You want your meetings to be big—in ideas, enthusiasm, and attendance. But you don’t have to go to a big city to achieve that.
Midsize cities don’t always have the “household name” attractions of major cosmopolitan destinations. What you and your attendees get in return, though, is worth it. Hospitality, ease of navigation, better price points, all without giving up access to airports, culture, and rich history? Maybe it’s time to think outside the big city box. Cities with populations under 500,000—such as Columbia, South Carolina, which serves as the state’s capital as well as home to nearly 140,000 residents—have a lot to offer meeting planners. Here are three reasons to host your next event in a midsize city:
1. Smaller cities are more cost-effective.
Money isn’t everything, but it’s an important thing—especially when you’re asking a large number of people from a cross section of economic situations to show up.
“You have such a broad range of people who are involved,” said Susan Marie Jones, president of the South Carolina Beekeepers Association, which hosted a recent meeting in Columbia, citing not only varying levels of education but also a wide financial demographic.
When deciding where your event is going to be, you’re also determining the cost to your organization and every would-be attendee. If you’re asking people to spend $400 per night for a hotel room in an expensive metropolis, you’ll be pricing a lot of people out.
When it comes to what would sway her toward or against an event location, Jones said, “top of the list is affordability.”
Midsize cities hit that mark. Even better, the lower price tags found in smaller cities don’t mean you’re in for a “cheap” event—they mean you’re able to maximize your funds and have more people share in the experience you’ve planned.
“We look for the most value for the money,” Jones said. “We want accommodations that are close, affordable hotels … we want to have parking. We’re bringing vendors in, so we need places to park box trucks, trucks, and trailers. [We also want] restaurants close and affordable.”
Renting out a Major League Baseball stadium may bankrupt your organization, but that doesn’t mean you can’t gather in a smaller city at a minor league stadium with meeting space overlooking the field, such as Segra Park in Columbia. That kind of bang for your buck—and the bucks of your attendees—is something you’ll be hard-pressed to find in large metropolitan meccas.