15 Tips to Make Conference Travel More Pleasant
While many experts expected the need for in-person meetings to diminish as it became easier to interact with others face-to-face over the Internet, the reverse is actually happening. Rather than replacing physical gatherings, many event planners are using technology to enhance the experience meeting attendees will have by making their gatherings more interactive. For some large-scale get-togethers, it is even possible for attendees to network with one another over the Internet before, during and after an event.
Just as technology will be used to improve people’s experiences at more and more conventions and conferences moving forward, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the meeting industry will grow so much between 2014 and 2024, that the employment of meeting, convention and event planners will increase by 10 percent during the same time period — a growth rate that is faster than average for all occupations.
According to an interim study prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, nearly 225 million people attended more than 1.8 million meetings during 2012. The different kinds of meetings people attended included gatherings such as conventions, conferences, corporate meetings, trade shows and exhibitions, among others. Corporate and business meetings attracted about 50 percent of the total number of meeting attendees, or around 1,298,300 people. About 60,960,000 individuals went to a convention, conference or congress in 2012, which accounted for around 27 percent of the year’s total number of meeting attendees.
The U.S. Travel Association reports that direct spending on business travel in the United States reached $296.3 billion in 2015 alone. Business travelers in the U.S. took 459 million person-trips for business in the same year. A person-trip is defined as a trip where one person stays overnight in accommodations that are paid for or goes on a day or overnight trip to a destination at least 50 miles away. Of those trips, approximately 37 percent were taken so people could attend meetings and events.
Why People Travel to Attend Business Meetings
Why do working professionals take so many trips to attend business meetings? While the reasons people attend work-related events vary in accordance with a variety of factors, some reasons people find themselves traveling for business conferences are more common than others. The top reasons professionals often travel to attend some kind of business gathering include:
- Learning opportunities
- Networking and meeting new contacts
- Getting inspiration
- Soliciting business
- Visiting a popular location
What People Do for Recreation While Attending a Business Meeting
According to the San Diego Convention Center Corporation’s 2014 report, “Convention Center & Event Industry Outlook,” 17 percent of individuals who travel for business meetings bring their spouse or a friend with them. Here is a breakdown of common participation by percentage in recreational activities for business travelers:
- Restaurants: 92 percent
- Entertainment: 52 percent
- Shopping: 44 percent
- Stay Over After Event: 25 percent
- Sightseeing Before Event: 19 percent
- Cultural & Education: 17 percent
- Sports Events: 12 percent
- Outdoor Recreation: 6 percent
- Family Events: 2 percent
- Other Activities: 10 percent
How to Make Conference Travel More Pleasant
Whether you find yourself traveling for conferences frequently or you attend a business meeting out of town every so often, you are probably familiar with how unpleasant traveling for business conferences can be on occasion. Luckily, you can take some proactive steps to increase the likelihood you will have a great experience and that you will be ready for any number of scenarios that might negatively impact your trip.
Here are some helpful tips you can use to make conference travel more pleasant and enjoyable:
Plan in Advance: One of the things that makes traveling stressful is waiting until the last minute to make plans. If you are going to make arrangements for conference travel, do so shortly after you learn when the event will take place. Planning in advance will not only make things less stressful, but it will also increase the chances you will be able to travel and stay how and where you want.
Use a Private Browser: If you make your own flight and room reservations often, you may have noticed how the rates you see for the same airline and hotel room sometimes vary depending on the browser you use. This may cause you to overpay for a plane ticket or hotel room if you do not use the browser that provides the lowest prices. To prevent this, use a private browser when you are shopping for flights and hotel rooms.
If you use Google Chrome, you can make yourself anonymous by clicking the three vertical dots in the upper right-hand corner of your screen and then selecting “New Incognito Window.” You can also press your Control, Shift, and N keys at the same time. If you use Firefox, you can open a private window by clicking the Menu button in the upper right-hand corner of your screen and selecting “New Private Window.”
Book a Room: Many people enjoy staying at the host location whenever possible when they are traveling for business conferences. This is because it is easier for them to return to their rooms if they forget something or if they just need a break from all of the conference’s ongoing activities. It is also because they do not have to worry about arranging and paying for transportation back to their hotel at the end of a long day.
Whether you are staying at the host property or at an off-site location, you will probably have more luck finding an available room if you request one with two beds. Not only are rooms with two beds easier to find, but they give you a second bed to sleep in if the first one is not as comfortable as you had hoped. Having a second bed in your room also gives you a place to store everything you get at the conference and all of the souvenirs you buy for people back home. It is a convenient place to lay out the clothes you plan to wear the next day as well.
Request a Refrigerator: When you are making a room reservation, be sure you request a refrigerator in your room. Even if you do not bring food with you, you will probably pick up sodas and bottled water at the different presentations you attend. Having a refrigerator in your room will enable you to keep your beverages cold and refreshing. If you bring leftovers back to your room, you can use the refrigerator to prevent them from spoiling, too.
Ask About Amenities: While you might be more interested in whether the hotel you are going to stay at has a spa, you should ask about the practical amenities the property has when you are booking your room because they will influence the clothing you ultimately pack. Ask whether the hotel has on-site laundry and dry cleaning services and if your room will have an iron and ironing board.
Pack a Few Days Early: As the start date for your next conference approaches, begin getting your things together. Starting to pack a few days early will ensure you have enough time to have your clothes dry cleaned if you have forgotten to do so in the weeks leading up to your departure date. It will also give you the chance to pick up some new clothes before you leave home if something no longer fits or if an item has become too worn to bring with you.
Choose Appropriate Footwear and Clothing: Conferences often involve long days, a lot of walking and time on your feet. Depending on the location and timing of the event, there may also be a variety of weather conditions. Check the forecast before you go so you can pack appropriately for the weather that is expected. Be sure you pack footwear and clothes that will keep you comfortable throughout the various activities you will participate in as well.
Prepare Your Carry-On: No one ever thinks it will happen to them, but luggage gets lost en route to travel destinations on a daily basis. Protect yourself from having to buy new clothes when you arrive at your hotel by packing a full change of clothing in your carry-on. If you take medication daily, make sure you put your prescribed medications in your carry-on as well in case your luggage gets misplaced.
Do not forget to put some anti-inflammatory medicine such as Advil or Motrin in your carry-on bag, too. Sleeping in an unfamiliar bed, hunching over a laptop for long periods of time and happy hours that run into the morning hours can cause aches and pains, so prepare yourself for them by packing some anti-inflammatory medicine.
Pack Power: Almost everyone who attends a conference these days has multiple devices that need to be charged. From smartphones, to tablets, to laptops and more, you will see just about every gadget imaginable at most conferences. Given the number of people who use electronic devices, outlets become popular gathering points for conference attendees waiting to charge their devices.
Since the number of attendees and chargeable devices often outnumber the outlets available, you may end up with a useless device when you need it the most. To prevent this from happening, pack some power of your own by bringing a power strip with you. This will help you keep your own devices powered up, and you can help others do the same since your strip will multiply the number of devices that can be charged by one outlet. You could also bring an external battery to instantly charge and power your devices.
Make Plans Early: If you are not going to eat every meal at your conference and you have some free time in the evenings, make your dinner reservations and entertainment plans before you even leave for your event, especially if you are going to attend a large conference. If you have never been to the location you are traveling to, check online reviews to find the best restaurants and entertainment options. Make your reservations and secure your tickets early to avoid missing out on the most popular eateries and shows.
Check Local Transportation Options: Before you leave home, do some research to see what transportation options will be available at your destination. While you may be familiar with using an app to book a ride with Uber in your hometown, that sort of service may not be available where you are headed. When you know what kind of transportation services will be at your disposal in advance, you will be less likely to get stressed when you are trying to get from one place to another in a city you are not familiar with.
Use Social Media: If you are nervous about your upcoming conference travel, you can reduce your anxiety level by using your social media accounts to network with some other people in your field who might be attending the same event. Knowing you will recognize some other attendees and making plans to see them during the conference will help calm your nerves.
Create a Schedule: You can avoid missing the sessions you really want to attend by making a schedule before you leave home. Plan each day you will be at the conference so you will know what to expect. This will also help you pack the right kind of attire and supplies to get the most out of your trip.
Get Your Daily Bag Ready: Once you are at the site of the conference, you should start each day by getting the bag you are going to use to carry your belongings ready. Pack the electronic devices you will need, the relevant chargers and your power strip or external battery in your bag so you will not forget them. Put some snacks and a reusable bottle of water in your bag as well. Remember to stock your bag with an ample amount of business cards, too.
Depending on where you are staying and how full your daily calendar is, you may not be able to return to your room before the end of the day. Make sure you put enough supplies in your bag so you will not have a reason to stress over not being able to get back to your room.
Dial Your Room Number: With most conferences being jam-packed with activities, it can be difficult to remember everything, including the number of the hotel room you are staying in. To avoid wasting time asking the hotel’s attendants for your room number over and over again, get in the habit of dialing your room number when you check in. By doing this, your room number will be easily accessible in your call list. If you place and receive a lot of calls every day, you may want to put your room number in the subject line of an email and send it to yourself instead.
Dover Downs Hotel & Casino
While the tips provided above can help make conference travel more pleasant no matter where your next event is, staying at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino if you will be attending a conference at or near our convenient location is the smartest thing you can do to make your event experience unforgettable. When you stay at our AAA rated four diamond property, you are our top priority at all times.
At Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, we do not just work to meet your expectations. We strive to exceed them in everything we do.
When you stay with us, you will enjoy a luxurious spa, fabulous dining options that range from deli-style to fine dining, boutique shopping, great shows and concerts, live harness racing and a casino that has table games running 24/7. From several thousand slot machines, to a high stakes area, to a dedicated poker room and more, our casino has something for everyone.
Book a stay with Dover Downs Hotel & Casino today.