In part one, we discussed what to keep in mind when determining the ideal destination for a memorable, must-attend event. Bottom line is to provide lots of local flavor! Ideally local flavor is built in to the destination so you don’t have to create it yourself. Now, let’s look at a few ways to add those special finishing touches to guarantee your event is irresistible.
Sprinkle in some free time
When you pick the right destination, you won’t need to worry about filling attendees’ free time. In Alexandria, Virginia the Mount Vernon Trail beckons runners, walkers and cyclists with 18 miles of waterfront vistas. Tons of local walking tours, like Fetching Photos for shutterbugs and Discover Alexandria, take visitors around town combining fresh air with a little local knowledge. Attendees can also catch some live entertainment at the legendary Birchmere or in the pubs and restaurants spread throughout the city.
Image credit: L Barnes for Visit Alexandria
Mix in some local characters
Bringing in resident speakers or representatives is a great way to add local color to your event. Alexandria’s abundant history makes for a great resource. How about inviting George and Martha Washington or Thomas Jefferson to your reception? The city’s Town Crier is also available to help shout out a meeting call. And Alexandria’s proximity to Washington D.C. means a pool of the nation’s policy makers are close by. The dedicated team at Extraordinary Alexandria is happy to help you retain the perfect representative for your event.
Image credit: K. Summerer for Visit Alexandria
Add a little pre- and post-leisure travel
Everyone likes to add on personal time to their business trip these days. And a destination with lots to offer can help tip the scales in your favor when it comes time to decide whether or not to attend. Alexandria’s location makes it an ideal base to explore the Capital Region, from D.C. to wine country to the mountains of Shenandoah National Park. You’ll also find a wealth of local events and festivals to plan around like the King Street Art Festival in the fall or Historic Garden Week in the spring. The team at Extraordinary Alexandria can assist you in negotiating an extension of your hotel meeting rate to make it even easier for your attendees to come early or stay late.
Give them a sample
Many destinations offer amazing images and 360° experiences so attendees can explore the city digitally in advance and whet their appetite. Alexandria just launched Visit Alexandria 360, a virtual reality experience that can easily be included as a link in a meeting invite. You can also offer potential attendees the option to check out the destination on Facebook or Instagram or link to the website for a full preview.
Wrap it up with a local reminder
A locally made or branded gift is a perfect reminder of their time in town. Fill their goodie bag with a little something from The Old Town Shop. Or provide a logo customized bag of popcorn from Popped Republic.
Insider Tip: Want to learn more from industry pros? Sign up for MPI’s Going Local certificate course and discover how to incorporate more local elements into your meeting programs.
Header image by C. Davidson for Visit Alexandria