When we think of incentive travel, we usually think of palm trees, elegant resorts, spa and golf… But there are other options which are inspiring and engaging in different ways. Incentive programs have some unique requirements to be sure, but above all, they need: Easy flight access, top accommodations and cuisine, fun things to do, and interesting venues for functions and meetings. Site selection can be a challenge and sometimes the best solution is a great city destination. Here are a few of my favorite North American cities with the right mix for incentives:
All roads lead to…. Chicago? In less than four hou
rs flying time from most of the country, guests arrive at this Midwestern powerhouse. Now renowned for innovative American cuisine, Chicago also offers hopping jazz joints, chic city shopping, and world class museums. From regattas in Lake Michigan to exciting photo rallyes inspired by the world’s first skyscrapers, there’s a great deal to do here. Because it’s a popular business and convention city, there are a large number of hotel to consider between the Magnificent Mile and the Gold Coast, including one of our favorites: The Peninsula Chicago
. And when you’re ready for a little vertigo for your special event, the Skydeck
awaits, with jaw-dropping views and terrifying-but-fun glass-floored viewing platforms, known as The Ledge!
Founded by the French, built by the British, and beloved by Americans, Montreal is often referred to as the “Paris of North America.” The Old City has cobblestone streets with sidewalk cafes, horse-drawn carriages, even a Notre Dame cathedral. But it also has an ultra-modern side. Believe it or not, it was recently ranked as the fifth best nightlife city in the world, ahead of Las Vegas! From our most recent home base at the Loews Vogue
, guests can enjoy the vibrant life of downtown or escape to the green expanses of Mont Royal Park. For incentive travel programs, there’s everything to enjoy here from French food to the guilty-pleasure poutine, from skiing to gallery hopping, and everything in between.
With the arrival of some inte
resting downtown hotels, such as the Omni
, Nashville is emerging as a close-to-home destination known for serious fun, particularly for incentives with a strong meeting component. All it takes is one night, visiting the honky tonks on Broadway, and guests are sold on this entertainment-driven city. Simply put, it’s a lot of fun – barbeque, live music, and lots of it. In addition, there are some lively locations for events, including celebrity homes and large scale music venues.
There is just no way to have a list of the top incentive cities in North America without including NYC. It’s one of those destinations that never bores and is perpetually on the cutting edge of venues, accommodations, and excursions. For the very top in décor and entertainment, to the latest in shopping or gallery-hopping, there’s a wealth of options for program planners. My favorite hotels? The soaring Mandarin Oriental
with jaw-dropping views and the often more business-oriented New York Hilton
which boasts a near-perfect location near Central Park and Radio City Music Hall. With frequent flights from the world over, NYC makes an easy-to-get-to and never-forget-it destination.
Spectacular weather, international style, and so many things to do make San Francisco the beloved favorite of the west coast. From a city stay on Nob Hill to an inner circle side trip to Meadowood
in Napa, Northern California offers a different pace of life than most of the rest of the country. There are countless options for excursions, but surely the most popular is a trip to Napa for a little-wine tasting or up Muir Woods to hike in the redwoods. Options for evening events are diverse and dramatic, from Alcatraz to grand public spaces. It all comes together to make this an inspiring location for an incentive program.
Other cities to consider? Las Vegas, Miami, Boston, New Orleans, San Diego, and Scottsdale to name a few! And there’s always a great new hotel opening to keep us on our toes!