APR 2018

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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A P R I L 2 0 1 8 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 17 CORPORATE MEETINGS engagement in mind, Holder added that catering to the various physical capabilities of group attendees is often the greatest challenge. "The ages and physical abilities vary widely, so putting together a program that will fit all participants can be a challenge for our team," she said. "It is very important to us that everyone who visits is able to participate and enjoy themselves in the safest way possible." Engaging Both Young & Mature Participants Nichols suggested that getting an event's message across to all participants is a priority consideration for meeting planners. "How you convey your message to a wide range of ages and keep their attention varies with such things as virtual reality, unique branding opportunities (e.g., LED wheels) and interactive food stations where they are creatively building their food options," he said. "At 3NINE, we have to consider an attention span that needs to be satisfied immediately as well as visual stimulation that attracts and holds clients to their events." In addition to messaging strategies, meeting planners should consider activities that appeal to individual generations as well as bring varying age groups together. Holder recalled that one of the most well-received activities at Historic Banning Mills that appealed to both young and mature participants alike was the GPS trek. "This gave groups a fun, not-too- competitive way to team-build while being out in nature and working together toward a common goal," she said. As part of the activity, groups must work together to find their challenge elements, requiring them to engage and communicate with each other. Once all elements are found and a winning group is determined, all participants come together to discuss various group dynamic lessons learned. Nichols has found that a photo booth is both "old school and new school," appealing to wide array of age groups. "Nowadays a photo booth gives you a link to your text, email and social networking sites so you can instantly share your experience with your network," he said. "The backdrop can be interactive through use of green-screen technology where you can drop in a unique concept, environment or experience." n Corporate Meeting Experiences: Raising The WOW Factor Groups are demanding unique experiences and meeting planners are responding in kind. Here are some ideas for engaging groups of all ages at your next event. Virginia International Raceway, America's Motorsport Resort, is introducing Formula Experiences this spring, allowing participants a unique racecar experience in either the driver or the passenger seat. Previously only available in Europe, these high-speed, open-cockpit ride-alongs in new Formula and prototype racecars will debut in the U.S., offering a unique alternative for corporate meeting experiences. Meeting planners also have access to meeting space, accommodations and relaxing spa services. Historic Banning Mills in Benning, Ga., describes itself as the world's largest zipline canopy tour and adventure destination (as verified by Guinness World Records). The organization has developed adventure activities that engage guests from as young as 4 to as old as 94 to fit with an array of physical abilities as much as possible. "Aerial adventures are always a popular and exciting group activity," said Founder Donna Holder. "It puts guests in a unique situation where it is a little uncomfortable, challenging and thrilling all at the same time." Historic Banning Mills encompasses three aerial adventure parks, allowing those who have a fear of heights to work their way up to the higher tiers and build their confidence without being thrown into a challenge that is too intimidating. Traditional team-building courses are also available to those who aren't quite ready to take their group gatherings off the ground. Activities such as GPS teambuilding courses, kayaking, a climbing wall and horseback riding are available on-site. 3NINE is Rosen Hotels & Resorts' answer to cutting-edge entertainment, featuring state-of-the-art sound, intelligent lighting and lasers, color-changing columns, programmable flat screens and sophisticated décor. The venue offers a restaurant, live music and two full-service bars that offer new takes on classic cocktails and a VIP lounge overlooking the main stage. According to John Nichols, manager of social events and promotions with 3NINE, virtual reality and LED entertainment options offered at the venue are great for younger generations. n

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