BY MARIA LENHART
That associations and corporations alike are holding more
meetings within easy driving
distances for attendees is evidenced by two recent surveys
from PCMA and American
Express, both of which cite a
continuing increase in the number of regional meetings held
during the past two years.
“Meeting planners revealed
that companies are expecting to
keep meetings close to home by
looking to hold more meetings
within their region and/or their
own facilities,” says Issa Jouaneh,
vice president and general
manager of American Express
Meetings & Events. “Compli-
ance, cost and travel time are all
noted as top drivers of the trend,
as companies seek alternative
ways to control costs and reduce
time away from the office.”
At the same time, travelers
are finding significantly fewer
flights to second- and third-ti-
er destinations, with a report
from the U.S. Government
Accountability Office noting
service to smaller airports has
decreased by 24 percent since
With all that in mind, here’s
a look at six top options when
hosting a drive-to affair.
Among cities where the drive-to market is taking on greater
importance is Providence, R.I.,
which experienced a 20 percent
surge in the number of visitors
arriving by car this past summer,
according to Tom Riel, vice
president of sales and services
for the Providence Warwick
CVB. While many were leisure
travelers, many were also meeting
attendees, particularly from
associations based in the New
England area, he says.
“Air service is down—as it is
practically everywhere—and yet
our hotel occupancies are continuing to grow,” he says. “So we know
the drive market is behind this.
With smaller and more crowded
planes, flying these days is not a
Providence, which in the past
has promoted itself as a “One-
Tank Meetings” destination,
emphasizes its convenient location
to meeting planners.
“Twenty percent of the U.S.
population is within a two-hour
drive of Providence and the I- 95
corridor bisects our community,”
Along with accessibility,
Providence promotes its relatively
smooth traffic flow and parking
availability. The city also works
with planners to address the needs
With regional meetings on the upswing, gas prices dropping and air service to smaller airports on the decline, a variety of forces are aligning to encourage the drive-to meeting.
Six red-hot drive-to locales
Brandy wine Valley, Del.
Grand Geneva Resort, Lake Geneva, Wis.