Even in today’s world of virtual meetings and working from remote locations, there’s still something to be said for getting up from your desk and interacting with people face-to-face. Well-planned, well-run meetings are a timeless necessity for most businesses. Hotels often specialize in meeting space, but what if most of your meeting attendees don’t need sleeping rooms? For 20 years, one of Westchase District’s best answers to that question has been Norris Conference Centers.
A fixture of the Westchase District business world since 1996, Norris Conference Centers, located at 9990 Richmond Avenue, has specialized in hosting a range of corporate events, offering clients an alternative to traditional hotel meeting space. One of the District’s premier meeting facilities (Westchase District hosted a recent meeting of its Board of Directors at Norris), the center has grown from the offshoot of an Austin location started in 1990 into one of West Houston’s most reliable gathering spaces.
A/V is A-OK
Teresa Sims, regional general manager, oversees a staff of three full-time employees, who manage 16,000 square feet of conference space. Full-service audio-visual capabilities at the location include screen projectors, microphones, speaker systems, teleconferencing and video conferencing.
“We’ve upgraded our video projection units three times in the past five years in order to stay competitive with the latest high-resolution technology,” said founder David Norris. “Some of our clients use sophisticated graphics software and they want to present images to their audiences as clearly as possible. It’s interesting that for all the talk about video conferencing though, we haven’t seen the demand for it we expected. Unless companies are spread out globally, most people still want to interact in person.”
Norris said while he often receives compliments about the technical expertise of his staff, his goal is to prevent scrambles in the first place. “It’s great when someone thinks we helped bail them out of an A/V near-disaster, but I want us to be able to anticipate challenges and handle them before they require last-minute rescues. That level of service is what keeps folks coming back. Well, that and the coffee,” he added, laughing. “Seriously, after our exceptional service, our food and our coffee are what receive the most compliments.”
Douwe Drop In
Through the center’s sister location in CityCentre, Norris said the Westchase location offers in-house catering, from cocktails and hors d’ouveres to buffets and plated dinners. “We didn’t start out in the catering business, but over the years, we’ve learned how to please the appetites of all kinds of groups and it has really earned us high marks from our customers,” Norris said. And the coffee? “We use Douwe Egberts coffee imported from Holland. When you attend enough meetings, details like that are highly noticeable.”
Want a sip of that coffee yourself? Sales manager Lana O’Neil hosts frequent free open houses to the facility to educate potential customers about the services offered. “We just hosted a Christmas in July open house and in October we’ll host a Girls Night Out event for breast cancer awareness,” she said. “We’re always happy to give site tours, but these themed events allow us to show all the rooms set up nicely to showcase what’s possible here.”
While the center is available 24/7 for round-the-clock, cross-time zone conferencing, you can’t crash as Norris. “However, we partner with area hotels to offer special room rates and shuttle service to and from the center,” O’Neil said. “Our motto is ‘Sleep at a Hotel – Meet at Norris.’”
Norris Conference Centers
9990 Richmond Avenue, Suite 102