Incorporate Local Flair


Vickie Mitchell
Published December 23, 2016

Bree Brostko is managing director of Kindred Hotels and Resorts, a 63-member collection of independent accommodations created two years ago. Properties are all over the board in terms of size, style and location, from ranches in the West to clapboard inns in the East. They sit on beaches, in the mountains, in deserts, by lakes and on Main Streets.

As individual as snowflakes, their commonalities are private ownership and a distinct sense of place.

“The reason this group bands together is to promote independent properties and the experience they offer within the group meeting space,” said Brostko.

Because of her work with Kindred, Brostko has become a popular guest columnist and speaker about ways to localize and personalize meetings.

Here are some of Brostko’s tips for meeting planners who want to inject their meetings with local flair.

Look for a venue that gets it.

Attendees want to leave a conference with more than swag. They want experiences that connect them to the city or region where they are meeting. A venue that understands the importance of making these deeper connections with attendees will be willing to work with planners to incorporate a sense of place. “A property that recognizes the importance of engaging in the local community will put that front and center, and talk about it in its proposal,” said Brostko.

Bust out of the indoors.

Getting some fresh air can do wonders for brains pent up too long in a boardroom. And what better way to understand a place than to be outdoors? Brostko recommends seeking properties that have outdoor venues or that partner with nearby wineries, brew pubs, historic properties or other off-site venues. Two examples from Brostko’s personal experience are a beach resort on the Pacific coast that sets up breaks next to the surf and a Vermont lakefront resort that has a large tented dock expressly for floating dinners.

Fill up with local food and drink.

Venues that are tied to where they live will stock their larders with local meats, vegetables and beverages. Look for localness in everything from eggs and homemade granola bars to local beers. Given the popularity of food trucks, Brostko suggests working with the venue to include local trucks in an event. Just remember that large groups can quickly overtax a truck or two. “It almost always works even better to augment food truck offerings with food and beverage from the hotel,” Brostko said. For example, a food truck could supply the grilled burgers while the hotel handles the sides and beverages. What’s an easy way to incorporate local spirits? “Incorporate them in a signature cocktail,” Brostko said. Attendees get a taste of a local spirit, the meeting planner saves money by offering a single cocktail, and the property is a hero for making a planner’s job easier.

Don’t worry about importing educators or entertainers.

Every community has smart, funny and talented people, and when one of them is hired to enlighten or entertain, meeting attendees feel more connected to their meeting locale. Brostko suggests asking the venue, the local CVB, the chamber of commerce or local ASAE or MPI chapters for recommendations. Memorable local speakers and talent she has heard include the chairman of Memphis-based FedEx, who spoke at a meeting she attended in that city, and rockabilly singer Tony Perdue and his band, which played at the recent Small Market Meetings Conference in Huntsville, Alabama. Perdue’s band was one of two that performed at an after-hours event at A.M. Booth’s Lumberyard. “They were just incredibly good,” she said.

To get in touch with Brostko, send her an email at For more information about Kindred Resorts and hotels, visit