In Your Own Backyard

By Kimberly L. McCall

If you don’t have the budget to jet your sales reps down to Rio for a sales meeting, be creative about your local options. Harold Powell, Jr., director of sales and marketing for Lansdowne Resort ( in Lansdowne, VA, says the key is to blend in a good dose of entertaining activities during the meeting. “By having attendees participate in a variety of fun activities outside the meeting,” explains Powell, “people not only respond but focus more energy on the meeting itself, which leads to increased productivity.”

One way to pull off a superb local meeting is to ensure that the facility offers a mix of stellar facilities, as well as amenities and activities. At Lansdowne, the recreation options include golf and a full-service spa; team-building activities range from cooking classes to wine tastings. At a recent team-building session, a company gave each attendee a different musical instrument. Each member had to play a particular rhythm during the meeting. Powell says the tactic worked well because it got everyone involved and each attendee was essentially on an even playing field, unlike a golf tournament. “Each attendee was made comfortable by the fact that they were no better or worse with their instrument than their co-workers,” says Powell.

To make a local meeting engaging, Powell advises meeting planners take these steps.

  • Start off on the right foot. Choose a location that is easy to get to and create a pleasant arrival experience. Feature a meet-and-greet hospitality area that allows ample time for reps to get settled and renew old acquaintances.
  • Remember that comfort is key. Have an ample supply of refreshments available to meet everyone’s different tastes. Make the space as comfortable as possible, from in-room temperature controls to ergonomically correct chairs.
  • Get people involved. Rather than straight, boring presentations, mix in some high-tech audio/visual effects, role-playing games and question-and-answer sessions. Make attendees part of the meeting by asking questions, soliciting opinions and encouraging interaction to garner active participation.
  • Stimulate their minds. Don’t just talk business. Instead show attendees how what you do applies to everyday life. Motivational speakers are a common way to get people to stretch their minds.
  • Move it along. Make sure the meeting moves along at a good pace and doesn’t drag on. When it drags, people’s attention wanders.