Tip #284: Preparing to Conduct Workshops in Hotels #1

Here is the first four items of a checklist for preparing to conduct a workshop in a hotel. Feel free to suggest additional items!

1. Call ahead to get the room dimensions.

If you are like me, you probably have a room arrangement that you prefer. Rather than be unhappily surprised when you arrive, it is useful to get the room dimensions ahead of time.

I also like to ask about windows and pictures on the walls. Since I bring kites to decorate the walls, I need to know what kind of blank wall space is available. This is also important information to help me to plan how to put up the wall agenda map, which is often pretty long.

2. Find out who should actually receive the room layout.

I can’t tell you how often I have arrived at a hotel, looked into the assigned room and found that it had not been set up according to my
room layout. When I have spoken to the hotel conference staff, I learn that they have never seen the layout. This sad experience has taught me that it is better to deal directly with the hotel conference staff than with the client who is arranging the workshop. This way I’m sure that they have received the layout and can accommodate me. I also get a contact name and phone number, which may come in handy during my stay.

3. Find out exactly when they’ll set up the room.

I travel with a lot of materials to go on the walls and on the participant tables. I like to have an hour or two to prepare the room in the evening before the workshop. I find it is too exhausting to set up for a workshop on the same day I facilitate it.

If I have traveled a distance to get to the hotel (which is a typical situation), I am tired when I get there. I want to get into the room as soon as possible to prepare for the workshop. Frequently, I’ll find to my dismay that the hotel is planning to use a late night crew to set up the room – or an early crew the next morning. I have needed to tip generously to get the room set up that evening!

4. Find out when you can get into the room to put out your materials.

I’ve learned to call ahead to ask: (a) Is there another function in the room? (b) If so, when is that function over? (c ) When can I get into the room? and (d) Who will let me know when I can get into the room?

I’ve cooled my heels waiting to get a call telling me that the function in the room is over. Sometimes, I’ve never been called and the only way I knew I could get into the room was to physically keep checking on it. No fun at all.

Next week, we’ll add to this checklist to cover issues related to mailing materials ahead of time and actually locating them on site when you need them!

This topic will be very fresh in my mind, because I will have just completed facilitating a week of training in South Carolina- for which I mailed seven boxes of materials. I know they got there (because of FedEx tracking). The question will be locating them once I get there! Wish me luck!

Before we get to this week’s Tip, Beth Eberhardt has posed another question, this time regarding self-defeating behavior and guiding staff through stressful times:

“My question as a new trainer is, “how do you facilitate the conversation in regards to times like these?” For example…within our system we are a college, therefore: we are dependent upon state funding which is up in the air, we are facing a double digit increase in enrollment, and our Governing Board has just hired a firm to come in and do an efficiency study. In anticipation of doing some of our training topics on change, communication, goal planning, diversity, etc. how do you anticipate the participants demeanor, questions etc and then how do you tactfully address their concerns without shutting them down? (one nice thing is most of the training we do is not mandatory therefore their are still their on their free will.”

If you have some ideas about how to approach training within the context of stressful situations, please send them in and we’ll print them. I know that most if not all of you are faced with this same situation, so I am counting on your wise experience and tested approaches!

In this week’s Tip, we continue our look at handy tips to prepare to conduct workshops in hotels.

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