Annual Meetings Made Memorable

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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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.