While on site, the command post of any meeting
is the planner’s control center. Hotels’ full-service business
centers often can be opened after hours, but sometimes
circumstances or economics make it necessary to set up your own
The most valuable on-site offices are not necessarily the best
equipped; rather they are well organized and multipurpose, offering
functionality, practicality, economic prudence and even
IS IT NECESSARY?
If you answer yes to more than two of the following, you would
benefit from such an on-site office.
Touchy subjects. Do you have VIP participants?
Will you be handling proprietary documents? Do you need a fine
touch for high-end management or clients?
Proximity. Is the business center far from the
meeting? Is it shared by too many groups? Will the distance cause
delays as you solve crises?
Piles of copies. Are you often at Kinkos at 3
a.m.? Can the business center match the cost of a do-it-yourself
center? Will you have ample staff to cover your own office?
Next, consider various equipment scenarios and their
costs. What machines do you have at your home office that you’ll
need on site? What have you used at meetings in the past? Will you
need Internet access? Does the venue have affordable wireless
Items you could ship to the venue include laptops, small
printers, stationery and other office supplies, and walkie-talkies
Generally, it costs less to rent copy machines, fax machines,
high-volume printers and scanners.
When working on an overseas meeting, it is rarely worth the
hassle to ship electronics, because of shipping costs, potential
customs delays and other delivery issues. And keep power needs in
mind, as there can be problems with adapting to different voltages
WHERE TO SET UP
Choose an area close to your meeting that is soundproof and
In your site inspection, inquire about security and then ink
your needs in the contract. Will you need to hire a guard for
expensive equipment? How many venue staff members will have keys? A
spacious, well-lighted breakout room adjacent to your registration
is ideal. More space is better than less: You’ll have room to move
Do you need to keep the location of the center private? For some
VIP meetings, it’s nice to offer faxing and copying capabilities to
attendees, but in most cases, planners don’t want guests to know
where they’ve set up, so they aren’t bombarded with requests to use
Here are a few issues to watch for as you choose the room
you’ll use as your office and then negotiate for its services.
Power. Be sure the room has enough outlets for
the equipment you’ll be using.
Noise. Be sure noise won’t bleed into a nearby
meeting and vice versa.
Internet access. If the cost seems outrageous, see if you can
negotiate it down.
Phones. Be sure the space has ample phone jacks
and phones with ringer-volume control.
Dead spots. Check to see if your radios and
cell phones work in the room.
As you move in, keep the office organized. Unpack boxes
right away, label items, map out a logical work flow.
This office can be a war room as well as an inspiring sanctuary
from stressful days and nights. Bring healthy snacks, water, and a
basket of toys for brainstorming or simple relaxation.