eduWeb Site Selection Decision Making
As eduWeb has continued to grow, we are limited to larger full-service hotels. This often precludes many less expensive locations in smaller cities. Higher education budgets, especially for professional development, are frequently limited and play a significant role in conference attendance.
Typically, the two largest cost centers for a conference are meeting space rental and food and beverage. Many attendees don’t realize that hotels charge upwards of $100 a gallon for coffee alone (yes, that is PER gallon). One canned soda is generally in the $5 to $8. Most of these are just the basic cost, the multiple layers of taxes, gratuities, and services charges often add up to 40% on top of the actual expenses. We make every effort to provide a wide variety of options to serve across all allergens and preferences. Many of these meals are prepared off-site and delivered to the hotel at high cost. As food costs continue to rise exponentially, so we are always looking for creative ways to afford as many conference meals and snacks while also maintaining an affordable registration cost.
Food costs can help provide leverage to negotiate better room rental rates. Hotels often charge thousands of dollars for the use of their space. We often look at what other hotel arrangements can be made nearby at differing price points when attendees book in our hotel room block, we have further leverage to negotiate and maintain lower prices.
Here is a list of many of the factors going into site selection.
- What is the hotel rate? Are there additional fees or taxes?
- Are there enough room nights available on peak nights of the Conference?
- Is there enough meeting space for everything our group needs to do at the Conference?
- Are the meeting rooms flexible and comfortable for all-day events?
- Is there reasonable airport access from throughout the US?
- How many cities have direct flights into the given city?
- Is there reasonable shuttle service or transportation options from the airport?
- What is within walking distance of the hotel?
- Are their discounted room rates for eduWeb volunteers and staff?
- Can we accommodate our higher education audience with a reasonable cut-off date to make July 1st budgets?
- Can the hotel offer discounted rates before and after for attendees to extend their stays with their family or to meet with alumni, donors, prospects, etc.?
- Does the hotel offer complimentary rooms for site visits for the committees to plan the event?
- Does the local Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) offer incentives, marketing materials, or events for our attendees if we select a particular city?
- Are there enough food options for our diverse attendee base?
- Are there good off-site locations for partner receptions?
- Are there local activities that are either free or affordable for networking or advance activities?
- Are there are forms of transportation available (train, etc.)?
- Are there “green” and sustainable practices in place at the venue we will be using?