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  • More Than a Meeting

Bloomington’s experiential add-ons facilitate the relationships that even the best presentations can’t.

Summits, meetings, conferences: Everyone who has gone to them knows they are so much more than running through a printed agenda. The additional coordination, time and resources that go into planning an event are so that attendees can get benefits they would not be able to remotely. The ability to nurture personal relationships between partners, brands and professionals is less quantifiable, but it can make the difference when it comes to business decisions, opportunities, employee and consumer engagement, and more.

While these relationships can start within event meetings, more often than not, they are nurtured by the time spent together outside of them. Bloomington Convention & Visitors Bureau (BCVB) knows this, and in addition to providing welcome packets and sample itineraries, the team can help event planners organize experiential add-ons. With attractions at Mall of America®, the nearby downtowns of both Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and Bloomington’s own vibrant arts, culture and recreation, there are dozens of good choices available. For an impactful experience, consider picking something that furthers a goal you have, such as team building or out-of-the-box thinking.

The Escape Game in Mall of America addresses both of these. Choose from adventures such as a prison break, space exploration or a heist, and then watch attendees collaborate to solve the puzzle in under 60 minutes. (Up to eight attendees can be in one escape room at a time, although you can book multiple rooms at once.) In a recent Escape Game survey, 90 percent of leaders said their team communication improved after an Escape Game challenge. After all, to have a chance of escaping, participants not only have to communicate their ideas, but know when to lead or support, to work independently or ask for help.

If you have a larger group, consider WhirlyBall Twin Cities. The large facility has bowling and a multi-level laser tag arena besides the eponymous WhirlyBall, which is a truly unique combination of bumper cars, basketball, hockey, and lacrosse. Two full bars, an award-winning chef, a rooftop patio, and private event spaces complete the atmosphere, so whether your attendees go all out with light-hearted competition or choose to relax with some refreshments, the camaraderie will be up, and they will be refreshed and ready to tackle the next day’s meetings.

Another Bloomington signature experience is FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar’s Experiential Dining at Mall of America. Groups of 20 or more can take part in the Art of Brunch, which includes tips on how to create the perfect brunch at home; Dinner on Tap, which features local beers and cooking techniques; or, for a full Minnesota experience, Taste of the Seasons, which is a true farm-to-table food experience. FireLake’s activities fit seamlessly into almost any event because not only do attendees have to eat, but creating an experience out of a meal can increase impressions of hospitality and importance. The conversational dining style also facilitates easy connections, so you just might find that the relationships your attendees build here will last longer than they would just by chatting in between meeting sessions.

Choosing the best add-on experience means balancing the best fit to your events’ themes and goals with your attendees’ common interests, activity levels, and demographics. For some, the more relaxing FireLake dining experience will pave the way to conversation, whereas others might thrive more from the common experience that WhirlyBall creates. BCVB’s expert event coordinators can assist you in deciding the right fit, but regardless of which experience you choose, your attendees are sure to be more refreshed during the event and leave feeling more connected to their acquaintances and coworkers.

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