By Beth Buehler
It’s that time of year, planning for your company’s or association’s annual meeting. Just as today’s teenagers require a little more excitement in the classroom than just a chalkboard and a textbook, today’s meeting attendees plug in better if there is an element of experience. Here are five ways to help create annual meetings that are unforgettable.
- Get Out of Town – Select a destination that gets employees, members, clients and industry partners talking about attending. Colorado has towns of all shapes and sizes to fit a wide range of group personalities and budgets, from small but vibrant mountain communities like Pagosa Springs and Estes Park to energizing cities such as Denver and Colorado Springs.
- Plug Into the Culture – The annual meetings and conferences that always remain front and center in my mind are the ones that tap into the local culture. When meeting in Grand Junction, a reception at a local winery and a wine tasting make total sense. At one Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference I attended there, a local high school marching band got things going at one of the sessions.
- Plan Something Really Special – Colorado excels at special experiences. Ski towns are masters at offering neat ways to transport people to dinner via gondola, sleighs, jeeps, watercraft, snowshoes and bikes. For example, board a raft in the small burg of Almont and pull up to dinner right outside a popular restaurant with a large patio and lawn in Gunnison.
- Select an Inspiring Venue – The place where the bulk of meetings and activities for an annual gathering take place is key. Is a campus-like setting like Aspen Meadows Resort in Aspen, the Western ambiance of Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa near Winter Park or the historic charm of Hotel Boulderado in Boulder a fit?
- Go Local – Give attendees a taste of what a community or a state is all about by giving small gifts of a locally-made item, having a farmer’s market dinner where area farmers help serve their products, and engaging an outstanding speaker who has connections to the destination. In Loveland, I really enjoyed a reception at Benson Sculpture Park where food stations by local restaurants and samples from area breweries, vineyards and distilleries were intermingled with the great art.
Is your annual meeting getting a little stale? Get out of the box using some of these suggestions, and attendees will start looking forward to this yearly gathering of the minds.