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[Excerpt] In 1997 we were approached by the directors of the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC) who asked us to conduct a study to determine whether conference centers were better than hotels for conducting meetings and similar activities (e.g., formal training programs). We told IACC that we could not do this type of research, but would instead try to identify the key property attributes that contribute to meeting or program effectiveness. The association agreed with this approach and provided funding for the project.

The study coincided with the beginning of the substantial growth in the conference-center industry that continues today. For example, in 1998 ARAMARK Corporation managed about 30 conference centers located primarily in the mid-Atlantic states. Today, the Harrison Lodging division of ARAMARK manages over 100 conference centers throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. At the time of our study the industry was diverse and fragmented in terms of facility size and condition, and IACC was in the process of developing standards for association membership. Thus, understanding the factors that led to successful meetings was of great interest to the association.


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