All I know is that when I travel, I want easy and fast internet access and I don’t want to get “kicked out.” I am no different than any other traveler, whether on business or pleasure. Recently, I had an experience bidding on a User Group conference that went way beyond just marking the “x” next to the question on the RFP: Access to the Internet: Wired ___ or Wireless ___.
I thought I would share this experience and hope it is helpful when searching for your next meeting destination/site.
This RFP came with an extensive technology questionnaire, considering our Indian Wells, CA (Palm Springs area) resort, asking about our bandwidth, ability to “push” bandwidth, fiber optic back-bone, download and upload pipe to the Internet, latency, host cities, access points, etc. At that point, I ran (not walked!) to our IT Manager. He answered the questions in IT terms (I still didn’t have a clue!), allowing me to move on to the proposal, quoting Dates/Rates/Availability and providing information on our #1 Spa in the desert, championship golf, flexible meeting and event space, quality food & beverage, etc.
This company sent their IT Director for the initial site inspection. Knowing that I could not possibly “wing it” (as my hotel sales colleagues can relate to! ;) ), I brought along our IT Manager on the site. What a great learning experience! These two spoke “their” language and explained to me all the various terms and what they meant to the meeting experience. We literally went to every meeting room AND every guestroom building (our resort is a “village-style” layout, so not the high-rise type resort/hotel) with a latency speed test thingamajig and tested the upload/download and latency speeds. Although, even now I probably could not talk their talk, I have a much better understanding of what our capabilities are, here at The Miramonte Resort & Spa, and what would be required when groups have specific needs.
On the upside, since that site inspection, we purchased additional bandwidth, removed a third party support provider that was unnecessarily occupying bandwidth, relocated some access points to help with speed issues and we know our ISP can provide us with additional bandwidth on demand. Although hotels are continuously upgrading their IT capabilities, this site inspection experience was extremely valuable and I thought I would share a similar checklist, to serve as a resource for meeting planners, as well as my counterpart hotel sales colleagues. Better to know upfront whether the hotel/resort you are considering can truly handle your meeting’s technology needs....BEFORE you book and learn the hard way!
For a checklist of important tech questions for meeting planners, read "Bandwidth 101 For Meeting Planners."