Planning events in other states can be tough. If you’re like me and need to be able to see something in person to know it exists – you probably have an especially challenging time ahead. Check out my top three tips for planning events out-of-state:

Scout Venues

Hopefully it is in your budget to head out to your location and explore various venues before you book a place and sign a contract. Don’t know where to begin? I suggest contacting the local visitor’s bureau. They usually have great resources for meeting planners from out-of-town. Don’t have it in your budget to head out their prior to your event? Ask the venue’s event managers to send you photos, maps, and room layouts. They’re usually happy to do this!

A venue map for one of our upcoming conferences (Galt House - Louisville, Kentucky)

A venue map for one of our upcoming conferences (Galt House – Louisville, Kentucky)

face-time-iphone-4Leverage Technology

There are some pretty amazing technological resources out there that can help you when planning events from afar. Sometimes it’s easier to plan things when you can speak face-to-face with a person, so try arranging a Google Hangout with your planning committee or scheduling a virtual tour of a venue using the iPhone Facetime app or Skype. Seek out websites and applications that allow users to review places like hotels, restaurants, and local attractions. These honest reviews will help you decide what’s best for your event.

Schedule “Down Time” or “Time on Your Own”

I’ve been to, and planned, a few out-of-state conferences and the feedback I hear most often is “I wish there was more down time to explore the city on our own!” It’s hard not to want to plan a full and robust schedule for your participants, but including tours and dinners that are “optional” or offering a night of “dinner on your own” is a good bet (and can save you money).

Aside from these three things, it is always important to build an active advisory committee. These people probably have important insights and contacts they can share. Likewise, you need to know your audience. How do their demographics factor into the key decisions you make like entertainment, restaurants, and even sponsor solicitation?

Need more help? Check out my planning tool box and the 5 W’s you need to know for planning your next event!