Sponsored by Ketchikan Visitors Bureau, Inc.
As a meeting planner, you know your ability to source the perfect venue or destination for your clients’ events is of paramount importance. The requirements for a 2,000-delegate convention are pretty well defined, but for smaller groups there are endless options for creating a memorable event. Using some creativity and the following tips will help you better determine a great fit.
Scale is important. If you are looking to build comradery and offer an exclusive feel to your event, smaller properties provide more intimacy. When the majority of guests at a property are part of the same group, networking opportunities take a more organic form, creating informal opportunities for delegates to chat each other up while in line at the espresso stand or working out at the gym. At a large property, particularly when several groups or one large conference is concurrently staged, you risk the chance of your group becoming fragmented and perhaps of networking becoming of secondary importance. In these instances, try to assure your group is the “big fish” at your chosen venue.
Location and setting considerations can also transform your event. If you are trying to create a retreat-like atmosphere, look at facilities away from downtown distractions. Moving your event even a few miles from town - or selecting a location with natural barriers, such as forests, water, or open land surrounding it - will enhance the remote feel of your event.
Paying attention to a group’s focus or professional interests can help pinpoint great venues. An association whose members are engaged in scientific study and research may benefit from selecting a facility that provides easy access to opportunities for field work or observation. For marine biologists, try a beach setting or take a group of engineers to a nearby infrastructure project for a tour. Finally, seeking properties rich in art or cultural attributes would suit boards or associations with like interests.
Sportfishing lodges and resorts have long been popular with incentive trips and other corporate events. A few days on the water catching fish, soaking up the scenery, and enjoying the fresh air away from electronic distractions has proven to be a winning formula for a 180-degree departure from the day-to-day pressures of sales teams and corporate executives. Cater to the competitive nature of these groups by setting up a fishing derby, with categories such as biggest or first fish of the day, largest catch, or best team performance. Prizes don’t have to be elaborate- a “champion” tee shirt and/or a progressive trophy will ensure bragging rights until the next year.
Groups that welcome families to tag along will appreciate a location that offers easily-accessible activities. A full-service resort with its own schedule of activities and children’s programs, or a property conveniently located near city tours and shopping centers can provide a distraction during meeting times and may encourage pre- and post-vacations among delegates.
Non-traditional venues can also provide great, unique spaces. Community centers, university campuses, theaters - even meeting rooms at public libraries - often provide the required technology. As an added bonus, costs are typically lower and the venue likely doesn’t have single source catering contracts attached to their use, providing you the freedom to work with a variety of local vendors. Utilizing a local roastery for coffee service or a sandwich shop for lunch can also help stretch your budget.
Finally, take advantage of services offered by the community’s Convention & Visitors’ Bureau/DMO as early in the planning process as possible. In addition to the standard offering of services for event planners (issuing RFPs and helping with logistical needs), DMOs are excellent resources for augmenting the local flavor of your chosen destination and can advise on a variety of topics. Leveraging their knowledge of the area to narrow down the best options for your group will result in more efficient use of your time and generate ideas you might never have considered.
Sponsored by Ketchikan Visitors Bureau, Inc.
There's never been a better time to visit Ketchikan. Our award-winning Ted Ferry Civic Center is one of the most progressive meeting facilities in Alaska. Ketchikan's scenic beauty, historic charm and modern conveniences combine to provide a unique experience – one your delegates will remember for a lifetime. Whether your meeting is for five or 500 delegates, you will not have to plan it alone.