By Beth Buehler
With novel coronavirus (COVID-19) changing up plans for all sorts of gatherings in 2020 and pushing them into 2021, planners are encountering some difficulty in finding space availability for later this year and all of next. The reality is many dates were already booked for 2021 gatherings, so suddenly there is a big flow of business and leisure happenings being pushed into a narrower funnel of time. What’s a planner to do? Here are four tips about how to find meeting and event space post COVID-19.
Utilize Lead-Sharing Programs
Destination Colorado makes the process of finding destinations, destination management companies, properties and suppliers throughout Colorado easier for planners through a new lead-sharing program between members. It’s as simple one member referring a client who is unable to get re-booked or to book new business at a particular property/destination to other Destination Colorado members who have openings available.
Destination Colorado staff help relay the information on to members that can satisfy the necessary parameters such as dates needed, number of guest rooms, meeting and event space square footage, amenities required, meals needed, etc. Also, destination marketing organizations like VISIT DENVER, Visit Estes Park and Visit Grand Junction are great local resources to help facilitate lead sharing.
Be Open to New Approaches
Not much has remained the same throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and I don’t expect it to get back to normal anytime soon. So, we adjust and become willing to try new approaches, like different ways of seeing friends, family and colleagues from a distance while self-isolating was at its height. Groups likely will be reduced in size or broken up into small groups that are spread around a large property in order to not cross paths much. Or it may mean serving more meals and breaks on patios, scheduling outdoor activities for team-building, and walking or using open-air transportation for off-site gatherings. Never held a meeting outdoors? It might be time to try it and ask a property’s sales team to provide guidance, as likely they’ve seen it done successfully.
Tap Into Your Network
Utilizing contacts met over the years pretty much always opens the door to opportunities and creates results. Why should it be any different when trying to find the right space at the right time for groups? A colleague in Loveland may have recommendations for just the right hotel that is near a park with trails and a lake with picnic pavilions.
Another meeting planner may have talked to several properties in Vail about a specific date she needs for a group and found out there is greater availability in April at the end of ski season instead of in the heart of it. An A/V supplier you like to work with may have heard about open dates at venues where his company is a preferred vendor.
Find Out What Attendees Want & Pursue It
Don’t forget that in these days of meetings and events after COVID-19 it is key to understand attendee preferences so they feel comfortable with and excited about gathering again. Talk to key stakeholders, issue a quick survey, watch industry coverage of the issue, discuss the topic with other planners, etc. Using this information, you will be better prepared to dial in what is really wanted and to pursue destinations and properties that fit these parameters.
Colorado meeting and event professionals and properties do extremely well partnering and sharing business leads to ensure that the state is attractive to groups and easy to work with. I hope these four tips for finding meeting and event space post COVID-19 are helpful, and make sure to browse Destination Colorado’s website for a lot of terrific options in the Centennial State.
Beth Buehler has been editor of Colorado Meetings + Events magazine for 15 years and helped launch Mountain Meetings magazine in 2013. She has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado.