With ASAE’s 2013 Annual Meeting taking place in Atlanta (have we mentioned we’re excited?) and all the planning surrounding MemberClicks’ beloved hometown, we noticed that location is KEY when planning a meeting like this.
Where does your association have its annual meeting or other large regional gatherings?
There’s a reason why so much of the association world is hospitality. Think about it! Your organization’s annual meeting brings in hundreds (possibly thousands) of people to one area. That includes airports, hotels, restaurants, and local points of interest. That means a LOT of revenue for whatever area get graced with your presence.
So while you’re shopping for annual meeting locations, whether you’re at ASAE or just calling around, here are some things to consider:
You’re in a good spot when you’re shopping for a location for a large meeting. What are the cities offering? What kind of deals and discounts can you offer your attendees? The final decision shouldn’t be the sweetest deal necessarily, but feel free to factor that into your final ruling.
Accommodations and venue
Above all, you’re going to have to have a clean, friendly, accommodating place for your attendees to eat and sleep. What’s available? Will you be using hotel meeting spaces or larger venues? Will they have the appropriate A/V capabilities, accommodate your number of people, and be tidy and inviting? Are there things like plugs for chargers and places to sit down? Are water fountains and bathrooms handy? What sort of catering is available, and if you decide not to cater how will your guests be able to get meals when necessary?
Travel in and out
I’m not saying hold your conference at an Airport Hilton if you don’t want to, but definitely consider how your attendees will get to and from your conference. Keep in mind that they may be flying in and need cabs or to rent cars. How close is your venue from the airport? Is it a reasonable cab fare, or a couple hours away? Also think about airfare. It’s on the rise with gas prices as they are, and that could be a huge financial stumbling block for some of your potential attendees.
Compatibility with programming
Say your annual meeting had a pub crawl last year and everyone loved it, so you wanted to capture that lightning in a bottle again. Could your host city accommodate such a thing? Consider the events you want to do and how you want to do them. Some of them may be flexible, but some may be deal breakers. Listen to your members and what they think would be “great for the annual meeting!” or what was “so much fun last year!”
Extracurricular activities and safety
After your daily events are over, chances are your attendees will want to get out and experience the city and all its charms and events! One thing that’s important to consider, though, is safety and ease to get around. Most of your attendees will be without cars, right? Is the city walkable? Are there sufficient cab services? What is the crime like in the area where your conference will be centrally located? Will your attendees feel safe? These things are important to consider!
Event planning is no joke. Your AMS may not be able to help you choose a location for your large meeting, but it can help you stay organized and communicative. Download our guide to event planning here!