Selecting the perfect destination for your business event

Darlene Lyons

Whether your attendees are frequent flyers or your event is the only one they attend each year, it’s important to select a destination that meets their needs (and surpasses their expectations). But selecting a city for your conference, event or sales meeting can be tricky if you haven’t done it before.

Experts from CVENT, an event technology company, recently finished analyzing data from across the country to determine the top 50 meeting destinations across the U.S. Here are their top 10 locations, which were determined based on the number of booked hotel rooms; the number of proposal requests sent out for events in various cities; and the number of meetings that were actually booked.

The top 10 cities for meeting destinations are:

  1. Orlando, FL

  2. Washington, DC

  3. Las Vegas, NV

  4. Miami, FL

  5. Chicago, IL

  6. San Diego, CA

  7. Phoenix, AZ

  8. Atlanta, GA

  9. Dallas, TX

  10. New Orleans, LA

Of course, not every event needs 1,000 booked hotel rooms or to compete against the biggest conference with the biggest budgets. When planning an event and picking the location, consider the below questions and then reach out to an event specialist. They’ll be able to guide you through the selection process and to direct you toward venues that best suit your needs.

1. How many attendees are you expecting?

First, determine how many attendees you expect the event to draw in. Ask yourself if you want to issue a cap on attendance, or if you’d like to accommodate as many folks as are interested.

The reason for this question coming first is simple: If you are hosting a “mega” event, one where many thousands of attendees are expected, your location options will be more limited. By narrowing down the cities and venues that can accommodate these large events, you’ll have a better chance of finding a suitable location. If you are hosting a smaller event, you can still plan your event in these popular locations — or you can look at smaller cities and more unique venues.

2. Is this a recurring event?

Some events are hosted annually, and the host must decide if the event will always be anchored in the same city, or if the destination will change each year. There are pros and cons to each decision.

  • By hosting in the same city each year, you will likely be able to negotiate better rates with the venue. Your team will also be able to create processes they can repeat each year, rather than having to start from scratch with a new venue and vendors every year.

  • By changing locations each year, your costs may go up as you book new destinations and work to map out unique events. However, you may also be able to draw in new attendees who want to visit that city or who live in close proximity.

3. Why are attendees coming? How can the event live up to their expectations?

Every event attendee will have a slightly different reason for attending the event. Whether they came for the onstage sessions, to catch up with old industry friends or simply to get a break from the grind at home, you’ll want to be sure you have sessions and attractions that make the trip worth it.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to start narrowing down potential event locations:

  • Is my event in the winter and if so, should it be in a warm weather destination?

  • Do I want my attendees to have to obtain a passport, or should it be in a domestic U.S. location?

  • Do we plan to entertain the audience during the day and night, in a contained event? Or should we select a city where it will be easy for them to find things to do when the daytime agenda concludes?

4. Is there a meaningful location we should consider?

If your company is proudly headquartered in one city, you may wish to invite your event attendees to come to you. That way, you can host tours of your office, book intimate dinners at your favorite restaurants and execute on other thoughtful ideas that can only come from a true local.

If you have a nationwide presence, you may also wish to rotate your event between cities where you have an office location. This is a new trend among real estate franchises who host conferences, and it allows a broker office to be designated as an honorary “host” for the event.

Selecting the right location

Once you’ve asked yourself these questions, you will likely be on track toward determining the right location for your next event. Keep in mind, though, that event venues are booking well into 2025 at this point, so you’ll have to move fast if you want to execute an event in the next few years.

At T3 Events Group, we not only understand which cities may be ideal for your planned event, we also have insider knowledge on venues with availability. Reach out any time for a no-obligation discussion with a dedicated event expert. Whether you need us to plan and execute the entire event or to scout potential locations, we are here to help.

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