Destinations

Tapping Into Unexpected Moments to Elevate Events


Arizona unexpected experiences

Skift Take

Creating authentic and unexpected experiences is a surefire way to maintain attendee engagement, thus making your event much more valuable than a standard day inside a convention center.

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

Tired of the same-old, same-old, event attendees crave experiences that go beyond the unexpected. Full days inside a convention center or board room aren’t likely to justify the time, travel, and resources required to participate in conferences and meetings. To match these expectations, meeting planners should look toward their host destination to unlock authentic and unexpected moments that will thrill groups — and sometimes push them to previously unimaginable heights.

It can be necessary to search off the beaten path to find once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. While big cities provide comforts and amenities, rural communities and small towns are big on adventure. These destinations, less frequented by travelers, remain true to their roots, honoring heritage and legacy. Incorporating such authenticity into an event connects with attendees. That level of engagement creates unforgettable experiences that inspire creativity and innovation.

Skift Meetings partnered with the Arizona Office of Tourism to create this report,, which showcases ways to surprise and delight attendees at your next meeting.

1. Connect with a Deeper Sense of Culture

Attendees are increasingly interested in exploring their home-away-from-home for a few days. It is not simply wanting to walk around local shops and visit attractions. Instead, they are looking for an emotional connection that requires agendas to dig deeper. Arizona, for example, is shaped by the history of indigenous tribes. Incorporating Native American customs and traditions into receptions and other events is an opportunity to educate and entertain attendees – providing a nourishment not necessarily offered at a standard education session.

2. Satisfy an Appetite for Adventure-Seeking

Attendees typically don’t come to a conference expecting to defy fears on an excursion. That’s what makes such an experience so worthwhile. Planners can partner with local DMCs and partners that highlight a region’s natural attributes while sending attendees outside of their comfort zone. As the Grand Canyon State, Arizona’s vistas and mesas are prime settings for thrilling activities like rock climbing, offroading, hiking, and more.

3. Redefine Interactive

Teambuilding is, without question, an important element of any event. But it’s also such a common term that it can be met with shrugs. Immerse your group in an environment that speaks to the destination’s culture, tells a story, and promotes camaraderie. A day at the dude ranch or a trip to a ghost town are just two examples of how to take attendees out of their natural habitats so that they can enjoy a shared experience valued for years to come.

4. Stay in the Moment

Many attendees secretly enjoy a break from their mobile devices. Use that inner desire to your advantage by taking the group to a remote location where cell service may not be available. Without distractions, attendees are better engaged and enjoy the experience.

In this guide, you’ll find:

  • Tips to show attendees how to experience, honor, and respect Indigenous cultures
  • Ways to identify ways to inspire attendees to step outside their comfort zones and challenge themselves
  • Ideas to reimagine the concept of team building to deliver truly transformative activities that create a powerful sense of unity among participants
  • Tricks to unlock a new sense of in-the-moment magic by helping attendees reconsider how they manage their digital devices

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