Chapter 9: Hospitality/Internet Room
Arrange for and staff Hospitality Room at hotel, stock with food and drink, serve as host. May also include arrangements for Internet connections so meeting participants can check email.
Costs for the Hospitality Room will include food and drinks. There might be additional charges for the Hospitality Room itself, or it might be a free room included in the contract. This should all be determined as part of the hotel contracting process, and any costs should be included in the budget. (See Hotel chapter.)
IMPORTANT: Inquire as part of hotel contract negotiation what the hotel=s policies are for bringing in and serving your own food and drink. As a general rule, hotels do not permit this and want you to buy very expensive food service from them. However, MAALL has generally been able to make other arrangements with the hotel. Be sure to do so, or the costs may make providing drinks and snacks prohibitively expensive.
[In St. Louis 2001, MAALL was required to sign a liability waiver, which made MAALL, not the hotel, liable if anyone were injured from the food or drink. If you do this, be sure MAALL=s liability insurance is paid up!]
If Internet service is being included, there may also be line charges. Be sure you have a clear understanding of costs per day and per computer.
A law school or other institution should be asked to provide computers for Internet access, as renting computers would probably be prohibitively expensive.
It is traditional for MAALL to have a AHospitality Room@ available on Thursday and Friday nights where members can relax, have a drink and snack, and visit. In St. Louis 2001, this function was combined with an Internet Room; computers and lines were provided for members to check email. This was very well received and should be continued if possible.
Ideally, the Hospitality Room should be a suite with a bar, kitchenette, and adequate seating for 10-20 people. If Internet access is also being provided, there would need to be table(s) and chairs for the computers, and Internet or dial up phone lines. Arrangements for the suite should be included in the hotel contract. (See Hotel chapter.)
If there is a sleeping room included, the Local Arrangements Chair will need to determine who stays there. It should be someone who likes company and doesn=t go to bed early! [For St. Louis 2001, the Hospitality/Internet Chair stayed in the room so she could watch over the computers.]
Having a sleeping room included is also useful for providing a place for Local Arrangements to store things out of sight of the Hospitality entertaining area.
Hospitality Room Function
Food and drink offered should include an assortment of sodas, bottled water, wine, beer and snacks.
Use may be affected by what is available in the hotel. For example, in St. Louis 2001, the hotel machines had only Coke products, so all of Hospitality=s Pepsi products were used.
It=s nice to have cards and games available too.
Don=t assume that the hotel will provide any supplies, such as paper plates, napkins, silverware, corkscrew, etc. Ask, and bring your own if they charge.
The Hospitality Room should generally be available evening hours following any scheduled MAALL activities. One or more committee members should be present to serve as host.
For the first MAALL Internet Room (St. Louis 2001), St. Louis University donated use of 3 computers. MAALL paid the hotel=s additional charges for the Internet lines.
The Hospitality/Internet Chair was a Computer Services Librarian who knew how to set up and troubleshoot. St. Louis University also provided a technical person to help with initial setup and testing.
The computers were set up with web access to frequently used email systems, such as AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail, Earthlink, and Juno.
A committee member should be present at all times the room is open in order to troubleshoot and insure the security of the computers.
In St. Louis 2001, the Hospitality/Internet room stayed open from 9:00 a.m. to midnight Thursday and Friday, except for time periods when events were taking place, such as the luncheons, reception, and dinner.
The majority of the food and drinks were only put out in the evenings, though they were available at other times in the suite=s kitchen and people could help themselves.
Use of the suite was infrequent during time periods when programs were in session, though there was significant use during breaks. Therefore it may not be necessary to be open during main program sessions.