Last Updated on 10 November 2010

There is something seriously wrong with the way we rent meeting space.

Does anyone else notice it?

Problem No. 1

We don’t care where we meet.
Standard practice for an off-site meeting is to pick a city then ask the admin or specialist to ring up a few hotels to book rooms for the team and then book a meeting space. This is conveniently handled in one call, as most hotels have a conference rooms.

However, these spaces – some large with ballrooms, others smaller with themed names – all have something in common.

That they are common.

There’s nothing special about them. They’re designed to be generic, and tan, and multipurpose. A tan shell. To be filled this weekend with a wedding reception, tomorrow your meeting, and next week a Bat Mitzvah.

Why aren’t we asking the admin or specialist to first find the best place in the city / region / country for a meeting? Then find a hotel nearby where we can sleep?

Problem No. 2

Book A Bed, or Buy Food – Get Meeting Space Free
This problem reinforced for me last week, while shopping for meeting space for an upcoming conference. As we toured different meeting venues – over and over – the same situation took place… Hotels had no interest in taking our money to book a meeting room. They were giving us the rooms if we

  1. booked enough hotel guest rooms or
  2. bought food.

I know – duh! – hotels first sell beds, then they sell meals… the meeting space is nearly afterthought.

While the room is a give-away… Even the most basic, required equipment is offered at a premium. Flip charts are $60 each. Another $15 if you want an easel to put it on. An LCD projector is $800. If you want the projector to sit on something… the cart with extension cord is another $200.

Why are we happy to settle for bare bones space?

Of all the specialized tools we use, to give us an edge in business, why do we not consider the venue – where we need to create ideas and make million/billion-dollar plans – as a ‘tool’ in that process?