More than ever, people want it all—and the same goes for meetings and conferences. Some attendees want to combine business and pleasure by bringing their families along, which leaves planners looking to create an agenda that appeals both to those who will have kids in tow and those who won’t.
Groups are adding health and wellness options to meetings through new hotel partnerships and unique twists on popular activities such as yoga.
Elevate the attendee experience with the addition of wine-related tastings, events and classes.
An increasing number of golf resorts are making the game more accessible to groups meeting on the green.
Art-filled hotels are all the rage across the country, offerings spaces where groups can gather amid significant, even internationally renowned, paintings and sculptures. Some of those hotels promote area artwork and boast a proximity to a major art museum.
Odds are when I say the word “Maui,” the first image that comes to mind is of a beach. That’s understandable, as the island is continually listed as having some of the top beaches (and beach resorts) in the world. But after a recent visit to Maui County (which also encompasses the islands of Lanai and Molokai), I found that I was adding images of penguins, flamingos, horses, cats—and new and renovated hotels with meeting space—to that list.
The appeal of coastal locations is undeniable. Seaside resorts, lakefront inns and riverbank hotels have drawn in meeting-goers for generations. It’s always a surprise, then, when destinations squander their waterfronts, abandoning them to tracts of land without purpose, least of all pleasure. However, a number of cities and towns are investing money into revitalizing key waterfront areas in an effort to both improve the quality of life for residents and to lure visitors eager to spend time enjoying activities in or near the water.
The city of San Antonio recently held a grand reopening celebration for its newly transformed Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center. Guests included local politicians, those involved in the design and construction of the project, plus a number of meeting planners and other travel industry leaders.
A first-class vacation and a top-notch meeting are very different things, but these days they needn’t be mutually exclusive. And that mentality starts with associations first. Among the groups making an effort to be more family friendly is the International Council of Shopping Centers—the global trade association for the mall industry—which has taken the innovative step of introducing its own “Mother’s Lounge” at its RECon, a four-day industry event to be held in May at the Las Vegas Convention Center and expected to attract more than 36,000 attendees from around the world.
Meetings held in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama have always been accommodating. The region’s easygoing, warm hospitality is part of the package. But groups heading to these states will also notice the recent improvements that have been made to their meetings infrastructure.
Wellness offerings can serve as the focal point of an event or be incorporated into a broader agenda.