Well, we made it! And with a record attendance of 262 at the first luncheon in our new venue. A few late comers were put-off by the sight of so many members, and some could not see an empty seat. My apologies to anyone who was unable to find a seat and felt they had to leave. We did find seats for a couple of late comers by asking members to indicate empty places at their tables. If you have this problem in a future meeting please check in with the head table and we'll find you a seat.
We plan to fix problems as they arise, so please keep your comments flowing.
After the luncheon on Monday, Bill Peterson and I met with the Catering Sales Manger to present our initial evaluation. We discussed some changes and improvements that could be made quickly. There were a number of emails sent to the BEC after the luncheon, and I am pleased to report that many of the problems they reported had already been taken up with the Hilton staff. The concerns we had not identified were addressed by Bill on Tuesday in a phone call to the Hilton.
The list below identifies the topics we have identified. When you identify something that needs attention, please let Bill or myself know and this report will be updated as required..
A number of messages have also been received which tell how well the new venue was received. The whole BEC, and particularly Bill Peterson, deserve the well earned credit.
I encourage you to help make our meeting place fit our special requirements by providing feedback when we see something that can be improved.
Thank you all for your support
Problems and fixes: as of 1/13/2011
Sound system – amplifier for part of the room hadn’t been turned on; should be OK in future
10 people per table – if hotel booking permits, a third section of ballroom could be available to allow extra rows of tables for seating only 8 per table, and we may rotate the axis so the membership is facing the long wall. – repositioning the projection screen on long wall may improve also visibility for back tables. We will also look for tables to seat 8 or 9 members to give more space.
Other seating possibility – we can try long table seating if it provides more space and better visibility
Bar and bartenders – The Lobby bar seemed more popular than Grisinnis’s; a small portable bar can be tried in the hallway outside the ballroom instead of Grissini’s. Question: Did our members know where Grissini's bar was located? . The price of drinks met general approval!
Waiter service – one area with responsiveness issues was noted and will be addressed
Time food is served – Salads will be on the table by 11:30, and the entrée will be served starting at 11:45 to minimize noise and distractions during the business part of meeting. Most of the business will be conducted after lunch.
Some members asked if coffee could be served earlier, Hilton will advise. We asked about 'hard buns', chef will comment about choices.
We asked for more salad dressing on the table as several tables had to get refills. This was mainly a problem where the service was slower than average.
Lighting is a problem for the head table and speakers as well as for the pianist–all were working in dim light. Not sure how to improve room lighting (was the dimmer on low?) but a light on the piano (from home?) could be tried.
The (after) 10:20 am bar opening may have been O.K. generally but not for the early arrivers. We can try a portable bar nearer the ballroom to see if that is well received, and the staff will be expecting us a little earlier.
No problems with parking were reported.
One member requested WiFi access; we later discovered that free WiFi is available in Grissini's (if the signage is to be believed.)
There was some discussion (with BEC members) about crowding in front of the ballrooms and how the Activity tables might be arranged to try and minimize the crush. This is a Branch 8 decision and the hotel will assist us with the tables and layout. The Book & CD swap zone may be moved towards the Tilden meeting room, or may be placed perpendicular to the wall. Experimentation is required; please be patient as we work out these fine details.
Options for future consideration:
We need a procedure for seating late arrivals or those with mobility problems (reserved seats near entrance?)
Vegetarian meals (or low salt) – can be made available to those with dietary restrictions, or requirements to avoid particular meat dishes This will require a permanent request, not a month-to-month choice. There are several problems to solve before we can initiate this, we will keep you all informed of our progress.
More feedback: as of 1/17/2011
The attendance was updated today to 263! Definitely a record, with approximately 85% of our members in attendance.
Q. Garbage and waste cans are needed near the activity tables. A. Will be available at next meeting.
Q. Can coffee be available in the hallway before lunch? A. We will obtain the price of this extra coffee and Bill Peterson (our liaison with the Hilton) will report to the BEC for a decision if extra cost is involved. The decision will be reported to the membership at the lunch meeting.
Q. Could the greeters be made available to walk the area and assist late comers in late seating? This would ease the burden on the head table. A. We will be working on this problem, and also how to make seating for any handicapped members more easily accessible, especially if they are late comers.
Q. Hearing the head table trumps viewing it and it is essential that whoever uses the mike MUST be taught that it is not a directional mic and MUST be spoken into the head of it. Maybe a mic monitor could be assigned to stand with the speaker to correct him/her when they stray from the zone. Otherwise, I and my guest felt it was a delightful event (we like hard buns-crusty on the outside and soft inside). A. Little Sir Gary Plisco and I will be checking the microphone performance, and the amplifier settings to see if we can't optimize the sound from our equipment. We'll do this in conjunction with the Hilton AV staff and with all the speakers active well before the next meeting. We may have to swing the meeting room layout 90 degrees if we can utilize 3 sections of the ballroom, this would bring members at the back of the room closer, but the width would be increased too. The visibility of the projection screen will be an important aspect to be considered. We will also provide advice to presenters about slide content. It is a generally accepted practice that there should be no more than 40 words on a slide, and it's best if there are no more than 30 words, but presenters often forget!
Q. Can we have the invocation and pledge before we start eating, then conduct all the business after the meal. A. Great ideas. We must ask members to wait for the invocation and Pledge Of Allegiance before starting on their salads. We are discussing with the Hilton how the timing for serving the entree would work. We will try these ideas at the next meeting. [Submitted 1/10 – but I overlooked this item.]
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