By Christy Lamagna, CMP, CMM, CTSM
• Work with your CVB to understand the city
• Give your attendees a chance to really see the area
• No need to rush when enjoying a tour
How many miles have you flown this year? How many cities have you been to? How many cities have you actually seen? Many of us experience little beyond the path from the airport to the hotel and back when traveling for work. You may be able to say you’ve been to a particular city multiple times yet you may know virtually nothing about it beyond cabs and room service.
As we all work to make our meetings more cost effective, relevant, and worthwhile, building a few hours of exhale and bonding time into the agenda is one of the better ways to accomplish all of the above. By getting your guests out of the hotel, you give them the opportunity to absorb what they’ve heard all day, recharge, and gear up for whatever’s next.
An easy way to accomplish this AND get your travel warriors to break the airport to hotel cycle is to host a city tour. Every city is famous for something; perhaps a particular type of music, cuisine, architecture, or landscape. Asking your food & beverage manager to serve a dinner that mirrors the city’s culinary roots and having a ballroom named after famous street names is great, but nothing beats getting out and experiencing the real thing.
If you were strategic, you worked with the CVB when you were placing the meeting, so you already have a point of contact. As with all plans, start with the end in mind; tell the CVB representative your goal and let them partner with you on the best way to achieve it. From suggesting vendor partners to providing tour guides, the CVB team is ready to show off its city.
Many cities offer pre-packed tours to the top sites to see, or perhaps you want to show guests things that are off the beaten path. Walking tours that highlight food, shopping, art, or historical sights are great places to start. Focus on the group and your goal to set the tone and then plug into your CVB partner to create a memorable experience.
Rules of thumb for any city excursion you plan:
Acoustics are key. Can you break into small enough groups to have a guide for each group? Do you have the budget to offer headsets? That option can go one of two ways; a pre-recorded presentation, or a live narrative about the area. If you’re using a tour bus, triple check the sound system before it leaves the terminal to get your guests. Few things are more frustrating than a PA system that cracks, cuts in and out, or doesn’t work altogether.
Work with your CVB partner to find out the personality of the city.
Does it hold historical significance? Is it the largest producer of a particular item? Is one of its sports teams experiencing a hot streak? Starting the tour with background into the area will wet listeners’ appetites about the area and quickly establish your guide as an expert.
Resist the urge to rush things along.
Leave time for questions. People like to learn and many absorb more when interacting. Work pauses into the tour so people can ask questions, take photos, and take a few moments to absorb their surroundings. Often we get so wrapped up in needing to ‘see it all’ or keep things running on schedule, we move too quickly to truly absorb anything.
Working with a CVB to plan an excursion can be a wonderful journey, for both your attendees while on it and for you throughout the process. Partner up with your local experts and enjoy the ride!
Tags: City Excursions, City, CVB, Strategic Planners, Event Planning, Corporate Meetings, Corporate Events, Midwest Meetings