Taking a local approach to planning an event can save you time and money, and leave a lasting effect on your destination long after your event is over. In the planning stages, it’s always good practice to see how you can involve the local community in your program. Many times, due to the nature of your organization’s structure, you may only be able to involve them indirectly—but that still means something. Begin to cultivate a locavore state of mind with three things: vendors, attendees and giveback.
Identifying local vendors to provide products and services can save you money on goods for your event. In the past, I have used local printers, production companies, general contractors, florists, security services, transportation companies and entertainers in the host city. No shipping costs, availability of extra product if needed last minute and a regional vendor’s working knowledge of a facility are invaluable.
Meetings always leave an economic imprint on a host city, but as an organization with a higher purpose, you may want to leave a community knowing you had a positive influence on its culture too. Opening your event to the public is a way to do this if your organization’s policies allow it. Marketing to local churches or faith-based organizations will help increase attendance and membership, as well as expose the community to programs it may never have otherwise experienced.
Additionally, I work with the local CVB to identify nearby charities that we can assist. Giveback is an important part of any meeting, and the CVB can suggest organizations your group may be best suited to contribute to or volunteer at.
Mark Smith, CMP is a meetings manager for Rejuvenate Marketplace, produced by Collinson Media & Events.
Photo credit: Chris Savas