In 2017, 31% of all spending on travel was done for business travel. Meetings, conferences, retreats, events, they all require travel, and often require being away from family for some period of time. So when the opportunity arises for family members of event attendees to travel with each other to a new destination, it’s important to make sure they feel welcomed and have some fun! This is where partner tours come into play.
Partner tours can be arranged with help from the local CVB where you’re holding your event. They often take place during the day while attendees are in the midst of the conference, and partners are looking for some way to enjoy their time at the location. Several things should be taken into consideration when planning partner tours, like who would attend, what they might enjoy, budget, location, and more.
Showcase the local community
One of the best part about partner tours is that they allow participants to experience and enjoy the local community in an organized effort. Good, effective partner tours incorporate local food, shopping, activities and/or history.
Downtown crawls and scavenger hunts are a great way to make sure that participants are visiting a variety of area businesses and attractions. If there’s the added incentive of a prize at the end – ie. First team of 3 to check in at 5 downtown locations wins a prize – then engagement will likely be even better, and participants will learn even more about the local community.
Maybe the group is looking for something a little less structured? Work with your destination’s CVB to develop some customized information and ideas of things to do on their own while in town. Include information about transportation, when their partner will be done with conference proceedings, and if they’ll need to find a meal option or not.
Personalize the experience
Based on the type of conference you’re organizing, you can easily customize their experience. It shows that you took the time to care about the attendees’ partners time in town and appreciate the fact that they’ve joined their family member on this trip. Here are some custom ideas and examples:
- An audience of mostly women/wives of attendees: plan an activity at a local winery, a DIY painting/crafting class from a local provider, or a historic walking tour of the downtown area – each with lunch from a local restaurant.
- An audience of adventure-seekers: organize a hike at a local park, biking local trails, or – in the case of St. Cloud, MN which has the Mississippi River flowing through it – a kayak trip down the river!
- An audience of mostly gentlemen: plan a brewery tour, a fishing trip on a local body of water, get tickets to a local sporting event, or a round of golf at a local course.
When planning a partner tour, there are several logistical things to keep in mind:
- Budget: What would you like to spend per participant? How many partners do you anticipate attending? Do you want to offer more than one tour option? If so, will they differ in cost? Will you pay for them as an organization, or will attendees cover the cost if they’re interested?
- Transportation: Will you need to shuttle participants to a location for the tour, or will they drive, or will it be walkable from the hotel?
- Equipment: Will you need to bring any additional equipment/items, or will all of that be coordinated by the CVB and their vendors? What time of year is it – will they need to dress warmly? Will participants be required to bring anything with them? (ie. Extra clothing, tools of any kind, food and/or drink, etc.)
- Food: Are there any dietary restrictions of participants? If alcohol will be involved, is everyone over the age of twenty-one? Will you provide full meals or just snacks?
Count on the CVB for help
Chances are, nobody knows the local community where you’re hosting your event better than the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau in the area. Your first step in planning the perfect partner tour should be a conversation with the area CVB to talk about your needs, budget, audience etc., and they will then be able to recommend the best activities for your group in their area.
At the St. Cloud Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, we love creating custom, memorable experiences for attendees and their partners. If you have an event coming to the St. Cloud area and would like to learn more about partner tour opportunities, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us! Contact Erin to start crafting an unforgettable experience.