Hotels as conference venues
Good conference interpretation is one of the many services clients look for when they book conference facilities. As a conference hotel manager, you will want to be sure that your clients are satisfied with the interpretation provided at your venue. Here are some points to bear in mind:
The simultaneous interpretation service is always "made to measure" to suit the requirements of each meeting. As with all aspects of the conference business, success on the day depends on good coordination.
In addition to professional, experienced interpreters, your clients will look for simultaneous interpretation equipment that provides good sound to listeners.
In most cases the equipment is supplied separately from the recruitment of interpreters because two different specialist activities are involved. However, the equipment supplier and the consultant recruiting the interpreters will usually be in contact at all stages of the conference.
It is always advisable to seek an equipment supplier who works closely with AIIC interpreters and respects AIIC's standards. In this way you can be sure of getting booths that comply with ISO Standard 4043:1998 and the best equipment.
And you will be working with technicians who are experts in the field, familiar with modern SI equipment and reliable on the job.
Sometimes hotels decide to install booths in their conference rooms rather than renting mobile booths. If you decide on this option, it is advisable to consult AIIC's Technical and Health Committee, who can give you expert advice.
It is not enough just to get a copy of ISO Standard 2603:1998 covering built-in booths and equipment, and work from there. A professional interpreter acting as consultant, especially in the design stage, can give you additional advice and tips on the practical, everyday side of simultaneous interpretation booths, beyond the purely technical specifications contained in the standard.
The equipment: rent or buy?
This is an important issue for hotels, since their conference facilities may not be used as regularly as large conference centres.
Buying simultaneous interpretation equipment means a major investment in high technology. It requires a professional technician on the scene whenever it is in use; you can't just tell your hotel electrician to look in now and then during a conference. He has other responsibilities; if something goes wrong, he may not know how to fix it, and he knows nothing of the specific requirements of the equipment, which also needs regular maintenance.
If you decide to buy your own equipment, you should either maintain a staff technician to be responsible for it, or hire the services of a fully-qualified technician to be on the spot whenever the equipment is in use.
The alternative is to rent equipment from a qualified supplier whenever you need it. This way you can be sure of getting a modern system in proper condition, plus a technician who knows how to work with it.
Check out our tips for conference organisers for more information on what to be aware of when hiring SI equipment.
One last item...
In a dedicated conference centre, the main purpose of the sound system is to provide sound for the centre's conference activities. A hotel, however, has many other functions, and the sound-system requirements for its conference facilities (in many respects very different from those of other functions) are seldom given the special attention they deserve.
This commonly leads to the following problems:
· Interference with the sound in the conference room caused by machinery in other parts of the hotel, such as lifts, air-conditioning equipment, public-address systems throughout the hotel, etc. This affects not only the interpreters, but their audience as well.
· Another difficulty arises when the hotel's own PA system equipment is used in the conference room, while the simultaneous-interpretation system is operating with the supplier's equipment. The result is two parallel sound systems that are incompatible, and the SI technician can do nothing about it when problems arise.
· Conference sound systems are specially designed for this purpose and have features not included in normal PA systems used in public buildings, but are very important for ensuring the smooth functioning of a multilingual conference.
Your best bet is to consult an expert in the field if you want your hotel to be known as a great place for holding international events.
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