The vast ocean itself, with curling breakers collapsing into spray and foam and rhythmically, hypnotically rolling up the white, sugar-fine sand, again and again and again, inspires the imagination like almost nothing else. Add a limitless blue sky and sunlight as warm and pure as a field of yellow poppies, and you’ve got the natural makings for never-to-be-forgotten meetings and events.
Meeting professionals who work the sand-n-surf territory agree that beaches offer event and recreation possibilities unmatched by other types of locations. At the same time, they caution that beaches come with their own set of rules. The savvy professional knows how to make the most of the “Surf’s Up!” environment while providing event attendees with maximum comfort and safety at the same time.
The activity opportunities are almost as boundless as the water and sky: from black-tie, “barefoot elegance” evening events to “bikinis-n-baggies” beach volleyball; from a group snorkel trip to a group “snuba”; from clambakes to classes in tide pool ecology.
“A beach is a chance for a group to have a really unique experience,” says Carrie Pohlhammer, partner/owner of Integrated Events in Southern California. “In my work I’ve seen that most people want to do something no one else has done; they don’t want a been-there/done-that experience. Especially if the group is from someplace where there isn’t a beach nearby, you can give them something they’ll really remember, that’ll give them some bragging rights back home, where they can say ‘Hey, guess what I did at the beach during our meeting in California?’ ”
Michela Dimond, who is now the director of corporate events for Help-U-Sell Real Estate and who previously was with Marriott Caribbean-Mexico Resorts recalls “The best beach event that I ever helped organize was a seafood feast at a little inlet cove on the Oregon coast. We had fishermen in little dorry boats take people out to go crabbing, and other people went clam-digging. Everyone sat on big driftwood logs to eat this wonderful food. It was absolutely fabulous, and everyone said they’d never forget it. It’s not often that a real-estate franchise owner gets the chance to lift a crab pot into a boat.”
Pohlhammer says that choosing the right beach recreation or putting together the right kind of beach event means that a meeting professional needs to observe and listen closely to the client. “With a beach event you’ve got to make sure the event fits the culture of the company or organization. Out here in California we take it for granted that everyone enjoys the outdoors, but not everyone does. Is the client interested in a team-building event or a culture-building event? Is this a recreation-oriented incentive meeting or a serious meeting with
multiple seminars and workshops?
Will the attendees need an event to cut loose a little and let their hair down—the beach is great for that—or are they expecting something a little more formal?”