Hotel: Locate a suitable hotel; negotiate and sign contract; make arrangements for hotel rooms for AALL representative, any other special guests, and any speakers whose expenses are being paid for by MAALL. (See also the following Manual chapters: Equipment and Meeting Rooms, Exhibits, Food, Hospitality/Internet Room.)
The first thing the Local Arrangements Chair has to do is locate a suitable hotel and sign a contract. This should be done at least a year before the meeting, longer in areas that have a lot of conventions, or where local events (such as football games in college towns) fill up the available hotels in the fall.
The following are some factors to consider in selecting a hotel. After you have visited several hotels and discussed their contract terms, make a chart to compare them. (See sample at end of chapter.) Contact the MAALL President for approval of your proposed choice. When approved, the Local Arrangements Chair signs the contract.
Sleeping room cost:
Try to secure a rate that will keep costs reasonable for MAALL members. [Up until MAALL 2001 St. Louis, the maximum cost per room was $99; St. Louis cost $125.]
Location: Convenience to restaurants and attractions, or to law school, especially if it is being used for some meetings.
Availability: MAALL is typically held from Thursday noon to Saturday noon in October if possible, though Halloween should be avoided. A limited number of sleeping rooms will be needed on Wednesday and Saturday nights. The largest number will be needed Thursday and Friday nights. Meeting rooms will be needed Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning. (See section on Contract below in this chapter.)
Meeting Rooms and Hospitality Room:
Adequate number and size of meeting rooms for programs and meal functions. Rooms should hold maximum number expected without overcrowding. Reasonable deal for cost of meeting rooms and Hospitality/Internet Room (See section on Contract below in this chapter.)
Hotel Staff: Responsiveness, cooperation, politeness. (Note: If they don=t return calls or are difficult to deal with during the selection process, you could really have a tough time during the meeting!)
Technology: Availability of Internet connections for meeting rooms, exhibit area, and Hospitality/Internet Room.
Special areas: Convenient, adequate spaces for exhibits and registration.
Food: Good quality and varied menu selection for banquets. (Try it!)
Bus pickup area:
Adequate space for bus(es) to pull up and load/unload passengers for off-site events.
Parking: Adequate, convenient, safe, reasonable cost for parking.
Attractive, reasonable size room. Availability of non-smoking rooms and rooms for disabled. Availability of hair dryer, coffee, iron, Internet connections, voice mail, mini-bar, etc.
Other guest facilities/services:
Airport shuttle, pool, exercise room, continental breakfast, copying facilities, cleaners, convenience store, etc.
There should be a written contract with the hotel which should include specific terms for the following:
The contract should specify the dates, number, and cost of sleeping rooms.
This is an important and somewhat scary calculation! If you reserve too many rooms, you may not meet the contract requirements and have to pay for some of the unused rooms. It may also affect the cost of meeting rooms.
On the other hand, if you reserve too few and the hotel gets busy with other events, you may not have enough rooms and attendees may have to search for other hotels.
Note: The calculation of room usage is based on Aroom nights.@ For example if you have 10 rooms on Wednesday, 50 on Thursday, 50 on Friday, and 5 on Saturday, that=s 115 room nights.
Check with previous recent Local Arrangements Chairs for hotel usage, especially in similar-size locations. (See notes at end of chapter regarding St. Louis 2001 and Kansas City 1999.) Other factors which might affect usage include location (whether it=s easy to get to and has a lot of attractions), program (which you won=t know yet!), joint meeting with another chapter, etc.
The contract should specify the days, times, number, capacity needed and cost for meeting rooms.
For this, you will have to estimate the number of programs and meal events, as well as the number of people likely to attend each, all before the program committee has even started planning! Use previous recent MAALL meetings as a guide.
The contract will probably provide that the meeting rooms will be free IF you meet certain other minimum requirementsBeither sleeping rooms used or catering services purchased. Otherwise, there will be rental costs for the meeting rooms that would have to be included in the budget.
The contract should specify the minimum amount of catering services that will be used. You will have to pay the minimum amount no matter what!
For this, you will need to get copies of the hotel price lists and do some ROUGH calculations on costs for meal events that will be in the hotel.
The amount of catering services used may also affect the meeting rooms cost.
More specific guarantees for each meal will be required a few days before the meeting.
The contract may grant some complimentary rooms provided the sleeping room minimum amounts are met.
These can be very useful for the Hospitality Room, the AALL visitor, or any non-MAALL speakers whose expenses are being paid by MAALL. Note that this will be expressed in Aroom nights.@ That is, if you get 1 free room night for every 50, you=ll get 1 room free for 1 night (not 1 room free for the whole conference).
Try to include a suite in the room block that can be used for Hospitality. MAALL will have to pay for this, unless the hotel will allow it to be one of your complimentary rooms (perhaps with payment of an upgrade cost).
Also, clarify up front how food and drink in the Hospitality Room will be handled. The hotel will want you to pay for catering services, but this tends to be cost prohibitive for the type of use MAALL makes of the Room. [In St. Louis 2001, the hotel agreed to MAALL bringing in its own food and drink after we agreed to sign a liability waiver. (See Hosptiality/Internet chapter.)
The contract should specify registration deadlines (after which the hotel doesn=t have to hold the rooms) and cancellation deadlines and terms. The deadline is usually one month before the start of the meeting.
Local arrangements should make hotel reservations for any guests whose expenses will be paid by MAALL, and billing should be made to MAALL rather than the guest. Typical guests include:
AALL Executive Board representative:
MAALL is responsible for paying hotel, meals, and other incidental costs for the AALL representative. (AALL pays transportation costs.)
MAALL may also need to pay costs for one or more speakers who are not MAALL members. (MAALL member speakers are expected to pay their own costs.) Work with the Program Chair to identify. President should approve.
Working with the Hotel
After the contract has been signed, there may be a lull in contact with the hotel for awhile, however this will pick up! A schedule for a few of the key activities follows:
3 - 6 months before the meeting:
Menus for group meals need to be selected.
8-12 weeks before the meeting:
The hotel should provide a registration form that can be included the registration packets.
4-6 weeks before the meeting:
Reservations should be made for any special guests by the registration deadline (usually about a month before the meeting).
Arrangements should be made for any audiovisual equipment that is being rented from the hotel or its subcontractor, and meeting room assignments need to be finalized.
The hotel will need to provide a map of meeting areas for the printed program.
You may need to fill out a Adirect billing@ application. (See sample direct billing application.)
1 week before the meeting:
Do a Awalk through@ with hotel representative of all spaces that will be used. Be sure all schedules and responsibilities are clear and any questions resolved.
Notify hotel staff which 1 or 2 committee members will handle contacting hotel staff about any problems or needs during the meeting; be sure you know which hotel staff member(s) to contact and how to reach them. Exchange phone and/or pager numbers.
Designate person who will sign daily catering bill.
Less than a week before the meeting:
Meal guarantee numbers will need to be provided approximately 72 hours before the meeting or meal event. (Check with hotel for exact requirements.)
During the meeting:
Check everything! Have designated person(s) notify hotel staff as needed to request resolution of any problems.
Designated person should check hotel catering bill each day and sign.
After the meeting:
Carefully review the hotel bill, clarify any questions, approve and send to Treasurer for payment.
Complete hotel=s evaluation form, if asked to do so.
Kansas City contracted for 145 room nights, but many were not used.
Therefore, St. Louis contracted for only 115 room nights. It did meet the contract requirement of 80% occupancy despite the fact that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks occurred about 2 weeks before the hotel registration deadline (September 24). The deadline was extended, with the hotel=s consent, to October 9. The hotel reported that as of October 11 we had booked 103 rooms nights, which was 90%.
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