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Hotel Industry: Still Stingy With Tech Groups

Talk to a meet-up organizer and he or she will tell you how hard it is to find suitable locations for events. Hotels always want money up-front -- like dinners or rental fees. Bars and restaurants have a flat fee that must be paid to secure their private rooms.

Apparently, it's a hassle to get any shred of hospitality.

I've had my own personal experience with this cold shoulder.

I've mentioned before how I organize monthly Pizza Tweetups, where dozens of people flock to a pizza restaurant of our choice and have a big party. It amazes me how few restaurants will accommodate a large group without some kind of purchase guarantee or money up-front. 

On the other hand, we've also found some venues that are more than happy to have us -- and not just because they're generous. They realized quickly that a large group is definitely going to be ordering food, drink, and more. We get a place to converge on for our monthly soirees, and the restaurants enjoy new customers, a night of strong sales, and often a lot of blogging and tweeting about how great they are, courtesy the night's attendees.

Don't take my word for it, though. Listen to Alberto Aletto, owner of Tucci's in Boca Raton: "The results of the events we have had here were astonishing. We keep getting people eating here who attended one of the events and numerous others who come here saying their friends told them about our restaurant after they came to an event here." 

Marco Tornobene of Nino's of Boca says: "Why wouldn't you want to give out a few free pies to have these events? You couldn't possibly get your food in front of new patrons this easy. Think about how much a place spends on advertising."

The consensus is that restaurants are usually the most accommodating when it comes to events. But if the event has a tech bent, that may not be the right location. Computers and food aren't always a good mix, and most restaurants don't have multiple outlets, networking, and other essentials.

So most tech events happen in hotels and event centers, where organizers have to pay for the privilege. As a result, meet-ups can't always happen in those places. There's something wrong with this.

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Craig Agranoff

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