Once your attendees arrive at your event destination, it is officially time to win them over with your event welcome experience. It is these first impressions that set your event apart, so it’s important to pay attention to the details and break out the big and little wow-factors.
First things first, let’s remember that travel days are often the most stressful part of the attendee journey for any event. Add air travel to the mix for destination events, and there is a whole new list of potential stressors. Long commutes to the airport, flight delays, missed connections, long customs lines for international flights, lost luggage – any of these factors are enough to frazzle anyone.
So, listen up, because we are ready to share all of our planning secrets to ensure your event’s welcome experience will swoop in and save the stressful day. From the moment your VIPs step off the plane, you can start soothing their travel nerves with these top tips.
Make the travel journey seamless
Kick-off your attendees’ travel journey with little delights along the way. If your guests are indeed flying to your event, consider sending out airport lounge passes. This will give them a chance to relax, enjoy complimentary food and drinks, and in some places, enjoy a nap, shower, or even a massage ahead of their flight(s).
Hosting an international event? Give the gift of Global Entry so they can whisk through customs lines quickly and painlessly. Global Entry is available to certain pre-approved, low-risk travelers to enter private, expedited lines without the need for shoe or belt removal. Laptops and large electronics can stay in their luggage, too. Some destinations also offer Fast Pass services (pre-arranged at an extra cost), where VIP guests are greeted at their gate and escorted through customs and immigration stations with no lines. They may even have lounges with food and drinks where they can await transportation. Some of our favorite destinations that offer this are Aruba, Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, and Jamaica.
Another way to extend that expedited service is to coordinate private vehicles (versus motorcoaches for larger groups arriving) for your attendees’ transfers to the hotel or venue space.
Level up the transfer experience with warm towels, drinks, and snacks. If the commute from the airport to the hotel is quite long, include some destination-themed travel games for the ride (we love a good on-the-move scavenger hunt!).
Extend the event hospitality to your attendees’ families
It is common for attendees with families at home to miss them or worry about them while they are attending your event. Ease their worries by ensuring they have strong, and complimentary Wi-Fi available when they arrive to your event. If the event is out of their home country, know that connecting to Wi-Fi can be tricky sometimes. Provide step-by-step guidance (for iPhones and Androids) before travel day so attendees can easily connect without frustration.
If attendees have kids or family members back home, keep in mind that they have likely spent a lot of time or money making sure they are cared for while they are at your event. Consider offering up a meal delivery certificate (such as DoorDash, Uber Eats, etc.) that they can arrange for their first night away. It is an easy way to comfort both your attendee and their family (not to mention upping your brand’s clout with the whole family).
Another way to extend hospitality to your attendees’ homes is to pre-gift thoughtful services such as lawn mowing, snow removal, house cleaning, or even dog walking while they are away. Helping your guests take care of any responsibilities back home will ensure they will have even more fun – and likely be more present – at your event.
One way we like to help attendees share their love with family or friends back home is by giving out pre-stamped postcards. This can be done at the check-in experience, or as part of a room gift, and it is a great way they can connect with loved ones with little hassle.
Pick a Hotel That Can Master Check-In at No Extra Cost
When we are helping our clients in the matchmaking process of finding the perfect hotel, we always want to make sure it passes the warmth test. Exceptional customer service goes a long way, and it is essential to have that hospitality shine at check-in. Highly trained professionals in hospitality know when to converse and when to give space, how to provide detailed and relevant information, and how to make someone feel comfortable after a long travel day.
We love working with hotels that go that extra mile. One of our favorites is Le Blanc Spa Resort in Los Cabos, Mexico. At a recent program there, we saw that “extra mile” in action. As our attendees were welcomed to the private check-in and registration area, they were greeted with warm, lavender-scented neck pillows and a long-stemmed white rose to set the luxurious, yet relaxed tone we were aiming for.
Mastering check-in also means that lines are moving fast, and guests are not experiencing long wait times.
When we conduct hotel site inspections, we like to understand every single step that goes into the registration experience. What operating system do they use? What credit cards do they accept for incidental charges? How much of a hold do they place on the credit card? What forms are required to fill out? What is the average length of time it takes to fully check in someone? The better we understand the processes, the better we work to build efficiencies and spell out the step-by-step process in the pre-event materials we prepare.
Don’t leave a seamless registration experience up to chance. Work closely with your hotel to coordinate the right amount of staff at check-in. At Achieve, we even go as far as to ensure appropriate staffing to guest ratios and specific processes are outlined in the hotel contract we negotiate. That way we know your guests will be well taken care of the moment they step onsite.
Plan a Phenomenal Hotel Arrival
Chances are, you have picked a beautiful destination for your event, and that’s what your attendees are looking forward to most. Help introduce them to the location with some fun and flair by creating an event welcome experience that honors the local culture and engages them from the start.
Let’s consider some scenarios…
Your guests arrive, they are greeted by the bell staff, their luggage is tagged to be sent to their room, and they present their credit card for incidentals and in turn receive their room key.
Your guests are warmly greeted and whisked into a vibrant private check-in. They are offered a glass of something delicious and refreshing that is in your brand colors and has a drink umbrella with your logo on it. Next up, a chair massage is awaiting them while their bags are gathered. Once they are all registered, they are escorted to their room, where a welcome basket of destination-themed extras awaits in their specially decorated room.
Both scenarios are acceptable, but we love how scenario two emphasizes a warm welcome.
The most successful event welcome experiences are ones that pay attention to detail. Standard arrivals in a window-less ballroom are pretty ho-hum. Instead, seek out non-traditional venue spaces with natural light (check out how we transformed this nightclub balcony into a unique meeting space).
Don’t forget to think of ways you can infuse the local culture with food, beverages, decorations, and entertainment. Is the destination known for a certain kind of music or dance? Is it famous for its decadent desserts? Think of ways to honor those local highlights right when your guests arrive.
You also want to position your brand strategically in ways that are inviting and fun, not in-your-face. Get creative! Consider branding specialty cocktails with fun names, design an Instagram-worthy photo wall, set up a gifting booth with unique items they can use during their stay, and bring in local singers. It is these details that make the arrival engaging – which is especially important if there are check-in wait times or the guest rooms aren’t ready.
Prepare hand-written notes and welcome treats for your guests. Keep notes short and meaningful, and include some interesting destination facts and tips (we are all for a top ten list). Maybe even include some resort credits! Team Achieve works with our hotel partners to place these items in rooms ahead of arrival (and makes sure they are staged perfectly). We have also done some fun things like decorate the room with locally inspired décor and plan surprise goodies if any guests are due to celebrate birthdays or anniversaries during the event dates.
All in all, you don’t necessarily have to break the bank to create a fantastic event welcome experience. You can win your event welcome by keeping things as stress-free and seamless as possible, providing convenience, and infusing a lot of local character. By simply making it authentic and sincere, you will leave a lasting impression.
We lean hard on our partnerships, creativity, and expertise to help our clients transform a stressful day of travel into a series of never-forget moments.
If you have ideas on creating a memorable event welcome experience but could use some extra inspiration, Team Achieve has you covered. Reach out to us today, and we can help you win your welcome.
Looking for even more ways to deliver the surprise and delight moments to your event guests? Check out our Level Up Your Luxury blog.