As a DMO, you are probably most well known for supporting the city-wide meeting due to your comprehensive view of the destination, extensive in-market relationship, and local expertise. Many planners like the ones interviewed below that are considering a transition from a single hotel meeting to a convention center and multiple hotels worry about many “unknowns” including:
- Possible loss of networking opportunities.
- Increased walking distances.
- More costs, more contacts and more contracts.
Make sure that the transition for your meeting planners from single hotel to convention center is seamless by providing an orientation and support in all these areas in order to tackle the planner’s concerns head-on, before they take the leap.
When planners do branch out to include a convention center, help ensure that networking opportunities stay alive and well. Suggest venues for attendee events that will foster interaction and can pass on tried and true tips: for instance, longer coffee breaks in the convention center and less unstructured time for attendees to go their separate ways can set the stage for mingling and knowledge exchange.
Help groups overcome the potential obstacle of limited attendee interaction by choosing a large headquarter hotel and connected convention center where possible, or otherwise keeping the entire lodging and center package within easy walking distance. The need for attendees to be able to get easily and quickly from one venue to another dictates that all be within walking distance; busing between hotels and the center is out of the question and not in the budget. Also to make sure that the halls and meeting space within the center are as close to the hotel as possible.
For attendees used to having everything under one roof, going outside changes their perception, even if the actual distance from Point A in the hotel to Point B in the convention center is the same as walking from their sleeping room to their meeting room in one hotel. Not having to traverse the entire length of the convention center to distant meeting rooms and exhibits helps. During a site visit, help the planner make the walk from hotel room to meeting space, time it, and include that information in conference marketing materials to inform attendees ahead of time.
More Contacts, and Contracts
In a hotel-center combination, the meeting planner will have more departments and people to work with, and even more players may become involved if you branch out to off-site venues, so help planners coordinate with the hospitality community on behalf of the planner. If this is the first center booking for a planner, make sure he or she asks for a list of items that are important for them to have from the planner and from you. Going straight to the source, to the people who know the building and understand what it takes to be successful will set both your relationship and the planner’s event for success.