Aligning meeting content to your host destination provides greater opportunity for attendees and business value for your organization.
When it comes to selecting the perfect destination for your association’s meeting, you’re sure to mull over plenty of factors. How accessible is the location for non-locals? What are the best spots for attendees to unwind after a busy day? What can you do to keep costs low? All of these considerations (and many more) keep meeting planners up at night. But there’s one critical factor that’s often overlooked: How will the destination you choose align with your meeting content? Your destination should reflect the mission, values and interests of your organization. Otherwise, you might as well be picking a spot at random.
Not sure if your host destination matches your meeting content? This checklist will help you determine whether you’ve picked a winner or you need to go back to the drawing board. Here’s what to look for in your next conference destination:
1. A Strong Industry Ecosystem. Your conference’s host city doesn’t have to be big or flashy to serve delegates’ needs. But it should be recognized as an industry leader with regard to your meeting content. To gauge whether a destination has the ecosystem to support your event, look at sector-specific data: companies headquartered in a prospective city, trends in economic growth, workforce numbers and other statistics. All these facts and figures point to the strength of local industry. As a benchmark, use Canada’s largest life science center of excellence, Toronto. The city’s robust ecosystem is supported by more than 36,000 people working in dozens of biotech, medical research, medical device and pharmaceutical companies, along with more than 1,400 research labs for clinical trials. While a host city can’t be all things to all associations, it should resonate with your own organization.
2. A Community of Support. Planning a meeting in an unfamiliar host city can be daunting. Even if you’ve visited once or twice, how can you ensure that you’re creating the best possible experience for attendees? Local experts who are tuned into a city’s offerings can help you see the benefits to holding your conference there. Seek out tourism and hospitality programs with connections across multiple sectors, which will make for a well-rounded conference and seamless networking. For your conference specifically, ambassadors should be up to date on what’s happening in your industry and offer recommendations for things to see and do based on meeting content.
3. A Great Hosting Reputation. Any city you choose should have an excellent hosting reputation, especially when it comes to welcoming visitors in your specific industry. What events related to your meeting content has a city recently hosted, and how were they received by attendees? What have other visitors said about their time there? Do some research to get a sense for how well a potential host city would accommodate your association and its members. The right host city will be eager to help you hold a memorable event.
4. Relevant Resources. For delegates, sometimes the most valuable experiences take place outside the meeting venue. When comparing conference destinations, pay attention to the supplemental resources that add another level of engagement for attendees. Universities, research institutions, museums and sites of historical significance are all excellent sources of information and provide countless opportunities for experiential learning. Canadian universities, many of which house world-renowned research institutions, are great examples of off-site resources for life science conferences to benefit from. See if there are ways for delegates to immerse themselves in meeting content with offsite activities such as a museum workshop, roundtable with university researchers or speed pitching event at a local business incubator.
5. An Environment that Reflects Meeting Content.Attendees will know the difference between a host destination that claims to uphold your association’s mission and one that truly walks the walk. Delegates want to be in a place that prides itself research and innovation, where stakeholders across sectors work together to foster industry growth. They’ll want to take advantage of industry resources that are easily accessible to them. Attendees will also want to see how a host city lives up to its industry reputation in everyday life. A destination that fully embodies your meeting content will feel like a community that truly welcomes your attendees.
The right destination will exemplify your meeting content in all facets of community life. If it’s clear that a host city can provide the resources and support to elevate your association’s message, you’ll know that you’ve made the right choice.
This article is brought to you by Business Events Canada. Learn more about planning your next life science event in Canada, or reach out directly to receive our knowledge maps, designed to help you determine exactly which city is the best fit for your meeting content.