How Walkability Makes a Difference for Meetings
Your meeting attendees are likely planning to get by without a vehicle—have you considered the walkability of your chosen event location?
Take a moment to picture your ideal meeting city. Are there exciting attractions? What about gorgeous weather? Safe crosswalks?
It’s likely that the last one didn’t make it into your daydream, but meeting pros say that the walkability of your destination can make a big difference for the attendee experience.
Beyond the health and environmental benefits of walking, which have been well-documented, hosting your meeting in a walkable area just adds to the level of satisfaction for your attendees.
To find out how walkability can make a difference at your next meeting we turned to the experts in Orlando.
Hit the Road
If you’ve got a large city in mind for your next conference destination, it is important to do your research and focus on specific neighborhoods where higher walkability is available, advised Casandra Matej, president and CEO, Visit Orlando. Your meeting attendees may be flying in for your conference, planning to get by without a vehicle—have you considered the walkability of your chosen event location?
“Here in Orlando we cover a large geographic area,” Matej said, “but the good news for meetings is that no matter where you choose to go, you’ll find a vibrant, walkable dining and entertainment area close by.”
Once you’ve honed in on a specific neighborhood or two, Matej advises looking at what amenities will be within walking distance of your meeting venue and also the host hotels. You can then match the interests of your attendees with the ideal neighborhood.
For example, for meetings hosted in Orlando’s Convention District there are more than 75 restaurants within a two-mile radius. Meanwhile the International Drive area is home to two walkable entertainment hubs: Pointe Orlando and ICON Park®.
For meetings hosted downtown, there are nightclubs and concerts at venues like the Amway Center and in the Central Business District, with a walk score of 83, most people have an average of 22 restaurants, bars and coffee shops within a five-minute walk from their front door.
“To make it easier for attendees to feel comfortable with their surroundings and safe walking to eateries and entertainment, we find it helpful to provide groups with a neighborhood or city guide that outlines what is located near an event,” Matej said.
Catch a Ride
While this article is about walkability, public transit and the walkability of a space go hand in hand. Having access to easy-to-use public transportation can open up a world of possibilities for meeting attendees looking to explore your conference destination, Matej said.
“Look for programs like Main Street America, which accredited our Orlando Main Streets program,” Matej advised. “This program makes it a snap to visit distinct eclectic neighborhoods that can help add variety and excitement to your event.”
Your local DMO or CVB can help to advise you on which neighborhoods may be the best match for your attendees, Matej said. In Orlando, sports fans may be drawn to City District and Parramore, which host a majority of the city’s professional and collegiate sporting events.
The more artsy among us might be more drawn to Ivanhoe Village Main Street with its historic homes, acclaimed dining, cultural venues, specialty shopping and funky street art.
Meanwhile, nature-lovers will enjoy the Orlando Urban Trail, which is a 3-mile path that runs from Lake Highland in Orlando to Mead Botanical Garden in Winter Park, passing six gorgeous lakes along the way.
While a bus might be your first thought when you consider public transport, there may be other options to consider as well, Matej said.
“Here in Orlando our SunRail system can help expand work and leisure offerings even further,” Matej said. “Walkable neighborhoods like South Eola and the Central Business District offer an easy way to check out extended areas of the city and region through SunRail access.”
Ask for Directions
If transportation is a concern for your attendees, Matej says it’s key to partner with your local DMO or CVB.
“We have connections with transportation vendors and can make suggestions that you may not have thought of, to make transportation an easy part of your event,” Matej said.
It’s also important to remember that the attendee experience begins even before folks step foot inside your chosen venue, Matej advised.
“Consider how attendees will be arriving at your destination. Are they flying? Maybe driving? Getting to and from your meeting will all be part of the experience” Matej said. “Getting to Orlando is quick and easy whether you’re driving from a regional location or flying into Orlando International Airport.”
If you need help picking the best, most walkable neighborhood match for your attendees, learn more and start planning your next meeting at OrlandoMeeting.com.