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All meeting planners vie for the best destination for their programs, but getting top destinations like Orlando, Las Vegas, and Atlanta can be difficult.
Getting the right site is what separates the savvy planners, those who know when to book, from the rest. How do they do it? They look at the “shoulder” seasons – the times in between a destination’s peak demand.
“It’s no secret,” says George Aguel, President & CEO of Visit Orlando, “During holiday periods and summer vacations, convention demand is lower and can present more value opportunities for groups in convention hotels.” Mark Sussman, Director of Trade Show Sales, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, agrees: “When a meeting planner has the opportunity to be flexible with their meeting dates, hotels and facilities can sometimes offer greater value during these ‘need’ periods.” Sussman cites Passion Conference and Allied Social Science, which meet in Atlanta during the first week of January – “a time that would be slow for meetings business otherwise.”
Post-holidays are also a great time some to snag some of those popular event venues that might be in the throes of consumer fatigue. For its 2013 winter meeting that took place in Minneapolis, the Religious Conference Management Association (RCMA) held private receptions at the Mall of America and at Windows of the World, an exclusive restaurant on the 50th story of the IDS Building.
Likewise, the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) was able to take over Boston’s bustling Fanueil Hall Marketplace in January 2014, for an evening reception, featuring local food, drink, and entertainment.
In times of less-than-optimal weather, destinations welcome meetings business. This July the average high in Las Vegas was 106 degrees F, the city hosted just under 302,000 meeting, convention and tradeshow attendees, said John Schreiber, Senior Director of Business Sales at Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority (LVCVA). “That compares to the more than 551,000 who came for a meeting, convention, or tradeshow during the month of March 2015,” when the city tends to be a sunny 69 degrees F.
Atlanta may have felt a lot emptier on Labor Day weekend, if not for Dragon Con and the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff Game bringing in more than 130,000 attendees. “Because of the unique infrastructure of our downtown convention district,” says Sussman, “We are able to seamlessly house both of these distinct events during a weekend that is usually slow for convention destinations.”
Better still, meetings can benefit from off-season tourist incentives, like Chicago’s Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier in December, and the Ironman Competition on Hawaii’s Big Island in October. And corporate incentive winners get to “own the place” during shoulder seasons; it makes skiing down powdery, uncrowded slopes in Colorado and Utah in early April that much sweeter.
This content is created collaboratively in partnership with our sponsor Cvent.