On Business: Choosing a City for Your Meeting
Sometimes your business trip can involve more than finding transportation and accommodations for an individual traveler. You may be called on to help choose a city for your company’s meetings or convention.
Of course, the availability and cost of hotel rooms are major considerations. Larger cities generally have the most rooms and the most variety in terms of price and type of hotel — from luxury to budget and everything in between. The greater the number of rooms the more likelihood there is that people who decide to attend at the last minute can be accommodated. Las Vegas is among the top U.S. cities when it comes to hotel rooms, with approximately 150,000, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
If you’re planning a convention with a lot of participants, you’ll need a big, flexible space, one that can handle small-group meetings as well as large gatherings. One city that fits the bill is Chicago. Located minutes from downtown, the lakefront McCormick Place is the largest and most flexible convention center in North America, with more than 2.6 million square feet of exhibition space. The center’s features include assembly seating for 18,000 people, 170 meeting rooms, six ballrooms and a 2½-acre rooftop garden.
Transportation is another factor to think about when picking a city. You want to make it easy and inexpensive for attendees to get from place to place. Picking a location with an extensive bus and subway system can help cut costs and lessen the need for travel by taxi. When it comes to the ease and cost of travel by public transportation, it’s hard to top New York City, where the fare for subway or local bus rides is $2.75. Car-sharing services are also plentiful, whether you need to get to or from the airport or a meeting spot.
For business travelers, meals provide an opportunity to strengthen relationships with longtime colleagues and clients, or forge relationships with new ones. When you’re choosing a city, think about the choices when it comes to food and entertainment. Greater Miami has a lot to offer in both of those areas. With its melting pot of Latin and Caribbean culture — and abundant seafood — the city has an exciting and varied culinary scene. And of course, there’s no shortage of clubs where you can hear all kinds of music, from Cuban to jazz.
Finally, when picking a city you want to make sure that it’s a place where all of the attendees, clients as well as colleagues, will feel welcome. The location of your meeting or convention will be a reflection on your organization’s values and commitment to diversity. One city to consider is Washington, D.C. In a recent Bloomberg ranking, our nation’s capital and its suburbs stood at six out of 100 in a survey of America’s most racially-diverse metropolitan areas, based on U.S. Census Bureau data.