of sales, Kalahari
Wis., and three other
locations in the U.S.
◗ Activities to engage the family. The best
destinations boast activities that every
member of the family can enjoy.
◗ Family-friendly dining options. Food
and beverage can make or break a great
meeting experience. Conference attendees increasingly are looking for destinations that can deliver memorable dining
moments for the family with top-quality
food. Children’s palates are becoming
◗ Everything under one roof. Select a location where meeting attendees can park
the car for the entirety of their stay.
Shannon Timmerman, director
of sales, Wilderness Resort,
Wisconsin Dells, Wis.
◗ Have family meals in conjunction with
the meetings. Many groups will conduct
their meetings in the morning and then
leave afternoon and/or evenings open
for family time. They may have their busi-
ness meeting and meal, but will also have
another banquet room set up for their
families to eat as well.
◗ Childcare at events. One group reserves
three separate banquet rooms for the
duration of the event for childcare, and
they separate them into age groups. The
childcare provider then can design the
activities for each room by age group.
◗ Unique activities for kids. We include
waterpark passes in our room rates and
also work with groups to discount our
Wild Fun Passes for their attendees.
◗ Have “wow” experiences for the whole
family. Just recently, a group inquired
about renting out our waterpark for
their families after-hours.
Ryan Buck, director of sales,
Grand Traverse Resort & Spa,
◗ Have break activities
throughout the day
for kids and families, with specific
focus on STEM
day care experiences for children
based on age ranges.
◗ Create child- and family-friendly experiences during networking receptions,
allowing attendees to get to know each
other better through shared activities.
◗ Include kid-friendly menus and meals
when encouraging families to attend
◗ Offer activities while attendees are in
meetings. Cooking classes, beach activities and scavenger hunts are all great
Rhonda Khabir, corporate director
of sales, Great Wolf Lodge,
17 locations across the U.S.,
including seven in the Midwest
◗ Offer the opportunity for extending the
stay. Families can stay before or after and
make it a vacation.
◗ Make families feel they are welcomed.
Attendance increases when families are
encouraged to attend.
◗ Have a portion of the conference include a family-relat-ed activity.
◗ Include families at
◗ Work in free time
to spend with the
family and to enjoy
the venue and destination.
The age-old concern of how to keep the whole family entertained and happy on vacation also rings true for bringing kids and spouses along to a conference. It’s the solution that is ever-changing.
We checked in with four industry experts who have
first-hand experience with groups that welcome
kids and spouses for their strategies to ensure
successful family-friendly meetings based on
BY KATE CRIPE
Experts weigh in with tips for great family-friendly
gatherings in the Midwest and beyond
GRAND TRAVERSE RESORT & SPA
GREAT WOLF LODGE
KALAHARI RESORTS AND