By Shannon Byck and David Drover
There are various reasons for a company to decide to plan a meeting or incentive in a new destination: team building, incentive award, or training are just a few. When looking outside of your typical in-house or local meeting venue, a new destination provides your attendees with a unique environment that can build upon your companies’ goals for that meeting.
There may be concerns about the additional costs (transportation, hotel costs, etc.) of using a location abroad, but many believe that taking the time to get away and meeting in a new place helps strengthen relationships, either within your organization or with your clients. A focused, more relaxed setting is worth the investment if executed with your meeting/incentive program’s goals taken into consideration.
There are many factors that should be taken into consideration. Here are just a few to consider, whether planning on your own or using an intermediary partner:
Location, location, location
Finding the location that is the right fit for the meeting is a priority. Ensuring that the location fits the goals of the program is key. Location can be a reflection of the company’s culture, and also will either enhance or detract from the goals of the program. The preference of many is for a location that is easy to access (Canadians love direct flights), but it also needs to meet the established budget parameters. It is essential to research locations well in advance as meeting space demand is on the rise. As well, it is important to make a list of your must-haves to find a location that meets your needs and keep in mind that some remote destinations do not always come with the luxuries of home. Ensure your research includes your local tourism bureaus, as they can be a valuable resource.
We are what we eat
These days, attendees have high expectations when it comes to the food they eat. With the increasing trends of farm-to-table and expanding dietary restrictions, planners need to take advantage of seasonal local offerings. This is also another chance to showcase the culture of the destination and offer foods that are fresh and themed around the local cuisine. The attendees will appreciate experiencing something unique.
The right timing
Deciding on the time of year not only impacts the budget, but also your attendee satisfaction. Planning during tourist season means venues are busier and more expensive. If you look during shoulder season, rates would be less expensive and the opportunity for good weather is still possible. If you are looking to save money, then planning during off-season would offer more savings to your budget. The rates are lower and venues are not as busy, but you are taking a chance with less ideal weather.
Immerse yourself in the destination
Team building, wellness and corporate social responsibility are still very important trends for organizations. Planners should be mindful of the destination and find unique activities to increase camaraderie amongst the attendees, as well as build in downtime for exercise and exploring. This is also a chance for organizations to encompass corporate social responsibility into their program. Research volunteer opportunities as an off-site activity before, during or after your event. Your few hours of volunteering will mean the world to the organization that you chose to assist!
Planning a meeting is a difficult and timely task in any capacity, so when you add in a new and potentially far-away destination, things can get more complex. Due to the added associated costs, extra travel time, and higher expectations from your attendees, is it essential to take the time to carefully plan ahead in order to make your event a success! Consider hiring an expert to assist you with your program. Do not hesitate to use industry partners as a reference to find a company that would be the best for you.
About the authors
Shannon Byck and David Drover are the Managing Partners of Intuitive Conferences + Events. Intuitive Conference + Events (IntuitiveCE) is a full service meeting, conference and incentive travel planning company whose focus is bringing innovation and creativity to their clients’ event management needs all while exceeding their expectations. They can be reached at www.intuitivece.com. Follow them on twitter @IntuitiveCE.