Maximizing the value of conferences to communities: 'Bleisure Travel' and 'Bizcations' emerge with social media boosts.

Author:Zak, Karen
Position::SPECIAL SECTION: Conventions & Meetings - Conference news
 
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It is well recognized that conferences stimulate economic growth in communities, but how do communities ensure they are receiving the maximum value? Preparation prior to the event, professional execution during the event, and assessment after the event is essential. The benefits will be felt long after the conference ends by optimizing social media marketing, engaging the community and local businesses, and encouraging participants to extend their stays beyond the conference dates.

Combining Leisure Travel

More than ever, participants are combining leisure travel with conference and business travel, so much so that a new word has emerged to describe this increasing trend, "Bleisure Travel," or "Bizcations." As leisure time and vacations decline, more frequent, shorter trips and family accompanied trips are filling the gap.

Location and area activities are a key decision factor when choosing to attend a conference, especially when accompanied by family members. This provides Alaska with a distinct advantage given the allure of the destination, diverse array of recreation opportunities, and people's desire for a cultural exchange and interaction with nature. Travel and leisure experiences shared on social media now define social status more than material goods. Needless to say, a typical bizcation is rife with social media activity.

Take Full Advantage

So how does a community take full advantage of conferences to achieve the optimum value locally? Most communities measure the economic impact of participants' spending within in the community at businesses such as lodging, restaurants, retail stores, entertainment, transportation, and venues. Less recognized is the long-term global attention the conference brings to the community through social media marketing, world-of-mouth, and repeat visitors.

Promotion is the first step to ensure the organizer achieves the desired participation. With its limitless options--everything from Tweets, Instagram, Linkedin, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube--technology provides the best solutions. Whatever one's comfort zone, adequate and continuous promotion is vital to generating the buzz surrounding the event, making it the most talked about and highly anticipated upcoming event. In today's "always online" culture, social media weaves through each phase, amplifying the economic impact on the local economy in ways only personal referrals can.

Conventional Marketing

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