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Insightful Sites!

By on December 19, 2012


Creative meetings happen in creative venues, and more importantly, an engaging environment can get those inspirational juices flowing that set one meeting apart from another, and determines its success. But how exactly do you find those motivating locations?

Sometimes the most original destination is not always the most creative. You want to bring the world to your participants, and often, it is what is available in a particular location that makes it unique and memorable. Just bringing a group to Costa Rica might seem inspired enough, but zip-lining through the jungle or wading through the mineral mud baths might be what it takes to actually create a memory that will last a life time. (Trust me…it does!)

Planners must start with determining the meeting or incentive goals of the company. What precisely do you need to achieve, and how will your choice help you to accomplish these objectives? Are you trying to inspire creative thinking during a day of meetings and speakers inside a venue, or do you want your surrounding environment to play a role in educating your participants on local culture or in a teambuilding activity? How far are you willing to travel? What is the size of the event? These are topics that are important to address before even beginning your search of a destination. Similar to buying a house, equipping yourself with a list of “must-haves”, as well as those things you are willing to let go of will make your requirements more concise, and thus allow you to zero in on where to begin your search.

When defining the word “creative”, many adjectives come to mind: original, inspired, innovative, and inventive. Years ago, when one heard the words meeting or conference, automatically a hotel ballroom or convention center came to mind. These days the options are endless. Museums, art galleries and cooking schools provide stimulating milieus to host a group. Lofts in urban areas are extremely popular, and destinations such as Palm Springs can provide incredible venues in the form of former movie star’s homes that are available for rental purposes. A spa specializing in holistic healing could be an inspirational site for a medical conference, with local speakers adding to the flavor of the setting. (Always be sure that a venue is acceptable to a company’s compliance committee if that is a consideration). A Dude Ranch might be just the ticket for something different, or perhaps holding the first session of your meeting in a private train car on the way to your destination can be an introduction to an exciting program that shows your participants the thought and care that has been put in for them.

A good planner understands that the perfect venue accommodates both your on-site and off-site needs. If your meeting is to take place in a conference type setting, whether it is in a hotel or convention center, look for ways to individualize it from the norm, through décor, lighting, and ambiance. Determine the best traffic flow from one room to another; highlight the distinct areas of the property that perhaps can be used in a new way. Terraces, swimming pool areas, club floors, penthouse suites and lobby bars can often be relegated to your group to be used in ways never thought of before. Upscale hotels can sometimes offer you a private tasting table in their kitchens while their Chefs prepare something special. Don’t be afraid to use the local staff of a property to procure ideas of what has been done before that was different and successful.

If possible, always, always, always do a site inspection prior to making any commitment. If the location is too far to travel, research and speak with local destination management companies in the area. They often have worked with most of the venues, and can offer honest and detailed reviews of the sites you are looking at. As well, being in touch with the National and Global Sales Managers of your different hotel chains can be incredibly useful for ideas of which of their properties might be perfect to meet your objectives.

Approaching your meeting and event site selection in a new and innovative way is the whole idea behind the saying “thinking outside the box”. Push your thinking beyond the norm and set no limits. If you go outside the expected and venture into the world of resourcefulness and imagination, you will delight and inspire both yourself and your participants.


With over 20 years experience, Audrey Esar is a Solutions Consultant specializing in event management, customer service, training and coaching as well as site selection. Audrey can be contacted via e-mail at or connect with her via Linkedin.



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