How to Plan a Colorado Destination Meeting

By Beth Buehler

Planning a destination meeting is one of my favorite topics to write about regarding Colorado’s meetings and events industry. The reason why? Although the state’s cities are off the charts amazing as meeting locations, there are so many great off-the-beaten-path options to share as well. Just as destination weddings have regained traction as the U.S. economy has recovered, so have destination meetings in a big way.

There is just no replacing face-to-face meetings and unique destination meeting activities like food tours, brewery and distillery visits, rafting, skiing, snowboarding, gaming and outdoor concerts, which all have a way of turning coworkers into teams and people who have never met before into friends. Here are just a few reasons why Colorado is ideal for a destination meeting and several ideas about how Destination Colorado’s website and members can help simplify the process and ensure success.

Ameristar Casino Resort Spa in Blackhawk. Courtesy Ameristar.

A first step for many is landing on the destination that fits your group’s needs and your organization’s brand and budget. Are your attendees and business more swayed by Aspen and Beaver Creek name recognition or the laid-back natures of Estes Park and Glenwood Springs? Also consider how attendees will be arriving (e.g., airplane, car, charter bus or even train) to select a convenient option.

A bird’s-eye view of Aspen, including Aspen Mountain. Courtesy Aspen Resort Chamber Association.

Destination Marketing Organizations – When I am planning a gathering, plotting out how I want to spend my time on a business or leisure trip or writing a story about a Colorado community, I head straight for the local convention and visitors bureau (CVB), tourism office or Chamber of Commerce as they are the local experts. An all-encompassing term for organizations that market their communities as places to visit is destination marketing organization (DMO). They are great resources for lodging properties, venues, suppliers and activities well-suited for groups.

On our website, here, click on the “Destinations” tab and go to the communities of interest. In the Breckenridge section, you will find a link to the Breckenridge Tourism Office, for example. DMOs typically offer most of their services for free.

Downtown Breckenridge and snowy peaks as a backdrop. Courtesy Breckenridge Tourism Office.

Destination Management Companies – DMCs on the other hand can help plan and flawlessly carry out your groups meeting or event for a fee. There are several DMCs located around the state, with many of the most experienced firms listed under the Meeting Services menu item on Destination Colorado’s website. Most specialize in certain destinations, and some cover nearly the entire state and beyond. DMCs are like extra hands, feet and expertise on the ground, helping a meeting go off without a hitch.

Pulling off a successful meeting means attention to details like audiovisual, lighting, décor, photography, entertainment and transportation. Don’t wait until the last minute to consider these important facets.  Instead review great options in these categories, also under Meeting Services.

Some meeting organizers might go the venue selection route first, seeing what looks appealing again based on the purpose of the meeting, demographics, interests of attendees and types of properties. Destination meetings in Colorado can be held at all sorts of fun places like a full-service resort or casino in the mountains, a YMCA camp in Estes Park or Granby, a guest ranch in various parts of the state and even a vineyard with an inn or hotel nearby in Grand Junction.

The spacious and picturesque grounds of Snow Mountain Ranch near Granby. Courtesy of YMCA of the Rockies.

Tiara Rado golf course in Grand Junction. Courtesy of Grand Junction VCB and Ken Redding.

Click on the Venues tab and conduct a quick search by destination, facility type and group size if you wish. Or browse all the venues in a handy condensed All Venues list or by subject such as “Resort Meetings” and “Outdoor Meeting and Event Ideas.”

One of the many unique venue options in Beaver Creek. Courtesy Beaver Creek Group Sales and Services.

Why go it alone when there are many great Colorado resources and experts out there to assist? Start the planning process with Destination Colorado’s website, which is loaded with easy-to-use information and a handy request for proposal option that can be quickly customized to fit your group’s needs. Happy planning!

Beth Buehler is editor of Colorado Meetings + Events and Mountain Meetings magazines, has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado.