Can meet in First-Tier Cities … Affordably
By Andrew Vigue
Chicago, L.A., New York City, Boston. Top tier cities can be a challenge to book (and afford) for planners who are on a strict timetable and budget. Yet if you are flexible in venue options, you can get your first choice of location by looking into the colleges and universities in the area and seeing what their event, meeting and conference spaces offer. Chances are, the options might even be better than what you expected to find at the best hotel in the bigger markets.
First, there is the advantage of affordability. Campuses offer a variety of accommodations at different price points that are suited to your needs. Whether you want to host a youth group or adult professional conference in a first-tier city, a college or university in the area will have budget-conscious residence halls. Some even offer more upscale and modern sleeping quarters with actual hotels onsite. Also, because the schools are home to a large body of students, the inventory of overnight rooms and meeting spaces is greater in order to serve this population, which can benefit you in choosing your facilities, too.
Meeting spaces in general are more varied on campuses. Compared to hotel meeting rooms, campuses offer varied options from academic-style classrooms or auditoriums to hotel-style ballrooms. Some school buildings also feature city and river views as opposed to windowless meeting rooms you’d find in a more conventional boardroom. Many of these are pre-wired with wireless connectivity and other usually “for fee” add-ons that are complimentary with the cost of the rental.
Services on campus act like a one-stop shop, with professional event managers that can coordinate and arrange all amenities including catering, media, function rooms, conference spaces, WiFi, parking, fitness facilities and retail dining outlets—often at greater cost reductions than outsourcing or adding on all these services at a hotel. Choosing a dining hall meal service over catering also keeps costs low. Even better, some universities provide food service curated by master teams through the school’s culinary department.
Another cost saving measure is the campus’ access to public transportation. Since schools in first-tier cities are based in an urban environment, trains, buses, even planes are easy to come by and save your attendees on travel fees, which lets everyone come together in a setting supportive of learning. And at the end of an event, that’s the best takeaway there is.