All the World’s a Stage: Improve Your Event by Utilizing the Local Attractions
Many aspects that go into finding the perfect venue: its exterior, the venue’s capacity, and available features, just to name a few. Yet, with all the consideration, thought, and planning that goes into a venue’s selection, its biggest asset is often overlooked: the surrounding area. While a particular city or region is often considered in the selection process, for many events, the opportunities provided by the surrounding area are often left off the agenda.
It is not uncommon for attendees to head to an event based entirely on its location so they can spend their free time exploring the area. Event planners who do not take this into account are missing a great opportunity.
Every city and location has something that makes it special. While it may be obvious for some locations (New Orleans, for example, is one area where you don’t have to delve too deep to discover some local color), other settings require a little research.
If there are major league sports teams in the area, they may provide behind-the-scenes tours of their venues. Museums and aquariums also may offer special packages for large groups. Perhaps the city has a site of historical importance. All of these can be a great introduction to the locale.
Your chosen venue may have some ideas or suggestions where to look or know a local city-guide who could help. The area’s Convention and Visitor Bureau is also a valuable resource. Here are a few ways that the surrounding area can improve your event
What is the regional history of the area? Are there sites where recognizable events occurred? Or maybe a less recognizable event that nevertheless shaped the course of history (local or national)? These sites are usually particularly interesting if your group includes many people from out of the area and are often an excellent way to promote the diversity of the region.
The area may also have small, regional museums (like a transportation or flight museum) or cultural organizations that are not well known outside of the region. Venues such as these often provide group activities or special education sessions.
Of course, past history is not your only option. Your event may coincide with an ongoing cultural activity, such as an annual festival. This can provide an excellent opportunity for attendees to experience the area in a way that is usually reserved for residents. This is also a fairly unique promotional opportunity for you and a way to set your event apart from the competition.
Museums are not the only opportunities for culture in an area. There is a possibility that your area is known for a specific artistic style. There may be local theaters that are specific to the city. Or, perhaps the region is known for comedy (improv, standup, group, etc.) or a particular style of dance or music.
Of course, nobody has to leave your venue. Bringing in acts with ties to the local scene is a great way to engage your attendees. With just a little research, you may also find local motivational speakers, poets, or authors who could provide inspiration while speaking about some of the area’s special characteristics.
Any specific artform that the area is known for is an opportunity for you to immerse your guests in the local culture.
The area may have local universities or corporate headquarters with a specialty that aligns to the theme of your event. This is an excellent way to take care of two needs: you are introducing some local color to your event while filling a speaker slot.
Plus, bringing in local speakers is much more cost-effective than flying someone from out of town, and it is easier to accommodate someone’s schedule when they only need to travel 20 minutes instead of 200 miles.
Bear in mind, some regional companies that may not seem like an ideal fit at first glance actually could be very entertaining and beneficial. Be sure to delve into every possible opportunity before writing anything off too quickly.
Everyone’s gotta eat. So, by finding local cuisine, you are not only fulfilling a basic need of your attendees, you’re making it fun and educational at the same time. If you are providing food at your event, try to incorporate local, farm to table items or a regional signature dish as a menu option.
You could also create an excursion to a local eatery. If your venue has a chef, he or she will be able to provide plenty of nearby suggestions for restaurants, wineries, and breweries. Just make sure you consider the budgets of your attendees. It’s possible that not all of them are eating on the company’s dime.
This is another area where someone at your venue should be able to offer suggestions. If you are planning a shopping excursion, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, the shopping needs to be unique to the region – don’t just send people to the local mall (they’ve seen a Land’s End before). Perhaps there is a local craft scene, like specialized jewelry. Second, like with food, be considerate of budgets. Expense accounts vary, and you don’t want to be the reason anyone feels uncomfortable.
If you know your attendees are fans of a particular sport, you could arrange for an outing with discounted tickets. Another option, and perhaps an even more fun one, is if the region has a sport that somewhat unique. An example could be curling or roller hockey.
Other possibilities include providing tours of local sports venues, photo ops with local stars, or even renting an area at the sports venue for a cocktail hour. You could also find someone from a local team and bring them in for a speaking engagement.
If your area has a unique cultural or historic district, it would be nice to provide a private, guided walking tour. Or maybe there is an event that happens outdoors, and you could create an excursion (for example, every night in Austin, Texas more than a million bats fly from underneath the Congress Avenue Bridge).
Another suggestion is a group activity, such as a ropes course or nature trail hike, especially if there is a nearby nature preserve.
One aspect to keep in mind when planning an outdoor activity is inclusivity. While some attendees will not be interested in outdoor activities and choose to avoid them, others may have physical limitations that could prevent them from participating. Be sure to provide opportunities to accommodate everyone. It is bad form to leave guests behind simply because the host did not find a way they could be included.
By incorporating local attractions and culture, you are adding depth to your event while helping to create new and lasting memories for your attendees. For more ways to create the best event possible, give Event Architecture a call at 972-323-9433.