Whether holding a meeting in a destination for the first time or one you’ve been to many times before, keeping up with what’s new is a perpetual challenge for meeting planners. You just don’t know what you don’t know. We know planners want to keep up to date, but find it challenging in their time starved busy days to stay on top of what’s new in destinations. Sometimes, it might just be easier to go with what you know.
Experienced meeting planner, Annette Gregg, Vice President, Client-Experiences, Conferences at LPL Financial adds, “The longer you plan meetings in the same destination, the more you think you know the destination. You might have preconceived notions about a destination and so you run the risk of recycling the ones you are comfortable with, and can then run the risk of becoming stale. What you really want is a little more variety and choices, but it can be a challenge to know what is new and fresh and will be an attractive meeting experience for attendees.”
Recently, Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) conducted a survey of meeting planners to learn about meeting planner’s preferred method of learning what’s new as well as what types of information they are looking for in the destinations they are considering.
DMAI asked what meeting planner’s preferred method of communication when it comes to staying up to date on destination news and opportunities and the top responses were:
- Subscription based newsletter or email
- Meeting during an industry event (i.e., PCMA Convening Leaders, MPI WEC, etc.)
- Meeting with one CVB and their hotel representatives
Additionally, when asked what type of information planners like to receive about a destination where they are considering hosting a meeting, the top responses were:
- New hotel developments or renovations
- Major local events scheduled
- Local news relevant to meeting planners (such as new airline service, attraction updates, etc.)
- Innovative event ideas unique to the destination
Why It’s Important to Stay on Top of What’s New in a Destination
Creating Meeting Experiences
Now more than ever, we hear that attendees are looking for meeting experiences. But what exactly is a meeting experience? We like to think of it as a memorable event that unfolds over a period of time, where the senses are engaged and attendees get a feel for the local flavor of the destination.
Creating a memorable event, doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. In fact, many meetings don’t have the time to go out to the city and explore but don’t let that stop you. You can still bring the destination and the experience to the attendee. For example, try having one special event night where the destination can really shine or look for opportunities throughout the event to create memorable experiences. For more inspiration, check out the article, “10 Tips for Adding Local Flavor to Your Meeting.”
In Search of ‘Edutainment’
Not only are attendees searching for meeting experiences, they are also looking for a little ‘edutainment’ while attending a meeting. Edutainment is defined as “entertainment that is designed to teach something.” In fact, according to a recent PCMA study, What the Millennial Generation Prefers in Their Meetings, Conventions, and Events, “73% of millennials (ages 18-30) very strongly prefer education with entertainment.” Additionally, more than half (56%) of millennials will extend a business trip for leisure activities. Therefore, it behooves meeting planners to educate the attendee on destination offerings before and after the meeting as well.
Edutainment sounds easy enough, but can be challenging to pull off. Annette Gregg adds, “Attendees are becoming very savvy travelers and we are always trying to raise the bar for them so they get excited about coming to the conference.” As a meeting planner, think about creating a memorable event that unfolds over time and the collective parts of the event create an educational format that is rich, engages the attendees, and holds their interest throughout.
Three Easy Tips from DMAI’s empowerMINT.com to Find What New in Destinations:
Tip #1: The empowerMINT.com Portal and Email Subscription
We know meeting planners want and need to know what’s happening in a destination to engage their attendee’s interest in attending, but they can’t do the research alone. Gregg adds, “We need help painting the picture of the destination. So many destinations are doing great work with hotel renovations and openings as well as new airlifts and we need to know that.”
Powered by DMAI, empowerMINT.com is a fantastic resource when researching destinations. In fact, empowerMINT.com recently enhanced the profiles on over 145 destinations to include up-to-date hotel and destination news planners really care about. Included in each profile is a newsfeed, fast facts, a map of hotels and venues, CVB services, and individual sales professionals’ contact information. If planners want to take a deeper dive into a specific destination, they can go directly to the meetings page to streamline the connection process.
Additionally, meeting planners can subscribe to the bi-weekly email newsletter, INSIGHTS, which is full of great articles, destination news, webinar invites, resources, and more. In each bi-weekly newsletter, planners will receive in their email what’s happening in destinations from a regional standpoint.
Tip #2: Other Subscription Based Email by Destination
Beyond the resources of empowerMINT.com, there are also several other options meeting planners can utilize to stay informed of what’s new. A few suggestions:
- Sign up to receive monthly emails from the local magazine, newspaper or a blog specializing in events, hotels and destination news for the destinations under consideration.
- All most all CVBs offer updates via email or newsletter on what’s new in their destination, specific to meeting planners and your needs.
For tech savvy meeting planners, use sites that will customize the content for you specifically. Simply choose what topics and sites you want to follow. Popular options include:
- Feedly: A popular news aggregation reader that has grown in popularity in recent years. Feedly simplifies the ability to share within social channels such as Twitter and Facebook. One downside – you cannot search within Feedly.
- Digg Reader: Digg has its own reader that can filter customized articles as well as give readers the ability to share within social channels.
- Google Alerts: Subscribers can get email notifications any time that Google finds new results on a topic you’re interested in. For example, you could get updates on “hotel renovations, airlift, new restaurants, etc.”
Tip #3: Connect With the Local Knowledge of the CVB
Take advice from fellow planners and find out what’s new by meeting with the CVB sales professional along with hotel representative(s). This one two punch allows you to give a destination view and hotel specifics at the same time. With their insider knowledge and connections, the CVB sales professional can also help make a meeting memorable and unique. Annette Gregg adds, “When thinking about off-site options and or team building activities, look to the expertise of the destination expert for those ideas. Adding something that is new and different really helps sell the meeting to attendees.”
The CVB sales professionals are your best first option to provide guidance, insider knowledge, destination news, and destination demand information to planners, saving meeting planners precious time. Additionally, CVB sales professionals can aid planners by:
- Being their advocate and educator
- Advocating for the complete picture of the organization/planner
- Helping to set realistic expectations
- Educating the planner on understanding local demand factors
- Giving the hotels the opportunity to put their best foot forward with the information they need
No organization has stronger hotel and venue connections and better destination knowledge than the CVB. It is their mission to help you find the right fit for any size meeting. To reach out to CVB experts at more than 145 top meeting destinations, we hope you will visit empowerMINT.com.