For a start, gather at a unique event space.

After a long day at a conference or meeting, most attendees look forward to relaxing and cutting loose. But that doesn’t mean their productivity has to come to a screeching halt.

By planning after-hours events in creative spaces, you can give meeting attendees the opportunity to relax, have fun, and maximize productivity. In fact, by giving attendees a shared activity or gathering them together in a new space, you can create opportunities for networking that simply may not arise on the convention floor.

“Attendees are looking for an opportunity to get outside the meeting-room walls and experience the destination and interact with their colleagues in a different environment,” said Lisa Wallace, senior communications manager at Visit Indy. “Doing so can inspire different conversations and spark different ideas. Also, when you have an activity, it can help break the ice. It can be a conversation point and make you feel more comfortable talking to new people.”

Consider Unique Event Spaces

Bars and restaurants are obvious places to host events. But that’s just the beginning of the possibilities. Consider planning activities or dining experiences at locales that are unique to your meeting’s destination. That could be something with strong links to the destination’s heritage, like the Panasonic Pagoda, the iconic 153-foot-tall viewing structure and event space in the heart of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, or a site that shows off a destination’s creativity and point of view.

When SCS Engineers was planning to exhibit at WASTECON, the annual conference of the Solid Waste Association of North America, the firm wanted an opportunity to engage with clients away from the Indianapolis Convention Center floor. SCS Engineers decided to hold an invitation-only gathering for 100 clients at Chef JJ’s, a unique dining experience a block from the Convention Center. Chef JJ’s prepares meals on a ceramic grill, and ticketed diners can watch the food being prepared, talk with grilling experts, and, of course, chat with one another. The August 2016 event proved to be an ideal networking opportunity for the company.

“Our business is really relationship building,” said Thomas A. Shuput, vice president of project development at SCS Engineers. “This event was great for relationship building. It gave us a chance to talk to people about something other than the services we provide and get to know them on a different level.”