The Business Record took a look at two area hotels that often host conferences to get a by-the-numbers look at the venues and find out their biggest challenges.


Gateway Hotel & Conference Center in Ames


Quantities, square feet & attendance:

• 800 Number of business conferences held each year

• 12 rooms, 15,400 square feet Total indoor meeting room space.

• 5,500 square feet Outdoor space.

• 250 guests Average size of conferences

• 2 days Average length of conference.

• 8,000 people, Odyssey of the Mind Largest conference ever helped host.


Food/lodging: (Based on a two-day event for 250 guests with two lunches and two dinners.)

• 100 Baskets of bread served

• 575 Pounds of meat ordered

• 35 Gallons of coffee brewed

• 1,000 Salads served

• 260 Number of chairs

• 400 Booked hotel room nights

• Chicken Most popular dinner or lunch entree

• 1 hour Average setup time


Biggest problem to come up before or during a business conference:

“We had a large group last summer that had been displaced from another location at the last minute,” said Anne Drannen, event sales manager for hotels at Orchestrate Hospitality. “We happened to have a vacancy and were able to accommodate them, but it was very tight and our biggest challenge was accommodating their space needs. They needed so many breakout rooms that they ended up hosting one group on the pool deck.”


Common last-minute problems that arise:

“A group that has heavy last-minute registrations,” Drannen said. “They may have 40 extra people that walk in 20 minutes before a conference starts. Our job is to figure out how to seat and feed them.”



Hilton garden inn in johnston


Quantities, square feet & attendance:

500 Approximate number of business conferences held each year

3 ballrooms, 2 meeting rooms, 1 boardroom, 11,000 square feet: Total meeting space.

70 people Average size of conferences

2 days Average length of conference.

300 people Largest conference ever hosted.


Food/lodging:

• Based on two-day conferences for 70 guests

• 7-9 Baskets of bread served

• 20 to 100 Pounds of meat ordered

• 4 to 10 Gallons of coffee brewed

• 40 Number of hotel rooms booked

• Bistro steak with demi-glace Most popular dinner or lunch entree

• 2 to 4 hours Average setup time


Biggest problem to come up before or during a business conference:

“Laptops seem to be notoriously finicky, which can bring presentations to a complete standstill,” said Jennifer Appenzeller, sales manager of the Hilton Garden Inn. “If they’ve only saved their presentations to their own computer’s hard drive, it makes for quite the challenge. We always recommend presenters save their presentations both on their computer and on a removable USB drive as a backup.”


Common last-minute problems that arise:

“Guests always seem to forget one vital piece of equipment,” Appenzeller said. “We keep a lot of the regular offenders on hand so that when it happens, we can get them what they need.”