In today’s evolving meeting environment, planners are opting to provide a more experience-driven program for their attendees with experiential meetings.
By coordinating energizing group activities to facilitate connections, or incorporating the scenic outdoors to create a memorable event, planners are using distinctive experiences to ensure the success of their meetings and create a lasting impact for their attendees.
Planners should consider several elements when coordinating an experience-driven meeting for their group.
Utilize your destination
When choosing a location, it is important for meeting planners to select a destination that provides a wide variety of venues, backdrops, and activities that will help to encourage connections and foster creativity.
Meeting planners should work closely with their venue to determine how to incorporate experiences that are unique to the destination and are in line with their goals. For example, if a planner is looking to build connections within their team, they can organize outdoor activities that explore the local nature, or excursions to take part in the area’s local culture.
I always recommend that groups coordinate experiences that are unique to our resort. For example, groups can take a rafting trip down the lower Colorado River or interact with real-life Texas longhorns (T-Bone & Ribeye) as part of the resort’s “Hooves and Horns” mascot program.
In terms of golf, we’ve had meeting guests participate in two-hour sessions with our pro before the group goes out.
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Finding creative ways to incorporate experiences that can serve as an overlay to a meeting program are often useful and can kick-start engagement. Planners can consider starting a session with a fun and interactive history of the destination or venue, and then parallel that with a short introduction and history about their own company.
Meeting planners can also consider surprising their guests with unexpected activities, such as unannounced special appearances or incorporating unique local culinary creations during the middle of a session.
Another great way for planners to keep everyone interested and engaged is to incorporate experiences in line with popular culture. Examples can include The Amazing Race-style scavenger hunts or Iron Chef-style competitions led by the property’s executive chef. Types of activities like these help the most reserved and quite members of a team to step out of their shells and begin connecting with their peers.
Personalize the experience
The most important advice I can give meeting planners is to simply ask their attendees what type of experience they desire.
Whether it’s providing a recommendation card that attendees can fill out at the previous year’s event or having attendees take part in an online survey, attendee feedback is invaluable when it comes to hosting a successful event.
Through the responses, planners can cater directly to their audience by gauging personal interest of specific destinations and activities and then customize an experience based on those elements.
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Try it before you book it
Another important tip is for meeting planners to actually experience the destination and activities before booking a venue. Planners should not hesitate to ask the venue’s sales manager to take part in various activities related to their event.
For example, if planners are looking into the possibility of booking a spa retreat for their guests, they should experience a treatment. If they are booking a corporate golf tournament for their team, they should play a round first before booking the venue. The key to these visits is to meet with the spa director and director of golf to strategize on what the property has to offer that can help compliment the goals of the event.
By taking part in the activities first hand, planners can truly understand the experience they are creating for their group and can adapt and customize it accordingly.
Additionally, when planners are on site for their property tour, they should inquire about other meetings taking place while they are touring the hotel. This provides the opportunity to see the property in action and determine if they can visualize their attendees there.
Ask about best practices
Finally, I recommend that planners ask the venue’s representatives about the types of meeting experiences they’ve coordinated in the past and which ones were most memorable. Working with all types of groups, the sales managers and event planners will have a good idea of what works best and most importantly which ideas fostered connectivity and provide impacting experiences.