By Beth Buehler
As the glorious summer season kicks off in Colorado, we asked three Destination Colorado board members about the trends they are seeing for meetings in 2017. They represent three sectors in the industry: group sales, a destination marketing organization and a destination management company. See what these experienced pros shared and consider how to plug your group into new options that can freshen up an annual program, create additional interest in registration, and solidify with your management team why a Colorado meeting makes sense.
Ellen Collins, CMP, Senior Manager – Global Group Sales, Vail Resorts
1. With the recent rise in merger and acquisition activity, clients are seeking activities that help blend cultures and encourage employee trust. Nothing beats getting outside in a natural environment to break down real or perceived barriers. Consider mountain tubing in the winter or summer to bring the carefree kid out in attendees, a ropes course activity where a title does not matter, or perhaps mixed team scavenger hunts where you must work together to win.
2. Companies are pressed to be more innovative. Playful environments and creative spaces are being sought after to encourage collaboration and ideation. Colorado’s inspirational mountain settings help attendees’ brains turn down the noise and turn up the masterpieces. For example, groups have taken part in painting and wine pairing receptions to get their right brain engaged. And, classic rock background music can help loosen up those who don’t consider themselves artists.
3. Mindfulness is the buzzword these days. Breathing, meditation, yoga, awareness and presence all increase overall health, emotional intelligence and performance. Many companies are offering optional sunrise yoga to get the day started on the right foot. When positive intention is set, all is right in the world. Continue this healthy emphasis with a visit to an organic farm for a group meal and to hear the story behind every ingredient.
Kathy Reak, Senior Director of Convention Sales, Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau
4. Planners are looking for an experience in their meetings versus the same old, same old. And it is not just the experience, it is an authentic destination experience that leaves their guests transformed, which includes finding local venues to host off-site meetings and events to provide the attendee with a true feel of the destination.
5. We are seeing more and more requests for different types of team-building activities such as escape rooms, cooking lessons, etc. At the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, fencing, floor volleyball, wheelchair basketball and other activities are offered.
6. There is a growing interest in the evolution of craft beers and cocktails, and whiskey tasting in particular seems to be high on the list. Groups like to take it off property and learn the processes of creating the libation and how to pair it with food.
Danielle McNair, Account Manager, Destination Services Corporation (DSC)
7. Groups are incorporating social media through photo booths, Boomerang, personalized hashtags and live video streaming.
8. Small plates, amuse-bouches (a single, bite-sized appetizer) and finger foods give attendees the chance to experience all the flavors. Localvore, meaning a person who only eats locally grown foods, has been the word of the hour lately. Guests want to experience a destination not just through their eyes but with their appetites, too.
9. Mixed-use seating in general sessions and breakouts is being used to promote collaboration and networking. A popular color is the Pantone color of the year “greenery.” Lush green accents paired with some mixed metals are in.
Beth Buehler is editor of Colorado Meetings + Events and Mountain Meetings magazines, has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado in all seasons.