As us northerners settle in for a cold January, many of us are wondering if we’ll ever be outdoors again. You’d think we’d be used to this by now. When you think of a meeting or a conference in winter, often it’s the southern destinations that come to mind. And for good reason. It’s warm! However, you may be surprised to know that there are many benefits to hosting a Winter meeting in a northern city.

Not to take away from the benefits of warmer winter cities: after all, who can argue with an 85° January day. But it’s also important to remember that northern cities are fully equipped to handle winter conditions. Contrary to popular belief, and my own thoughts about winter, there are many positive aspects to chilly January days.

Hosting a Winter Meeting Will Make You Look like a Budget Superstar

Here are a few ways that a meeting planner can deliver an outstanding winter program and save on the budget at the same time.

Hotels. It’s no secret that hotel occupancies are at their lowest during the winter months (in the northern climate). This provides the meeting planner an opportunity to negotiate with a four or five star hotel where otherwise, say July or August, he or she may have had to negotiate with a three-star property.

You may also be interested in: Put Your Next Holiday on Ice: An Ice Hotel

Meeting Facilities. Like hotels, convention centers are also quiet at this time of year. A meeting planner will have much more bargaining power for room rates, food and beverage etc. Off-Site venues (museums, galleries etc.) are also quiet and, therefore, the meeting planner has the upper hand when negotiating rates.

Transportation. With the exception of school breaks, airlines are willing to negotiate with groups to fill their seats. Tip – it is important to have a contingency plan in place for winter travel. Often a winter storm can occur without much warning. Obtaining a local transportation company, one that’s used to dealing with winter travel, will definitely be an asset to a meeting planner.

Group Activities for Winter Meetings

Normally most winter days are very pleasant. The air is crisp and clean. Group activities should be designed to embrace the season. Here are a few suggestions of winter activities for groups:

Sporting Events. Hockey, basketball and lacrosse are all in full swing during the winter months.

Sleigh Rides/Tubing. Something that’s fun for the whole group.

Skiing/Ice-Skating/Snowshoeing. Outdoor winter activities don’t have to be for professionals. For example, skiing isn’t your cup of tea, strap on a pair of snowshoes and take an invigorating walk. You’ll be surprised how much fun snowshoeing is.

Museums/Galleries. Often there are traveling exhibits during the winter months.

If you’re planning a winter meeting, why not consider a northern city. This time of year offers a meeting planner an opportunity to plan a champagne meeting on a beer budget.

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