Where you host your event is a big deal. And by big deal, I mean BIG DEAL. I’m not just talking about the venue, although that’s definitely important. I’m talking about the city or destination that’s hosting the event. This is especially important if you have what I like to call a “roaming event” that goes to a new destination each year/occurrence.
Not that we profess to be mind-readers, but we do know that Meeting & Conference organizers choose their event destination based on a number of contributing factors and have detailed the most common ones below:
1. Meeting Budget
There may be other factors folks would consider first, but we find that budget tends to be the most important piece to review right away. For example, a multi-day corporate training event has to consider the room rate in their budget. If your event can’t exceed a $129 per night room rate, there are a handful of destinations that are immediately off-limits certain times of year (and a few that are off-limits all year… ahem… San Francisco).
Also, if you have no room in your budget for meals, you may want to choose a destination that has enough “foodie appeal” that people are excited to eat the food in the destination and not be cooped up in the meeting room all day every day – you could use this to your advantage!
Finalizing your budget and how much you are going to spend on the different areas of your event can help determine whether or not you can afford to host your event overseas, a few states away, or if you will have to put it all together in your company’s home town.
2. Event Size
This may seem silly. Every destination has lots of hotel and meeting space, right? Kinda… If you’re doing a smaller 250 attendee event, you have many more destination options than if you’re doing a 50,000 attendee festival. There are just some cities that are not equipped to handle that kind of influx of business because of all the details that go into being the host destination – air and ground transportation, safety, security, restaurants, attractions, etc… For example, Chicago, IL is far more equipped to handle a large convention than, say, Rochester, NY. Not to say that it’s impossible, but it’s just important to know these details as you start to weigh your options.
3. Attendee Profile
Who’s coming to this event? Is it 350 Church pastors who are discussing how to help their congregation stay pure in the social media age? Then, you may not want to have your event in Las Vegas, NV. However, if you’re doing an event for 1,500 millennials about tech entrepreneurship, Vegas might be the best destination to serve their needs. If your event is a family retreat for families of children with special needs, New Orleans may not be as great of a fit for their needs as Anaheim, CA (DISNEY, DISNEY, DISNEY)! Makes sense right? Think about who you’re targeting and ensure that your event is in an appropriate destination for your peeps!
Next you are going to want to determine what the feel of your event is – why are you having an event? What do you want to get out of it, and what do you want your attendees to get out of it? The entire mood of an event can drastically change depending on who is coming and that will majorly inform your destination decisions.
4. Destination Appeal
What will you be doing inside and outside of this event? These days, meeting rooms and conference rooms are not enough. You need to make sure there are plenty of relevant activities to enjoy inside and outside of your venue or hotel. Are there any restaurants close by? Movie theaters? Gondola rides? Your attendees won’t be sitting inside listening to you talk all day, so make sure there are plenty of things to do once they leave the convention center for the evening.
And don’t forget to consider what the weather will be like on these days! For instance, changing seasons (or lack there-of) play an important role in many events. Many people from the Midwest would much rather go to a warmer location such as Arizona during the middle of their winter than to a place that is equally as cold as their hometown. Choosing the right season to have your event is an important consideration factor.
5. Transportation and Proximity
My rule of thumb is to try to stay within 2-3-hour flight distance from most of your event attendees; closer if you have a loose association (typical home buyer expo attendees) and further if you have a really close association with the attendees (employees in your corporation). Unless you are hosting an all-expense paid overseas conference that everyone can’t stop dreaming about, then you will probably want to follow the 2-3 hour flight rule of thumb.
I am sure for someone living in Maryland, the thought about traveling to Seattle is enticing, but not when they know they need to be back by 2pm on the final day of the conference because they must attend parent teacher conferences. But if the event was in New York, they could make that work so they don’t have to travel all the way across the country! Likewise, if you are hosting an event for people from all over the country, then we would definitely suggest choosing a location in the middle of everyone, such as Dallas, Texas.
And of course, if you ever get stuck deciding, don’t be afraid to reach out! Here at Nuila Events, LLC, we are constantly comparing and sourcing different destinations for various events. We would love to put our proprietary bench-marking and destination comparison tools to work to help you find the perfect fit for your next meeting!