Are you evaluating different cities for your next convention or large event? It can be a daunting task, especially since it is often like comparing "apples to oranges". Below are some tips that can make your evaluation process a little easier, especially during the early phase of your site selection journey.

  1. Convention Center. Find out when it was built, when renovations occurred, how much meeting space it has, and its proximity to hotels. Ask the follow question of the Conference Services Manager: "What makes this property unique and why should I hold my meeting here?" They should be able to rattle off 10 to 12 amenities that makes that space special. 
  2. Other Meeting Spaces. If your meeting isn’t so large to warrant the use of a convention center, find out what other unique and interesting spaces are available to accommodate your guests. Ask the same questions in tip 1 and check out their ratings on sites such as TripAdvisor.
  3. Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). Often times, the CVB is the first-stop for many meeting planners when they are considering the RFP process. How helpful is the CVB? Do they return your calls and emails on a timely basis? Do they really know the ins and outs of the city, and how can they assist you in making your convention run more smoothly? 
  4. Travel Arrangements. Does the airport have several flight options for your attendees? Is the city close enough to the attendees that they could drive or use Amtrak? What about taxi or shuttle service once your guests arrive? Having easy and affordable transportation options, in and out of the city, is going to be a factor as to whether or not your attendees decide to come to your event. 
  5. After-hours activities. Here are a list of questions/research you want to do:
    • Is the city safe? Check out the crime stats in the downtown area and check with other planners who have hosted events in that city. 
    • Is the city walkable? Can the attendee safely walk to restaurants, attractions, or night clubs? What about running paths? Is there adequate sidewalk space for large crowds?
    • Does the city have a lot going on downtown? Do they have a cultural district? Symphony, theater, and/or opera? What about museums and galleries? And sports teams? In a large convention, it is important to choose a city that can appeal to the masses. 
  6. In-house or Outsource. When looking at all the various partners that are going to help you make this event successful, it is important that you understand whether you are tied to in-house vendors or not, especially with regards to catering and renting audio visual equipment. Optimally, you want choices…and the ability to select your own partners. Find out this provision up front and make it apart of your contract negotiations, before you sign the meeting venue contract.

AV Event Solutions, services all of California for your convention and association event needs. If you are event planning in California, please check out the following CVB links for additional information on each city: