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Crafting Uniquely Colorado Meeting Experiences

By M+E Staff

Recently, the Colorado Meeting + Events editorial advisory board shared musings about the state of the meetings and events industry in Colorado. This annual conversation with industry pros from around the state is always thought-provoking, candid and a back-and-forth about challenges and opportunities. One key topic was what differentiates Colorado from other states.

The advisory board concluded that many times, getting a group outside in Colorado’s fresh air and beautiful surroundings can be just what the meeting productivity doctor ordered.

“I’ve seen a lot happen on the lake, in the gondola, etc. Then things seem to flow in the meeting room because of outdoor experiences,” says Dean Savoca, owner of Denver-based Savoca Performance Group. “That is what differentiates Colorado, creating those outdoor experiences that lead to more relationship building.”

In fact, Deana Mitchell, CMP, DMCP, CCSE and her Realize Colorado team were working on a mountain meeting proposal last year and suggested holding 101-level meetings in the free gondola that runs between the historic town of Telluride to Mountain Village, where the ski area is located.

“What are we doing to tell our story as Colorado, and how we can be a leader in this movement?” asks Barb Taylor Carpender, CMM, CHSC, owner of Taylored Alliances and managing director for Global Marketing Services LLC. “This is our DNA, we have everything!”

Savoca, who is the current chair of the Meetings Industry Council of Colorado, adds, “My vision is to bring business to Colorado for this purpose. People associate having an experience with Colorado.”

No longer is it just about activities like rafting and skiing but the food scene as well.

“People are wanting to stay in Denver because of the culinary scene,” confirms Deb Brannon, owner Altitude Events in Arvada. “Our hotels also are getting better and better, and renovations are cutting edge. More and more meetings are coming here, and Denver’s light rail is having a huge impact.”

Combining city and mountains can be a fun option, using Amtrak as a way to get from Denver Union Station to towns like Winter Park and Glenwood Springs. Mitchell has a group that plans to stay one night at The Maven Hotel, a new property in downtown Denver, and take the train to stay at Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa near Winter Park in October.

Andrew Heidt, director of group sales and marketing for the Boulder Convention and Visitors Bureau, cautions that his organization sometimes hears that Colorado activities can be intimidating for some people.

“We need to look at how we word it and have partners talk to planners, so they can understand that half the group can do this and other half can do that,” he says. 

For instance, those who want less adventure can go on a food tour that stops at top restaurants and perhaps a farmer’s market while others try out a zip line course. Even hiking can be extreme for some people, but glamping in covered wagons and the bike ride from Breckenridge to Frisco are classic Colorado and fairly easy.

“It’s how you market and word it,” Brannon says.

“Also, over-communicate about what to bring and wear and the importance of drinking water,” suggests Carol Porter, CMP, chief of staff, ViaWest.

Watch for more conversation highlights, ranging from year-in-review observations and planning crafted meetings and events to what planners and attendees want, in the Fall 2017 issue of Colorado Meeting + Events