Over the last year, there has been a significant rise in the return of both domestic and international travel and a big push for organizations to expand their convenings into new locations. Traveling to new destinations can be an immersive way for clients and their attendees to deliver their message, drive engagement, and experience different cultural scenes. 

As meeting and events professionals, we aim to provide that immersive experience, seamlessly blending the client’s agenda into their host cities so that they feel like a local (instead of a guest in a nondescript hotel ballroom). With a global stage, it can seem like a daunting task to become an expert in countless localities. How can you deliver the Minneapolis or Mexico City experience if unfamiliar with those cities and cultures? Leveraging your colleagues, friends, and partners is the secret to unlocking those doors.

Let Your Client Inspire You:

The first step in creating these experiences is asking the right questions about a client’s values, expectations, and goals for their events. Not only should you listen to their punch list of activities and agenda items. Actively listen for the feelings they want to create, their favorite memories from past events, and what discussions spark their passion. Once you have that inspiration, it’s time to start networking!

Leverage Your Event Professionals:

At Linder, the first network we capitalize on is our own “collective genius.” We have a wealth of experience amongst our Events Team, and you never know who is connected to which resources. Even if you feel sure no one on your team has been to a particular area or would know a vendor in a specific field, I highly recommend hitting the group chat anyway, as you are likely to be surprised! Similarly, ask your client contacts to think about their network. They may be holding cards they don’t know are valuable to you.

Contact the Local Experts

In early 2023, the Seattle Convention Center opened its new Summit building, a LEED-certified industry leader in sustainability and the use of clean energy. This made Seattle an ideal choice for our client, who could utilize the venue as an immersive way to envelop their attendees in their clean energy goals and deliver on their organization’s mission. 

Having never worked in Seattle, a critical partnership I relied on throughout the planning process was the Visit Seattle Tourism Bureau. Our contact’s primary goal was not only to provide information but to become my “best friend” in Seattle. With this open-door partnership, we offered unique activations, like buskers guiding guests from the hotel to the convention center, Seattle-specific welcome amenities, and loads of information to our attendees, clients, and area businesses. We created a conference microsite housed in the Visit Seattle main website as a Seattle concierge at our Pre-Conference meeting, along with establishing a notification to local businesses to staff up according to our conference schedule and an Economic Impact Report that provided valuable data to our client following their conference.

The best part is that all these services were completely free and open to any visiting meeting planners! But this extends beyond Seattle – most major cities and many smaller municipalities also have tourism bureaus that are excited to support. Take them up on it!

Our Primary Partners Have Contact too:

Another great way to bring local flair to your events is to leverage your existing vendor relationships and partnerships. It’s easy to get tunnel vision working with partners in the same city repeatedly and forget that they may have a broader reach. We recently had an educational travel client convene in Philadelphia to showcase their premier programs and build enthusiasm amongst their sales team for these new offerings.

For their conference gala, they wanted to bring in local talent that would highlight the creativity and history of the city but were feeling a tad overwhelmed with scouting unfamiliar artists in an unfamiliar city. We contacted one of our favorite vendor partners, who tapped into their network.  Through this network, they proposed several fantastic local artist options, including several DJs and instrumental groups, electric violinists, aerialists, contortionists, living statues, historical characters, a historical bicycle bar, and others. 

By using our partners to source local entertainment that highlighted local culture, we created an experience where the attendees walked away saying Philly was their new favorite city, meeting the client’s goal of fostering excitement and leaving them relieved that they put their scouting in the hands of a trusted partner. 

Being part of the events industry means you are never truly working alone. Any challenge you face can always be met with help from additional hands, and that is such a beautiful thing. Keep a list of your contacts, fill it up with notes, and you’ll find an ever-expanding list of living, breathing resources to help you achieve your goals at home and globally. 

Written by Jenna Ashman, Event Coordinator

Jenna is an event management professional seasoned in a variety of event types, both in the public and private sectors, with sizes ranging from 10-30,000 guests. With her extensive experience of just over 9 years, Jenna brings a strong skillset that includes event management, graphic design, event design + logistics, social media, and project management. Jenna graduated from the University of Maryland with her B.A. in Psychology and has had great experience from managing events at the Central Florida Zoo + Botanical Gardens, to freelance wedding planning, and running programs as a member of the Gaithersburg Parks + Recreation Department.