Creating Conference Opportunities: The Benefits and Strategies of Hosting

Thousands of conferences are held each year across the globe. A variety of topics, ranging from very specific academic disciplines to worldviews on technology, bring people to the host communities. The time required - and the logistics of hosting a conference - can be intimidating in terms of necessary accommodations, advertising, and gathering dynamic presenters. However, the benefits a community gains will provide opportunities for future growth.

Benefits of Hosting Conferences

If a conference brings out-of-town visitors to the host community, the potential economic impact can be sizable. Hotel rooms, meals, parking fees, and other retail spending are only a few of the direct benefits a community can see. Along with local businesses, the possible tourist destinations within that community have the potential to attract a new audience. Conference attendees aren’t going to simply check into their hotel rooms and only go to conference activities; they will most likely explore the city, as well as surrounding communities. Depending on the length of the conference, attendees could bring their families and enjoy an extended stay in the host community.

Internationally recognized conference destinations within the U.S., such as Las Vegas, Chicago, Boston, and Atlanta, actively work to draw large numbers of conferences and, in turn, more visitors to their communities each year. For conference hubs, the primary benefits are economic. These benefits not only include the revenue generated by visitors, but they also include the jobs created in tourist-friendly industries, the tax income for the community, and, of course, heightened interest and growth for the local convention and visitors’ bureau.

In addition, communities can appeal to visitors for repeat tourism - or even residence in that community. A university community that hosts regular events or conferences for high school students creates an opportunity to recruit those students for enrollment in higher learning institutions. Likewise, a community that hosts conferences on specific topics, like renewable energy, can influence interested parties to develop new technologies or manufacture energy alternatives in that supportive community. Industries and organizations seeking growth have their eyes open to possible expansion locales. Cities that are familiar with, and support, a company’s interests have the best chance of gaining that new opportunity.

Not all conferences will bring visitors. Many are directed toward local efforts and organizations. However, these events are still an excellent way to share and discuss local topics and community issues, and work for an improved quality of life for citizens. Leaders, businesses, and concerned residents who take an active interest in planning for the future of their communities create enthusiasm and motivation for local business growth and citizens’ initiatives.

My own community, Columbia, Mo., hosts many conferences and events each year that generate interest and revenue for the entire community. We host regular events to serve our city. Combined with consistent college and university events and athletic competitions, Columbia is able to maintain a near-constant stream of out-of-town visitors and tourist income.

Strategies to Boost Conference Opportunities

Community leaders and potential conference hosts should create and provide a profile of the size and types of conferences the community can effectively attract. How many hotel rooms are in the vicinity? How much space is available in designated conference centers? Is there easy access to major highways and, more importantly, airports? As motivated as smaller communities might be to become host cities, if they don’t have adequate accommodations, it will be incredibly difficult to appeal to a large audience. Some strategies to attract larger conferences include:

  • Encourage your state or regional associations to hold conferences. Appoint a business leader or team of community leaders to be advocates for your community.
  • Support the local convention and visitors’ bureau. Attracting conferences and events that provide an economic boost should be a primary responsibility for this organization.
  • Encourage regional businesses and nonprofit organizations to host conferences and trainings in the community. With adequate facilities and a supportive climate, businesses can pursue future interests in the community.
  • Look for ways to bring academic conferences to the community if your locale has a college or university nearby. For smaller communities, this can be a very practical and enriching way to open your community to visitors.

Hosting conferences can bring revenue, interest, and fresh ideas to your community. Regardless of a city’s size, events that bring people to that location, or create a forum for residents of a city to interact and initiate progress, are positive developments. Thousands of conferences are held in cities each year - why shouldn’t yours be one of them?

About the Author

"Mike Brooks is President of REDI (Regional Economic Development, Inc.) in Columbia, Mo. REDI promotes positive economic expansion and provides increased economic opportunities in the Columbia area, assisting entrepreneurs, developing businesses, and companies relocating. As president, Mike led REDI in creating a supportive ecosystem for entrepreneurship and business growth in Columbia. Mike welcomes anyone to reach out to him on LinkedIn or REDI at columbiaredi.com.

Website: https://www.columbiaredi.com/



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