CAB Dynamics: Venue selection
Customer Advisory Boards (CABs) can bring immense strategic value to your company. But gaining that value takes considerable thought and careful detail-oriented planning. Choosing the best location, hotel, and meeting space are critical to ensuring a positive end-to-end experience for your customers and executives.
We’ve hosted CABs from New York to Bali and even Monaco. That breadth of experience gives unique insight on which locations are ideally suited for playing host to a CAB – and which aren’t.
How do you choose a destination for your CAB?
Choosing the right location for your CAB is all about lowering the barriers for your customers to participate. Long plane rides, connecting flights, and exhausting drives to the venue can all make attending much less appealing for busy executives.
Host cities with large airports and within one or two time-zones of your prospective members make coming to a CAB meeting much more attractive for your CAB Members. Traveling from coast to coast in the United States is a 6 hour flight, which generally involves losing a whole day to travel on both ends. Dallas, Chicago, and Denver make good middle ground locations if you have members who will be flying from both coasts. If your Members are concentrated in one region, try to avoid making them fly for more than 4 hours where possible.
By and large, CAB Members need to show a good return on their time investment to attend a CAB. A good way of helping them along is by choosing a known business hub. New York, Chicago, London, Frankfurt, Singapore, or Sydney all make great locations because so many companies have offices in those cities. Members can visit their local office or a customer before or after attending your CAB meeting, making it clear to their teams that this is indeed a productive work trip.
A few exceptions are worth pointing out. A big event or scenic destination can justify breaking the “4 hour flight rule” if it’s sufficiently tempting. Restful, scenic places like Amelia Island or Sea Island (or Bali – but enough gloating) can help your customers disconnect from the day to day and give you their undivided attention.
Which venues maximize CAB collaboration?
Once you’ve selected the right destination, the next step is to choose the right hotel venue. With a senior executive cohort, you’ll naturally want a five-star hotel. But it’s important to remember that you’re looking for intimacy when you choose your hotel. Meeting areas should create a comfortable generous workspace, but ought not be cavernous ballrooms. Members need to feel that they’re collaborating as an intimate candid group in a privileged space.
Avoid the huge venues in Las Vegas and Orlando – we often recommend a well-appointed boutique four-star hotel over a large chain with five-stars, solely based on its intimacy. A CAB is a collaborative conversation, not Comic-Con.
We tend to choose meeting rooms which are spacious, but feel reasonably full when 20 people are collaborating during the sessions. We also like to book a second room nearby for private breakfasts and lunches, as well as breakout groups when required. Members always know where they have to be, and very little time is lost to room changes.
Every hour of a CAB meeting represents 15-25 hours of C-level time and considerable expense, so streamlining travel and ensuring comfort and creativity are vital. Seamless, well-orchestrated CAB experiences lead to camaraderie and memories that customers will recall with fondness for decades.