You’re in the corner of an echoing banquet hall, phone at one ear, finger in the other. It’s been 20 minutes. Tech support still hasn’t arrived. Your attendees are restless, aimlessly milling about the hotel lobby. Some are lined up at the vending machine around the corner near the restrooms, desperate to get some food they can actually eat. Your event is on life support.
Welcome to the worst nightmare of every training coordinator and event planner.
So how did we get here? Location, location, location. For many people, hotels are often the first venue option that comes to mind when booking an event. Although hotel space can be had just about anywhere, coordinating your event at these venues can make the already challenging task of corporate event planning even more difficult and costly.
It’s true that hotels can offer lots of square footage when you don’t have sufficient room at your own facility. But space is really the only thing you're getting when you book your event at a hotel. As any event planning pro will tell you, room to work is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to hosting an effective event. The experience in the room is by far the most important factor when determining the success of your corporate meeting or training.
Often, it’s very difficult to find a hotel that is conducive to fulfilling the needs of a corporate training or meeting event. Configuration options in these venues are usually very limited. In many cases, you’re forced to choose between a giant banquet hall with partitions, or a handful of small conference rooms. Most hotels are outfitted for banquets and party-style events, meaning the extent of their configuration is limited to how you can arrange 8-foot tables with folding legs and banquet chairs in a giant, partitioned room. The larger, “more flexible” spaces, even when divided with partitions, can be awful learning and collaboration environments. Acoustics in these cavernous rooms are often dismal, meaning your attendees really aren’t getting the message that they’re there to receive.
Tech sourcing is another event aspect that hotels often struggle with. Proper technology resources are an absolute necessity to make sure attendees are getting the most out of an event. At some larger venues, there might be an audio/visual team member to help set up your event with in-house equipment. However, most hotels charge exorbitant fees for their own equipment, support, and setup services. Need televisions? Sound equipment? Video recording or livestreaming gear? If you need more than just a screen and a projector, you'll likely need to source that tech from an outside vendor.
First, you’ll need to figure out exactly what hardware you actually need. Next, you’ll have to contact local vendors that might have that equipment. If you’re thorough and want to make the most of your budget, you’ll also want to get several comparative quotes for renting the necessary tech. After finally figuring out what you need and where to get it, you’ll also have to determine how to get it to the hotel for the time that you’ll need it. Is delivery included? Is there an extra cost for onsite delivery? Does a member of your team need to pick it up? How will they do that? When does it need to be returned? These are all questions that need to be considered.
And that’s just on the host and presentation side of things. What if your attendees need access to computers or other technology to follow along with your presentation? Looks like you’re repeating the whole process above for that technology too.
Keeping your attendees properly fueled for a full day of learning or collaboration is crucial. Most hotels do have onsite food offerings. However, the selection is often limited to the capabilities of the venue’s in-house restaurants and is substantially more expensive than other external options. In many cases, hotels also don’t offer nearly as much flexibility or experience with special dietary accommodations as a dedicated catering service might. If that’s something you need for your event, you’re likely going to be phoning around for the right caterer too.
By the time you’ve coordinated everything above, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve been on the phone and emailed back and forth with well over a dozen different people and racked up a sizable bill of extra services and add-on fees. The amount of time you’ve spent coordinating everything is now being measured in days instead of hours. You’re exhausted before the event even starts.
The good news? Everything mentioned above can be avoided. Very easily, in fact! Instead of hosting your event at a random hotel or convention center, go to a dedicated meeting or training center specifically designed for the event you’re trying to execute! When you compare these specialized venues to their generic counterparts like hotels, it’s a no-brainer.
Looking for more great corporate training and event planning tips? Check out our must-read event planning guide: 5-Step Guide for Busy Meeting Planners: Must-Have Pro Tips to Deliver Successful Meeting