Location, location, location. Three of the most important words in a meeting professional’s repertoire.
The selection of a city and venue is a critical factor in the success of a meeting. Choose the wrong city and your potential attendees may not register. Choose the wrong venue location (airport, downtown, resort or suburb) and your attendees may complain that it doesn’t meet their needs. Choose the wrong venue and you can have challenges with logistics, service and possibly perceptions.
The Attendee’s Perspective
Ultimately, the meeting you’re planning is for and about the attendee. Picking a location that delivers a lot of value to them is crucial.
Often, meeting professionals choose a city and venue that meets their logistical needs and delivers a great deal. If they don’t focus on what their attendees want first, they are likely to choose a site that can derail their meeting before it’s ever started.
Five Attendee Drivers
Here are five attendee drivers for meeting site selection.
1. Attractiveness Of Location
Is it a city that your attendees want to visit? How attractive is that city to your regular attendees? Would it attract a new audience or larger group of your regular customers?
How affordable is it to travel to your location? What is the proposed hotel rate? Many business employees have a budget to attend one conference a year. And the amount they can spend is typically decided before you announce your fees and hotel rates. Keeping the cost as economical as possible without decreasing any value is important.
How accessible is your venue and city? If most of your attendees fly to your event, is it a major airlines hub? What are the total number of daily seats into the airport? Is it easy and affordable to travel to that destination? What is the commute time and cost from the airport to the hotel? If the majority of your attendees drive to the event, is your site within a two- or three-hour radius of a large density of your customers? Is there ample and affordable parking once they get there?
4. Entertainment Options
Is the venue near a major entertainment district? Is it within walking distance of restaurants, retail and nightlife? Is golf nearby?
5. Networking Friendly
Does the meeting facility or hotel offer welcoming areas that help stimulate networking? Are there seating areas or outlets that are good for meet-ups or collaboration? Is there wifi in those public areas?
Meeting Success Dependent Upon These Drivers
If the conference is in a city that is not attractive, affordable, easily accessible, near entertainment and stimulates networking, the potential registrant will look for a different option at another event.
Remember, a potential attendee’s interest in visiting an area can contribute to significant increase in attendance and revenue.
What are some questions meeting professionals should ask when considering their potential attendees interests and expectations for site selction?
Other Cheat Sheet Posts that might be of interest.
Cheat Sheet For Hiring And Paying Professional Speakers
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Meeting Planners Cheat Sheet: Food
Jason Hensel says
I’ve been saying this for years, too. If a location isn’t exciting for attendees, no amount of high-quality sessions or speakers will bring them to the conference.
It seems like everyone knows this, but no one wants to talk about it. I’m glad you brought it up.
Jeff Hurt says
I’m with you. “…no amount of high-quality sessions or speakers will bring them to the conference…” if the location is not attractive and exciting.
Thanks for adding your insights and thoughts. It is greatly appreciated.
Lara McCulloch-Carter says
I really love this post, Jeff. I’ve only ever been an attendee (never a planner) but I imagine that balancing #1 and #2 must be a huge challenge. Often some of the most attractive locations are also the most expensive. How would you advise planners to balance the two?
Jeff Hurt says
Good question. How can planners balance the attractiveness of the location with the affordability of it? One of the best ways is to consider going to an attractive location in an off season. Depending upon the total number of sleeping rooms contracted, the amount of food and beverage spend and the amount of meeting space, the venue may offer a good discounted rate. Don’t just discount a great location because it may be expensive. Work with the sales team to get an affordable rate within your attendees’ buget.