We are always excited when a client asks us to create an event in a new city, whether in the U.S. or abroad. It’s an opportunity to work with creative vendors to surprise and delight a new group of guests.

One of the hallmarks of our event planning is creating an atmosphere that is indigenous to the landscape. This works well as it exposes out-of-town guests to some of the local flavor, enables people in the area to show off their resources and provides the client with a great sense of satisfaction for hosting a unique event.

What’s the secret to doing all of this? It’s not just a matter of doing online research. It goes well beyond that. Most people assume that the first thing you would do is to visit the actual location, but that is not where we start. Instead, we try to immerse ourselves into what gives the area its distinct personality. We order the local visitor’s guide to see what suggestions are given to visitors coming to the area. We subscribe to the print version of the local city magazine as it is great for visual tear sheets and you are less likely to miss something of interest that you might pass over by only viewing the online version. We then apply the “new vs. old” approach. We scour the internet to see if there are any local groups who might be tweeting or posting on Instagram about what is “hot” or of current interest in the city. 

Another strategy is to contact the sales person or concierge at an upscale hotel. It is their job to not only know their property, but also the entire city. Upscale, local caterers are also a great resource when on the hunt for unique venues since they have usually been hired to work a party or event in new, hot spots. Most people are eager to help and are great at suggesting something you may not even know existed! Once those steps are done, then we actually plan a visit to the area armed with a full working knowledge of what we need to see, further investigate potential venues and meet with vendors.

Prior to forming the Charles Group Inc. in 1987, Susan Dunkelman served as director of conferences for the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS), an association of over 4,000 member corporations. 

The times they are a-changing, and that has never been truer than when it comes to selecting an A/V partner and deciding whether the in- house A/V vendor or an outside third-party provider is the right partner for you. Due to advancements in technology, lighting and other A/V equipment that has come down in price, planners are now finding op- portunities to use previously out of budget technology with a much more palatable price tag. 


Retreats and off-site meetings present wonderful opportunities for groups to collaborate, strategize and build relationships away from their normal office environments. With proper planning, these sessions can be highly effective and even pivotal in setting a new direction. However, off-sites may present some unforeseen challenges that can quickly deflate the energy in the room if not anticipated and addressed in advance.


No matter the scope or size of an event, it’s best to have some sort of common thread that ties everything together. This can be accomplished using décor, lighting, food, floral and even music.
It’s when you don’t have a cohesive look that the attendee experience can feel disjointed and not provide the outcomes you set out to achieve.