And I can see why some of those hotels would turn that business
down, but for us it’s a mainstay. And then there’s all these separate
dinner places and lunch places, so again the group doesn’t have to go
from ballroom to meeting room to ballroom.”
Hernandez-Casey’s 180-person national group is staying at The
Grand Summit in Park City. Having hosted back-to-back events in
Nashville, Austin and New Orleans, not only is it their ;irst mountain
meeting, it’s the ;irst time they will be the only group in-house.
Since they’re meeting in April, which is at the end of Park City’s
ski season, the crowds—and her meeting costs—will be reduced.
“We’re excited because we are expecting a higher level of engagement since we’re all that’s going on [at the time],” Hernandez-Casey says.
A SENSE OF CONTROL
Another advantage planners see to mountain meetings is control.
While most mountain resorts have a wide array of activities spread
over hundreds or thousands of acres of wilderness, the actual geographic footprint of the host communities is so small there is no fear
of leakage. The small footprint is also a budget boost since this eliminates the need for coach hire to offsite events because everything
is on site and walkable. The village atmosphere also encourages a
higher level of casual, unprogrammed networking opportunities
since delegates bump into each other in their free time.
For clients who view ground transportation to these resorts as an
obstacle, Montreal planner Hélène Mazoyer, president of Open Skies
Events, sees an openness and patience among younger delegates
for travel to mountain resorts. She has used the Fairmont Le Manoir
Richelieu in the Charlevoix region outside Quebec City for multiple
programs for groups up to 700 people. Various times she has bused
delegates either the two-hour drive from Quebec City or the ;ive-
hour drive from Montreal.
“The new generation like to discover new areas and take their
time to see all this,” Mazoyer says.
They enjoy the scenery. If it means ;lying in for a pre-event overnight in Montreal or Quebec City, her delegates have no objection.
“This new generation has a different way of living,” she says. “We
think about working, working, working, getting this done; they don’t
think that way. Five o’clock comes and that’s it, they want to enjoy life.
I’m sure they will live longer than us because they are more relaxed.”
Sheila Booth, AICP chapter administrator for the Colorado Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA Colorado), organizes
an annual conference where attendance ranges from 350 to 450 delegates. The association is a ;irm mountain meetings fan, having met in
Telluride, Steamboat Springs, Vail, Breckenridge and Estes Park. Their
2015 event at Steamboat Springs achieved a record attendance of 460.
A BIG DRAW
Higher attendance numbers seem to be the norm for groups going
to the mountains. While no de;initive destination statistics exist as
con;irmation, planners and properties know when their business is
up. Not only is event attendance rising, but properties report that
attendees are staying longer, engaging in “bleisure”—combing work
into a holiday with their spouse and family.
“Room blocks aren’t walls anymore,” Brown says. “If you thought
about them as a graph, it’s 300 check-in, 300 checkout. Here they’re
much more of a bell curve where people start to come in early. They’ll
enjoy the meeting then they’ll trickle out. We have a number of peo-
ple who come early, stay late.”
Booth says APA Colorado rotates between the Front Range and
the Slopes to provide variety, as well as more opportunities for all
our members around the state to attend.
“Mountain communities are a big draw and we do book them
because of that,” she says. “Even remote locations such as Telluride
and Steamboat Springs bring in big crowds. I believe our members
choose to attend these locations because they are off the beaten
path. They aren’t some place you go on a whim; you have to plan that
four-to-six-hour car drive. And, once you’re there, you stay put and
experience it. We picked Telluride for 2017 for similar reasons. It’s
beautiful. It’s a place that draws people.”
And while there may be some higher expenses related to the
remoteness, Booth says, “In the end it’s about the experience for our
Another advantage of mountain communities is the diversity of
accommodations. In addition to big-name resorts are condominium
rentals and mid- to lower-priced properties within walking distance
of the meeting location, which address the affordability concerns of
attendees who are responsible for paying their own expenses.
Booth says those considering a mountain destination for the ;irst
time must consider timing.
“Shoulder season is cheaper but many of the local restaurants
may be closed, so your attendees may have little to choose from,” she