The Meeting Planner’s Checklist for New Destinations

As a meeting planner, you are charged with creating a program that engages your attendees, satisfies your bosses and stays within the limit of your budget. Every event is a balancing act that requires thorough research, intense organization and an understanding of everyone’s expectations. This can be difficult enough when planning in your own backyard—now say your group has decided to host next year’s program in a new city—one you are utterly unfamiliar with. To some, this may sound daunting. To others, it may be the excitement they’ve been looking for. Either way, our team is here to help!

Below you will find a checklist of the most important items to understand about your new destination. Start by researching these aspects and you will lay the groundwork for a successful event.

New Destination Checklist

  • Local Airports
    Determine which airport(s) are nearest your destination. Take a peek at both the direct and connecting flights to and from your attendees’ home bases. Check on the distance from the airport to the final destination as well as average travel times based on local traffic patterns.
  • Seasonality
    Research the destination’s highs, lows and seasons, and cross check them with your preferred and alternative dates.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics
    Do a little digging and discover what the city or region is known for in order to determine if it will be a good fit for your program’s goals and attendees’ preferences. Distinguishing characteristics can include regional cuisine, local art and architecture, historical events, terrain to name a few.
  • Safety
    Look for any recent travel advisories for the area. Generally, if you are looking in a tier-one or tier-two city or region, safety will not be a concern.
  • Activities
    Explore all activities the destination has to offer. This includes outdoor adventures, trips to the theater or a local art gallery, organized team-building activities or even a shopping spree!
  • Weather
    Similar to the seasonality category, ensure that you understand the typical weather patterns so that you can determine which activities will work best over your dates and when you may need to have a contingency plan in place.
  • Cost
    Seek out data showing how much it costs, on average, to host a meeting in your new destination. Look into room rates, meeting space rental, F&B minimums, transportation and A/V. This way, you can intelligently negotiate your contracts and accurately determine your budget.
  • Walkability/Transportation
    Understand how your attendees will get from place to place within your destination.

Where To Look

  • DMCs
    Destination Management Companies are great resources for planners. They know the ins-and-outs of their destination and will ensure you leave no stone unturned when compiling your research.
  • Travel Sites
    Travel sites, such as TripAdvisor, present candid reviews relating to destinations including restaurants, hotels and transportation.

Travel Blogs
Travel blogs are normally written from a first-person perspective and are often focused on leisure travel as opposed to the meeting industry, however, they can give their readers a true feeling of the destination.

Shelley Griffin

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