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Designing Citywide Meetings: Hints and Tips From an Industry Expert

Designing Citywide Meetings: Hints and Tips From an Industry Expert

How can you design an impactful citywide meeting in The Palm Beaches? Discover all hints and tips for meeting planners.

The Palm Beaches provide the perfect footprint for citywide meetings, whether you’re planning your first or you’re a seasoned pro. Carol McGury, Executive VP of Event and Education Services of Smithbucklin, joined The Palm Beaches on an episode of our podcast, Between the Sessions, to discuss all things citywide meetings.

Read on for more information about planning a citywide meeting in The Palm Beaches, and pick up some of Carol’s top insights along the way.

What are Citywide Meetings?

Citywide meetings are large-scale meetings with thousands of attendees who participate in sessions, exhibits, tradeshows and activities throughout an entire city.

“The size and scale, the types of meetings that we execute could be from a few hundred to upwards of over 25,000” – Carol McGury

Citywide meetings involve multiple hotel properties, in conjunction with convention center in the meeting location.
During citywide meetings, not only do group delegates attend sessions all around the city, but they also experience what the city has to offer, having positive economic impacts on the destination.
When designing a citywide meeting, planners leverage on the resources available throughout the destination. This also means having to partner with a large number of exhibitors, destination management companies, and venues.

“[…] when you say citywide, it’s really getting your attendees, your exhibitors, your speakers, your sponsors, the whole ecosystem of those who are participating in your event to get out into the city to experience what the city has to offer.” – Carol McGury

Citywide meetings can have a lot of value because they enable robust business conversations with the partners in the city. Engaging local partners can be one of the most challenging steps when organizing a citywide meeting.

What Do Citywide Attendees Want?

Although attending a large-scale event, citywide attendees want to feel small. They seek unique intimate opportunities, including unique dining options and local experiences. This is why planners have to carefully select local restaurants,  local food trucks and organize tours with local theaters or museums.

“[…] But then also enabling people to again have those intimate opportunities, whether that be tours with local theaters or museums, outings that you’ll be able to experience in smaller groups versus getting on a bus and going across the city with 10,000 people.”

Hints and Tips for Citywide Meeting Planners

1. Rethink your planning timelines. Since a citywide meeting involves several partners and hotels, you have to start a little earlier to organize your meetings. Carol suggests starting the planning process about a year and a half before the event.

“I would say a year and a half for sure to just start laying the groundwork for the types of things that you’re going to need to be looking for.”

2. Leverage partners in the city. Identify mindful local partners that can deliver at a very high level and make impactful recommendations to align with the event. 

3. Make sure there are no competitive events planned in the city. In this case, it’s fundamental to seek help from the local tourism board or DMO. It’s always recommended to check with them if there are any other events happening within the city at the same time. Indeed, the concurrent organization of several events can compromise the quality of all events and the attendees’ experience.

“[…] knowing as much of those details in advance will help with your planning horizon.”

4. Drive sponsorship revenue. First, you need to understand who your audience is. Then, you need to identify sponsors that align with your target audience. It’s always a good idea to sit down with the potential sponsor and understand what they want and what their marketing goals are. After that, work with the local DMO and see how your goals can align with your sponsors’ goals.

“So it’s really understanding again who your audience is and then doing that matchmaking with your sponsors and then leveraging the amazing assets that cities have to be able to really bring a brand to life.”

Future Trends in Citywide Meetings

Sustainability. Sustainability is a fundamental component of both citywide meetings and smaller events. But reusing and recycling materials is not enough anymore. You need to be able to measure the impact of your event and share the results with attendees and partners.

“[…] but sustainability is now not just a nice to have, it’s a must-have. And especially with the next-gen audience.”

Making a difference. How are you giving back to attendees and the city? How are you making a difference by attending this event? Make sure that your events have a meaning. For instance, incorporating meaningful experiences such as health and wellness is a way to make a difference in your employees’ health.

“[…] back in the day and the day is a long time ago is it was about maybe networking and learning some things. But now it’s like, how am I giving back? How am I making a difference by attending this event.”

Planning a Citywide Meeting in The Palm Beaches

The Palm Beaches are the perfect location for citywide meetings and planners who are looking to move from in-house/hotel meetings to citywides. Our destination offers:

Contact the Group Sales & Destination Services Team and turn your next event into a citywide your attendees will remember. 

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