Don’t automatically assume you have to be held captive at hotels for evening events. Let’s face it, staying at hotels for evening functions isn’t cheap.
Clients like to keep attendees on campus so they don’t have to deal with ground transportation. But if you are doing a week’s worth of meetings with a couple of evening events, my advice is to book ground transportation and take your clients off-site for at least one function. It is well worth the extra value you receive going to a local restaurant; many times you will be surprised at how cost-efficient buying out a local restaurant is. You get so much more for your money that the extra cost of transportation will probably wind up coming out even.
My suggestion is to buy out a theme restaurant (Mexican, brew pub, Japanese, Chinese, etc.). Here’s what you will get:
- Chefs cooking signature dishes
- More décor and atmosphere
- Lower pricing
- Lower gratuities
- Greater flexibility in negotiations than you’ll find with a banquet menu
Ask management to include the first beer or glass of wine for free as people are coming in the door. Also, restaurants often will include house entertainment as part of the buyout.
As long as the restaurant’s location is close to the hotel, your attendees will thank you for taking them out. Getting on a bus isn’t so bad after all.