Site Selection

Site Selection

Speakers Bureau Article from Eagles Talent

Successful site selection begins with thorough preparation and knowledge of your group’s meeting needs. The following is designed to help you find the best available facility for your meeting. What’s important is that you know your requirements. Be sure to have your list of pertinent needs and specific questions prepared before meeting with the facility representative.

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What to Consider When Choosing Your Facility



The Facility: What location, size and quality facility is required for your meeting?
Some suggestions are:

  • Hotel or local motel
  • Suburban location
  • Downtown hotel
  • Airport site
  • Golf facility
  • Gaming location
  • Cruise ship
  • Off-shore property
  • Convention center



When Selecting a Facility, Consider...

Facility Costs: There is a tremendous difference between your local motel and a world-class hotel. Be sure to read the explanation of room rates and as well as view our special budgeting checklist. It will help you make this initial — and most important decision.

Availability: Popular meeting facilities can be booked up a year or two in advance. Check to see if the required meeting rooms and sleeping accommodations are still available on the dates of your meeting.

Accessibility: Is the location convenient for your group? Are your people driving or flying in? What airlines and other public transportation go into, or around the area? What’s the capacity and frequency of these carriers? How easy is the access to and from the airport? What’s the availability of local transportation?

Transportation Costs: What is it going to cost you to transport your attendees to the meeting site? Transportation costs are a big consideration, since they can be deceptively exorbitant — especially during the height of the travel season.

Sleeping Accommodations: Is the facility large enough to accommodate your group? What is the guaranteed number of sleeping rooms available? What's the breakdown? (e.g., singles, doubles, twins, twin doubles, queens, kings, parlors, suites, etc.) Read the detailed description of room types to help you determine exactly what you require.

Suites: How many quality suites are available for your VIPs? What is the number and size of hospitality suites, if needed?

Meeting Space: Does the facility have the available meeting space you require? Is the ballroom large enough to accommodate your general sessions, including staging screens, rear projection, video cameras, props, etc.? What are the sizes, quantity and availability of smaller meeting rooms for breakout sessions, seminars, workshops and board meetings?

Exhibit Hall: What size and kind of space is available for a display area? Is this space in proximity to the rest of the meeting areas?

Meals and Banquet Functions: What spaces, including outdoors, tents, etc., are available for meal and banquet functions? Are ballrooms large enough to accommodate staging, head tables, dais, screens, rear projection, video cameras, dance floor, bandstand, theme props, etc.? Is there a varied and acceptable menu selection? You should also determine if the quality of food and service meet your standards.

Restaurants and Eating Places: What on-site or nearby eating establishments are there? Check them out for menu, price, quality, service, ambiance and hours of operation.

Audio-Visual Requirements: What’s the quality and availability of the in-house A/V support? What are the costs?

Recreation: Recreational activities can tremendously add to the success of your conference. When people are away, they want to play. When selecting a site, be sure to consider the local climate at that time of the year.

Local Attractions: What special attractions are available in the area? (e.g., beaches, historical sites, sightseeing trips, theme parks, sporting events, shopping, etc.)

Parking: What is the on-premises parking availability and costs? Is there valet parking?

Storage: What’s the size, location and availability of storage areas? What is the facility’s storage policy in regard to shipping and receiving, security, etc.?

Security: We are in an era where security is always a major concern. Be sure to check what kind of security will be provided. In addition, what are the facility's rules and regulations that will apply to your group and conference.

Handicap Access: Has the facility implemented features that accommodate and serve the handicapped?

Shops: What on-site stores does the site feature? (e.g., newsstand, gift shop, sundry or drug store, clothing stores for men and women, pro shop for golf and tennis, flower shop, beauty parlor/barber, shoe shine, etc.)

Lounges, Bars and Nightclubs: What is the availability and quality of these on-premise facilities.

Places of Worship: What available places of worship are there in the vicinity? What are the denominations? When are services held?

Taxes: What are the local taxes and other possible hidden charges? Don’t get caught off guard. Get everything in writing.

Check-in and Check-out: What is the facility’s reservation and registration policy? What’s their check-in/check-out and billing policy?

Group Registration Desk: Where will the facility allow you to put your registration desk? Does the location work for you? Will it be moved to another location after everyone has checked in?

Unions: What are the union regulations in the area, city or property? How will they affect your meeting and your budget?

Renovations: Is the facility planning renovations just prior to or during the period of your meeting? If yes, how will this affect your meeting?

Auxiliary Services: Are there quality local (outside) A/V companies, photographers, decorators, florists, ground transportation services and local entertainment for hire? Also, what local part-time help is available? (e.g., secretaries, registrars, security guards, baby-sitters, etc.) What are their costs? Check the personnel list to see what else you may need in this area.

Facility’s Quality and Layout: A poorly laid-out property can confuse, frustrate and inconvenience your attendees, cause meeting delays and diminish the overall effectiveness of your meeting. A hotel should be designed for esthetics, expediency and convenience.

Quality of Staff and Services: Meetings and conventions fall under the broad umbrella of the “hospitality” industry. When you hold your meeting at a hotel or convention center, you are buying convenience and SERVICE. Good service and hospitality are expected. No matter how attractive the facility, poor service can ruin your meeting. Be sure check this area out well.


Types of Rooms 

Before selecting a site, it’s important for you to know the type of sleeping accommodations hotels offer. Most hotels provide a wide variety of rooms. Following is a list of standard industry terms for the various room types: 

Single: a room with one single (or full size) bed, designated for one person occupancy.

Double: a room with a double bed, designated for either one or two-persons occupancy. 

Double/Double: a room with two double beds that can accommodate up to four people. 

Twin: the term used for a room with two single or double beds. 

 Queen: a room with a queen-size (slightly larger than double) bed. 

King: a room with a king-size bed (equal to two twins) accommodating two people. 

Parlor: a living or sitting room that isn't used as a bedroom. This is called a salon in parts of Europe.

Studio: a one-room parlor with one or two couches that can convert to beds. Some hotels call these convertible rooms. 

Murphy Bed: a retractable, hideaway bed built into the walls of some hotel rooms.

Rollaway: a fold-up cot that can be rolled into the room. Cots are usually used to accommodate a child. 

Baby Crib: Most hotels have a limited number of baby cribs available. These need to be requested in advance, usually at the time reservations are made. 

Junior Suite: a large room with a partition that separates the bedroom furnishings from the sitting or parlor area.

 Suite: a parlor or sitting area connected to one or more bedrooms. You should always designate the number of bedrooms needed. 

Duplex: a two-story suite, parlor and bedroom(s) connected by a stairway. 

Lanai: a room that overlooks water or a garden. Such rooms have a balcony or patio and are usually found in resort hotels. 

Cottage: a small detached free-standing house usually found at tropical climate resorts. Cottages can vary from one room structures to multi-bedroom suites. 

Cabana: a room that is adjacent to a pool area. It may or may not have sleeping facilities.

Hospitality: a room used for entertaining (cocktail party or late-evening get-together), usually a function room or parlor.

Hospitality Suite: a parlor used for entertaining that has connectding bedroom(s).

Sample: a display room for showing merchandise. May or may not have sleeping facilities.

  Efficiency: an accommodation that contains a kitchen facility.

Connecting rooms: two or more rooms with private connecting doors that permit access between rooms without entering the corridor.

Adjoining rooms: two rooms located side by side. Such rooms may or may not have a private connecting door.

Concierge level: an entire floor, or floor set aside for VIP service. (Different hotels call these floors by different names, e.g., Club Level, VIP Floor, Golden Pass Level, etc.)


Room Rates

Not only do rates vary from one property to another, but rates at a particular hotel can vary considerably depending on the season, type of accommodations and the number of rooms booked. The inclusion of various meal plans, meeting facilities, ground transportation, gratuities, recreation and other services will be a factor when negotiating room rates. Below is a list of industry definitions for room rates.


Rack Rates: The current rates charged for certain types of rooms. These rates are established and posted by hotel management. Anything else is discounted, commissionable, net or group. Group rate is what meeting planners generally work on.

Percentage of Rooms at Each Rate: This number varies with each hotel and is based on different types of rooms and corresponding locations in the hotel.

Flat Rate: The specific room rate for a group that has been agreed upon in advance by property and group representatives. This term must be clarified when used because it may also mean the same rate for single and double rooms.

Guaranteed Room Blocs: A bloc of rooms, held for your organization, that are paid for even if the rooms aren't used. You’ll need to establish a credit rating with the hotel to guarantee a room bloc. An up front deposit is generally required. Cancellation policies vary with each hotel and should be verified in advance.

Run-of-the-House-Rate: An agreed upon fixed rate for group accommodations for all available rooms, with the exception of special suites. The run-of-the-house rate is generally priced at the average figure between minimum and maximum rate depending on your negotiating clout.

Day Rate: The day rate is usually one-half of the regular rate for a room being occupied by a guest only during the day (up to 5:00 pm). Check-out time may vary at each hotel.


Check-in and Check-out

Check-In: The hotel day usually starts at 6:00 am. However, sleeping room occupancy by arriving guests may not be possible until after the hotel’s established check-out time (normally noon or 1:00 pm) and housekeeping has had a chance to make up the rooms.


Check-Out: All hotels post a check-out time, normally noon or 1:00 pm, by which hotel guests must vacate their rooms. If the check-out time is not met, a charge will be made to the guests for an additional day of room occupancy. A late check-out can be approved (if there are no incoming guests) by hotel management with no additional charge. Also, special luggage storage can be arranged for later departure.


Food Plans

The care and feeding of your group will be one of your major expenses. All food and beverage costs must be factored in at the time of negotiation. Also, the price of sleeping rooms will vary depending on the type of meal arrangements you make (e.g., group breakfast or breakfast on one's own in the restaurant or dining room). Below is a list of industry definitions for meal plans.


Full American Plan: a rate that includes three full meals and a room.

Modified American Plan: a rate that includes breakfast, dinner and a room.

  Continental or Bermuda Plan: a rate that includes breakfast in the price of the room. This is often called “bed and breakfast.”

European Plan: a rate that has no meals included in the room rate. 

Service Charge: often a 15% or more service charge or gratuity will be automatically tacked on to your bill. Find out in advance about the facility’s service charge policy. 

Taxes: this is usually in addition to the quoted room rate. You don’t want any surprises, find out in advance what the tax will be. 

Group Meals: is when your group eats together. ie. group breakfast, group lunch, group dinner, special banquet night, outdoor bar-b-ques, picnics and boxed lunches etc. It’s possible the more money you spend at the hotel for food, the better advantage you’ll have when negotiating sleeping room rates.

IMPORTANT: Don’t leave the hotel without the names and numbers of the last six meeting planners who used the facility with groups whose needs were similar to yours. Most meeting planners are more than willing to share their experience with fellow meeting planners. Be ready with specific questions.


For personal guidance from our team of program experts, click here for help or call us at 1-800-345-5607.

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