International Conferences: Cities, Sights And Sounds

conference-roomIf you’re trying to decide where to host your next conference, realize the city you choose is every bit (possibly more) important than the speakers, venue or theme. Why? The city immediately sets the mood, providing a siren call that says, “Come and Visit”, make the right choice and you’ll have already solved a multitude of potential conference problems.

Your choices are many and varied and the following list is by no means complete, simply the choices that rose to the top, after polling 100 people concerning their favorite destination.

Consider where the majority of your guests will be arriving from and is the destination affordable.

(List ordered alphabetically)

  • Amsterdam (historic with an air of intrigue - home to author Anne Frank)
  • Athens (temple of Zeus, The Parthenon, 7000 years of recorded history)
  • Bangkok (allow time to visit the Buddhist shrines and order a tailored made suit)
  • Barcelona (home to Picasso, known for flamenco dancing and La Rambla Boulevard)
  • Berlin (visit the remains of the infamous “Berlin Wall” or Germany’s oldest zoo)
  • Budapest (visit Buda Castle, Heroes’ square or take a cruise on the Danube)
  • Buenos Aires (gourmet cuisine, remarkable shopping, a frantic nightlife)

When is your conference scheduled? Speak with city representatives to ensure there are no major activities scheduled at the same time. If there are, it could limit your choice of accommodations and venues.

  • Chicago (Sears Tower, Frank Lloyd Wright, Kellogg’s, The Taste of Chicago)
  • Edinburgh (capital of Scotland, Edinburgh castle, Athens of the North)
  • London (2000 year history, cosmopolitan, business and financial epi-center)
  • Madrid (known for its nightlife, capital of Spain, full of architecture, and culture)

Is the city you’re considering bi-lingual and tourist friendly? While your conference attendees will spend the majority of their time at the venue, when they have free time, can they travel and communicate easily? Will they return home feeling they learned something, plus enjoyed their free time?

  • Mexico City (thriving metropolis, museums, performing arts, diverse nightlife)
  • Milan (home to Italian stock exchange, known for music and art, continental climate)
  • Montreal (ancient history, 2nd largest city in Canada - Jazz Festival - St. Lawrence Seaway)
  • Munich (3rd largest German city, 10 universities, 45 museums, 60 beer gardens)
  • New York (Wall Street, Broadway, Statue of Liberty, United Nations, International finance)
  • Oslo (capital of Norway, neoclassical architecture, nature lover’s city)
  • Paris (Eiffel Tower, Moulin Rouge, Seine River Cruise, Louvre Museum)

Once you’ve chosen your city and venue, compile a list of nearby places of interest, ones that can be seen easily in an afternoon or free day. Your hotel or venue representative should be able to provide this information.

  • Prague (City of a Thousand Spires, home to the “velvet revolution”, popular among Europeans)
  • Rio de Janeiro (Botanical Gardens, souvenirs, Corcovado, Sambodromo)
  • Rome (over 2800 years of history, the Vatican, gladiator coliseum, Apostle Paul, the catacombs)
  • San Francisco (Fisherman’s wharf, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, cable cars, live theater, Chinatown)

While you want your city choice to be exciting, you don’t want attendees leaving in the middle to sightsee. Choice a balance of cultural and practicality.

  • San Sebastian (exquisite beaches, historic churches, spectacular views, gourmet food)
  • Sao Paulo (largest city in South America, theatres, opera and dance, vibrant night life, financial center)
  • Singapore (Night Safari, Orchard Road, Chinatown, Fountain of Wealth, Boat Quay)
  • Stockholm (capital of Sweden, DjurgÃ¥rden Island, Grona Lund” amusement park, Vasa Museum)
  • Tokyo (Tsukiji Fish Market, Sumo, Meiji Shrine, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Shibuya Station)
  • Venice (Grand Canal, Palazzo Ducale, Campanile di San Marco, Basilica di San Marco)
  • Vienna (dating to the Roman Empire, capital of Austria, cultural hub of Europe, classical music
  • Washington (seat of American government, Smithsonian museum, live music, countless museums, live music)

Choose a city that is fun, interesting, and inexpensive, a city that welcomes tourists, offering them a friendly smile. There are lots of great conference venues in London, however do keep in mind the distance the majority of your attendees will need to travel, is making the trip feasible?

There are thousands of cities to choose from and the final choice will need to be made by you and your conference staff. Keep this thought in mind; if possible visit the city before making a final choice and visit during a peak time, this will prove the ebb and flow when it’s pushed to capacity.

Marjorie Preece writes for the travel and business sectors and is based in London, England. Her city is her main inspiration and she loves to chronicle the ever changing scene in London.

If you have any questions, please ask below!