Quick Tips: Site Selection, Consultants and Small-Town Charm

See & Sell!

Planners: Ever on the hunt for the perfect location for their meeting or event. Suppliers: Always looking to promote their product (in this case, a venue!) and get that calendar filled. What are some best practices for both? Read on for tips on the two sides of this coin …

Finding the Right Site

Are you looking for a home for your annual convention? A smaller, all-inclusive venue for a board-based day-long affair? Perhaps it’s something off-site for a golf tourney or some other revenue building event? There’s a perfect place out there – so whenever possible, enlist the help of those in the know to guide you. Case in point: the local CVB. They know the ins and outs of the destination – and all the players! And if there’s a venue you’ve got your eye on, they may be able to help you ink a budget-friendlier deal than you’d have negotiated on your own. Site selection companies have their place, as well, and aside from the time- and money-saving aspects, can really help in the event of cancellation or another inconvenient and unexpected situation.

If you’re going it alone, in particular where site inspections are concerned, show up for your meeting early and walk the hotel or venue much as your attendees would. Are you greeted warmly by staff? Are they helpful when presented with a question? How do the areas you don’t have on your walk-through agenda that day look?

Come appointment time, take note of how you’re greeted by the sales rep. Did he or she loop in any other professionals (AV, F&B, management) to help answer questions? Did your tour focus on the things you specified as important needs in your RFP or prior conversations? In other words, have they done their homework on your membership and event? (Note: when you give ample information in the RFP, they can better serve your needs – so help them help you!)

Note all of the above to aid you in your site search; the best venues happen where the best people work!

Being the Right Site

Renovations and upgrades and services, oh my! There’s a lot of competition out there. So, how can you make your venue stand out? Great marketing!

Planners may not be able to visit your venue, but it’s so easy to upload beautiful images and video – they can easily do a virtual walk-through. Include all the relevant information (size, specs, AV capabilities, capacity, etc.) along with gorgeous shots and footage of your space or spaces. Include shots taken during fabulous events (some beforehand – with the room staged, but empty; some during, to showcase how guests utilize the space), all different kinds – so planners can see its versatility. Consider, too, using 360-degree technology, to give potential clients the freedom to “wander” at will.

Is your hotel, meeting or event space proximal to dozens of other great city features? Play it up! Airport, hotel, transportation or downtown convenience, for example, are traits that may make you rise above the competition So, too, can outdoor space – so if your facility boasts a courtyard, waterfront, city-view or otherwise lovely al fresco zone (even if it’s simply adjacent to the larger space, allowing guests to wander in and out), show it off – and include it in that aforementioned virtual tour.

Finding the Right Consultant

Consultants can be hired for one-off consultations or soup-to-nuts services that carry you from planning to management to post-event evaluations, but how do you find the right one to suit your needs?

Know them: Your needs, that is. You wouldn’t walk into your first meeting with a kitchen designer with no idea of what you wanted – so come to the table prepared with the thing or things you’ll want help with. Remember, you’re the client, you’re in control (as much as you want to be, anyway) and knowing your needs ahead of time will give your contractor the direction needed to take the ball and run with it.

Get recommendations: Go straight to your trusted network of professionals to find out if any have worked with consultants before. What were the challenges and the benefits? And above all, is there someone they’d call on again if necessary. Take names, make calls, vet for yourself the one(s) who match your membership’s unique needs.

And while we’re at it: Have they worked with an association before? A consultant with experience may have a better understanding of your specific goals and challenges – so it could be wise to find a professional who doesn’t need an association-based learning curve.

Small Town Charm

Smaller towns are still big in Texas, with fun and even unique offerings in quaint downtowns, some more sophisticated than you might expect!


El Monumento. Breathtaking architecture, outdoor space and San Gabriel river views – along with stellar Mexican food – await in this sprawling and beautiful restaurant/bar.

Grape Creek Vineyards. With a tasting room on the downtown square, and a vineyard to tour out in Fredericksburg (roughly two hours west), Grape Creek can provide an education as your attendees imbibe.


Amendment 21. Think the craft cocktail craze is something on which the super-sized city slickers have the market cornered. Think again. Amendment 21, so named for the one that repealed Prohibition, not only handcraft Manhattans, Old Fashioneds and a host of house-created libations, they’ve got event space with seating for up to 190 guests. Pop in for a drink (and a casual, off-the-books site inspection, maybe?).

The Shed Market. It rose from the ashes of one of the city’s favorite BBQ joints (and of course, there are loads of great options in this state). It serves staples including brisket and ribs and banana pudding (plus goodies like jalapeno/cheddar sausage). It’s even a meat market as well. And yes, they cater.


Inn on the Creek. Roughly 25 miles from Killeen proper, this sprawling property is home not only to the inn, but a distillery, craft cocktail bar, full-service kitchen and a host of different event spaces – indoor and out. Views of the Salado Creek don’t hurt, either.

Mayborn Science Theater. Located on the campus of Central Texas College, this planetarium hosts laser light shows that educate visitors about space – and entertain them with music. Events/groups welcome.

Photo credit: © Novosyolova

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