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Irresistible Allure: How Glitzy Locales Energize In-Person Events

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Meeting planners trying to attract attendees are relying on destinations with proven appeal for experiences that can’t be duplicated virtually.

Go big with your event, and you’ll convince your members not to stay home. 

That’s the theory many planners are testing as they organize meetings in locations known for their “rizz,” the Gen Z slang for charisma, to lure association professionals back to face-to-face events after years of virtual sessions. 

Site appeal is critical, considering 74 percent of meeting planners said that increasing attendance is the primary goal for their 2023 events, according to the latest industry data from Omnipress. 

When members learn an event will be held in a location that they don’t find particularly intriguing, they might be inclined to take a pass, said Don Ross, vice president of meeting operations for the Las Vegas region of Caesars Entertainment. “But when it’s in Las Vegas or another really cool destination, they’re going to come,” he said. 

Although attendees will be at your sessions, he noted, they’re also drawn by the opportunity to explore the destination at night. 

Theme Park for Grown-Ups’ 

“When you come to Vegas, you’ve got a theme park for grown-ups with the restaurants and the shows,” said Ross, who moved to the city himself after falling in love with it during a weekend jaunt more than 30 years ago. “Our customers for years and years have told us that their best attendance is when they come to Las Vegas.” 

That may be even more true now, as in-person events are virtually impossible to replicate digitally, meetings organization IACC explained in a recent report. 

As American Express noted in its global meetings and events forecast for 2023, members want to spend time together at in-person events for better bonding and more professional development. 

Access to authentic local experiences ranked fourth in a list of most important factors in achieving event objectives, according to IACC’s global survey of meeting planners, behind education and content, networking with colleagues from the event, and the venue’s physical characteristics. 

There’s another factor at play, too. 

Conference organizers say one way they plan to boost attendance is by bringing in more first-time attendees, particularly young professionals, something that Omnipress found was important to 93 percent of survey respondents. 

High Demand for Culture and Cuisine 

Catching their interest, according to a number of studies, requires offering an experience they find irresistible—in other words, something with plenty of rizz. 

Next-generation eventgoers, a term for professionals ages 20 to 44, are “showing a clear preference for physically coming together, but that does not mean they want a standardized experience,” according to a report on trends in the first three months of 2023 from the event company Freeman. 

Instead, they’re seeking “personalized experiences that provide them flexibility and the promise of culture and cuisine,” and they want to feel that they’re getting to customize both their networking and what they’re learning, the Freeman report said. “Their time is their most valuable asset, and they want to spend it wisely.” 

Like other first-tier cities, Las Vegas has a wealth of options well suited to that strategy, Ross said. Celebrity chef restaurants, such as Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen, Amalfi by Bobby Flay, and Nobu, and world-class entertainers, including Adele, Jerry Seinfeld, and Criss Angel, add up to an alluring destination, particularly for next-generation eventgoers who are earlier in their careers. 

However, combining ambitious goals for events with the limitations imposed by budgets and rising inflation does create a challenge for planners trying to put together a successful event, American Express acknowledged. 

Budget Considerations 

Caesars helps planners take on the challenge in part through its nine Las Vegas hotels, which allow the company to offer a price point for many organizations, Ross said. 

Staff at the destination can also offer suggestions to tailor events to a planner’s budget, such as providing a continental breakfast instead of a full-buffet lunch, while still accentuating spots where “they really get a wow factor,” Ross said. 

Las Vegas’ abundance of entertainment options means that planners can not only offer networking opportunities in traditional settings, such as afternoon receptions, but also give guests a chance to make their own connections afterward without a formal networking session. 

“From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., they can conduct business, go to a tradeshow, and interact with other professionals in their industry,” Ross said. “Then, in the evening, they can go out and experience what Las Vegas is built on, which is great restaurants and great entertainment.” If a gleam of razzle-dazzle can lure in attendees, the investment may be a sure winner. 

Caesars Entertainment offers meeting and event planners one dedicated team, united nationwide, committed to providing the most successful meeting experiences possible. With one call or email, planners have access to 50+ properties, with 2.1 million square feet of meeting space and more than 60,000 guest rooms. To learn more and explore everything Caesars Entertainment has to offer, please visit CaesarsMeansBusiness.com.

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