Check It Out

By William F. Kendy

Before you start your search for a conference center near you, it helps to know exactly what the definition of a true conference center is. There are stand-alone conference centers that don’t offer guestrooms, those that do, and hotels that have ancillary conference center operations.

The International Association of Conference Centers has criteria that a facility must meet and adhere to if it wants the designation of an IACC conference center. All of these criteria (30 requirements in all) are on their Website (iacconline.com) and are divided into different categories: priority of business, conference room design, conference and business services, food and beverage, and technology and guestrooms.

Here are a few criteria to keep in mind.

  • A minimum of 60 percent of all meeting space in a conference center is dedicated, single-purpose conference space.
  • An ancillary conference center of a larger hospitality complex, resort or convention hotel must clearly identify the conference center and differentiate it from the remainder of the complex.
  • The conference center offers and promotes a package plan that includes conference rooms, guestrooms (if residential), three meals daily, continuous refreshment service, conference services and basic A/V.
  • The conference center has sufficient inventory so that 60 percent of its dedicated meeting rooms can be set up using ergonomically designed upholstered chairs, which are, ideally, designed to swivel and tilt.
  • For conference setups, the conference center uses tables that are designed for meetings, with a nonreflective, hard writing surface.
  • The conference center provides walls suitable for tacking or other mounting of flip-chart-type sheets.
  • The conference center has available skilled conference planners who can provide customized services that enable the client to meet the objectives of the meeting.
  • The conference center offers staff business services from a central location and provides continuous refreshment service outside of meeting rooms, unless inside refreshment service is requested by the client.
  • The conference center provides technicians proficient in creative program consultation; equipment setup, operation and instruction; and immediate response to service needs.
  • Conference center guestrooms – if applicable – include adequate workstations, lighting and comfortable seating for occupants.

    For more information, contact the International Association of Conference Centers at 314/993-8575 or online at www.iacconline.org.