I’ve got to chime in on this one and it got too long for a comment. I know this hotel quite well (I have “memories”) for reasons that will be explained.
The event is questions is The Under One Roof Conference that takes place in July 2015 – http://www.homeless.org.uk/events/under-one-roof
There are very few large scale conference venues in the UK that can handle an event of this scope. Most have either not enough rooms for the various program items or the rooms they have are not large enough for the number of delegates. A conference/convention isn’t simply a few hundred (because it will be a few hundred) people sitting in a large room staring at the stage – although those do tend to be a part of any conference. Okay, I will admit that there are some conferences that are nothing BUT a series of interchangeable Ruperts & Emmas talking at an audience, but not all are like that & this one isn’t. To quote from the Under One Roof website “Over the two days, we’re running a series of masterclasses, workshops and debates.”
Having been on the organising committee for a 600-900 member convention for around 8 years* I know how few there are and what the hidden limitations can be of most of those. We even used the Hinckley for three events (2004, ’06 & ’08). At that time the main function room was not really adequate for our needs but it did have plenty of smaller rooms for various things to happen & a fantastic “chill out”/”break out” area in the atrium. It has been renovated since then – and hopefully it no longer floods every time there’s heavy rain! Though that could be an interesting wake up call for this particular event 🙂
This sort of thing canNOT be held “in a homeless hostel” for what I hope, after the above, are obvious reasons. It can’t be done as a “podcast” because it is not a single “one panel on stage speaking to an audience” event. It can’t be done as a tele-conference/skype for the same reason. We regularly had/have suggestions from attendees that we hold our event “at a University” – which has it’s own set of limitations, not least that the student accommodation is generally single rooms (& bedding not included) with, often, shared bathrooms & kitchens and a long trek from the rooms to wherever on campus the action is happening.
One fact to bear in mind is that the ticket price (the £715 figure being bandied about is for 2 nights for non-members of any of the associated organisations who want to arrive the day before the event starts) includes not just the hotel room & dinner but the cost of hiring the function rooms. The goal should be to pay for the entire event through attendance. If that can’t be done, the event should be shelved. The event also has corporate sponsorship to cover any shortfall etc (including the cost of the meal, it seems).
Now, that “swanky meal”… the hotel is pretty isolated as I recall. There are no restaurants nearby unless you want to go for a drive & the hotel restaurant, like many hotels of that size, cannot deal with near enough 100% capacity all ordering different meals & all at the same time. So they put on a 3 (or maybe 4) course meal as part of the event – usually with a couple of choices for each course & to be advised in advance so the kitchen know exactly what they are doing.
The problem is ONLY that “4 star hotel!!!!!” gets people upset when it is put next to “Homeless Charity Conference!!!!!” And don’t bloody bitch about “OMG! There’s a pool and a spa and a sauna!!!!!” Of course there is, you’d be hard put to find any large 4+ star hotel that doesn’t have either that on site or an agreement with one very close by.
* I finally hit “burn out” and had to resign from the committee. I’ll still attend the conventions though 🙂
Apologies for any spelling or grammatical errors, I just woke up.