For a program to work well within a hotel meeting space, we begin by analyzing, does it fit? On most hotel websites (not all) you can find a tab that gives you the meeting space capacity charts and floor plans. May I suggest to every hotel web manager that the button needs to be BIG and BOLD. On these floorplan capacity charts, it tells us how many people can fit in a room with particular setups. Classroom, theatre and crescent rounds are standard setups. What is not standard, is how a hotel measures and posts its capacities. Some hotels set their capacity charts taking into consideration audio visual equipment, a small stage and perhaps a lectern, while many do not. This has us comparing ‘apples to oranges’ and not making a great fruit salad!
The last time I was in New York City, my friend and I caught a yoga class in downtown Manhattan. The space between each yoga mat was set to ‘New York Standards’ which was approximately a hand width apart from your neighbour. It turns out we were lucky and it was not a busy class as often they run their classes with a ‘two finger’ width between mats. To say that it was an intimate class is an understatement. It reaffirmed what I’ve known for a long time – more space is better. Jerry Seinfeld coined the phrase ‘close talker’ and we laugh because we have met them. As North Americans, we love our space and as meeting planners we keep this in mind as we need our delegates to be comfortable. Having to deal with ‘space invaders’ is distracting and makes us uncomfortable.
Through the grapevine at IncentiveWorks in Toronto the other day, I heard that an AV company is working on an app that helps us determine if the room we are looking at during a site visit can in fact fit 150 in classroom as the website states. I think this is brilliant! It is my hope this app is in production as I asked many folks to the rumour and no one could confirm it. (Note to anyone with a techie interest – meeting planners would love it!) The concept is that you would simply hold up your mobile and scan the room and the program would then give you the ‘real’ capacity. Every time I use the hotels’ capacity charts in my research, I reduce by 20% of the capacity to give a more accurate configuration and allow for some ‘wiggle room’.
A few years back, a hotel misread the rfp and quoted us rounds instead of crescent rounds. Perhaps it was an optimistic quote as this small detail in the end caused a stir and we had to select Hotel B as Hotel A was simply too small. Yes, it could have worked, but on the ‘New York’ standard of space leaving delegates stacked on top of each other. While size does matter, setup of a room is also important to the psychology of the group’s interaction. Early this summer we bought a round patio set with curved bench seating. It is designed to seat twelve comfortably and this summer proved that allowing guests plenty of space and the ability to see everyone else creates great moments and forever memories.
Timely yours, Brenda