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? If you had cancer, or diabetes, or were pregnant, you wouldn't go to a general practitioner. You'd go to a specialist who is best equipped to attend to your special needs. Why then would you hold a business meeting in a hotel when you could go to a meetings specialist? Conference Centres are the specialists of the meetings industry. Unlike a hotel, the conference centre's core business is meetings--planning them, hosting them, and servicing them. "The difference between a conference centre and a hotel or resort is a matter of focus," says Tom Bolman, Executive Vice President of the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC). "In a hotel, everything revolves around the guest room. In a conference center, everything revolves around the conference room." Conference centers specialize in small to mid-sized meetings, accommodating an average of 25-75 attendees. All the facility's resources are geared to this market. What does it mean to a meeting planner to go to a meetings specialist? Just look at the features offered at a typical conference center that you would never find at a hotel. One Stop Shopping A conference centre can accommodate all your meeting needs through a single point of contact, the Conference Planner. A Conference Planner works with each group to coordinate all the resources necessary to meet their unique needs. Everything, including conference rooms, syndicate rooms, guest rooms, food and beverage, A/V equipment, and technology services are ordered and handled through the Conference Planner. "The Conference Planner works as a partner with the meeting planner to achieve the goals of the meeting," explains Bolman. Complete Meeting Packages Conference centers offer a complete meeting package, or CMP. The CMP provides for all necessary space, resources, materials, and services with a single per-person fee. There are no additional costs, no matter what the group requires. "If you need an additional room or an extra flip chart, hoteliers will use this as an opportunity to increase their profitability," says Tim Chuddley, CEO of The Sundial Group and Chairman of the IACC's UK Chapter. "At a conference centre, it's all part of the complete meeting package. We are here to serve you, not nickel and dime you to death." Specialized Facilities and Services All of a conference center's facilities and services are designed with meetings in mind. In the conference room, you will find ergonomic seating and tables, glare-reducing lighting, ample wall space, and audio controls. Guests rooms are separated from the meeting space to provide a quiet atmosphere for relaxing or working after meeting sessions have ended. You will find plenty of workspace and Internet access, without a log-on fee, in every room. Food and beverage service is offered continuously during meeting sessions and meals are planned around the meeting schedule, not the kitchen's. There will always be a technician on site to troubleshoot the A/V and technology equipment and immediately resolve any problems that arise. Flexibility A conference center can accommodate a wide variety of meeting needs that would not be possible at another type of venue. Many centers host only one group at a time, so the staff's sole focus is on your event, and the facility can be transformed to meet unusual requirements. Want to build an obstacle course on the grounds for a teambuilding event or provide private rooms for counseling and therapy for a conflict management session? Do you need a secure environment to discuss confidential information or require frequent outdoor breaks? Most conference centers are happy to accommodate these types of requests. Diversity "A lot of people think of a conference center as being a very sterile environment," says Tom Bolman, "In reality, conference centers provide diverse and unique settings and locations." Bolman points to IACC members that include a historic estate, a ranch, a corporate training center and a restored theatre to illustrate his point. Many conference center venues have very unique facilities and grounds. They attract specific types of events that can take advantage of the built in ambiance and atmosphere. Top Quality "When you say conference center, some people expect dorm-style housing and cafeteria food," explains Tim Chuddley, "But most conference center facilities have accommodations and food rivaling the best executive hotels." In fact, the IACC has established 30 quality standards, known as the universal criteria, to which venues must conform in order to join and maintain membership in the organization. Bolman cautions meeting planners looking for top-quality venues. "There is nothing that governs the use of the term conference center. Anyone can call their venue a conference center, and not have the features we're describing. To find a true conference center, look for quality certifications or associations, such as the IACC, that demand adherence to standards of quality. "Really, conference centers provide the best of both worlds," Chuddley concludes. "A unique meeting environment with specialized service, at the high-quality associated with a hotel." Did you find this article useful? For more useful tips and hints, points to ponder and keep in mind, techniques, and insights pertaining to Internet Business, do please browse for more information at our websites.
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