Client events – same location or change of venue best strategy?

I have worked for software vendors as well as market research firms, one product that has always been held up as one of the best marketing tools was customer events. These would be held domestically and internationally with the primary goal to attract prospects, update current users and provide a gathering as a platform to provide a vision of the future. One question that I have always debated – should you hold events at a consist location or look to change venue every year?

Clearly a major attraction to getting on a plane and flying somewhere for a corporate event is to see another part of the world we might otherwise not have an opportunity to visit or have no desire to do so with our own resources. I realize that this might be taboo and that you should be focusing on business 24/7 when your company sends to you to location X for an event and not think about being able to sneak away for a little sight seeing! However that is not reality. Why is it that every event I have gone to in Las Vegas the audience, surprise surprise, seems to diminish every passing day? Why are there few events in Chicago in the middle of winter but plenty of events in Arizona during those same months? Venue and access to extracurricular activities play an important role to attracting a strong audience!

The question is – should you look at moving  your event to different venues or maintain consistency in location?

One event I used to regularly attend was AMR research’s Supply Chain Executive conference – it was always held in Arizona always at the Phoenician.  What was nice is that returning attendees always knew exactly what to expect, where the bathrooms were, how to pack, where the good restaurants are and where to order a prickly pear. On the flip side, my own company’s events always went to new locations – Scottsdale, Las Vegas, Orlando, San Diego and New Orleans – to name a few. What made this nice was that every year attendees and employees had something to look forward to – a new location to discover. Locations like New Orleans offered a venue that most attendees might not necessarily find themselves heading to were it not for work. Of course changing venue adds complexity – different hotel staffs to work with, hotel lay outs, weather to name a few.

So what do you think? Would a change in event location be something you would look forward to as an attendee or is the consistency of a good location more important?

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