12 Questions to Answer Before You Sign On…
While this may seem like Meeting & Event Planning 101 to seasoned professionals, sometimes a quick review of how to find the best destination for your next group event is worth restating. And, too, it’s always helpful to novice planners as well. That said, here are 12 questions to ask when trying to pinpoint the next great place to host a corporate conference or major tradeshow, as follows:
- What’s the purpose of the event? As all meeting and event planners already know, the purpose of your upcoming event will dictate where it will be located. That is, exotic resorts are great for competitive incentive trips, urban hotels are great for serious product launches, and super accessible destinations are great for annual conventions.
- What is the size of your group? Is your group small enough to be self-contained in one hotel or resort, or will you need a network of properties to accommodate all attendees. While small groups can meet almost anywhere, large groups will need a whole network of hotels making the planning that much more difficult.
- What’s tried and true? From advanced technology platforms to glittering ballrooms and catering halls, planners need to look back to past events to see what was popular with groups in the past and what helped the organization meet its basic meeting objectives.
- How will attendees get there? As always, is the destination easily accessible to the majority of employees who will attend. And, if the destination is a driving distance away from the main site, perhaps motor coaches leaving from corporate headquarters will work best for all concerned. And, the added benefit is that you can outline and discuss the event while on the road.
- Once you get there, who are your on-site contacts? Before the group heads out by motor coach, car, train or plane, be sure to have the names and cell numbers of all personnel at the destination, as well as at the hotel site, in case of an emergency or mishap.
- Do you want your event to be self-contained or spread out? If self-contained, is there enough to do onsite during off-time in terms of sports, dining, and nightclub entertainment? If your group is more spread out, does the destination have recreational activities, historic sites, nighttime entertainment, and shopping ops to keep them engaged.
- Will there be family members tacked on? If spouses or guests are included, planners should design an official recreational/shopping/sightseeing program for them to enlighten them. If children are included, arrange to have babysitters and other personnel available on an as-needed basis as well.
- Is there interest in post-event vacation days? It’s a wise planner who asks this question because many times an attendee will want to stay on for the weekend. This fact can be a unique bargaining chip, too, during contract negotiations.
- What are the food and beverage offerings, as well as off-site considerations? Make yourself knowledgeable about the head chef and his/her staff, as well as what their culinary practices are such as farm-to-table, dietary restrictions, and off-site catering like park-side picnics – always a popular group event.
- How much faith do you have in your CVB contacts? It is important to build long-term business relationships with people you have a high degree of confidence in and can always get the job done in a friendly and timely manner. You will need them now and in the future, perhaps. They are the building blocks to all great events.
- What are the selected site’s policies in terms of green initiatives and safety? Be sure the property or resort is LEED certified and that they have protocols in place for the health and safety of all group members.
- Any construction projects in progress at the site or nearby? Always inquire about current land developments that may be in progress around your selected property or properties. Unwelcomed construction noise can turn a great meeting into a nightmare.
If you have your own list and would like to share it, please forward it to me at [email protected] and have a successful next meeting! –SJ