Conferences are great ways for your members or employees to get out of the office and learn in a different environment. Meeting planners are tasked with creating an environment that sparks creativity, dialogue and learning. Although hotel meeting space is a logical and practical place to hold education sessions, mixing up the format by hosting some functions at offsite venue locations will help increase engagement throughout the meeting and afterwards.
How do offsite event venues help with engagement and creativity:
- Shaking it up – moving your delegates to different locations not only puts their bodies in motion, but also their brains. Even the simple act of getting on the bus to head out to a different venue gives them opportunity to sit with new people and have new conversations than sitting in the same meeting room day in and day out.
- Fresh Air – if your offsite venue is outdoors or has some outdoor space, the fresh air will do your delegates good!
- Increase attendance – many optional meetings see increased attendance if planners provide opportunities for the delegates to see the destination! No delegate has ever said “oh boy, I can’t wait to go to Vegas to spend 3 days in a hotel meeting room!”
- Personal connections – when hosting events at offsite venues, delegates can let their professional guard down a bit and let their personality shine through. Some meetings allow for spouses to attend the offsite events as well, giving our co-workers a glimpse into our personal lives. Personal connections and trust make for great business!
- Creating memorable experiences – Attending an event that leaves an impression may also help with retention of the information learned at the meeting itself. “Hey, remember that great outdoor picnic in San Diego? That’s where we met that keynote speaker who helped us refocus our business efforts!”
- Referral program– Holding a successful conference, with some fantastic offsite venue elements, creates an exciting word-of-mouth marketing campaign for next year’s event. Help with the referral program by using social media to promote and showcase the offsite event.
Do you work at an offsite venue? Here are some simple ways to create excitement about using your venue for a meeting planner’s next event:
- Social proof – direct them to your social media channels for pictures, and for feedback from delegates who have experienced the venue and uploaded their personal photos to social media. Make social media easy for the people using the facility by posting your social media handles in places where the delegates will see it.
- Host an event for meeting planners – work with your local MPI or PCMA chapter to see how you can bring meeting planners out to your venue for a visit and experience it for themselves.
- Work with their budget – offsite venues come at a cost for meeting planners; you wouldn’t be in business if you didn’t make some money on your space. Work with the planner on options that work for their budget to ensure the delegates come through the door, without breaking the budget for the meeting planner.
- Ease of doing business – Are there opportunities with your venue to make organizing an event easier on the planner? Are there some cost or organizing details that you can bundle for the planner?
- Work with their host hotel on food and beverage, thus giving them opportunity to put the f&b towards their minimum?
- Bundle rentals with lighting and décor elements?
- Help organize transportation to/from your venue?
Planners, if you’ve decided to plan an offsite event as part of your conference, check out my post about what to keep in mind if you do plan an offsite here.
Planning offsite events is a great way to help increase engagement and create excitement around any event. The extra work required will pay off for the planner and their organization, and showcases the best of the best in any region. Best of luck!
RELATED – Choosing an Offsite Venue for Your Event