RECIPE FOR AN INCENTIVE

What’s the recipe for selecting the perfect incentive travel destination? The top two requests made by our clients during site selection are that we provide options for 1) a cultural city or 2) somewhere warm—no surprise there! A sandy beach always makes for a beautiful and relaxing trip but the industry is seeing more and more programs trending toward city destinations—with a large percentage of them staying domestic. According to the Incentive Research Foundation’s latest survey of incentive-industry trends, nearly 83 percent of incentive travel planners are keeping their trips in the United States, a direct reflection of today’s economic realities. But your program doesn’t have to suffer by staying stateside if you make smart decisions during site selection.

Hollywood’s current infatuation with the Hub is undeniable. We are practically tripping over celebrities, and if it is good enough for Tom Cruise, why shouldn’t it be good enough for your company? All joking aside, there has never been a better time to visit Boston and while it does not always offer warm weather, the city is an absolute dream for event planners as it contains all the necessary ingredients for a successful incentive:

Accessibility

Get here! Boston Logan International Airport is New England’s largest transportation center with 40+ airlines flying nonstop to more than 100 domestic and international destinations. Prefer to keep your feet on the ground? Amtrak offers numerous daily routes in/out of North Station, South Station and Back Bay—making it super convenient to get close to your destination or hop one of the MBTA’s rail, bus, subway or boat offerings. Don’t forget about the old adage that Boston is a walking city—it’s true, in downtown Boston around 65 percent of trips during peak hours are nonmotorized—making all of Boston’s hidden treasures highly accessible to locals and visitors alike.

Fantastic Hotels

The hotel you choose as a home for your program will set the tone for the week’s itinerary. Some of our favorites for large groups and/or meetings are the Westin Boston Waterfont, for it’s great location and super comfortable beds, The Sheraton Boston featuring ample & newly renovated meeting space and great accessibility, the hip W Boston and the beautiful Fairmont at Battery Wharf. If you are traveling with a smaller group or looking for something a bit more boutique, try a luxurious room at XV Beacon, cozy up to stunning Charles River views from Hotel Marlowe, visit the historic yet modern Ames Boston, or rest your head behind bars at the always trendy Liberty Hotel.

Meeting Space

Famous for its hospitality and friendly spirit, Boston is one of the premiere meeting destinations in the United States. Offering three major convention facilities and over 127 hotels offering state-of-the-art, flexible meeting space, the Greater Boston area offers plenty of options to accommodate your meetings—from 10 to 10,000 attendees.

Group Activities

There are countless activities that make for an exciting day with your group in/around Boston. Rent a fleet of Duck Boats for a personalized tour of the city or support Boston’s youth by organizing a competitive sailing regatta through our neighbors at the Courageous Sailing Center in the Charlestown Navy Yard. Feeling a bit adventurous? Rent a fleet of vehicles for a road rally/scavenger hunt along the Massachusetts-Maine Coastline. What better way to give guests a taste of New England than with spectacular lighthouse vistas and a few lobster rolls along the way!

Dining

We know our food here in Boston and so do the Chefs that grace us with their talent. There are almost too many to choose from, but a few of our favorites for large groups include Towne Stove and Spirits, Grill 23 & Bar, Lucca (North End OR Back Bay) and let’s not forget about Del Frisco’s located on Boston’s exciting new Liberty Wharf. If you are planning a more intimate gathering, don’t miss the opportunity to do a buyout and try the Omakase tasting menu at O Ya, indulge in fabulous service and farm to table goodness at Chef Mary Dumont’s Harvest in Cambridge or sample anything at Barbara Lynch’s infamous No. 9 Park for an unforgettable experience.

Special Event Venues

This is an area in which Boston truly exceeds all expectations as one of a few cities where you can offer guests so many unique ways to soak up the local culture during an evening event. From Cambridge to Dorchester, there are incredible venues on every corner. One of my favorite themes highlights an evening filled with Culture & Cocktails at your choice of fabulous venues including the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, MFA, Boston Athenæum, the über hip ICA or the classic elegance and striking views at the JFK Library. For those looking for a more laid back evening, a great option would be a private tour of Fenway Park followed by a reception on the Green Monster!

Culture

Boston is bursting with history and there is no better way to visit the city’s nearly 55 National Historic Landmarks than on foot—not all in the same day of course, unless you are training for the Marathon! My favorite way to see the city’s highlights is to walk The Freedom Trail. This 2.5 mile red-brick walking trail will leads you to 16 nationally significant historic sites across the city. The Freedom Trail is a unique collection of museums, churches, meeting houses, burying grounds, parks, a ship, and historic markers that tell the story of the American Revolution and beyond. For more ideas about what to do & see in the city this spring, check out my fellow Belle of Beantown, Whitney Ferguson’s, blog  2012 State of the City: What Makes Boston Special.

Boston is the perfect example of how a domestic city can be an exciting, culturally rich, rewarding and fun destination for your next incentive. So what’s the recipe? Pick a rich and exciting locale, add at least one ingredient from each category, mix well and serve!

So many things to do yet so little time… Here at Castle, planning unique experiences is our passion and we would love to help create a personalized agenda for your next event. Contact us for more information and don’t forget to enter the EXPERIENCE BOSTON contest for your chance to win a weekend getaway with our friends at the Westin Boston Waterfront!

ENTER FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN!

Because we’re always looking for new ideas to share with our friends and clients, we want to know YOUR favorite things to do in Boston. Tell us about your favorite way to “Experience Boston” to be entered for a chance to win the Castle Experience Boston contest! What’s in it for you? Besides the thrill of sharing your story with our readers, one lucky entry will win a weekend stay at the Westin Boston Waterfront (2-night weekend stay, dates based on availability). The Waterfront is all the rage, and with warm weather right around the corner (we hope), there is no better place to enjoy Boston’s most vibrant new neighborhood. Just steps from hip restaurants, trendy shopping and fabulous harbor views, The Westin is one of our favorite places to stay/work in Boston and is in the epicenter of all that is buzzworthy in Beantown.

Don’t forget, this contest is about experiences so we want to hear your narrative! Post the story of your most memorable experience in Boston as a comment on any “Belles of Beantown” blog post April 9th – 13th to be entered for a chance to win. The winning entry will be announced next month when we return on May 7th—LET’S GO!

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