From accessibility to affordability to availability, there are many decision factors that go into choosing a meeting destination. If you ask Successful Meetings Senior Editor Leo Jakobson, however, one of the most important decision factors is what it adds to the meeting program.
"To deal your meeting, trade show, or conference a winning hand you need a destination that entices potential attendees and adds value to your offerings," Jakobson says. "Particularly when it comes to conferences and conventions, one of the most effective ways to choose a destination that will add value to your event is to look for a knowledge hub -- a cluster of academics, researchers, and businesses in your event's field that a smart planner can leverage in various ways, such as finding good speakers who are local and thus cost-effective; having universities or corporate facilities that are willing and even eager to take attendees off-site for a tour; and of course offering a pool of potential local attendees or sponsors."
To find a knowledge hub -- Silicon Valley for tech meetings, for example; Detroit for automotive meetings; or Knoxville, TN, for scientific meetings -- look first and foremost to universities.
"The universities themselves are at the center of these hubs, because universities know the local businesses," Dr. James Irvine tells Jakobson. "[Aside from a school's own experts] they have to have good links with the local businesses to get their graduates employed … So once you tie into the universities and the people in the universities, you get the university's experience."