By Mattie Yallaly
Meetings and events offer a rare opportunity to provide unique experiences to individuals and groups. The very nature of these occasions gathers people of similar interests and focus with a spirit of collaboration. This tends to unlock a sense of adventure and excitement.
Attendees will likely vary regarding their expectations and end goals. Creating an event that pleases everybody may be the proverbial unicorn; however, considering the range of event experience levels of attendees can be a great first step.
Accommodations are typically the first aspect that attendees experience, setting the tone for the rest of the event. Ensuring that rooms are coordinated and ready goes a long way to relieve travel stress and promote a sense of confidence in the event. Different age groups and experience levels may affect the attendees’ perception of the property, so a few basic provisions will ensure that the majority are happy with their stay.
- Feeling welcomed and wanted. A smile goes a long way to relieve travel anxiety.
- Cleanliness. Nothing says “leave now” like a hairball on the floor.
- Fluffy towels and bathroom amenities. Even better, a sponsor-branded amenity bag with items that may have been forgotten (and maybe a coupon for a beverage) can be provided.
- Coffee and water. For some, no in-room coffee is a dealbreaker. Water bottles show consideration to the guest. Use purified options rather than spring water to ensure consistent quality.
- Included Wi-Fi. Whether a guest is a new traveler or a road warrior, they will expect good Wi-Fi availability.
A site visit is instrumental to ensure that event expectations can be met. Establishing communications with a property staff representative is a proactive way to keep all moving parts running smoothly. Providing a dedicated check-in lane also helps to streamline this process and makes the traveler feel identified. If an opening reception is offered the evening of the travel day, ask the hotel to provide a representative as a concierge to address any needs.
For those events in which air transportation is included, the varying experience levels may also come into play. The road warriors, or in this case “sky kings,” may have loyalty status that provides for upgraded seats and amenities. Initial event registration should allow for the participants to provide this information. When working with newer travelers who may not be set up for loyalty programs, provide instructions regarding loyalty benefits or, if applicable, allow the transportation sponsor(s) to contact them with information.
Ground transportation opens a whole new honeycomb of possibilities; options include taxis, rideshare, a shuttle service, or a rental car. Factors to consider include roadway/traffic complexity, distance to the venue or property, and any unique attractions that may appeal to the attendees. Some travelers will always want their own wheels, while others will not want that responsibility. If the location is not well established with rideshare options or taxi service, coordinating a shuttle service with the venue may be the best option.
Food is a definite requirement for events. Peckish attendees are less able to concentrate on the content. While it is difficult to please everyone with the meal selection, vegetarian and gluten-free options are a must. Chefs have become increasingly creative with menu options and can often cover multiple bases with a few selections. Reviewing meal options during the site visit allows both the property and the event to shine with the presentation of inventive and memorable cuisine.
Travel for Every Attendee
Attendee expectations, experience, and age all play a part in the experience of a meeting or event. There may be a 26-year-old with more travel experience than a 45-year-old. There may be two attendees from the same area with vastly different goals. An organized agenda, clear communications, and thoughtful consideration of participant characteristics are all essential for pulling off a successful event. Additionally, extra touches speak to attention to detail, and a sincere welcome throughout the event can further its success and create a lasting positive impression.