Conference Centers Vs. Hotels

During the recession many of our meeting planning clients moved from holding their conferences at hotels to conference centers. Many continued using the conference centers once the industry recovered. We wondered why?

It appears conference centers are one of the winners coming out of the recent recession. The need to meet face-to-face did not go away during that time; in fact it was crucial to the continued success of many businesses. Many planners however sought out more cost-effective alternatives for their meetings and events. Here at Eventinterface we noticed that about half of our clients moved their meetings to conference centers and many have remained there since.

There are about 350 International Association of Conference Centres (IACC) certified conference centers in three chapters in the Americas, Australia Asia Pacific and Europe. These are facilities that are certified by the IACC as dedicated conference centers and comply with all IACC's Quality Standards.

Conference centers are specialized facilities that have a team of professionals who are fully focused on meetings and conferences. The venues must generate at least 60 percent of their revenue from meeting and events, not social events. They must also have at least 60 percent of their space dedicated for use only by meetings and conferences. Most hotels cannot comply with these requirements. Some hotels are now seeking certification as conference centers and are building properties to meet the certification guidelines.

“I have found great success in moving our conferences from hotels to conference centers,” said Daniel Duran, Event Planner for the Arizona Charter Schools Association. “We now use Desert Willow Conference Center, a part of the Sodexo family. Simply put, proper budgeting is of high priority in the non-profit sector. An all-inclusive, no hidden cost-per-person rate versus working on a minimum and having to monitor every single bottle of water that is consumed, allows me know exactly to the penny what my onsite expenses will be. I can better forecast our costs and our projected profits. Another plus is, I am not stressed during the 2-3 day conference wondering what my end-of-day bill is going to be. I am still able to set-up room blocks at easily accessible hotels or resorts for our guests to have a comfortable experience,” continued Duran.


1) A dedicated team focused on meetings and conferences.

2) All-inclusive pricing per attendee that includes space, food and beverage, audio-visual support and access to sleeping rooms. There is no need to worry about different invoices for rental fees, food and beverage, and audiovisual expenses.

3) Multi-day events don’t have to worry about space being booked for other events in the evening. Certification requires that planners can safely leave their materials and equipment on site.

4) Superior technology support. Most conference centers offer the latest in audiovisual technology and a complete meeting package is included in a single price.

More about the International Association of Conference Centres here.

Pictured: High Country Conference Center in Flagstaff, Arizona.