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June 15, 2000

Many hotel and resort facilities are competing for your sales meeting or training dollars. The options can be overwhelming and the fees can be intimidating. But can they provide you with an ideal site that effectively meets your needs?

Is it your mandate to provide your delegates with intensive learning, team building and networking opportunities in a setting that maximizes knowledge retention and has few distractions? Then you should consider one of the select conference facilities that have been custom designed for these factors.

How is the design of a dedicated conference facility different from other resorts and hotels? The differences are in the size and location, the physical environment, the ergonomics of the furniture, even the food and beverage service … and, of course, the price!

Specially designed conference centres are usually located within a 1-2 hour drive of a major city, with nature awaiting you at the front and back doors. While providing the isolation needed for a group to work together, they offer quick commutes from major airports and avoid the many distractions of a downtown metropolis.

Both the indoor and outdoor environments are cultivated to benefit your group. Indoors, a conference facility’s meeting rooms typically provide an abundance of natural light, which has been shown to be a key factor in knowledge retention for adults. You’ll also find an excellent mix of well-connected large and small rooms, in a separate area from the bedrooms and dining room. This encourages quick movement between rooms for break-out sessions, with little chance of delegates wandering off or being interrupted by others. In some cases, meeting rooms are clustered in several adjacent buildings, permitting smaller groups that would not fill up a facility to remain somewhat separated from other meetings.

Outdoors, you’ll find a soothing and relaxing natural environment, with many recreational opportunities, hiking trails, etc. In several cases, customized areas for specific team building exercises have been developed.

Meeting rooms are fitted with ergonomically designed chairs and tables, conducive to hours of learning in comfort. The meeting rooms also have extensive, modern audio-visual equipment, with on-site support staff, all at no extra charge. Some facilities even have a permanent set-up for full satellite and video conferencing.

Meals are usually served in a central dining room, and in most cases your group can be seated separately from any other guests at the facility. Breakfasts are served buffet style; for lunch and dinner delegates are provided with some meal choices. In many cases, late night snacks are also served. "Break stations" can be found adjacent to meeting rooms, with fully automated service for coffee, tea, hot chocolate, etc. This allows a flexible meeting schedule, where breaks can be taken when they fit into the program, not when the facility’s servers arrive.

The best news about specialized conference centres is the price. Their Full Plan fees generally run around $110-$170 per person, per day or 24-hour period. Of course, depending on the season and the time of week you hold your event, even better rates may be available. This plan includes the accommodation, all meals and snacks, all meeting rooms, and extensive use of audio-visual equipment. And you don’t run up a long list of "extra" charges for what are really essential services. So in the end, you get great value for your meeting dollar.

MedSci Communications & Consulting Co. provides full conference and meeting planning services. As part of this service, we conduct site visits of potential meeting facilities and evaluate them for your specific needs. We also negotiate with the site on your behalf to ensure your meeting stays within budget.

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