Working with Hotels for Your Seminars
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You’ll almost certainly want to host your event at a hotel. There are a lot of reasons for this, not the least of which is that they are a known quantity. Renting local meeting facilities can be risky unless you’ve done your homework and even at that they seldom have the supporting services you’ll want: food, parking, copy center, phones, etcetera.
Stick with a well-known, name-brand, relatively classy chain. People will not want to spend $400 for your workshop and show up at a rundown Holiday Inn. The cost of meeting rooms at the better hotels isn’t much more than at the poorer properties. You generally can’t go wrong with a Marriott. They tend to have nice properties and great service.
One of the things that gets screwed up over 90% of the time is how they post the name of your event. Usually you’ll have the event posted with the name of your company. I want to have them post the name of the seminar itself. Make sure you specify this when you talk with the hotel staff and confirm it the night before and the morning of the event.
Also, walk into the hotel as if you were an arriving attendee and ask them about the seminar. See if they can direct you to the right room. If they can’t, make sure to give the staff an education about where you are and how to get to you. Alert everyone from the front desk people to the bell staff. Let everyone know who and where you are so no one has a problem finding you.
In Tampa there are at least two Marriotts. Be careful. This can pose big problems. Be sure to ask if there is any possible confusion that might occur. When people register, make sure they are aware of this fact. I had a problem in Tampa many years ago and learned from my mistake.
Hotels get away with murder. They charge ridiculous fees for food and beverage items. This is where they make their money. To avoid getting completely ripped off, remember these tips.
First, buy coffee by the gallon, not by the cup. You’ll save a bundle. Also make sure that your coffee is inside your room. If it’s in a common area you’ll have everyone in the hotel drinking at your expense. If you catch other people drinking your refreshments, point it out immediately to the hotel staff. If they are good, they will adjust the bill to compensate for the problem.
If you’re guaranteeing the hotel sleeping rooms (which we generally don’t) you can usually get the room for free. The meeting rooms are not where hotels are looking to make their money. They want to get paid for sleeping rooms and the food and beverage business.
If you find a place in a city that you like, work with them repeatedly. They will get to know you and vice versa. It will make things a lot easier for everyone. If you’re going to be doing a seminar in a certain city, call my office and find out if we have someone we use in that city. We’ll be happy to share our contact with you.
If possible, visit the hotel in advance. This may not always be possible, but if it is, do so. This greatly reduces or eliminates the chances of big surprises when you show up.