Corporate meetings and events are focused largely on content delivery. Whether you’re hosting a meeting or event, you’re a keynote speaker, or you’ve got a booth in the exhibit hall, there’s a message you want attendees to take away. You might naturally assume that the message is the top priority, the delivery method is secondary, and the venue comes in at a distant third.
In truth, content is the most important part of any meeting or event. However, that doesn’t mean the location won’t play a crucial role in setting expectations and creating a platform from which to successfully deliver your message. Selecting the right destination is not a throw-away decision – it’s one you must treat with careful consideration.
Says Tessa Cameron, VP Strategic Sourcing at AMI, “Any number of destinations could suit your needs when planning an event, but some are going to offer more. You need to comparison shop to find the greatest benefits at the lowest prices. Don’t forget to make sure your destination makes sense for your event and that it suits the sensibilities of attendees.”
What steps can you take to make sure you and your event organizer select the destination that’s best for your upcoming meeting or event? Here are a few guidelines to help you find your way.
What are you hoping to accomplish with your meeting? You may have many goals, from imparting a specific message, to raising brand awareness, to garnering patronage, to eliciting social behaviors from attendees (sharing via social media, writing positive online reviews, etc.). The destination you and your convention planner select should contribute in some way to reaching your goals.
For example, a beautiful location that has plenty of opportunities for selfies could invite social media sharing and raise the awareness and prestige of your event. If your message and your company are Eco-friendly in nature, you’re going to want to support your ideals with venues committed to Eco-tourism. The destination you choose should never be at odds with your goals for an event.
The bottom line is not only an issue for you and your convention planner, but also for any guests that have to pay to attend. While you might be able to work out deals with local vendors for lodgings, food, transportation, and activities, just for example, don’t forget that there are going to be hidden costs like taxes and fees, and you need to make sure to factor these in with overall cost.
Don’t forget about the potential cost for attendees to reach your destination, as well. Getting a great deal on lodgings won’t help if the vast majority of your attendees have to book pricey international flights to get there.
A scenic destination that is off the beaten path may seem perfect for a retreat that requires total immersion. However, you have to consider the hassles of getting there and the potential inconvenience to attendees when you go off the grid, so to speak.
An experienced and creative event planner can do a lot to keep guests comfortable and engaged, but if event attendees have to spend hours on an airplane only to hop on a bus or in a car for several more hours of travel to reach a remote destination, they’re not going to be too happy about the inconvenience. Morale will get even worse if the location doesn’t offer absolutely stellar amenities and diversions.
What makes one location preferable to another? You and your event organizer may be focused on the basics, like infrastructure, amenities, and logistics, but you also have to consider what added value a particular destination has to offer, such as culture, cuisine, and entertainment opportunities. This can help to elevate your event, engage attendees, and create an overwhelmingly positive experience.
While there’s no telling what the weather will be like at a certain destination during specific dates, you and your convention planner can do some research into common weather patterns to find out if the climate is likely to be accommodating during your event.
There are always going to be safety concerns when hosting an event, from a bad buffet that makes everyone sick, to uninvited guests gaining entry and causing disruptions, to natural disasters. If you plan accordingly, you can avoid most security concerns, but when choosing your destination, make sure to learn all you can about potential threats particular to the region or specific venues.