I promised in my last post to mention some open-source code that I’ve been working on, but I’ve been distracted.
If you’re interested in what it takes to host a meeting at a hotel and convention center, read on.
The way it usually works (YMMV) is that you contact a sales rep. for the hotel and say when the meeting will be, how many folks will likely attend, and what you’ll need for meeting rooms. In our case, for example, the meeting will last five and a half days. Monday morning and Saturday morning will be plenary sessions*, so we’ll need a room for 100+ persons for that; but the rest of the week we’ll break into subgroups where the real work gets done, and so we’ll need a bunch of breakout rooms.
The sales rep. responds with a description of meeting rooms that will be available for the dates of your meeting, the number of guestrooms that will be held for your group, and a group rate for the guestrooms. In our case, we’ll have 100 guestrooms held for Sunday through Friday nights and 50 for Saturday night; and I’ll be responsible for 80% of that. (If fewer than 520 room-nights actually get booked, I’ll have to pay for some myself.)
For the meeting rooms, the usual arrangement is that, if you meet some minimum amount for food and beverage service, you get the meeting rooms for no additional charge. I won’t have any problem meeting the minimum because the guestroom rate doesn’t include breakfast, so I’ll provide a breakfast buffet for six days along with customary mid-morning and mid-afternoon refreshments for five days. Any A/V equipment you need for the meetings will be extra.
I still have some details to work out. After my next round of chemo treatments next week, I’ll have a meeting with the hotel’s sale rep. on Tuesday, the 3rd, where I’ll be shown the meeting room area and, I hope, get a few more questions answered. The following week, I expect to actually sign the contract; then I’ll start working on the food and beverage requirements and the A/V requirements for the meeting rooms.
There’s a fellow in Germany who’s our logistics guru, so I’ll mostly defer to him re the A/V stuff. We already have our own LCD projectors, audio mixers for the three larger rooms, and pretty much everything we need to allow folks to attend remotely via Zoom; but there are still things that we’ll need from the hotel (projection screens, microphones, WiFi for about 100 in-person attendees, stuff like that). If, as in our case, everybody will have a laptop computer, or at least a tablet, you’ll need lots of power strips for which the hotel will charge an absurd amount. It’s often cheaper to just buy your own power strips locally and then donate them to some educational or other non-profit institution when you’re done with them.
We also still need to decide how seating in the rooms will be arranged. The rooms that the hotel had available for the week of the meeting all have load-bearing columns here and there (it’s an old, historic building…a good excuse) which pretty much eliminates the U-shape setup. We’ll probably go with the classroom setup (rows of long tables facing the front of the room), although one or two of the smaller rooms might have a boardroom arrangement.
Details, details …
*For some reason, we use “meeting” and “session” to mean the opposite of what they mean in Robert’s Rule of Order.