Since the onset of the pandemic, event planners and venues have been finding ways to perfect the art of meeting outdoors. From enhanced technology that allows an entire function to take place in nature to open air teambuilding activities, I’ve seen so much creativity in the planning process. A natural backdrop can be both inspiring and calming, helping attendees to make meaningful and lasting connections with their peers, while offering fresh air for a safe meeting environment. While many groups prefer to spend time outdoors during the warmer months, there are several ways to continue connecting outside year-round while staying warm and comfortable. Here are my top tips for hosting an outdoor event this winter season.
Flexible Outdoor Venues Makes the Difference
Planners have endless possibilities for an outdoor setting, so it is important to find the right destination to ensure the event goes off without a hitch. I recommend that planners consider a flexible venue that offers both indoor and outdoor capabilities. For example, covered terraces and pavilions can be a great fit since they offer fresh air immersed in nature while offering protection and tented sides for in case of inclement weather. At Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay, we have a beautiful covered pavilion that looks directly out over the water and features a large rustic fireplace that helps to circulate heat during the fall and winter seasons.
Heating and Comfort Are Key
It is important to work with your venue to ensure it has appropriate capabilities for heating its outdoor spaces. Many venues will provide a variety of heating lamps or personal heaters to fit the size of the function. In addition to more conventional heaters, I recommend setting up creative and fun warming stations such as multiple outdoor firepits where attendees can gather around while sharing a beverage and good conversation.
One of my favorite trends is for planners to coordinate welcome amenities or gifts designed to help attendees stay comfortable during their experience. For an outdoor winter meeting, this can include everything from hand warmers and thermoses to branded blankets.
Staying Warm through F&B
Food and beverages can make or break an event and is an easy way to truly make an impact on attendees. The winter season is a great time to have fun with the dining experience. My favorite seasonal food and beverage options include a hot chocolate station where attendees can add toppings or mix in cordials, and s’mores receptions where guests can make delicious treats with house-made chocolates, graham crackers, and marshmallows.
Cari Ruppert is the Director of Sales, Marketing and Events at Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina. She has more than 20 years working in the events and hospitality industry.