Meeting planners are always looking for new ways to create an environment that fosters lasting impressions. I’ve noticed an uptick of meeting professionals bringing their groups outdoors to enjoy nature, and have seen how this can help the overall success of an event. By encouraging attendees to get out of the traditional boardroom, meeting planners can find easy and fun ways to engage their group and create a setting that builds lasting connections.
I recommend that meeting planners consider the following when planning an outdoor event.
1. Start with Goals
Outline the goals of the event. For example, if planners would like their group to network, a casual and relaxing outdoor setting may help attendees to be more comfortable and encourage meaningful conversations.
Also, don’t hesitate to change it up a bit and consider moving traditional elements of the meeting agenda outdoors. For example, instead of a projected slideshow presentation, I’ve seen planners host creative and fun flip chart sessions outside in which the attendees have been fully engaged and more interactive than in a traditional boardroom setting. We’ve even held trade shows outdoors to add a new element to exhibits. Sometimes a small change in setting is all it takes to make a big difference.
2. Integrate Nature in Programming
Getting attendees outdoors can help them tap into a different part of their brains and decompress. Even if you have a content-heavy program, incorporate outdoor breaks that allow guests to enjoy the fresh air, give their minds a moment to process all of the information they’ve learned, and allow them to reset before their next set of sessions.
For example, at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa, we are rolling out “Leave Your Phone Breaks” for groups. The program encourages attendees to leave their phone behind or turn it off. We provide a 15-minute walk map that takes them through the resort’s trails to explore the natural beauty of the area.
3. Plan for Comfort
Consider the climate. A pavilion set-up provides overhead shade or extended covering that protects from the sun and is adaptable based on weather changes. When you are touring properties, evaluate opportunities for outdoor spaces as carefully as you would indoor ballrooms and breakout rooms.
I also suggest a casual dress code—there is no need to be in a suit for an outdoor function. Although several types of meeting sessions can be hosted outdoors, I’ve noticed that round table discussions encourage creative thinking better than closed, content-driven sessions. Then let the magic happen.
Ryan Galvin is the director of sales and marketing at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa. He has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 16 years, and has more than 13 years of experience planning meeting experiences for groups. Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa is located on more than 400 acres of Texas Wilderness where meeting attendees can find hiking trails, quite spaces, the music of nature, the banks of the Colorado River, and even the resort’s Longhorns “T-Bone and Ribeye,” all of which can be utilized by groups.