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Mission Control / Travel

Meetings Are Back: It’s Time to Rethink Your Event Marketing Strategy

Make these five moves to update your destination marketing strategy for a post-COVID meetings era.

Destination Meetings Cover

By Paul Peterson

Meetings are back! At least, sort of. While we haven’t returned to pre-COVID numbers — and odds are we never will — in-person meetings have been trending upward over the past few years. About half (49%) of associations surveyed held in-person conferences in 2022, according to the 2023 Conference Industry Report, an increase of nearly 33% compared with the previous year. That makes this the perfect time to make some moves that will bolster your event marketing strategy.

1. Launch a content-rich microsite, just for meeting planners.

Unlike vacationers who only have themselves to disappoint if a trip is a dud, meeting planners put their reputations and, in some cases, their jobs on the line when considering where to host a professional event. A microsite — like this one for Oklahoma City Convention & Visitor’s Bureau — can help them feel confident in their decision to bring their event to your locale. Your event marketing content should anticipate meeting planners’ concerns and speak to the top five things meeting planners search for in a destination:

Accessibility: Ease of air travel, local transportation and walkability

Modern facilities: Technological capabilities and sustainability

Unique venues: Out-of-the box spaces for team-building and special events

Getaway destination: Authentic experiences and opportunities for exploration

Value: Hotel and venue rates, and food and transportation costs

2. Make it easy for event planners to engage.

Considering the average meeting planner organizes at least 11 events per year, these professionals don’t have the luxury of time when researching potential event destinations. That’s why you need to make it easy for them to get in touch with you for questions or help planning their event. Place prominent calls to action on your site to put assistance within reach. Even better, allow them to take the first step to engage with you via a smart form or chat.

3. Deploy an email drip campaign.

Meeting planners can spend weeks and even months planning events — longer when international travel is involved. So, you’ll want to start planting the seed about your destination well in advance of conference season, which may be spring, fall or both, depending on your locale.

Use an email drip campaign to stay top of mind with meeting planners and provide them with relevant content (think: 5 Reasons Meeting Planners Love Anytown for Events). This content should be freely accessible, never gated.

4. Distribute targeted ads via paid and organic channels.

Digital ads and sponsored social posts are no doubt already a mainstay in your marketing mix. Carry these strategies into your meeting outreach, too, speaking directly to meeting planners. Striking imagery coupled with the right messaging is a tried-and-true strategy for capturing this niche audience, as evidenced by the display and social ads we produced for Niagara Falls USA.

5. Don’t overlook print.

With an eye for detail, meeting planners appreciate marketing that makes an impression. It reassures them that their event will make an impression, too. One way to stand out in the digital age is to distribute print materials. A well-designed “Guide to Event Planning in Anytown” or Anytown Magazine — Special Meeting Planner Edition or even a branded event planning checklist can raise your destination’s profile in the minds (and plans) of meeting planners.

Are Meetings Part of Your Destination Marketing Strategy?

We can help you create a roadmap that will attract meeting planners to your destination.


Paul Peterson
Paul Peterson Chief Client Officer

Paul oversees client service at Casual Astronaut, working with our account management team to shape content and digital marketing strategies for clients. His nearly 20-year career in marketing and public relations ranges from healthcare to hospitality, consumer products to government relations, high-tech communications to entertainment. Paul’s worked with brands such as Nike, Disney, Johns Hopkins and Cleveland Clinic to build measurable, audience-engagement strategies.

A father to two boys, Paul usually spends his weekends at flag football games, chess tournaments, bowling leagues and coaching soccer (all of which may happen in the same Saturday). And when snow starts to fall in the mountains, he looks for any excuse to hit the slopes.

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