) Location & Accessibility (Score: 32)
The old adage “Location, location, location!” still holds true. If the location is not convenient (near public transportation or where participants work), participation and attendance will be low.
2) Meeting Room Capacity (Score: 28)
When selecting a venue or space for your next event, size does matter. Our Meeting Planner Forum revealed that the sweet spot was a venue with a capacity of 100-125 meeting participants.
3) Flow and Layout of Space (Score: 12)
How are the sightlines? Is there enough space for social interaction and networking? Is it easy to find your way around and not get caught in dead-ends and corridors that lead nowhere? These are just a few of the things our meeting planners check for. New York meeting planners in particular are seeking out bigger meeting spaces (an attendance list of 1,000 or more is no longer uncommon).
4) Quality and Capability of AV Equipment (Score: 12)
Michael Bay. Samsung. CES. Need we say more? When a CEO or major speaker is giving their talk, the last thing you want to happen is a teleprompter, microphone, or general tech failure. Meeting planners want state of the art equipment that’s easy to use and reliable.
5) Room Flexibility (Score: 11)
Meeting rooms need to be able to flex into various configurations. This is especially true as more and more meetings now have breakout sessions.
6) Decor (Score: 7)
Times change and so does taste. With 3-4 generations often attending the same meeting, planners feel the need to take multiple taste factors into account. But what all meeting planners can stand behind is the need for a space that is clean and adequately furnished.
7) Intelligent Staff, from Sales to Service (Score: 7)
A meeting planner’s biggest pet peeve is dealing with non-responsive, “spaced out” staff. Competent, emotionally intelligent sales and service staff are always decision-swaying factors for event planners.
8) Price Flexibility (Score: 5)
This was a big surprise to us as we thought having an all-inclusive package pricing would be preferable for meeting planners. Some planners expressed a desire to be able to negotiate the fees in order to show their superiors that they were able to lower costs.
9) Quality of Food (Score: 2)
For today’s foodie generation, high quality food with healthy and hearty options is now de rigueur at conferences and corporate meetings across the nation. Planners also want meeting locations that can accommodate last minute menu requests and increased attendance.
10) Participant Experience (Score: 2)
Will our guests be satisfied and will they attend another meeting? These are key questions meeting planners should be asking. Although we would have liked to see this factor score higher, we were relieved to hear that planners were still concerned with guest and participant experience.