Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Get Out!

This morning, in the New York Times' Frequent Flier column, I came across a somewhat-more-urban follow-on to Convene Senior Editor Barbara Palmer's recent blog post, "The Nature Break-Out."

Basically, the Frequent Flier column is an "as-told-to" story from a frequent business traveler — in this case, Jennifer Davis, a marketing executive for a digital display company.  Davis does signage, and attends meetings.  In discussing how to beat jet lag, she suggests taking a walk outside prior to whatever it is, business-wise, for which she's flown to a destination.  She relates a great anecdote:
One afternoon in Albi, France, before some meetings on our video wall technology with our European team, I discovered an awesome formal riverfront garden behind the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum. No one told me it was there, and it was so incredibly beautiful that it brought a smile to my face. That’s a great way to start a meeting.
I wholeheartedly agree.  In fact, the reality that discoveries such as this aren't often given the chance to occur is a meetings-industry pet peeve of mine: All too often, it seems, the only aspects of a destination you get to see are the inside of the convention center and your hotel, with maybe a token off-site dinner or reception thrown in.

Wouldn't it be nice — and wouldn't your participants be more engaged? — if they were given, or encouraged to take, some time prior to or during the meeting to do a bit of exploring in the place that they are in?  This could be on their own, or sanctioned and planned by the organization itself.  Either way, I have to agree with Davis that what she experienced is a great — and, unfortunately, all-too-infrequent — way to kick-start or invigorate any meeting.

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