As downtown locations are typically the epicenter of the best food, attractions, and cultural experiences a destination has to offer, planners can broaden their options by considering a venue located in the heart of the city. Not only do centrally-located venues allow easy access to exciting and interactive opportunities for groups to fully experience and take advantage of the destination, they are typically the most convenient meeting destinations.
Unlimited Access to Unique Activities
When planners choose to host a meeting at a downtown location, they have limitless opportunities when it comes to arranging distinctive activities for their group. From tours of the city and scavenger hunts to find the area’s most iconic attractions to cooking classes with popular local chefs, planners can be creative in finding ways to get their attendees involved and engaged.
With the ever-growing trend of incorporating the local culture of a destination into meetings and events, downtown venues also provide easy access to culturally-immersive experiences that showcase the true heart of the destination. For example, baseball is a major part of the culture and history of St. Louis, and with Busch Stadium located only a few blocks from our property. The hotel provides a variety of group tours and Cardinal-themed experiences that attendees could not get anywhere else.
Cater to Convenience
In addition to easy access to incredible experiences, downtown destinations provide more convenience for attendees. For example, most centrally-located areas are hubs for all forms of public transportation from taxis and ride sharing companies to trains and buses, allowing for easy access to the airport or any offsite events.
Based on my experience I’ve found that attendees typically want to be within walking distance of where the action of the city is in order to really immerse themselves in a destination, especially if it is somewhere they have not been before. With a busy meeting schedule, it is important for meeting planners to consider a destination that offers virtually effortless access to a city’s hot spots for people to be able to quickly and easily explore outside of the venue.
Things to Consider
While downtown venues are ideal for hosting inspiring and dynamic meetings, there are several things that planners should keep in mind. I always recommend that planners work with their prospective venue to get a calendar of important dates and events for the city. Urban locations often have a lot going on that could possibly affect a meeting and make the area too busy for comfort. I recommend looking out for and being aware of things like large festivals and food events which attract many people to the area and may make it more difficult for attendees to explore the city or focus on the program.
As downtown areas can be a busy tourist hub, I also suggest planners look into booking their meeting during the city’s off-peak or shoulder seasons when the weather is still nice but there is less tourist traffic.
Jennifer Byrnes is the director of sales and marketing at Hyatt Regency St. Louis at The Arch. She has worked with Hyatt for more than 15 years and has overseen sales and marketing and planning of meetings at the company’s downtown St. Louis location since 2015.