Eden Prairie, MN, May 2017 … In a world of visual overload, hyper technology and a “been there done that” attitude, meeting and event planners are pressured to find evermore exciting, unique and memorable events that will keep participants enthused and motivated. The old Hollywood adage, “You’re only as good as your last picture,” describes the situation well. Planners are under pressure not just to outdo the competition, but to outdo themselves, and smart venues are responding with super-charged creativity.
“What’s the coolest event you’ve ever done or experienced? This is the burning question that today’s meeting planners first ask when they are selecting a venue,” says Mike Schugt, president of Teneo Hospitality Group, the premier global sales firm representing 300+ independent and luxury branded hotels, resorts and DMCs. “Whatever the answer is, today’s planners seek to top — by far — that ‘cool event’! Why? Because it’s what meeting guests demand. An over-the-top experience engages guests in a way that promotes learning retention.”
As a hospitality sales and marketing firm, Teneo’s job is to help planners find venues that can provide a meeting experience that is productive, exclusive and exceptional. With independent luxury hotels and resorts and value-based DMCs in its portfolio, Teneo’s sales team is committed to showcasing the creativity, flexibility and authenticity that independent properties offer in a tech-driven and homogenous environment.
Teneo’s Top Venue Observations for Exceptional Meetings & Events in 2017
#1 Venues must be all things to all people.
Whether they are well-traveled, sophisticated and seasoned executives or up-and-coming millennials, attendees of all ages today demand an experiential and interactive learning process that offers a complete immersion into a destination, a venue, and the meeting content. No exceptions!
#2 Beyond the Golf Course – Spectacular Sports.
While legendary golf courses continue to be played by meeting guests, increasingly it’s action adventure that attendees are requesting and demanding. Real meeting examples include skiing on Olympic slopes, ice wall climbing, dog sledding in the winter season, and saddling up for a cattle drive and rock rappelling in the summer.
#3 Cultural Authenticity Matters.
Cultural authenticity is essential to providing a genuine travel and meeting experience, and independent hotels and DMCs are perfectly positioned to offer this. “We represent venues and destinations that offer a true sense of place, a vibrant culture and a flexible, creative atmosphere where ideas can take flight,” Mike Schugt says. For example, Teneo’s DMCs can arrange a private reception at The Tower of London to view the British Crown Jewels, a shooting party in the Scottish Highlands followed by a whisky tasting at a campus distillery, a dinner on the Great Wall of China, a lavish reception inside Beijing's Forbidden City, or closer to home a chance to sample Charleston’s fabled cuisine at a food truck rodeo then explore the Low Country's unique African-American Gullah culture. Several landmark Teneo hotels offer a deep dive into history with 21st Century meeting guests communing with legions of legendary guests from the past. “It’s more than creating team memories,” says Schugt, “although this is important. It’s providing team camaraderie in a highly unique setting that help instill connections and learning.”
Flexibility is essential to creating a memorable meeting, and independent hotels tend to have a much wider scope in what they can provide as they’re less tethered to brand corporate policies. “Planners today need to respond to rapidly changing preferences of their increasingly younger meeting attendees,” said Schugt. “What’s discussed six months out can morph into an entirely different event closer to the meeting date. Hotels and resorts and planners need to remain flexible to the increasingly spontaneous and in-the-moment preferences of today’s attendees.”
#5 The Art of the Unusual.
We’ve all heard of events in art museums, Broadway theaters or on the beach. These are terrific venues for memorable gatherings. But how about taking over a parking garage with multiple levels for a myriad of activities, or decorating a ballroom with living walls to drive home a message of sustainability to a group gathering, or renting a pier over the ocean and hosting a corporate meeting while reflecting on global warming. “This is using the art of the unusual to create powerful connections and memories. It’s a genuine, thoughtful investment in one’s team,” says Schugt.
The demand for “green” hotels and meeting experiences has grown far beyond providing organic bath products and water-saving devices. Today’s guests insist on comprehensive efforts that impact every aspect of the meeting experience – not just in the venue but on the grounds, recreational areas, surrounding beaches, woodlands, campgrounds and ski slopes. “Many of our member hotels go well beyond the eco-friendly practices that have been implemented by the lodging industry in recent years,” Mike Schugt notes. “We see practices from catch and release fishing programs to Tesla Superchargers, and of course, locally sourced food that goes from farm to table.” Schugt also sees a more relaxed atmosphere in terms of service because of the farm to table movement. “The emphasis now for events, and venues that host them, is on sourcing and healthy eating, rather than formal service.”
Venues are using their facilities for corporate and social groups to create memorable fitness and wellness programs. This can include yoga or Tai Chi on the beach, personal trainers, hikes, bike tours of city landmarks, group runs led by hotel staff and free loan of workout clothes and shoes. Some provide in-room equipment such as yoga mats and exercise bikes as well as a range of fitness apps and videos. “Like so many trends, this is millennial-driven,” says Mike Schugt. “Hotel and resort fitness centers today are far more sophisticated and interactive with a dedicated staff on duty.”
#8 Confidence & Consistency.
Events are not just for fun. They are team developers, helping unite and bond a group either leading into a meeting or hosted at its conclusion. “If you’ve ever planned a special event, or were responsible for its success, you’ll understand this,” said Schugt. “It’s always been a given that venues play a huge role in the confidence that a planner has for an event to be a resounding success. But as budgets tighten, and ROI is paramount in the minds of every client, confidence in the meeting and special event team to deliver, and the hotel with its destination’s unique ability to create a transformational experience for attendees, has never been more important.”