You walk in to the first planning meeting for an upcoming offsite. You sit down with your team with a cup of coffee and your trusted notebook. What is the first thing you discuss? For most planners, the answer will be: destination.
Choosing a destination is an important first step to planning any offsite meeting and there are many factors to take into consideration. The type of meeting, your attendees; demographics and budget are just a few elements that come into play. These considerations will help you determine whether a coastal, urban, rural or suburban atmosphere is best for your group.
Let’s say you decide that your program is best suited for a bustling city. New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Orlando and Chicago are often the first that come to mind. These cities are all immensely popular and for good reason. They offer unique cultures, substantial airports, sizable convention centers and thriving culinary scenes.
These are the first-tier cities of the meetings industry. And while they are phenomenal choices, some groups will find looking outside the realm of the “first tier” surprisingly rewarding. Below are a few reasons second-tier cities are making an impact on the meetings industry and why you may want to consider them for your next offsite.
Have A Strict Budget?
First-tier cities are popular and while that can positively impact attendee interest, it can also negatively impact your bottom line. As is true in most industries, the higher the demand—the higher the cost. From meeting space and room rental to F&B and A/V, hosting a program in a first-tier city can easily put you over your budget.
Second-tier cities are a great alternative that can provide almost everything first-tier cities have to offer at a fraction of the price. If you have a strict budget but also want to impress your attendees, a second-tier city could be your golden ticket.
Concerned About Safety?
Safety has always been a concern for the meetings industry. Whether you are planning a regional board meeting or a national convention, ensuring the safety of your attendees should always be top of mind. These days, however, safety is prominently factoring into the destination decision making process. This is particularly true for those traveling to cities they are less familiar with. Second-tier cities are generally smaller and less populated than first-tier cities which allows planners and their hotel partners to have a stronger handle on what’s happening in the area. If you are concerned about safety, consider a quieter city.
Is Ease of Transportation a Decision Factor?
For some programs, catching multiple flights or driving two hours from airport to hotel is no big deal. For others, direct flights and short drive times are a must. As the number of domestic flights to smaller locations continues to increase, the easier it becomes to access second-tier cities. If ease of transportation is a decision factor for your group, second-tier cities are no longer out of the question.