It can be overwhelming to planners when the executive team says, “Find the best location for our next event (insert also conference, incentive trip, board retreat, etc.)!”

Here are some quick strategies to help you find the right location for your next event.

Event Goals

Why is this crucial? It’s crucial because management wants to know the company spent its money well. How do you know the investment was worth it? As a planner, help your company determine the success by crafting event goals. This will help guide your event location decisions.

At Blue Spark we like to use the S.M.A.R.T. system when setting goals. The acronym stands for:
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. (Forbes recommends them too )

Here are some examples of event goals for determining your next location:

  • Specific: Celebrate the top 3% of the sales force by creating a 3-day conference with unique group experiences
  • Budget: $4,500 per person
  • Measurable: Survey results of at least 80% event satisfaction and at least a 90% intent on winning the trip again
  • Attainable: Management has approved the trip and budget
  • Relevant: Sales increase by 1% from the sales professionals that win the incentive trip
  • Time-Based: Event must take place in 2023 calendar year


Once you have goals set and the budget for the corporate program, you can evaluate how best to spend the dollars. Start with the big bucket items: flights, hotel room rates, food and beverage spent at the location, and activities. This will help you zero in on what your limits are when scoping out potential properties.

Need a budget template?


Now that you have specific goals, and a detailed budget, you know what you can afford. The next step is to assess what you want from your destination, and the best time for your group to go. Things to consider include:

  • Weather – Are you going in Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall? How will the temperatures in those seasons affect guest activities, and will it entice them to want to attend? (Weather can really affect events)
  • Accessibility – What is the total travel time to the destination? Is it accessible by trains, air, car or by foot? How far is it from the airport? Do guests need travel visas or passports?
  • Local Attractions/Festivals/Tours – What is around the resort or hotel? Theme parks? Water parks? Beaches? Lakes? Rivers? What about festivals? Will Octoberfest be going on? Or Cayman’s Pirate Week?
  • Low Season/High Season – Low season offers better pricing and high season offers more attractions and activities for your guests.

Style of property

There are many levels and styles of hotel properties. Consider which best fits your event goals and guests:

  • All-Inclusive – Meals (and sometimes alcoholic drinks) are included in the room rate.
  • Family Friendly – Are your guests bringing kids? If so, make sure the property allows children.
  • Vibe – Sometimes chic and cool, or elegant and sophisticated, is important to how you sell your event to the guests. Choose appropriately.
  • Room types – Is everyone bringing a spouse or significant other? If so, king-bedded properties will be important. Are they bringing family members? They’ll need double-bedded rooms.
  • Topography – Are you looking for beaches? Mountains? Unique environments like a rainforest?


Hotels can offer a wide range of amenities on property. Knowing what your guests expect will help achieve the event goals. Also consider your event agenda; will guests have enough free time to take advantage of venue or nearby offerings? Below are some important amenities to review with your team. If they’re of importance to your event goals, make sure your resort has them included.

  • Spa – Who doesn’t love a 50-minute massage?
  • Golf – Golf can be a great activity for a board retreat. 5 hours on a golf course will bond a group over missed putts and long drives.
  • Onsite Restaurants – Looking for convenient dinner options? Check what is available and when they’re open.
  • Kids Club – Want to bring families but you also have meetings? Kids clubs can be a great option for this.

Onsite Services

Inevitably, your event will require some onsite services while you’re there. Here are a few other elements to look for when reviewing properties.

  • Audio Visual, Internet & Power – Are you having a meeting during your event? If so, the cost and availability of these elements will be important.
  • Bellman, Porterage and Housekeeping – How far are the rooms from the lobby? Do you have an older demographic? If they can’t haul their suitcase upstairs, porterage and bellman will be important. It’s also helpful when your room is not yet available to have a place to store luggage. It is also helpful to know whether the hotel is offering housekeeping or not, and if it’s important to your guests. During COVID, this service was limited.
  • Room Service – Check availability and services times.
  • Concierge – Guests with ample free time would benefit from the assistance an onsite concierge can provide.
  • Recreation Department – Does the property offer watersports, activities in the pool, art classes, etc.?

Does this seem overwhelming to you?

As we mentioned before, location selection can be an overwhelming task for even the most experienced planner. If you’re looking for a partner to assist in finding the perfect location for your next event, feel free to reach out. We love what we do, and we are ready to find your next event, conference, incentive trip or board retreat location!

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