What to Look for When Choosing a Location for Your Corporate Meeting

No matter how many means of electronic communication are available to us now, there's still no better way to get to know someone than to meet with them face to face. This is true for every kind of relationship, including business relationships between individuals and between companies. When you are planning a corporate meeting, whether it is a small meeting including only in-house staff, a meeting with representatives of a single company, or a large conference with many attendees, giving people a chance to work and interact with each other in a variety of ways is one of the keys to achieving success. With that in mind, here are some things you should look for when you choose the site of your next corporate meeting.

The Basics

Regardless of the type of meeting, there are some basics you need to cover, and they’re not surprising if you have already planned or attended a lot of meetings. The first step is to choose an accessible city with transportation available by air, train, or car. If you are not hosting the event participants in a single location, look for the availability of other hotels nearby. Choose a comfortable, reputable hotel if you’re hosting the event at one location where everyone can stay. If you plan to hold your meeting in the same facility, check the quality of their meeting rooms and technical support. Walkable cities are a plus for meeting participants who fly in and don't wish to rent a car. Selecting a city with a range of affordable and diverse dining options is another bonus.

Getting the small details like location right is essential to the success of any meeting. Overlooking these items could cause problems and small nuisances for your guests throughout their stay, making a difference in the way they view the event and your company.

It's best to select a venue in an appealing place, one your meeting participants will look forward to experiencing. If your guests arrive looking forward to their trip, their enthusiasm will carry over into your sessions. On the other hand, if your guests arrive expecting a dull time, you will have difficulty in raising energy and enthusiasm for the meeting itself. If you must choose a smaller city or unfamiliar venue, make a point of looking up information about recreational opportunities, and provide information to "sell" the site to your meeting participants. Give people a reason to look forward to the event, wherever you choose to hold it.

Formal and Informal Activities

One way to get meeting participants interacting and involved is to schedule special events outside your specific meeting times. If you choose a unique activity or location, it will add extra verve to your event and give your guests something to both enjoy and talk about for the rest of the meeting.

Think outside the box for activities to plan in order to intrigue your guests. Look for unique tours of local attractions or facilities such as museums, galleries or historic sites. Sometimes you can get an exclusive "behind-the-scenes" or off-hours tour for your guests, who will appreciate the touch of exclusivity and ability to view an attraction with fewer people than during regular public hours.

If you hold your meeting in an area with a great climate or beautiful scenery, take advantage of the many outdoor activities. While some participants will appreciate traditional business outings such as golf, you can also look for more memorable opportunities. Horseback riding, fishing, outdoor team sports, rope and obstacle courses, walking and hiking tours of scenic areas, and other activities can get meeting participants moving, energized, and interacting with each other to build a strong sense of camaraderie.

Informal Time

Some of the best breakthroughs happen when meeting participants get together on their own time, so planning your meeting in an area with plenty of opportunities of which your guests can take advantage is a plus. If you’re holding your meeting in one location, the availability of a game room, pool or spa, restaurant, or bar can help provide a convenient place for participants to meet and socialize. Having a range of other activities and attractions nearby, either within walking or short driving distance, is also a plus. To help your guests see what's available and reduce the time they need to research, compile a list of activities at the facility or nearby and provide it alongside your meeting materials to encourage your participants to enjoy themselves.

Having a successful corporate meeting is about more than just what happens inside the sessions. Setting your event in the right place and providing the right opportunities for recreation and socializing will energize your guests and help them make strong personal—and business—connections.

Kristine Jenkins is a mom of two lovely boys, whom she lives with in Texas. Kristine is a travel enthusiast and enjoys exploring new cultures, cities and activities. Kristine writes for several travel blogs and is always eager to share her experiences with the world.