Choosing a Facility: What to Consider
Your meeting space sets the tone
Select a facility that is an appropriate property for the type of meeting you're planning. A luncheon meeting or 3-hour seminar requires less space, and less-complicated arrangements, than a large multi-day program, which will require several meeting and large-meal rooms plus sleeping rooms.
Accommodating Teaching Needs
During your initial site inspections, consider:
- Room set-up: Are the session rooms large enough for school-room or roundtable seating? Theater-style seating is suitable for a keynote speech or a brief, lecture-only session, but is inadequate for taking notes, doing group-work, etc.
- Equipment/AV: Make sure that any equipment you need to rent or bring with you can be properly set up and used as dictated by your educational plans. Think about acoustics, and how displays and video screens will be placed so that all attendees will be able to fully participate.
- Distractions: How is the noise level, both in the building and from the street? Are the grounds mowed every Thursday? If it's less than quiet, will closing a door fix that? What other functions are booked for the space?will they interfere with the smooth running of your meeting?
- Comfort and amenities: Can you control the temperature in the room? Are there adequate comfort facilities and fresh drinking water within easy reach? Is there plenty of parking, and/or accessibility to public transport?
- Presenters should ensure that facilities are compliant with the relevant legislation that govern accessibility requirements. In the U.S. the space meet all requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In Canada, accommodation of persons with disabilities is guided by the Canadian Human Rights Act (R.S., 1985, c.h-6), but is governed provincially.
Planning Venues for your Monthly Meetings
In addition to the above considerations, there are several things to keep in mind when planning the venues for your chapter's meetings for the year. Among these are your chapter's geographic diversity and preferences for meeting format, time of day, and costs. This information should be gathered during the Educational Needs Assessment phase of planning. Things to consider include:
- Accessibility: Locate your usual meeting place in an area that is accessible to members everywhere in the chapter. Many large, spread-out chapters alternate between two or three sites.
- Breakfasts or luncheons are a common (and fun) backdrop for regular monthly meetings, but they have drawbacks when used for an education function: most restaurants do not make great schoolrooms; the meal function interferes with delivery of educational content; and it builds in an extra cost to every meeting. One suggestion is to have your business and/or networking meeting during the meal, followed by a short break and then the educational program or invited speaker. Attending the program only, without the meal, is also a welcome option.
- Vary the venue occasionally, to offer a special opportunity. Try using a community college campus for a lecture series or an audioconference, for instance. Poll your members for possible donated space (e.g., a large board room or small auditorium); libraries, museums, and hospitals usually maintain classrooms for training.