SPIN is the newest meetings industry organization with a twist: all of its members have at least 10 years of experience (averaging 18+ years). Collectively, they account for more than $1.3 billion in meetings, mostly U.S. domestic. We went to our members for their feedback on trends in upscale “luxury” meetings.
“There is absolutely a change in corporate events as it relates to top-tier programs,” says Gareth Heyman of MOREVENTS near Denver. “Executives still want to be treated exceptionally well and most attendees will compare this year’s event to previous benchmarking events. However, planners, procurement, marketing and the social media guru are often vulnerable to scrutiny for planning lavish events. Today it’s more refined luxury, where if nothing else, exposure is limited to the public. Also, big branded premiums, especially in wearables, have been minimized or eliminated.”
In general MorEvents has seen a rise in B-tier destinations and a shift away from the high-profile locations to diminish group vulnerability. Two destinations that provide excellent value and high perception to attendees and planners are:
The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs provides a one-stop shop, and attendees never have to depart the campus’ three golf courses, world-class spa and multiple F&B options. It offers a convention center onsite, impeccable service and close proximity to the airport.
All-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic, Aruba and Mexico provide strong values, affordable luxuries and destination intrigue for attendees. In the last several years, the food and beverage has significantly improved, the included onsite activities have been enhanced, and service standards have been heightened in general.
Dana Rhoden, CMP, CMM, of Veterinary Education Network in Dallas, considers Return on Investment for her attendees when developing high-end group experiences. “We do specialized travel for veterinarians to unique and exotic destinations where they can have a hands-on experience with animals, for example, Alaska and the Iditarod, with the doctors working the trail to help the dogs, saving baby sea turtles on the beach in Florida and in South Africa to help save penguins after an oil spill.”
Rhoden says that creating a once-in-a-life-time experience doesn’t have to cost a lot. Some of the best experiences she cited are in out-of-the-way places like the Galapagos Islands and the rainforest in Costa Rica at sunset when wild macaws fly into the trees to nest. It’s all about giving attendees an experience that few others get.