September 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts September 2002 Current Issue
September 2002
Short Cuts:
Keeping Guests Busy


When shopping trips and museum tours have begun to feel like déjà vu all over again, what’s a planner to do with the significant others tagging along at meetings? “Try teaching them something,” says Joanne Brooks, president of Deerfield, Ill.-based Creative Impact Group (, who has been drumming up offbeat activities for clients for more than 25 years.

For a guest activity during a meeting held in Scottsdale, Ariz., earlier this year, Brooks decided to tap into the area’s indigenous culture, but with a twist. Under the guidance of a local Native American jewelry designer, the group crafted their own keepsake necklaces, bracelets and rings made with silver and turquoise. “For most people, jewelry shopping is fun, but I wanted to put together something they could make and keep,” says Brooks. A bonus: The group also could purchase some of the designers’ creations.

When it comes to selecting hands-on activities for groups of men and women, Brooks suggests choosing something that encourages interaction. Her popular picks: cooking demonstrations, a yoga class that teaches basic techniques, or swing dance lessons. “Not only are they fun, they are great mixers,” says Brooks. “Even the people too shy to dance will watch and encourage the participants.”

If time is limited and going off-site is out of the question, consider hiring a speaker to address current events or offer timely advice, says Brooks. “I bring in security experts to talk about issues such as protecting your children or to give tips on travel safety,” she says. “And everyone loves to get financial advice on the best ways to save and to protect your savings.”

• C.A.S.

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