It’s no secret that the most important part of event planning is choosing the destination. Do you want to choose a sleepy town with not a lot of other things going on, or do you want to choose the top choice from the latest “Top 10 Places to See Before You Die” list?
As you narrow down the list, there are quite a few factors to take into consideration.
Here are our top seven things to think about when choosing an event destination.
Geography is the first thing to think about when considering your event destination. But what parts of the location should go into your event production planning? Consider the climate of the area, especially because you’re likely planning this for several months (or a year or more) out.
You don’t want to head to Florida in the middle of hurricane season any more than you want to go to upstate New York in the middle of winter. That being said, just about every location has its own weather and climate to take into account.
Also, consider the more practical aspects of geography. If the majority of your attendees are in Europe, it isn’t practical to host your event in Australia, as beautiful and perfect as the location might be. Try to figure out where the majority of your attendees will be coming from and then look at locations from there.
Closely related to the general location of the destination is the question of how people are going to get to the city. Is there an airport? What about for your guests who are afraid of flying, or prefer to drive?
Of course — it’s not just about travel to your location, but also how are people going to travel around the city once they’ve arrived? What’s traffic like in the area? Is there parking? What about mass transit options?
While services like Uber and Lyft have minimized those concerns in larger cities, if you’re looking at a smaller town, they might not be available. Travel is an incredibly important consideration for your guests, and so it should be close to the top of the list for you, too.
Another thing to consider as you narrow down the list of potential locations is what your guests are interested in. The obvious pitfalls are things like not hosting an addiction recovery retreat in Las Vegas, but also consider the culture of the town versus your average attendee.
Fandom-centric events primarily attended by high-energy younger people aren’t going to be appropriate for a place found on the top 10 best places to retire list — nor are seniors necessarily going to be interested in a high-energy college town that’s known for its parties.
You know your attendees best, and so keep them in mind when you’re picking out your final location — whether that’s considering how many stairs are in the venue or if a seaside town is the best location for a ski and snowboarding event.
Most, if not all, destination events are multi-day. Even if the event planning puts it in a hotel, there may not be enough room for all your guests. Look around the immediate area to determine if there are more hotels, and if so, how long it takes to travel between the two locations.
In the same vein, consider how close restaurants and quick food options. Your guests likely won’t want to travel a long way to get a quick bite to eat at the end of the day, so consider finding a location near a variety of food options.
Though do note that people rate accommodations and dining as two of the top five things they’re willing to splurge on while travelling, so finding the lowest rates and least expensive dining options aren’t top concerns.
How big is your event going to be? If you’re looking at an event with a few thousand guests, you probably should reconsider that sleepy town of 10,000 strong (even if you can find a venue to accommodate).
On the other hand, if it’s only going to be a few hundred people, you might have people struggling to justify the cost of travel and staying in a big city — even though venues of all sizes are likely to be plentiful. There are many online tools to help you plan your event and find a venue that’s right for you.
When looking for a location, consider the size of your event. Are you looking at a multi-day, multi-thousand-person event? Try looking for a larger convention centre — which may not be available in all cities. It’s important to take into account your venue options when choosing a city.
Once you’ve chosen a location, check with your potential host to find out what they already have available and if it incurs any additional costs. Some convention centres will have built-in av equipment you can use, but others will require you to bring your own. This is particularly important to consider if you’re travelling a long distance as it can make or break the event production.
If you have a few different spots in mind, don’t forget to take into account where the venue is in relation to the rest of the city. Even if there are hotels and restaurants right next door, your guests might want to be able to see the sights — or they may not want to be in the heart of downtown.
Consider that most people will travel about 17 minutes to reach a local business, so the venue doesn’t necessarily have to be in the heart of town (especially if you expect a lot of locals to attend). So, while the location is important, you will have some wiggle room when it comes to exactly where in the city you’re located.
Finally, when choosing the exact location of your event, consider everything else going on in the city. Is it the same weekend as a major game or another event? You may need to consider changing the weekend — or the location — if your chosen city is already booked.
Event production is a long process that requires considerable forethought and planning. However, with a little bit of time and care, your event is sure to go off without a hitch.
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