By Beth Buehler
The decision has been made to create a new destination meeting or event. Maybe it will become an annual gathering or perhaps it’s a one-off to introduce a product, assemble the team for a new sales initiative or invite top clients as a thank you. Regardless, you have to create interest among potential attendees.
Fortunately, we are in an era where six in 10 travelers globally (especially millennials) feel more creative and productive when traveling for business, according to new research by CWT that involved surveying 2,700 global business travelers who traveled for business four or more times in the previous 12 months. Six in 10 travelers (or 53% in the Americas specifically) also indicated they are most productive when working face-to-face and collaborating with colleagues as opposed to working alone (30%) or remotely (14%).
With this in mind and the pendulum swinging favorably for people embracing business travel, here are a few ideas of how to create curiosity for a new destination meeting or event.
Make It Clear Why Someone Should Attend
These are busy times with people juggling many work, family, personal and volunteer interests. Even if someone is required to attend by an employer, state your case about why it will be worthwhile and fun to attend in order to stoke the “I want to attend” fire. To me, this involves selecting a destination that is of interest to attendees and coming up with and sharing a strong program outline right from the start. Since this is a new event and a blank slate, don’t be afraid to get creative but always keep your target audience in mind.
Share Who Is Attending
For the conferences that I attend every year, I generally can log in and see who is attending. This can be valuable with the right groups and participants, especially those who love to network and schedule appointments in tandem with a gathering. This may help attendance for a new meeting or event, even if it is required for corporate employees. The thought might be, “If so-and-so is going then it must be worth my time.”
Gradually Release Information
Even if you don’t have all the details dialed in when starting to share information, release the information gradually as it gives you an excuse to have multiple touch points via email, social media, newsletters, “snail” mail, etc. First, there is the announcement stating important details like where, when, why and how to sign up. The second might be about room blocks, pre- and post-activities, and keynote speakers. A third could be about the final schedule and all the great activities to sign up for. You get the idea. Use the same look/branding throughout so someone mentally thinks, “Oh, this is about the August team retreat in Colorado.”
Let Your Audience Know Why the Destination is Worthy
Part of picking a great destination (and may we boast that Colorado has many?) is sharing why it’s worthy, especially those with less name recognition. For example, many in Colorado and surrounding states know that Glenwood Springs has two terrific hot springs attractions, vapor caves, a mountaintop adventure park, a classic historic hotel, rafting, skiing and more but do your attendees out of Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, Australia and England have a clue?
Destination marketing organizations in communities like Glenwood Springs, Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, Loveland, Vail Valley, Aspen, Snowmass and Colorado Springs often can provide planners with great information, photography, pre- and post-trip ideas, etc. to share.
Deliver Great Information & Experiences
Great speakers, sessions, meeting topics, networking opportunities and entertainment make me want to attend a destination gathering, whether it is new or annual. Don’t keep these things secret! Also make sure the program schedule includes local experiences that get the new gathering outside the main host property.
It could be a food tour, downtown dine-around, reception on an outdoor museum patio or at mid-mountain venue, time at a local festival, picnic at an outdoor summer concert, etc. Worthwhile team-building and community service projects can be a draw when they are things like helping clean up rivers, build trails or construct a new animal shelter.
The sky is the limit, especially in a bucket-list destination like Colorado with all sorts of communities to meet a variety of tastes and budgets. Happy planning!
Beth Buehler is editor of Colorado Meetings + Events and Mountain Meetings magazines, has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado.