Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Top 5 Tips for Destination Planning for Groups

George Baggott
Canyonlands National Park
When I turned 40, I wanted to be in one of the most beautiful places I knew...Moab, Utah.   I had visited there with my husband shortly after we married and we have returned many times.  We have spent our most memorable family vacations with the children there, and so there wasn't much agonizing over a choice for me. I had planned a killer event for my husband in Yosemite the summer before so people were jazzed to join in on this trip too.

We had the best time!   Having now done a couple of successful trips, I was thinking that people might benefit from my top 5 tips for destination event planning.

1. Pick a place that is easy for your guests to reach.  Find places that are centrally located, that you can travel to by car, a place close to home or close to airports.  The more remote the location, the higher the hurdle for your invited guests to join you. When I chose Moab, I knew that its location would make it more difficult for my friends to join.  I tried to make traveling there easier by pairing up people who had similar travel dates, helping them to reserve airfare, and by reserving rental cars and organizing the drive with people arriving at the airport at the same time.  One central person helping with the travel arrangements made a big difference for the folks who were attending.

On the road to Moab, Utah
2. Pick a destination that has something for everyone.  Outdoors activities, shopping, kid entertainment - not everyone wants to do the same things so some advance preparations will make for an awesome trip.  You don't have to actually arrange different activities (although that can kick things up a notch for your guests), but just gathering information and availability will make your guests' decision-making tasks easier.  If there isn't going to be things of interest for some of your attendees, tell them up front what to expect, so that no one is upset with the destination's lack of a particular activity.

3. Chose a location that has a large array of accommodations.  Some people want something cheap and some people are going to want something high end with a hot tub.  Everyone needs something different and so having a location that has different accommodations within the same area or complex is perfect.

Miguel's Baja Grill
Moab, Utah
4. Plan group meals in advance.  Trying to figure out where to eat at the end of the day is more difficult and having one daily pre-planned event where the group comes together is so fun. Even if you aren't making group reservations every night, it makes sense to have a list of the restaurants that can accommodate larger groups so quick group decisions can be made.  I also like to plan one special meal for the group and think that if people are traveling to honor you, it is appropriate for you to host a group meal to thank everyone for coming.  That meal can be breakfast, lunch or dinner, or anything you can dream up - don't limit yourself!

5. Start planning early!  Destination events take a long time to arrange.  If you are planning to be at a location during its peak season, start planning one (1) year out.  Start with reserving accommodations because those tend to be harder to secure than any of the other details.   Keep good records of who has paid you. Keeping the money portion easy for your guests will make this trip easy to attend.

Let me know where you end up going with these tips, and if you are planning a destination event in Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto or Redwood City, please go to EventCounselor.com for more information on where to stay and where to eat.

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