As the trend continues upward in experiential travel, planners are tasked to find a way to keep their attendees from venturing away from the conference or meeting, by providing a unique opportunity to learn something new, entice their palate, and build deeper connections with their fellow attendees. This concept has evolved well beyond the “frost your own cupcake” and “create your own granola” break packages. It has matured into precisely executed and purposeful events that engage attendees’ minds and palates on a deeper level.
For smaller groups with a time crunch, bar experiences can offer a team-building activity in lieu of a cocktail hour prior to dinner. Themed experiences can be designed around giving individuals the opportunity to create, make, muddle, pour, and taste. For example, a small group can work with one mixologist to create a Raspberry Ginger Mojito while the other small groups create a Classic Mojito and a Kumquat Mojito. Tasting is encouraged to ensure the drinks prepared are ready to be shared. The individuals build camaraderie and have fun in a relaxed environment.
Philanthropic experiences also continue to gain momentum. The Pfister Hotel’s lounge, Blu, plays host to The Celebrity BLUtender, allowing an organization to select their own “Celebrity BLUtender” who mixes drinks and serves their meeting delegates. With the assistance and encouragement of the Blu staff, the “celebrity” is the true bar professional during the evening. Multiple “celebrities” can compete for tips which are then donated to the organizations 501c3 charity of choice along with 10% of the actual bar sales.
Social media continues to play an integral role in promoting events and developing loyal attendees. Unfortunately, not every organization has the time, resources or talents to implement a social media strategy against their program. This is where we have recognized an opportunity to add value to our offerings. Tapping into the expertise of our own Social Media Manager, we can collaborate with groups to help them promote attendance prior to arrival through Facebook and Twitter and continue with attendee engagement throughout the conference and beyond.
Finally, seating arrangements in the actual meeting rooms are evolving away from the traditional classroom style seating to crescent rounds or even lounge type seating. These seating arrangements allow attendees to engage with each other during the sessions. Often, an idea presented can make an even greater impact on the attendees if they have the opportunity to engage with another attendee and discuss their interpretation of the concept and what it specifically means for them. These seating arrangements encourage social contact and idea sharing, thus cementing the content of the meeting even further.
Using the abundant talent of our chefs, mixologists, and social media experts, we have uncovered ways to continue to promote engagement and discovery. Not only does this excite planners and attendees, it challenges the hotel staff and fosters continued creativity and customer engagement, which is a win for all.
A force in the hospitality industry, Marcus Hotels & Resorts provides expertise in management, development and historic renovations. The company’s portfolio includes a wide variety of properties including city-center meeting hotels, upscale resorts and branded first-class hotels. For more information on the latest news and updates, please visit: http://media.marcushotels.com and follow the company on Facebook and Twitter (@MarcusHotels).