How a Destination Change Saved an Annual Meeting
A new destination provided a more simple, crowd-pleasing alternative.
The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation historically held its annual, three-day meeting near its suburban Philadelphia headquarters, drawing an average of 1,600 to 1,800 attendees. But while it made geographical sense for the group to hold a meeting in its hometown, the organization faced a venue problem—and it was causing attendance to stagnate.
“The previous venue had become a detriment to the event,” its freelance producer Dean Jones explains. “It was in disrepair. But it was the only affordable nearby option that met the organization’s needs, so there was reason to look elsewhere.”
When CCEF’s leaders acknowledged the need to relocate, Jones encouraged them to look just down the East Coast to Virginia Beach, VA. He was a fan of the Virginia Beach Convention Center’s conference facilities and the area’s beautiful natural landscape, and had seamless past experiences producing events at the destination.
“Virginia Beach has a really great team to work with at the convention center and the visitor’s bureau,” Jones says. “In my experience, they’ve always risen to the occasion to help solve problems and meet needs. Plus It was an easy move for most of our attendees and me; just a three-hour drive.”
The new location turned out to be an ideal location, leading to a climb in conference attendance. The group has now met at the Virginia Beach Convention Center three times—with a 2024 proposal on the table, too. Here’s why it works so well.
An Easy-to-Navigate Venue
Over time, CCEF’s meeting attendance had stalled. “Attendees told the organization they really liked the content, but said the previous venue was tired, in need of refurbishment, and difficult to navigate,” Jones explains. To streamline and improve the attendee experience, he sought a venue that addressed these issues and was still within the organization’s budget.
The Virginia Beach Convention Center is “streamlined” and “beautifully designed, ” Jones says. “You can walk in the front and basically see from one end to the other—not because it’s little, but because it is open, and that makes it really easy for attendees to navigate.”
Staff Streamlining The building’s navigability also eliminates the need for beefed-up staffing and volunteer coordination. And that’s a boon to the organization’s bottom line. “One of the reasons I love it is because it allows us to reduce the number of staff and volunteers that we need,” Jones says. “We don’t have to do as much hand-holding and we don’t have to invest in as much as signage.”
The Virginia Beach location also provides lower labor costs for setup, rigging and other staff-related costs compared to the previous location, Jones notes.
Cost Savings and Simplified Production
The venue also offers a standout ballroom, which simplified work for the production team, and substantially reduced audiovisual production costs, as well as the cost for drape and decor. For example, electric rigging points eliminated the need to hire riggers. “Rigging points can be lowered to you, so you don’t have to hire somebody to climb up on ladders and scaffolding,” Jones explains.
Jones also cites the convention center’s acoustics and adaptable lighting as infrastructural improvements that created a better meeting experience overall.
Jones says the meeting’s new destination also offers a major additional incentive: the ocean. “It’s an attendance builder,” Jones says. “The chance to spend your free time on the oceanfront gets people’s attention.”
Overall, Jones says, the move was just what the meeting needed and what its constituents had been seeking: Attendee feedback is positive—and so is the attendance trajectory.
For more ideas on how Virginia Beach can boost your attendance and simplify your next meeting or event, visit visitvirginiabeach.com/meetings.