Next Meeting, Think Small

By Heather Baldwin

There’s something to be said for being small. Small cars fit into tight spaces that large SUVs might have trouble maneuvering into. Small children have more hiding places during a game of hide-and-seek than do their parents. And smaller, regional meeting facilities enable you to plan your meeting within a much shorter window – something most companies are doing now because of constrained budgets – and still find top-notch meeting space.

What’s the connection between regional facilities and last-minute meetings? If you’ve ever tried to book a last-minute meeting in a major market, such as New York or Los Angeles, you already know that it’s very difficult to find space at the last minute. Clearly, with less advance notice, you’ll have fewer meeting facilities to choose from. Even with all the planning time in the world your chances of finding a smaller, regional facility that meets your needs are much greater than snagging space at a large venue that draws from a national audience. Here’s why: According to 2001 statistics released last year from the American Hotel and Lodging Association, there were only 505 properties in the United States with more than 500 rooms, but there were 13,820 properties with between 75 and 149 rooms. The numbers get even better if you need fewer rooms: There are 21,580 facilities with less than 75 rooms.

So the numbers are on your side if you’re like the many companies that are planning regional meetings on a much shorter cycle than in the past. “Organizations that may have had a planning cycle of nine to 12 months have shortened that cycle dramatically,” says Alex Doyle, director of sales and marketing for Turtle Bay Resort in Oahu, Hawaii. “We’re seeing a lot of activity within 90 days, which is a pretty short window. I think that is what’s bolstering the demand for regional facilities.”