Do Good, Feel Good: Planning Meetings with Meaning
So you’ve planned the perfect event, right down to the (almost) final detail. Now you want to guarantee you’re sending every guest home happy.
What’s your plan?
Free swag? … Raffle prizes? … Trophies? … Picture booth and wacky props?
Those are all great choices. Guests love them, and they appreciate the fun and excitement that they bring to the event. Do it, but don’t stop there. Dig deeper.
With a little extra thought, creativity, and preparation, a smart event planner can send their attendees home with a positive feeling in their heads and their hearts. A happiness that goes beyond the surface and lingers for years.
Invite your guests to join together for a powerful, charitable experience.
We like to think of it as infusing your meetings with meaning, and it’s one of the most welcome and rapidly adopted trends in the meeting and hospitality industries right now. Having navigated the ebbs and flows of a global pandemic for nearly three years, we’ve seen hard times and we’ve seen all the ways in which the world around us is suffering.
Perhaps more than ever before, it feels good to give back.
Give Back to a Cause That Fits Your Destination
If you’re planning an event, talk to your hotel, resort or conference center about what charitable opportunities are most relevant and readily available in their region. There’s a good chance they will have an answer on the tip of their tongue.
In fact, many hotels and resorts already have programs in place for philanthropy and volunteering. They’ve figured out ways to make it fun for their guests to participate through a variety of hands-on and hands-off activities.
The JW Marriott Nashville has a program that offers a creative, artistic activity with a unique Music City spin on giving back. Groups work with Strings for Hope instructors to build custom jewelry fashioned from second-hand guitar strings. A portion of the proceeds are donated to fight addiction, human trafficking, and domestic violence.
In Florida, The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village has taken a fun, healthy, and already popular activity — yoga — and turned it into an opportunity to give back. The resort has partnered with the RechargeMe Zone to offer weekly charitable yoga classes. Event planners can invite attendees to participate in yoga sessions that feed their own mind, body and soul, while 50% of the proceeds benefit the Cape Coral Animal Shelter.
If you are hosting an event at The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa in South Carolina, your guests can get together and sweep the beach to keep the surf and sand free of trash and other harmful debris that could harm the endangered sea turtles that inhabit the area and lay their eggs along the beach every year. The hotel also holds Turtle Talks, where guests can learn more about the turtles and their habitat.
Give Back to a Cause That Fits Your Audience
While many hotels and resorts have existing programs that make it easy to get your guests into the spirit of giving back, you may have something a little different in mind. Your hotel event planning partners would be more than happy to help make it happen for you.
Volunteering always carries greater weight when the cause resonates with your group. Look for opportunities to give back that tie into your industry or the theme of your event.
If your event is focused on real estate, you could arrange to spend a day with hammers in hand, working with a local organization that builds houses for families in need. If your guests are in the food service industry, a day spent volunteering at a nearby food bank or soup kitchen would add a new layer of perspective to your event.
Your guests would build strong connections through the teamwork involved in the effort. They’d have a great story to tell when they got home — and they’d feel proud to share it.
As the event planner, you’ll feel proud, too, knowing that you created an event that not only entertained and educated your guests but also sent much-needed positive energy out into the world.