Rolling hills of green, lush foliage, sparkling pools, softly lit spas, plush robes and warm, cozy slippers… sounds like a VIP experience during a premier event at one of the Midwest’s resort destinations, doesn’t it?
After years of cost-cutting and bare-bones budgets, some groups are looking ahead, planning for a better future, and working to inspire leaders and key players to help make it happen. Better yet, some of those inspiring experiences are coming back to Midwest resort destinations. So how do you make the most of your group’s time at a resort? Check out some of the special touches that have scored points with attendees and bolstered enthusiasm to reach goals.
“Room deliveries are a must for our incentives, and we do them nightly,” Frank says. “For example, we have for several years purchased Swarovski crystal collectible pieces. For those who have been on multiple programs, we hear they love to see what addition to their collection [they’ll receive next]. Also, our first night delivery is a welcome basket, which includes food items that may be local to the area, as well as a mix of beverages, such as a local brew or wine and bottled water. Other nights, they usually include a wearable item with an embroidered program logo, a coffee table book of the location, [and a] note stating they will receive a package post-program containing perhaps a wine shipment or logo’d glassware.”
For a smaller group, like a board of directors, you might consider personalizing gift items based on your guests’ unique needs. For example, if you know Mr. Smith likes Rémy Martin and dark chocolates and that Ms. Brown likes Perrier and fresh fruit, you can treat them each to the personal touches that create memories.
You can also work with the resort staff to coordinate tastes of the region. Are you meeting in an area known for a certain food or beverage? Ask your concierge to put together a locally themed basket, or make a group activity out of it. Lani Becker, CAE, associate executive director of the Wisconsin Dental Association, recently conducted a fundraiser featuring a “Wall of Wine.” Individuals paid $20 for a chance to pick a cork, and each cork bore a winning number that corresponded to a bottle of wine on the wall.
To take it a step further, most resorts have wine and food experts onsite, who can participate in creating sensory experiences for your attendees. For example, chefs or sommeliers might set up stations to allow your attendees to interact with one another while learning about culinary pairings - and enjoying them firsthand.
Spring or summer event? Look to the outdoors to unwind. Becker plans an annual summer event that entails as many outdoor activities as possible.
“Our June board meeting is family oriented, so we tend to find a place that has family activities available,” she notes. “We have arranged charter fishing trips, golf outings, spa services, trap shooting, mini golf, bonfires, and even hot air ballooning. The more unusual the event, the more they enjoy it, especially if it is something they wouldn’t normally do on their own. For example, I coordinated a trip to The Gun Store, where [participants] could shoot machine guns. They talked about it for weeks after!”
Isn’t that the ultimate goal of every event? Keep your attendees talking, and you might see them adopting new outlooks, adapting to changes, and, most importantly, exceeding organizational goals.