It’s the end of another successful meeting. Attendance was up, sessions were productive, exhibitors were happy. You are feeling pretty good.
Then the question inevitably comes; what will you do next year?
It’s a constant challenge every meeting planner faces: how to keep your meeting fresh each year. Whether you plan an annual meeting every year in the same destination or rotate between destinations, your goal is always to build upon your success and that includes an endless search for the “wow” factor for your attendees.
Creating that “wow” factor is becoming more and more important, especially for the millennial attendee. For example, a 2012 PCMA Study, “What the Millennial Generation Prefers in Their Meetings, Conventions, and Events,” found that education and entertainment was number one on the topic of what they value in a meeting.
Here are 5 tips you can follow to enliven your meetings and ensure your attendees will be entertained and will return year after year.
- Know What’s New in the Destination
Remain forward-thinking and stay on top of what’s new in the destinations you frequent. If your meeting is held in the same venue each year, find out what else is happening in the city for off-site events, spousal programs or community projects.
How do you stay on top of what’s new when you’re already pulled in a million different directions? We talked to Jeff Baryenbruch, Executive Director of Sales at Visit Milwaukee, and he offered, “We keep our planners up to date by informing them on what’s new with venues, restaurants, and other destination news via our sales team as well as a quarterly newsletter.”
A few ideas to stay on top of what’s new:
- Be sure you are signed up for INSIGHTS, a bi-monthly email that delivers planning tips, webinar announcements and a summary of what’s new by region.
- Plug-in to the destination by following hotels, venues, and local magazines on social media or subscribing to their email newsletter.
- Earmark the destination(s) you frequent at empowerMINT.com. There, you’ll see regular updates on what’s new by destination.
- Find What’s Unique
Do a simple search on the Internet, and a planner will find the most popular tourist attractions and things to do in the city. But what if they’ve all been done? Or rather, you are looking for something a little more unique? Attendees crave what’s new and unique to the destination. How do you get past the obvious and find the unique nuggets that will get your attendees talking?
Planners know that attendees are no longer looking to attend just a meeting, they want a meeting experience. An experience where they leave not only gaining professional insight, but a feeling their time was well spent.
Baryenbruch offers, “Through our relationships with over 700 destination partners throughout Milwaukee, our convention services department is always on top of not only what trends will get attendees excited, but also the connections to help you get the best deal and experience.”
Tap into what’s unique to each destination by:
- Subscribing to and/or following the local newspaper and lifestyle magazine. They often report on recent openings and other unique things to do throughout the destination.
- Borrow Brilliance from Past Planners
Don’t dust off your program from last year, constantly innovate and evolve. But you don’t have to come up with everything yourself! Borrow the brilliance and ideas from meetings that have been in the destination before you.
Find out about and more importantly gain access to these unique resources you need by working with the local CVB. CVBs work with planners daily as well as organizations and venues throughout their destination, they can help you gain access you might not normally get. The sales professionals at the CVB have in-depth knowledge of their destination and what works well and will help craft your next meeting into something unique – without you having to do all the legwork!
Baryenbruch offers, “We work with so many planners throughout the year and know what the latest trends are in our destination and are happy to offer suggestions on how to utilize what others have done in the past and tailor it to your specification.”
Additional ideas to borrow the brilliance:
- Tap into the resources at industry events. Talk to other planners who’ve been in the destination and find what’s worked for them.
- Join online planner groups on sites such as LinkedIn. There, you can ask other planners for input and ideas for your meeting.
- Theme Your Event with the Destination in Mind
You’ve gone to great lengths to research and site a destination for your meeting. Continue to utilize what makes the destination unique when planning a theme for your meeting. From arts and culture, food and beverage, community projects, or local events, there are many different ways you can bring the flavor of the destination into your meeting.
The destination experts at the CVB are adept at helping to bring the destination flavor into a meeting. For example, Jeff Baryenbruch suggests, “In Milwaukee, the river and the downtown area is a big draw for our city. We work with planners on everything from arranging kayak outings, tours of the Great Lakes Distillery or the 3rd Ward Historical District. Additionally, we have our www.milwaukee365.com where anyone, including attendees can go and find out what’s happening in our city.”
You can also bring a destination theme into your event by:
- Finding out what other local events are happening in the destination around your meeting.
- Working with a local Destination Management Company (DMC) to create a theme unique to your meeting
- Who to Know to Make it All Happen
Now your mind might be spinning with all these great ideas and what you’ll do next year, but you still need to find the people in the destination who can help execute it. The CVB can be that connector so that you won’t have to start from the beginning. So instead of trying to come up with fresh ideas for your meeting year after year, follow these tips and utilize the free services of the CVB.
The destination experts at the CVB are able to offer their expertise to meeting planners for free because their services are already paid for. How? Funded primarily by local hotel occupancy taxes, the non-profit CVB is able to offer meeting planners their unbiased knowledge and a unique destination perspective that can be invaluable in saving you time and money.
No organization has stronger connections and better destination knowledge than the CVB. It’s the CVB’s mission to help you find the right fit for your meeting and the best experience for your attendees. To research destinations, find out what’s new as well as reach out to CVB experts at more than 145 top meeting destinations, visit empowerMINT.com.