We are always excited when a client asks us to create an event in a new city, whether in the U.S. or abroad. It’s an opportunity to work with creative vendors to surprise and delight a new group of guests.
One of the hallmarks of our event planning is creating an atmosphere that is indigenous to the landscape. This works well as it exposes out-of-town guests to some of the local flavor, enables people in the area to show off their resources and provides the client with a great sense of satisfaction for hosting a unique event.
What’s the secret to doing all of this? It’s not just a matter of doing online research. It goes well beyond that. Most people assume that the first thing you would do is to visit the actual location, but that is not where we start. Instead, we try to immerse ourselves into what gives the area its distinct personality. We order the local visitor’s guide to see what suggestions are given to visitors coming to the area. We subscribe to the print version of the local city magazine as it is great for visual tear sheets and you are less likely to miss something of interest that you might pass over by only viewing the online version. We then apply the “new vs. old” approach. We scour the internet to see if there are any local groups who might be tweeting or posting on Instagram about what is “hot” or of current interest in the city.
Another strategy is to contact the sales person or concierge at an upscale hotel. It is their job to not only know their property, but also the entire city. Upscale, local caterers are also a great resource when on the hunt for unique venues since they have usually been hired to work a party or event in new, hot spots. Most people are eager to help and are great at suggesting something you may not even know existed! Once those steps are done, then we actually plan a visit to the area armed with a full working knowledge of what we need to see, further investigate potential venues and meet with vendors.
Prior to forming the Charles Group Inc. in 1987, Susan Dunkelman served as director of conferences for the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS), an association of over 4,000 member corporations.