by Ann Shepphird | October 01, 2017
In a volatile world of political turmoil, economic uncertainty, extreme weather and other unsettling factors, it's no wonder that when some associations find a place that's a good fit, they return again and again. The allure of the destination, the comfort of seeing familiar faces or the ease of working with the same partners are just a few of the reasons why associations keep coming back to their favorite sites and venues.

Location, location, location

For the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, Santa Fe, N.M., fits the bill. The group holds its annual meeting in the city every four to five years, and at least one smaller meeting there once a year -- and has been doing so for decades.

The reason is simple, says Mark Holland, who serves as the associate director of the Westminster, Colo.-based organization and organizes its meetings: "Our attendees love Santa Fe. The foundation first went there in 1990 for its annual July meeting, and it was a huge success. The food is wonderful, the art is amazing and the culture is distinctive."

Another attendee favorite is Hawaii, where the Foundation for Research and Education in Dermatology has held a yearly gathering since 2012 and is already booked through 2022. According to Mary Neister, vice president of Meet Hawaii, FRED rotates between the islands of Maui, Kauai and Hawaii, allowing the group "an exotic destination with cultural significance, but also an environment that differs dramatically from island to island."

FRED attendees are encouraged to bring their families to the association's annual events. The overall goal, says Dr. Darrell Rigel, a scientific director for the organization, is to learn and have fun, and "we try to do a little of both."

Silverthorne, Colo.-based Keystone Symposia, which holds 60 conferences a year on molecular and cellular biology, has a number of favored destinations that the group returns to often, including Keystone and Breckenridge, Colo.; Snowbird, Utah; Vancouver, Whistler and Banff, Canada; and Dublin, Ireland.

Keystone's conference coordinator, Lindsay Heilmann, says most of their meetings take place during the winter season at ski resorts, with education sessions held in the morning and evening so attendees can enjoy the slopes in the afternoon. But she notes that this schedule also holds for other cities and resorts with nary a slope on which to schuss. "It's important to get them out of the speaking sessions and in an interesting place so they can network and talk about their research," says Heilmann.  

The organization is looking to add additional cities. "There are many reasons we come back to a site over and over again," says Heilmann. "We consider strong and longstanding relationships with the site, its cost effectiveness, how much our attendees enjoy the area, good food, the ease of getting to and from the site, safety, the cost, and the fun things to do and see during attendees' free time."