At a sales meeting in Scottsdale last week, one of the attendees approached me, giving some insight into the event.
“We had our sales meeting in Scottsdale, but it could’ve been anywhere. We had some time at the pool and a little down time where we went out in Old Town; but honestly, it was not really different from our meeting in San Diego last year. Maybe the food was more Southwestern, but that was about it.”
Anyone who has attended a destination meeting or conference with a packed meeting agenda knows this feeling. You spend a few days at the property, get back on the plane, and — ultimately — wonder where you were. Maybe you went to a tourist destination for one event; but for the most part, there was no real connection to the market. That’s a huge miss.
The best meetings create an authentic connection to the market. It may not be during a pre-packaged trip through Old Town or the Gaslamp District. In fact, it most likely isn’t. It’s when you get under the skin of the area and begin to understand life in that community.
One way to create an authentic connection is to see a city for what it is — challenges and all. By helping a community through an impactful volunteer program, attendees can create a real connection to a market.
Depending on your meeting, you may choose to paint murals at an inner-city school, help veterans improve their homes, clean up a park that is important to local residents, or create long-lasting impact at a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, afterschool club, or any of the city's numerous nonprofits.
If you can’t get out into the city, invite a nonprofit to your meeting and do a project that helps attendees identify the needs of the community. At recent meetings, we’ve helped attendees make blankets for hospital patients, create Christmas stockings for homeless youth, and build nesting boxes for birds whose habitat has been eliminated.
Building meaningful social impact programs that help your attendees create a connection to the community and those they worked alongside throughout the program is the best part of my work at Give2Get. These experiences have so many tangible benefits for all involved — and your attendees will have some great memories! After all, no one has ever told their families about the chicken dinner.