Where Should We Meet?

KK Snyder

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Meeting planners looking to book a business meeting in Albany have a wide range of options, from multi-room venues to formal dinner settings to outdoor environments. So whether booking a small meeting or a full-blown convention, Albany’s meeting spaces have a lot to offer.

While a down economy has prompted some businesses to stay in-house for major meetings as a cost-cutting effort, some gatherings are more conducive to locations outside the office. Breakout rooms, catering services, meeting technology – all are considerations when organizing business meetings.

“Venue choice depends on the size of the gathering and the atmosphere the group is looking for. Whether they need a lot of breakout rooms or one big meeting room, there are a lot of choices,” said Lisa Riddle, director of the Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau, noting that most Albany hotels have some meeting space to offer.

Flexible room layout, available meeting equipment such as projection capabilities, Internet access and phone and video conferencing abilities, adequate space for the number of attendees and food and refreshment options – all are considerations for business meetings and all are available to different degrees at venues throughout Albany.

Venue selection will depend on the type of business meeting being planned, whether the attendee list includes out of town participants in need of overnight lodging, or simply a day event for local attendees. The ambiance of the location should be suitable for the type of meeting being held. The list of Albany hotels with meeting facilities is long and many have similar offerings with regard to meeting accommodations.

Among the most popular meeting and convention venues in town are the Hilton Garden Inn, Albany Civic Center, Hasan Temple and Morgan’s at Merry Acres, the largest venues Albany has to offer. All four venues offer multiple meeting rooms, reception and banquet facilities, and classroom and exhibit space, with the civic center offering the largest space and Merry Acres the smallest.

“The Albany Civic Center was renovated last year and has all new meeting space, updated bathrooms, etc.,” said Riddle. “Merry Acres was also renovated.”

While both the Hilton and Merry Acres offer onsite catering, Albany Civic Center and Hasan Temple have kitchens for use by outside catering services arranged by the meeting planner. In addition, they offer meeting technology, but for an additional fee.

“Almost everyone has (meeting technology) or can get it for an additional fee. Most venues can accommodate whatever is needed,” said Riddle.

A number of Albany attractions also offer meeting space, such as Chehaw, Albany Museum of Art and Thronateeska. Meetings can include an opportunity to experience these attractions or just be held on location. Outdoor venues include a number of Albany golf clubs and Veterans Park Amphitheater.

Another consideration is what the meeting venue charges for set-up and dismantle, use of tables and staging if needed, and podium and sound equipment charges. Rental fees often include a damage deposit, so make sure everyone is in agreement as to what is expected for clean-up etc. in order to get the deposit refunded.

Of greatest importance is booking early and making sure your needs are clear as are the abilities of your chosen venue to provide for those needs. It’s best to have everything in writing up front to make sure everyone is in agreement as to what is expected and what will be provided. With everything in place and the to-do list checked and doubled checked, business meetings in Albany can go off without a hitch.

Albany Business Meeting Venues 
Conference Centers
Albany Civic Center
Hasan Temple
Hilton Garden Inn
Morgan’s at Merry Acres

Albany Attractions Event Facilities
Albany Museum of Art
Flint RiverQuarium
Carnegie Library
Shackelford House
State Theatre
Thronateeska Heritage Plaza

Scenic & Outdoor
Doublegate Country Club
Garden Club Center Federated
Potter Community Center
River Pointe Golf Club
Stonebridge Golf & Country Club
Veterans Park Amphitheater
Wynfield Plantation

Hotel Meeting Space
Best Western Inn & Suites
Courtyard by Marriott
Country Inn & Suites
Hilton Garden Inn
Holiday Inn
Quality Inn Merry Acres
Wingate Inn

Albany State University
Albany Technical College
American Legion Post 512
American Legion Post 30
Darton College
Elks Lodge #713
Exchange Club
George A. Ort, Jr. Banquet Facility
Knights of Columbus