By Beth Buehler
Why plan a destination meeting? For companies seeking to bring employees or clients in from offices around the country, it can be a treat to meet in a place that is both productive and fun. Or it might be because it’s time to get the staff out of town, head somewhere within driving distance to stir up the creative juices or release a new product. Whatever the reason, here are some helpful things to consider when planning a destination meeting in Colorado.
Pinpoint the Location – First, narrow it down to, if a city, smaller or mid-sized community, or mountain town best suits your group’s needs. Transportation (access to airports, how far people will be driving, etc.), number of attendees, and the personality of a destination vs. your group usually are determining factors. Ask around, do some legwork while traveling for fun and go out on the Internet to research destinations. If the size of big city venues and the bustle of a metropolitan area is a must, the Denver and Colorado Springs areas might be a fit. Like college town buzz and facilities? Boulder, Fort Collins, Durango, Gunnison and Greeley are some options. Mid-size towns like Golden, Loveland, Longmont and Pueblo have attractive rates and plenty of charm of their own.
Don’t Go It Alone – When selecting a destination and planning a meeting in that community, work with locals who have insider information. Start with destination marketing organizations (e.g., convention and visitor bureaus, tourism boards, Chambers of Commerce, etc.) that have a list of venues and lodging properties with group capabilities or consider employing a destination management company or meeting planner to find the options and do the “heavy lifting.” Sales staff at hotels and venues tend to know the inside scoop about area resources.
Find a Venue – While there is still plenty of last-minute meeting planning happening, the earlier you find a meeting venue and date the better, especially for large and even medium groups. Do you want lodging and meetings to happen all in one place? If so, you have just narrowed it down to a lodging property with meeting space and staff like Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center in Breckenridge, Sheraton Steamboat Resort & Villas in Steamboat Springs or Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center in Denver.
Do you need a convention center? If so, many like Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction, Colorado Convention Center in Denver and Keystone Conference Center at Keystone Resort are stand-alones but have lodging very near. Don’t forget to give attendees a chance to get outside the hotel or conference center by planning a dinner, reception or evening of fun at an off-site venue like a museum, art museum or two new options, TopGolf in Centennial or The Wild Game in Evergreen.
Go Local – Figure out what suppliers are already based in the destination or nearby to fulfill rental, A/V, floral, décor and other needs. They know the venues, won’t have to build in travel costs into their bids, and oftentimes are founts of knowledge. Also, don’t forget to give meeting attendees a taste of local by including a dine-around at downtown restaurants or a reception complete with farmers, cheesemakers, distillers, brewmasters and vintners serving their products in the itinerary.
Plug into Activities – When in Colorado, do as the Coloradoans do. Get outside for an activity like bicycling on a recreation path, take part in one of many festivals, enjoy a beautiful evening on a patio, or take in culture at places like Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre near Morrison, Aspen Art Museum, Telluride Historical Museum or Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.
Planning a destination meeting doesn’t have to be difficult. Just break it down into these five steps and tap into local expertise.
Beth Buehler is editor of Colorado Meetings + Events and Mountain Meetings magazines, has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado.