Location, Location, Location (For Federal Meetings and Conferences)

Should agencies have a policy to prohibit meetings in desirable locations? Most readers indicate their agencies do not have such a policy and most indicate the location of a meeting does not influence their decision to attend.

Should federal agencies hold conferences or meetings in desirable locations?

Should there be a policy against holding federal meetings in desirable locations?

It is not an academic question as some agencies have apparently had a policy of prohibiting meetings in places like Las Vegas or Orlando. Not surprisingly, Congressional representatives from states that stand to gain from meetings in their states do not want a policy that automatically disqualifies cities in their states from consideration.

In our survey last week, most readers (53.6%) said that the location did not influence their decision to attend a meetings. 41.5% said that they were more likely to attend a meeting in a desirable locale and 3.1% said they were less likely to attend a meeting in a desirable location.

Here is a graphic depiction of the survey results on the question: "Does a more desirable location (e.g. Orlando, Las Vegas) for a federal meeting or conference influence your decision to attend?"

83.8% said that agencies should not have a policy prohibiting meetings in a desirable location. 11.1% said that there should be such a policy in place.

Here is a depiction of our readers’ response to the question: "Should there be a government policy against holding meetings or conferences in the most desirable locations?"

Many readers were not aware of a policy in their agencies prohibiting meetings in desirable locations (39.9%). 45.9% said their agencies did not have such a policy and 14.5% said their agency did have such a policy in place.

Here is a representative sample of the opinions sent in by readers on whether the location influences their decision to attend a meeting:

  • If the meeting is important then I should attend. It should be somewhere that is cost effective to the tax payers.
  • It’s a lot cheaper to hold a conference in Las Vegas than in a lot of other areas. Chicago is very expensive as well as St. Louis.
  • Sixteen hours of my personal time is spent each day and I want it to be in a location that compensates in interest for my being away from the convenience and comfort of home.
  • I won’t be in the meeting 24 hours per day. Why can’t I take in the sights during the evening hours? Just because we are federal employees does not mean we are not human.
  • If the meeting is important then I should attend. It should be somewhere that is cost effective to the tax payers.
  • Many times per diem rates are lower in these high-activity cities and/or can be negotiated at a lower rate for a higher volume of attendees. So although the perception of being at a "luxury" location; as long as the cost is within reason – there should be no reason to exclude these cities.
  • The problem is some attendees will go to the local attractions instead of actually attending the conference.
  • A lot of time those locations have lodging at a very reasonable cost and if you must fly, they usually have an airport easy to get into, which saves money.
  • Government per diem controls government payout limits. So why not?

Should there be a government policy against holding meetings or conferences in the most desirable locations? Here is a sample of opinions:

  • No, the desirable locations are also places that have ability to have large conferences and can be cheaper for Government.NYC is a desirable location for some but it is more expensive to go to than Vegas.
  • Depending on cost-effectiveness. Meetings in Reno or Las Vegas have, in the past, been most affordable. The real issue should be cost.
  • Airilne, conference room & hotel pricing should be the only consideration.
  • Cost should certainly be a deciding factor. Locations like Orlando and Las Vegas are less expensive than Wahington or NY or Milwaukee.
  • Locations should be restricted unless there’s clear documented evidence of cost savings. Public perception is also a valid consideration when choosing location.
  • Most are boondoggles. People are spending the tax payers money when they could have meeting via VTC or Tandberg.
  • Why should this be an issue? It’s an advantage for the conference to hold it in a desireable place so more will attend.
  • Las Vegas is a known city for cheap rates for non-federal occupants as well as conferences. The public needs to be informed that although it’s a desirable place – the price is more economical. If that is not true for the location – then federal agencies should NOT book there.

Our thanks to readers who participated in this survey and a special thanks to those who sent in the rationale for their opinion.