Regardless of what you call it, be sure you really are a qualified attendee. Don’t go if there is no chance you will book the venue in the foreseeable future. No one wants to be part of a trip where an unqualified buyer is taking advantage of the venue. In my last hotel we did 6 group site tours or familiarization trips in one year and each group was comprised of 10 – 12 planners.
It is a lot of work to organize flights, ground transportation, special dietary needs, gifts, a theme and an agenda where everyone gets to know new people and it is still educational and fun. We created the format once and duplicated it 4 times for just captive meeting professionals and twice for independent meeting professionals with their client. We did not invite significant others to keep it very business focused and found a Thursday – Saturday program worked best in that it did not cut into too much personal time.
To get 12 attendees, you need to invite at least 50 planners. Having several dates to offer helped to get qualified planners in at a time that best suits their schedule. We made it casual, interactive and left an afternoon for optional activities to show the variety of what your attendees can do in their spare time. Spa appointments were always a huge hit but city tours, attractions or special events can also be worthwhile. We kept it personal and focused so each guest felt like we recognized the most important person in the world. The cost is usually over $1,000 per planner so expect a well orchestrated follow up plan to track the success.
It is also wonderful if the local Convention & Visitors Bureau attends to talk about the destination, partner opportunities and the type of services they provide. Any preferred vendors should also participate to showcase their offering.
Depending on the ratio of business from the local market, it is fun to attend a “Show the Love” event that is a single meal with educational content or a dinner and overnight event. If you are doing a fair amount of business with a local venue, you should occasionally “shop” the venue to experience the service when the sales team is not around. That is the service that your guests receive.
No matter what you call these types of events, they can be an extremely effective use of your time in planning a meeting or event and build an amA2Zing lifetime relationship bond between the venue team and the professional meeting planner.