7 Ways to Deliver Authenticity and Adventure

An overhead image of two kaykers on Watson Lake in Arizona. The lake enhances a sense of adventure with the otherworldly rock formations that surround it.

Skift Take

Gone are the days of fly-in, fly-out meetings and events. Attendees no longer want to stay within the bubble of their hotel room or a conference venue. Instead, they want to break out and explore. Curated in partnership with the Arizona Office of Tourism, here are seven ways to create authentic event experiences in tune with local nature, culture, and history.

This content was created in partnership with the Arizona Office of Tourism.

Do you know how to create events with a true sense of place and personality?

Research suggests that attendees now place more emphasis on authenticity and corporate social responsibility, and meeting planners are taking note. These priorities not only represent a shift in values, but a new framework for delivering unforgettable, transformative event experiences.

The Freeman Trends Report: 2024 Attendee Intent and Behavior found that next-generation event goers are especially inclined to value authentic connection and social causes. But while this trend may be most common among younger generations, it extends much further. Research from the 2023 Sustainable Travel Research Report revealed that 75 percent of survey respondents seek authentic experiences that are representative of the local culture. At the same time, 40 percent don’t know how or where to find tours and activities that give back to the community.

This presents an opportunity for event planners to tap into the destination’s distinct culture and uncover authentic experiences that promise both adventure and connection. Skift Meetings has partnered with the Arizona Office of Tourism to uncover seven ideas that will set your attendees on the path to genuine exploration, both in the Grand Canyon State and beyond.

To preview some of the authentic experiences and adventurous activities available in Arizona, watch the video below:

1. Find the Hidden Gem Destination

The search for the ideal event location often leads to busy cities and well-established resort towns. And while it’s certainly helpful to be situated close to a major transport hub, looking a little further afield can help you create a more memorable and distinctive experience. Seek out locations that combine a small-town atmosphere with spectacular scenery, and your event will stand out from the sea of meetings held in the status-quo urban centers.

An aerial shot of a main street in Prescott, Arizona, with low-rise buildings featuring quaint historical facades that conjure the authentic small-town charm of the Old West. A pine-covered mountain is visible in the background.
An aerial view of Prescott, Arizona. Image credit: David Veatch.

In Arizona, for example, the wild beauty of small-town Prescott makes it a real contender for adventure seekers. Standing at an elevation of 5,300 feet among 1.2 million acres of parkland in Prescott National Forest, Prescott’s average temperature stands around a pleasant 70 degrees. Throughout the year, its breathtaking scenery — think pine forests, otherworldly granite boulders with unique globular formations, and glimmering lakes — allows for outdoor exploration whatever the season. It’s also conveniently located less than a two-hour drive from Phoenix.

Snow covers tall pine trees on either side of a winding country road.
A Prescott road in winter. Image credit: David Veatch.

Prescott is known for its authentic cowboy culture, and has over 800 registered historical buildings, many in the iconic downtown area. For those wanting a taste of Frontier nostalgia, Experience Prescott can help with custom itineraries. There are multiple ways to discover the town’s landmarks and cultural attractions, including interactive activities like the Heritage Trail & History Hunt and historical reenactments through Living History Adventures at the Sharlot Hall Museum. For the ultimate experience of authentic cowboy culture, visit the festivities at Frontier Days Inc., The World’s Oldest Rodeo, which runs throughout the first week of July.

2. Look for Meeting Venues That Open Doors to Nature

Ideally, all of this authentic heritage and down-to-earth charm should be matched with intimate meeting venues that integrate the beauty of the surrounding scenery. The Prescott Resort and Conference Center, for example, not only features stunning views of the region’s mountainscape, but offers 16,000 square feet of multipurpose space that can be adapted for your needs. This includes 13 meeting rooms, 160 guest rooms, and 80 suites. It also has an indoor banquet capacity of 490 and outdoor capacity of 700. For those who want to feel even closer to Prescott’s woodland wilderness, Chapel Rock conference center caters to groups of up to 225 with unique meeting spaces and a variety of outdoor activities, including ziplining, climbing, and basketball.

3. Take the Path Less Traveled for Outdoor Adventures

Another benefit of choosing a hidden-gem destination amid wild landscapes is that it provides plenty of opportunity to invite your attendees to explore natural wonders. Arizona’s mountainous topography offers over 100 trails in the Prescott area alone. Spanning 470 miles, the treks range in difficulty from easy to challenging to cater to all kinds of adventurers, from leisurely strollers to adrenalin junkies.

Some favorites in Prescott include the Watson Lake Loop Trail, which leads explorers through striking rock formations around and within the lake; the serene and leisurely Lynx Lake Trail; and the more challenging Granite Mountain, which can be explored with local rock-climbing outfit Granite Mountain Guides.

Globular rock formations surround a placid blue lake, the perfect setting for a hike.
Watson Lake in Prescott, Arizona. Image credit: An Pham.

While an experienced agency can help participants to feel safe at every step, it’s also important to protect the natural environment. For this reason, the Arizona Office of Tourism collaborated with the Leave No Trace, Center for Outdoor Ethics to develop the AppreciateAZ campaign — offering multiple resources to connect with nature responsibly, including a toolkit and online courses.

4. Connect to the Local Culture of Nature Appreciation

You don’t have to be a born adventurer to find a connection to the local landscape in the destination you choose for your event. An authentic experience of the outdoors doesn’t have to take place in the wilderness — it can be as simple as participating in community conversations around the preservation and observation of nature. Look for initiatives that combine science and the arts to help people appreciate the area’s heritage and natural history. These experiences aren’t only suitable for less intrepid travelers: They’re also more accessible, and can complement an outdoor experience for a deeper understanding.

In Prescott, there are several attractions that help visitors answer the question of how locals connect to and cherish the beauty of nature around them. The Highland Center for Natural History hosts events throughout the year to offer routes into the “more-than-human world,” from Wilderness First Aid courses to nature drawing classes and a Community Nature Study Series, where experts take a deeper dive into Arizona’s wildlife.

Meanwhile, The Natural History Institute plays host to four nature-inspired contemporary art exhibits each year, has a regular speaker series that is open to the public, and was the location for the 2019 Reciprocal Healing: Nature, Health, and Wild Vitality conference. This brought together leaders in medicine, psychology, and natural history to explore the relationship between the health of humans and the health of nature.

An image of Granite Mountain photographed between tree leaves.
Granite Mountain in Prescott, Arizona. Image credit: David Veatch.

5. Engage With the Artist Community

A connection to the region’s culture doesn’t only mean understanding its natural environment, but its history and heritage, too. By partnering with local galleries and participating in workshops and activities that support local artists, events can provide attendees with the authentic experience they’re seeking. At the same time, they can give back to the community.

Prescott’s Museum of Indigenous People combines historical artifacts with contemporary exhibits of Native art, inviting visitors to embark on a journey of greater understanding and respect for indigenous cultures of the Southwest. It runs a program of special events that encourage visitors to interact with this mission more proactively, such as a Navajo rug and art auction and educational lectures. Meanwhile the Phippen Museum is dedicated to Western art, and offers art classes, tours, and workshops.

6. Support Custodians of Indigenous Culture

Indigenous communities provide another avenue for accessing a wealth of cultural knowledge and traditions. Ideally, off-site activities should do more than visit museums of Native American history: They should create opportunities to engage with the people who continue this cultural legacy into the present day and beyond.

Nestled amongst desert brush with breathtaking mountain views in the distance, Prescott’s Yavapai-Apache Cultural Resource Center has permanent displays that provide insight into the contributions and history of the Yavapai-Apache Nation. Importantly, it is not just a heritage site, but also a thriving community center. In 2023, the center made history by collaborating with The Language Conservancy to launch online dictionaries and picture books that help preserve the Dilzhe’e language of the Apache and the Wipukpa-Tolkapaya language of the Yavapai.

7. Tap Into the Local Craft of Brewing

While a deeper sense of place can come from outdoor activities such as hiking and cultural attractions like community centers, there are few better ways to understand the life of locals than to see how they make a living. Consider offering event attendees an authentic experience linked to the destination’s artisanal industries or its agricultural production.

Prescott, for instance, boasts a thriving craft beer scene, with multiple breweries and alehouses sprinkled across the town. And if your attendees want to experience the deep roots of Prescott’s “watering hole” culture within one city block, consider including a bar-hopping adventure down Whiskey Row. Participants can step back in time as they stroll along the full block of saloons, many of which harken to the gold rush era of the early 1900s.

Approximately 20 people of mixed genders, ages, and abilities stand in three rows wearing authentic clothing from the pioneer days. The sign behind them reads, "Bloody Bucket Saloon."
A personal photo of local entertainers dressed in traditional Old Western attire as they pose outside on Whiskey Row.

Whether you make Prescott the destination for your next event or seek out another hidden gem, it’s this exciting mix of local, authentic, and adventurous experiences that your attendees will remember. And ultimately that’s what will keep them coming back for more.

For more information on all that Arizona has to offer for your next meeting or event, visit

This content was created collaboratively by the Arizona Office of Tourism and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.