Pack your bags, organizers! Destination events are the perfect way to give attendees a unique and unforgettable experience.
We’re talking about “Bleisure”— business and leisure combined into one marvelous occasion. Destination events will entice attendees with the lure of vacation alongside the usual event benefits. In fact, the destination of your event has become a prime factor in motivating attendees in general.
Your choice of destination heavily influences your attendee’s choice to attend. As the world grows more interconnected, the importance of taking your events outside your local region grows too.
Sightseeing opportunities, cultural exploration, checking a destination off a bucket list, and creating a lasting impression are all benefits of a destination event. Read on to discover how this one decision can take your event planning from basic to unbelievable!
The perfect destination.
The world is your oyster! However, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your destination. It isn’t just about going for the most Instagrammable spot, but finding the perfect location to suit your event and attendee base.
Start with your “Why?” Is this an upscale conference with the big bosses or a company retreat? A nature getaway might be perfect for bonding activities, but it’s a poor place to put a bunch of high-powered suits. Think of your location as the framework that supports your event’s purpose and you’ll immediately simplify your choices.
Once you’ve established your purpose, look at your attendees. By understanding their interests, whether that’s food, sightseeing, or basic networking, you can cater your itinerary to match their mood. Certain cities (or countries, who are we to limit your imagination?) are known for their food, while others cater to the more historically minded. The golden rule of Hollywood applies: know your audience!
Now that you’ve sorted the basics, it’s time to dive into that internet hole of potential locales! Destinations that give your attendees the chance to check items off their bucket list are great choices, like Los Angeles, New York, or Paris. There should be a vacation-like feel to wherever you choose that will add extra glamor to your event’s appeal. We’re talking about intrinsic motivation, people!
Plan your adventure.
“Are we there yet?” You don’t want your attendees asking this question.
A location that requires three stop-overs and a horseback ride won’t be very appealing. Your best bet is to pick a location that has an international airport, and don’t forget to look at travel within the area. Major cities have ample public transport, but smaller places may require creativity—and expenses—on your end. The event venue’s location in relation to the rest of the area will affect the necessity of transport, too.
Weather is as important as travel. Destinations with good weather year round make your event planning significantly easier. If you’re picking a place with changeable weather, make sure you have back up plans in place in case the clouds roll in. Outdoor activities are fun, but not when it’s raining—unless you’re Drew Barrymore.
Don’t forget about hotels! Research accommodations around the venue and make sure there’s enough space for your projected attendance. We might love to network, but no one wants to share a one-bed hotel room with three other guests. Awkward!
Pro Tip: Visit before you book! If online dating has taught us anything, it’s that online profiles can be deceiving. Visit the venue so you get a tangible sense of what it looks like, how to navigate the area, and what activities and vendors may be available nearby.
Elevate the experience.
Beyond the basic travel opportunity, destination events invite you to stretch your imagination! Take advantage of the fresh locale and plan mini-events or location-based activities throughout your schedule to spice things up.
Infuse local culture and cuisine into your event to make it destination-specific. You’ll help your attendees discover a new place and will create a more unique experience. Organizing a wine or food tasting is a great way to enhance the experience for any foodies in attendance.
Take advantage of local festivals. If there’s a historic anniversary happening in the city, or a special event, schedule your time accordingly so attendees can join the locals for a once-a-year (or more) celebration. They’ll feel a part of something special.
Break beyond the event venue. Plan excursions into the city like sightseeing tours to local landmarks. This is a great way to help attendees check things off of their bucket lists by visiting historical monuments or iconic neighborhoods. Really flex your creative muscles and design a scavenger hunt, a fun way for attendees to explore the area!
Managing your budget.
A destination event might seem like a bigger budgeting headache, but you’d be wrong. Due to the expectation of greater expenses, you’ll be more attentive to your budget and will avoid unintentionally overspending. We love overconfidence, but our bank accounts don’t!
When researching your location, pay attention to the season. Book during off-peak months to take advantage of reduced expenses on everything including hotels, flights, venues, catering, and more. Added bonus? You won’t find yourself in a crowded locale. Nothing feels better than having a scenic destination all to yourselves!
Research local vendors so you’ll know what you can get onsite and what you’ll have to bring. Cut back on travel and shipping expenses by including local resources in your event planning. Destination events have the added benefit of establishing your company’s reputation in a new place.
Pro tip: Consider whether or not you’ll be paying to fly out any special guests, speakers, or entertainment. Covering travel costs is a great way to entice high-profile speakers or entertainers, but make sure you have the room in your budget.
Hit the road!
A destination event is one of the most effective ways to create a unique, memorable experience for attendees. It will increase attendance rates through the draw of a pseudo-vacation and engagement by providing location-specific activities. Your attendees will leave with lifelong memories as well as new connections.
While a destination event requires extra attention to your logistics and budgeting, it’s not as intimidating as it seems. By considering the time of year and local resources, your event planning will be a walk in the park (or the beach, wherever you choose).
Hit the road to create an unforgettable destination event that’ll have attendees talking for years to come. Not only will you be remembered as the creator of their new favorite vacation, but you’ll have them excited for your next event, whether it’s at home or abroad.
Just don’t forget to pack your toothbrush and phone charger!