by Susan Smolarek, Director of Group Sales, VISIT Lake Geneva
I often hear meeting planners say, “My budget is only X dollars” or “I wish my budget was bigger.” My response, “Let’s embrace the budget you have and get creative to exceed your organization's goals.” Yes, it is possible to produce an effective meeting with a limited budget.
Here are some of the ways VISIT Lake Geneva in Wisconsin guides meeting planners to eliminate budget frustration.
Consider Smaller Towns
Holding an offsite or destination meeting in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin has some distinct advantages over bigger cities such as Milwaukee and Chicago. The affordability of holding a meeting in a smaller town typically shines through with less logistical planning challenges, lower hotel and sales taxes, and no big parking challenges or fees.
Be Open to Traditional & Non-Traditional Space
Just because a market is small, it doesn’t mean large-scale venues are not available. Lake Geneva has plenty of large-scale traditional space found at full service resorts and hotels such as Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, The Abbey Resort, Lake Lawn Resort and The Ridge Hotel. Small markets also offer non-traditional or unique space that is great for creating memorable meetings.
In Lake Geneva, Studio Winery and Staller Estates Winery welcomes groups for business meetings, corporate retreats, teambuilding, fundraisers, and more. Lake Geneva Cruise Line’s eight beautiful boats serve as meeting, cocktail hour, and dinner space. Or Lake Geneva’s Tristan Crist Magic Theatre offers theater style meeting space followed by a magic show. Rosewood, the areas newest entertainment and event venue, offers casually elegant space for meetings, dining, and live or video entertainment.
“I would not have known this venue (Rosewood dinner theater and entertainment) was here, if I didn’t work with VISIT Lake Geneva.” - Judy Ellegood, Bell Flavors & Fragrances
Bell Flavors & Fragrances booked their event at The Abbey Resort and enjoyed Rosewood, Staller Estates Winery, Geneva Inn, a boat cruise with Lake Geneva Cruise Line, paddle boarding with Clearwater Outdoor, dinner at Café Calamari, and more.
Determine Essentials and Non-essentials
Is it essential that lunch be served the more costly sit-down style with a planned menu and wait staff or could you have a buffet style lunch? Is it possible to reduce speaker fees by choosing a local speaker vs. flying someone in and paying for transportation?
Use “Free” Destination Experiences
To help manage budgets, VISIT Lake Geneva suggests planners include “free” destination experiences for their groups. One of the favorites in Lake Geneva is the Geneva Lake Shore Path. The 21-mile walking path around the lake, typically broken down into three-mile segments, gives groups the opportunity to walk through the back yards of striking century-old mansions built by Chicago notables including the Wrigleys (of chewing gum fame), Swift (meatpacking mogul), and Selfridge (founder of Selfridges and Co. department store).
Take advantage of the fact that many organizations would love to get their name in front of your audience without having to pay exorbitant advertising fees. Create sponsorship opportunities to help with the printing of your program or development of your event specific mobile app.
Meeting planners working with smaller markets will experience individualized attention and their groups will find a small community vibe. Lake Geneva, just an hour or so drive from Milwaukee and Chicago, welcomes groups as if they were old friends and offers a walkable downtown, preserved history, and a slower pace. VISIT Lake Geneva is always ready to help planners. For meeting planning support or to book a hotel/resort for your group, call (262) 812-0022 or visit http://www.visitlakegeneva.com/meetings/