T11 invites any active participant to host a T11 Plenary Week. All hosts are volunteers, and such voluntary activity is necessary to the continued success of T11. In addition, it is an opportunity to show-case your company and its interests in the city where the meeting is held. While written for T11, the same principles can be used for most other standards meetings about the same size and with the same technical requirements. These guidelines are based on the experience of several hosting organizations over the past few years. Obviously, the details will vary from one host and site to another, so please adjust your solution to these problems accordingly.
Hosting T11 Plenary Week meetings does not require an enormous budget, and in fact, these meetings have been successfully hosted by very small companies. Some companies may spend less by hosting a meeting than by sending two people to the average T11 Plenary Week! Hosting a meeting does, however, involve making arrangements a significant time in advance, and often involves supplying some form of monetary guarantee to an establishment such as a hotel.
|Activity||Proposed schedule||Notes and suggestions|
|Volunteer to host a meeting||1-2 years in advance|
|Identify city||14 months in advance|
|Research and select hotel||14 months in advance|
|Sign contract with hotel||12 months in advance||Actual requirement depends on hotel market in selected region and economic outlook. A strong economy and/or a tight hotel market may require an 18 month lead time or a change of site. Preliminary meeting space requirements fixed at this time. Catering and banquet requirements should be roughly arranged at this time, including a reception if any. The schedule and amount of payments and deposits to the hotel should be carefully negotiated before signing the contracts. Penalties for cancellations and lower than expected participation should be reviewed by your purchasing and/or legal organizations.|
|Meeting space requirements||6 months in advance||Work with hotel to be sure meeting space is appropriate. Determine when final meeting space requirements must be completed.|
|Final meeting space requirements||2 months in advance||This is derived from the meeting map. Any meeting space changes after this time may not be possible, especially if additional spaces are required.|
|Final catering requirements||2-3 weeks in advance||This should be reasonably consistent with planned contracted banquet requirements|
|Management of meeting week||Week of meetings||It is very desirable to have an administrative person available full time that week to perform liaison with the hotel. Participants in the meetings will be too busy performing hosting duties and technical duties to perform these functions.|
It is often helpful to hold the meeting in the city where the hosting company is located. Significant economic leverage with the hotels is provided by the other business activities of the hosting company. Note that certain areas have so many local participants that the hosting company may have trouble getting the required number of guest room nights to allow the hotel to justify the free use of its meeting rooms. In this case, meeting fees may be required.
The city should be selected so that it has acceptable air access and reasonable weather at the time of the meetings. Inside the continental US, a simple majority vote of T11 is required to approve a site. While meetings outside the continental US are acceptable, be aware that a 2/3 vote approving sites outside the continental US is required. It is sometimes difficult to get this majority if the site has the appearance of being principally a tourist destination, if the site is difficult or expensive to get to, if the site does not have good telecommunications and Internet support, has possible safety problems, or has onerous visa restrictions.
Have a fairly good idea of your budget. The budget can be used to offset guest room surcharges associated with meeting room expenses as well as for meeting room catering, special meeting room services, and a reception. It is possible to host without a budget if you choose not to sponsor a reception. In some cases, two locally situated companies may share the expenses.
Have a reasonable estimate of how many guest room nights your site and the workload of the committee is likely to require. The hotels will require a certain number of guest room nights in order to commit their facilities and negotiate the costs. A certain percentage of "attrition" is usually allowed by the hotel, but most contracts require payment of room night costs for unused guest rooms if the quota is not met. Historical information is available at http://www.t11.org/t11/meet.nsf/schhist to assist you in making this estimate. Historical information by individual night is available at http://www.t11.org/t11/arc.nsf/rnhistory. The number of guests tends to be small on Sunday night, gradually increasing to a maximum on Wednesday night and decreasing after that. The number of guests the weekends before and after the meeting week tends to be higher for those sites having some kind of touristic interest.
Negotiate with the hotel to meet the requirements and your budget. The present guidelines are that guest room rates with meeting fees included should be under $250 before taxes. Recently, the economic upturn has made this guideline somewhat unrealistic when taxes and other fees are also considered, but that is still a good target. Unfortunately, some excellent locations, such as New York City and Washington DC, are unavailable within those guidelines.
In general, the hotel is able to structure the guest room rates properly to support the meeting room expenses, audio-visual expenses, and the basic catering expenses, including a breakfast snack (juice, breads/rolls/muffins, coffee) and an afternoon break (cookies, coffee, soft drinks). The minimum guest room rate is increased by a negotiated percentage to cover those meeting room fees, services, and catering expenses that you choose not to budget directly. This is the financing method favored by the accounting organizations of most members.
In some cases, the hotel is instead able to charge a meeting fee separate from the guest room fees. Meeting fees of about $50 per day for a 4 day period are realistic. This financing method is more difficult to manage and upsets the accounting organizations of some members.
In other cases, the host chooses to pay the meeting room and service fees, which reduces the guest room fees to the basic hotel rate.As part of the negotiations, the meeting rooms should be reserved and the hotel should have a general idea of the meeting room set-up requirements. It helps to have some flexibility in meeting room allocations. For that reason, the best meeting room facility is often a number of adjacent rooms, which can be restructured into a larger room when necessary. The exact meeting requirements for a meeting week are not normally set until the end of the immediately preceding plenary (approximately two months prior). However, the meeting room requirements change relatively slowly, so that approximate meeting room requirements can be negotiated up to a year in advance.
A T11 Plenary Week does not consist of a single, continuous meeting, but rather of a number of separate meetings, each with its own length and meeting room size requirements. The meetings are generally arranged in from two to six separate tracks, each requiring a separate room. Examination of the meeting map, available at http://www.t11.org/t11/docreg.nsf/umap/$first (or www.t11.org, "meetings" button, "meeting map" link) clearly shows this. Additional meetings may sometimes be scheduled. During every plenary week, an officer's luncheon meeting is scheduled for Tuesday from about noon to 1:30. That meeting is NOT on the meeting map. Co-located meetings involving other organizations, including the FCIA, IEEE, and other T11 associated organizations may also be arranged. The organizations may expect the meeting room rental, meeting room setup, and projector screens to be included, but extraordinary services including additional luncheon catering and telephone charges are expected to be picked up by the other organization, not by the host.
As an example, the current meeting map (T11/07-135v0) requires:
|Monday||three meeting tracks|
Officer's luncheon conference room
FCIA reception room
Host reception room
|Thursday||plenary meeting room track|
Room size requirements are indicated on the meeting map and are typical of the T11 meeting week.It helps to have some flexibility in meeting room allocations. For that reason, the best meeting room facility is often a number of adjacent rooms, which can be restructured into larger rooms if necessary. The availability of a number of smaller conference rooms provides additional flexibility.
All meeting rooms require:
Room setup should be complete a minimum of 1/2 hour before the scheduled start of the meeting track.
Internet access MUST be available in the meeting rooms, either through the hotel's wireless Internet connection or through a single Ethernet port in a centrally located room to which the T11 wireless Internet services may be attached. The Internet requirements are fairly demanding since up to 80 laptops may simultaneously be connected. The room that contains the single Ethernet port should have a table in an unobtrusive location to support the T11 equipment.
Power cords are crated and shipped by the previous host to the present host. Note that there is some attrition in the power cords associated with accidental misidentification by hotel staff, so every host should be prepared to purchase the few additional cords necessary to bring the inventory up to requirements.
Projectors are normally provided by attendees and the chair. The host does NOT have to rent video projectors for the meetings. It is desirable for the host to borrow one or two projectors from his organization so that there are backups in case of failures.
Beware in negotiating your audio-visual services with the hotel that some hotels have a "corkage fee" for bringing your own equipment that may be up to 25% of the normal rental fee for power cords and projectors. These corkage fees may be on the order of thousands of dollars, more than the cost of the equipment, and hotel negotiations should make very clear that such fees are not acceptable.
For the plenary meetings and very large meeting rooms that may have poor acoustics, a microphone and built-in or supplementary speakers is desirable.
The breakfast catering quantities should roughly correspond to the number of guest rooms for the previous night, and the afternoon snack catering quantities should correspond to the number of guest rooms for the coming night.
Be aware that it is very important to maintain close liaison with the hotel to be sure that all required services are provided and that no excessive services are charged for. Having a full-time administrator available from the host organization is very useful for maintaining that liaison. While there is a significant amount of time that the administrator can perform normal work through the Internet, the administrator's presence at the site especially during the morning setup and arrival hours and at hosted receptions is very valuable and may save the hosting organization significant amounts of money.
In addition to the normal hotel services, it is essential that the hotel have appropriate access to high speed Internet in all guest rooms, either through wired Ethernet ports or wireless Internet access. Dial up access is not sufficient for most modern business usage of the Internet.
Telephone charges should not be subject to a time limit and local and toll-free charges should be very low.
The meeting room setup should be completed no later than 1/2 hour before the scheduled meeting time.
Attendees are very experienced with setting up and taking down the power cords, and their assistance should be solicited.
Water pitchers should be on a table at the back of the meeting rooms, since there is a risk of spills onto laptops if they are on the meeting tables.
Normal power connections in the meeting rooms are adequate for the projectors and the laptop computers, which are all low-power devices. Special power feeds are not required.
For meetings held at school vacation times, the choice of a site with family activities often brings additional guests. In many cases, the guests will stay longer to be able to share some of those activities with their family.
In some cases, additional corporate receptions and product demonstrations are constructive additions to the T11 meeting weeks. The host is NOT responsible for making or financing those arrangements unless it chooses to. In all cases, the additional receptions and demonstrations should be scheduled such that they do not conflict with the business of the T11 committee or its ad hoc groups.