JUN 2018

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ J U N E 2 0 1 8 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 20 GOVERNMENT & EDUCATIONAL MEETINGS said that budget is a big consideration. "Events held at a tiny location in West Vir- ginia will cost less than events held in Dallas but I know that ahead of time because I've done this for so many years," she said. "I've also grown to expect that prices will increase a little bit each year." Bachick's events don't require elaborate facilities but the facility staff is an important consideration. "In terms of facilities, I simply need large ballrooms with tables and chairs, and basic A/V and sound capabilities," she said. "We're not allowed to provide food or beverages under the terms of the contract, so attendees do lunch on their own." She added: "I'm really looking for a staff that is willing to help out whenever I need them and a good working relationship." Some Facilities Can Offer Expertise Government contracts, in general, can be very strict and sometimes complicated, so Eliza- beth Hovell, department head of sales at the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel, recom- mends that planners affiliated with the government ask prop- erties about their experience with government contracts. "Organizations like ours that regularly work with the government are very knowl- edgeable about the kinds of clauses that are allowable and those that are not," she said. "Government contracts are different because of the things they aren't allowed to agree to. The billings may not be the same as normal contracts." The Georgia Center is a unique property situated on the University of Georgia campus, with access to all the offerings campus provides, according to Hovell. The center is owned by the state but staffed entirely by UGA employees who carry out the university's outreach and public service missions. "We're a lot like a traditional full-service hotels except that we have 200 hotel rooms with 38,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space," she said. "Industry standards suggest we should have 850 rooms with that much space. It provides us tremendous space for breakouts and all the requirements of educa- tional events." The center offers continuing-education courses that allow the public to attend classes, such as grant writing, test prep, project man- agement, professional and leadership training, and even turf management. Additionally, though, the facility also operates much like a traditional hotel in its access to businesses, government departments, associations and other entities. "We do education well because we're serious about it," Hovell said. "We have access to trained facilitators who can help people as they are training for their events and we have spaces that are designed for education." Specifically, she said, the center inten- tionally opts for 60-inch tables instead of the industry-standard 72 inches because larger tables make it more difficult for conversations to take place. Meeting rooms offer lecterns that allow speakers to control every aspect of the presentation from the front of the room. Additionally, the facility offers banquet din- ing rather than conference dining so that each group has its own eating space. Hovell pointed out that there is ample research that suggests that "eating at your desk" doesn't promote productivity, so the center provides separate meeting and eating spaces. Best of all, the university offers shuttles to and from the Atlanta airport and free shuttles to locations on and around the campus for those staying at the facility. "The bang for your buck here is phenomenal," Hovell said. "Once you're here, you don't have to worry about anything else." n University of Georgia Mahler Hall

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