A mountain setting can take away the distractions of the office and city life and allow for a connection to nature, which often can spike productivity, creativity and collaboration.

Unplugging, bringing the meeting room outdoors and creating new experiences seem to be on-trend for 2018, according to four experts dialed in to mountain meetings. 

Jennifer Capistran, Director of Sales,
Granlibakken Tahoe, Tahoe City, California

Experiential retreats. Not traditional board-style meetings, but rather highly experiential and individual experiences are valued. Combining business and leisure as a part of a conference has become more popular—with free time or activity time intentionally built in throughout the conference.

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Wellness. Many more wellness groups are booking—from yoga teacher trainings to fitness camps. Even groups that are not directly associated with well-being endeavors are incorporating wellness activities into their agenda. There is also a focus on healthy food as a part of this trend. Groups want healthy, tasty meals that can accommodate a wide variety of dietary restrictions and requests.

A focus on teamwork and collaboration. Groups are focusing on building better interpersonal relationships between attendees, which can boost productivity.

Time set aside for group activities and teambuilding exercises is popular. Many groups choose to utilize nontraditional meeting spaces, such as fire pits, outdoor seating areas and even hiking trails as informal spaces where attendees can get to know each other and build stronger connections.

Strategic planning meetings. Meetings that focus on strategic planning in a setting without distractions. This is companies working with consultants to implement changes—from teambuilding to corporate strategy.

Carol E. Schmidt, Senior Manager, Conference Sales,
Copper Mountain Resort, Copper Mountain, Colorado

Nontraditional Meeting Space. Planners are selecting mountain meetings because they want their attendees to get out of traditional meeting spaces. Instead of sitting in a four-walled room with no natural light, they are seeking to be as close to nature as possible.

They want their attendees to move about outdoors and breathe the fresh air.

Soft adventure with new activity options. Groups want to adapt a teambuilding program or activity to connect with the earth, the mountains, and the forests.

Connecting with nature, even for a small part of the day during a lunch break, brings the attendee back to the work session with a new perspective and reinvigorated energy.

Incorporating the outdoors. We see most conferences year–round incorporating part of the day outdoors. Winter means hitting the slopes, riding the Rocky Mountain Coaster, tubing, ice skating or cross country skiing. Summer means hiking, riding the coaster, biking or sitting peacefully at the beach around West Lake.

Wendy Kirkpatrick, Director, Group Sales,
Fairmont Banff Springs, Banff, Alberta

Corporate Social Responsibility. CSR is still a big request that we see in many RFPs. Clients are able to collect food for the Banff food bank in a fun, competitive environment, build backpacks for underprivileged children or work with the YWCA, [to give] just some examples.

Increase in incentive bookings. We have seen an increase in requests for mountain destinations for incentives, looking for a change to “fun and sun” which can become stale.

[They are requesting] very experiential bucket list items, such as dogsledding, horse-drawn sleigh rides, picnics on top of the world and wildlife tracking tours, to name a few.

Connecting to nature. Escaping cities for meetings allows for connection to nature, which can spark further creativity and out-of-the-box thinking.

Teambuilding. Teambuilding and team activities create a balance, making time in the meeting room more focused and energized. The mountain environment creates memorable teambuilding options, from geocaching to a live Pictionary game overlooking the breathtaking scenery.

Sarah Kazhe-Kirgan, Director of Marketing,
Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino, Mescalero, N.M.

A connection to nature and the outdoors. People are looking for something that connects them to their very basic core of being a human. They want to feel connected to nature and their surroundings even while at meetings or working. In the age of technology, we are connected to everything, all the time, however, it is not the same as smelling the roses and enjoying a good cup of coffee.

Experiences. There is a shift from the materialistic point of view, where people need to accumulate wealth and things, to spending money on experiences. Enjoying downtime with walks, hikes, ziplining, good food and drinks, the arts, their bucket list and of course, family.

Personalized hospitality and service. More than ever, people are looking for those good old American family values and manners, where someone actually greets you when you walk in the door and shows you the best of their hospitality. And when that level of hospitality and service is given, it feels like home, and people will return over and over again.