Earlier this fall I traveled to Norfolk, VA for a site visit for the 2013 Association of NROTC Colleges and Universities’ conference. Prior to our annual conference each October, I will make a site visit to the school and city that is hosting the following year’s conference. The site visit is one of my favorite parts of my job, for many reasons. First, I enjoy visiting new cities and since I have a real passion for higher education, I really enjoy touring different colleges and universities. However, more importantly, like most event planners I am very anal. The thought of running a multiple day conference, using different venues, various caterers, transportation, hotels, etc can be a bit overwhelming. The good news is that this is the point of my site visit. By the time I return home from my site visit, I am very confident that all of these details will be ironed out. And my trip to Norfolk, VA did not disappoint.
I have a pretty good checklist of things I need to accomplish when I visit a host city:
Hotel Negotiations and Tour: I ask each host institution to recommend 3-5 area hotels that they think would work for the conference. A lot of times I will check with the local visitor’s association for their feedback as well. About 6 weeks or so before I arrive, I will contact these hotels, ask for their bids and arrange for tours. I use a spreadsheet to make sure I am asking the same exact questions to every hotel; such as “Do you have an airport shuttle?” to make sure all of the hotels are on a level playing field.
After visiting four hotels in Norfolk, I decided on the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside hotel. The hotel is conveniently located near our host school; Norfolk State, all rooms will have a harbor view, great space for our Executive Committee meeting and New Member Orientation, and the patio of the hotel will be perfect for our Thursday evening welcome reception.
The hotel is also located within walking distance of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, which I found very interesting. The Museum is the home of the U.S.S. Wisconsin where Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan made their first public appearance earlier this summer after Romney announcing Ryan as his running mate.
After touring the hotels, next on my site visit check list is working with the host school. I will meet with our Association’s representative to discuss Friday’s Navy Day with his NROTC unit, where we can have Saturday’s business meeting, Saturday’s lunch, and Saturday evening’s reception and banquet. The space that we have at Norfolk State University to work with is absolutely phenomenal, and NSU’s representative Dr. Larry Mattix was a great guide. He suggested using their Student Center for Saturday’s meeting and lunch, and the atrium of their library for Saturday evening’s reception and dinner.
After returning from my trip to Norfolk State University, I am very excited for next year’s Association of NROTC Colleges and Universities Conference, which will be held October 17-19, 2013. This happens to me every year….I can never figure out why I get so nervous before my site visit!?