The UN-Fam Fam: How a “Discovery Tour” goes beyond showing off a property to educate and inspire

meeting-event-rfpBy Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster

As a meeting planner, you well know the value of seeing a meeting venue in person before contracting space. Yet with so much on your plate, can you really justify being out of the office for a day or more to visit on a fam (familiarization) tour? And as virtual reality tools begin to make visiting from our desks just about as real as visiting in person, I believe the fam tour must evolve.

To stay ahead of the curve, the team at Suncadia Resort near Seattle decided to elevate the experience of the traditional “fam” tour and turn it into a content-driven, experiential Discovery Tour.

–> Or what we can call the Unfam Fam.

Sure, everyone had the chance to walk the luscious grounds, tour the meeting and sleeping rooms, dine on deliciousness and savor a short spa treatment.

Additionally, planners gained insights on designing more productive, less-boring, and more active meetings that address the whole person: body, mind and spirit. They interacted with content and co-created ideas for staging more effective events in meeting spaces of the quality and scope offered by a location like Suncadia.

26 Bicycles and ScootersThat’s in part because the Suncadia Discovery Tour day included my customized, interactive workshop, “From Bore to Roar: How to Design Radically Engaging Events” [ROAR is my acronym for Return on Attendee Relevance].

Details on how the day unfolded: more than two dozen planner professionals began this distinct educational experience on a comfy coach that transported us to Suncadia—away from the bustle of the city to the peace and spaciousness of the resort. After a trivia contest, a brief history, and an overview of what the game Angry Birds teaches us about designing better meetings, we arrived with our brains open and our bodies ready to move.

–> Un-bore-ifying At Suncadia.

Suncadia’s on-site recreation team then hosted a game show-type quiz and a Minute-to-Win-It style program in the ballroom that had everyone participating. In place of dull slide decks: engaging ways to review and learn content and model how any agenda can be made more fun and educational.

We took in Suncadia’s Three Hole Golf Park at Rope Rider and saw how it’s the perfect size for a quick interactive session for groups without the time for 9 or 18 holes. The Lodge’s one-of-a-kind “1000 Steps” stairway gave meeting goers an easy-access way to change gears, network, problem solve and boost body-mind connections. A coffee break on its second landing offers both spectacular river views and chances to refocus and reflect.

In the Bore to Roar workshop over a delectable lunch, I shared the top strategy questions to ask in advance of planning to ensure you wring the most value from a meeting space and time, as well as a bit about what the latest brain science tells us about designing better meetings. The group also put their heads together to generate fresh ways to involve their attendees in future meetings in ways that can only be experienced live.

We discussed too the importance of getting meeting attendees out of their chairs and involved in experiencing and participating in creating content rather than just passively listening to others. We saw how learning only takes place upon reflection—not just because we’re exposed to something new—and why, then, Suncadia’s spaciousness is a natural environment for this thoughtful reflection.

–> In what other ways can “familiarization” tours become less familiar, less status quo, more engaging, more effective?

Just as allowing more choices and options is crucial in any meeting plan, “fam” tour participants too crave more choice and “breathing room” in how they experience a venue, according to Jay Friedman, a food writer who’s often invited on fam tours.

Bottom line? The Discovery Tour approach—one in which attendees become participants who holistically engage in content with all their senses—lays the literal ground work for meetings to become more creative, memorable, and productive.

Future Discovery Tours are in the works at Suncadia. Let us know if you’d like to attend.