In May 2017, the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) introduced the Xperiential Design Project, or XDP, an innovative new model for maximizing meeting and event outcomes. XDP integrates five main tenets: experience, learning, marketing, technology and the fundamental starting point, location.
Speaking at the event, Michael Dominguez, chief sales officer for leading global meetings, hospitality and entertainment brand MGM Resorts International, offered this insight: “Location will drive the whole event experience. All memories are tied to a location. The first thing you ask about a defining event is, ‘Where were you when…?’ Location creates a sense of community and memories.”
Then there’s the site selection process itself. Here, guidance comes from Darrell Tamosuinas, CEO of Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based Teneo Hospitality Group. Representing more than 300 independent and luxury branded hotels, resorts and destination management companies around the globe, his company, a prominent industry player, focuses on connecting corporate clients and meeting planners with venues that best fit their requirements for meetings, retreats and events.
“Changing the environment and providing a pleasant experience are the top priorities for high-level executive meetings,” Tamosuinas says. “Typically, CEOs look for a venue that will enable thought, inspiration, relaxation and creativity and other feelings to the highest extent possible. Cost, value and convenience are always considerations, but developing the right environment will ultimately provide significant dividends.”
“Must-haves” include comfort, privacy, convenience and service. Not allowed are distractions. “That means a disruption-free setting where the venue does everything possible to support and promote thought,” explains Tamosuinas. “Nice to have, but not essential, are ancillary attributes such as golf, spa, fine-dining, shopping or local sightseeing.”
The litmus test begins with arrival. “CEOs and high-ranking executives are special, and want to feel special,” says Tamosuinas. They’ve earned it. And the venue, its people, infrastructure and services must make that feeling happen.”
From the start, the CEO and his or her team should feel welcome and have immediately at their disposal all they need to initiate and conduct their purpose in being there. “Throughout their stay, they should never be overwhelmed, under-served or surprised,” continues Tamosuinas. “They should have only good things to say about the food, service, meeting, communications and sleeping conditions. ‘Nothing was lacking’ is a reliable measure of success.”
From superior service to harmony with corporate values, here are other key selection criteria from CEOs and executive planners practiced in the field.