• Planning a dine around or pub crawl with help from a CVB
• Creating memories with local cuisine and beverages
• Build your event around your attendees
“Food is said to trigger memories, the challenge is to trigger the right memories in the right people.” Truer words were never spoken by Phillip Wanke, Director of Group Sales, Explore La Crosse, La Crosse County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Dine arounds can be the perfect way to trigger those right memories with attendees. People may not remember everything from an event, but when it comes to food, people are known to talk about a good or bad experience for years. And, what better way to create positive memories than working with the local experts at the CVB.
As Wanke knows from experience, “The personal touches count - especially with event planners! Whenever we host either a FAM tour or site visit, food and beverage are paramount. A smaller conference may want to utilize local restaurants to impress or to make someone feel at home. Larger conventions need to be assured that the local infrastructure can support their attendees’ needs. The agendas may vary but the experience is what counts.”
La Crosse, WI is considered by many to be at the center of organic foods. Hosting the largest organic farming conference (MOSES) in the nation, along with being home to Organic Valley, they are oftentimes called upon to share what they have to offer with conference organizers. Wanke notes, “Knowing the expectations up front is extremely important. We can show you farm-to-table, haute French cuisine, down home Italian, or even Norwegian lutefisk. Pre-planning the budget to the taste is vital to convey the right message.”
“When you are planning a dine around, downtown La Crosse makes it very simple. The number and variety of local restaurants is amazing allowing me to offer a great selection to attendees. The Convention Bureau helps notify the restaurants that I choose and, upon request, provides a list and brief summary of the type of cuisine offered. It’s a popular attendee activity and in La Crosse, easy to plan!”
Another alternative to the dine around is a pub crawl, an opportunity to explore local establishments with your fellow attendees in a lighthearted atmosphere.
Emily Klamm, Account Manager, with the Fargo-Moorhead CVB had one success under her belt with another one planned for fall 2016 at the time of her interview.
The inaugural event was held for the North Dakota Petroleum Council’s Annual meeting, with attendees coming in from across the country and Canada. Interested guests were bussed following the social.
For smaller events, transportation is provided from the hotel to the pub crawl. This particular group was smaller so attendees were dropped off in one central location. Klamm shares, “We liked the idea of everyone sticking together so bartenders could see the effect of the group and not have groups of one’s and two’s come in. If it was a larger group, I would recommend people starting in multiple locations or staggering transportation.”
Instead of offering transportation back to the hotel, Klamm suggested local cab companies and Uber. She decided to go this route because people never want to leave at a specific time. In an effort to please their guests she notes, “We wanted them to stay downtown and continue having fun even after the pub crawl ended.”
Klamm created a map with a special drawing as extra enticement. If guests visited each bar and received a punch, they were entered into a drawing. Participants were also instructed to wear a wristband so the bartenders knew who was participating. Each bar selected their own drink special or signature drink for the event.
Picking bars that were able to accommodate larger groups, Klamm also kept the planners suggestions in mind. “Obviously, I would like to have them go to all my favorite bars, but we wanted to keep the stops limited…Making people go to 11 bars in a few hours is not a good idea,” Klamm acknowledged.
Build your event around the number of attendees, Klamm suggests. If it’s a large group, offer a number of stops to spread attendees out. If it’s a smaller group, limit the stops and keep things intimate.
“Communities have a lot to offer and the more people who attend equals more awareness/exposure and participation from community businesses. For the planner, that means a little more leg work, but in the end a better experience for the attendees,” Klamm explained. And, better experiences equal success for everyone!
See five tips from Emily Klamm for planners considering a dine around or pub crawl at http://bit.ly/DineAroundTips.