Destination professionals from around the world convened in St. Louis July 23-25 for the Destinations International (DI) 2019 Annual Convention. Not only was it the premier event of the year for destination organizations like ours to connect with and learn from our industry peers and thought leaders, it was also a very well organized meeting and there are a couple great ideas worth stealing from their brilliant planning team.

1. Integrate your CSR activity into the fabric of the convention: DI’s CSR activity took place in the hallway of the convention center, and was available at any time for anyone who wanted to stop by and participate in stuffing backpacks for schoolchildren. Not everyone always has an extra afternoon to devote to a CSR activity, or budget for those that are an extra cost, but offering something that can be done whenever you want, however long you want, in a place that you already are, is a genius way to include all attendees. At Experience Columbus, our staff recently spent time making PB&J sandwiches in an assembly line for a local shelter, and in less than an hour made more than 400. There are so many activities that can be knocked out when a whole group participates, and it allows everyone to feel like they’re making a difference.


2. Have a step challenge as a wellness activity: Typically, wellness activities take place early in the morning and many attendees, who already have super packed schedules, have to choose between another precious hour of sleep or getting up and participating. And usually, the wellness activity is either a 5K or yoga, which are certainly great options, but if you don’t run or do yoga then there’s nothing for you. DI had a brilliant idea to offer a step challenge as one of the wellness activities at the annual convention, which meant that all you had to do is walk (or run if you want) and try to get more steps than your fellow attendees throughout the conference. They also had multiple prize tiers so it wasn’t just the top stepper who won, but varying step-levels were entered into drawings for prizes so you still had reason to participate even if you knew you wouldn’t be the winner.

DI Wellness

3. Crowd source education: Not every education session makes sense for every attendee, and that’s ok! DI worked to combat this by offering a crowd-sourcing session right on the show floor so attendees can connect with others who have similar interests/ problems/ ideas and discuss while scheduled sessions take place.

4. Provide water bottles for attendees: As events continue to look for ways to be green, this is a no-brainer. Water bottles can continually be refilled at strategically placed coolers throughout your event, eliminating the need for small plastic cups. Those metal pitchers placed at the back of meeting rooms always run out of water anyway, so this way you won’t have to worry about waiting for venue staff to refill them or getting complaints from thirsty attendees. If it’s not in your budget to provide water bottles, this is a great sponsorship opportunity you can sell as well!

5. Include silent auction access in event app: Don’t make your attendees pull out their laptops and search for the wi-fi password, hoping there’s enough bandwidth to let them make a bid in the online auction. Or worse, make them continually walk over to physically check the bidding! If you’re using an event app, incorporate all aspects of the event into the app, including the silent auction. With such an easy option at the tip of everyone’s fingertips, you’re guaranteed to see increased funding for your foundations through silent auctions.

6. Give away treats at registration: This is just something that makes your guests feel extra special. Plus, it provides a delicious energy boost before the opening session. St. Louis passed out Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. In Columbus you could easily pass out Jeni’s Street Treats. Really, anything yummy helps start the conference on a high note!

Like these ideas? Looking for more? Connect with our convention services staff to discuss ideas that can kick your meeting into high gear.