When people from all over the country need to meet, an airport hotel is a tempting option. They offer quick transfers to and from the airport. They usually have abundant meeting facilities.
Maybe I’ve just been unlucky, but I’ve never led a meeting in an airport hotel and thought to myself, “Wow, this place rocks.” They are functional, but usually uninspiring.
My latest experience
Last week I led a meeting at the Minneapolis Airport Marriott. We met in the Calhoun Room. Here are some random observations.
Hard to find
Most of the meeting rooms are adjacent to the main ballroom. As I followed the signs to the room, I got to what seemed like the end of the line for meeting rooms.
Because it wasn’t where I expected, I kept walking; past the restaurant, then what seemed like a loading dock, around the corner and to the end of a hall. It was a long walk. BINGO, I found the room.
Hard space to create energy
I walked around the room to get a feel for the space. That’s just what I do. It certainly wasn’t awe inspiring. It was your basic hotel conference room.
The people who arrived before me said the room was too hot, so they asked the staff to turn up the air. I walked into a refrigerator car. It got better throughout the day, but remained on the cool side.
I looked around and tried to notice something I could like about it. There was very little, with the exception of the carpet. It had this funky pattern that I’ll admit to liking. Everything else was just sort of blah.
I did discover that the wallpaper held post-it style flip chart paper well. That was a plus.
When I took a peek out the window, the view was of freeway ramps. Sigh. May as well close the blinds, there was nothing to gain from the view.
Food is always a big deal to meeting participants. As a facilitator, I’m generally happy if it comes when it’s supposed to, is served at the right temps, and doesn’t get in the way of the meeting.
The staff who worked the lunch were kind and attentive. They took individual orders in the morning.
The lunch arrived on two long tables that were rolled into the room. They were covered with our selections. It came a bit earlier than I planned, and the server told me we ought to eat now while it was still hot. With soups and fries on the table, it was a no-brainer. I called the lunch break.
Once the break began, the group moved to the serving table and then hesitated. How was this supposed to work? With nothing labeled, we were all a bit confused. After a few minutes, the server said that they would serve us individually. I liked that idea. It would be faster.
That’s why I was a bit dismayed when it took 10-15 minutes to serve everyone, which was awfully drawn out for a total of 12 people. Not sure why it took so long. The schedule for the meeting was tight. I could have used the time.
A comment about the restrooms wouldn’t normally make a post like this, but this time they got my attention. The restrooms seemed really far from the conference room. I didn’t check my watch, but the walk took forever. They were far enough that I thought the walk actually lengthened the time needed for a break. And when time is tight, that’s not helpful.
I struck up a conversation with another gentleman who said he thought the men’s room was converted from a women’s restroom. I was with him. There was something a little odd in there.
Walking back and forth, I couldn’t happen notice the flight crews—a lot of them. It was clear who this hotel caters to.
My bottom line
If a future client asks me for a meeting venue recommendation near the airport, the Minneapolis Airport Marriott won’t be it.