Planning and hosting events in Anchorage and throughout Alaska can present a unique set of challenges that planners and hosts need to be aware of. For starters – the state is huge and things are really spread out. Because of the remote location of the state, as well as many towns and cities, the access to goods, services and connectivity is often spotty at best. But all of this is manageable, and with a bit of pre-planning, a nice lead up time, and some local insight, you can ensure a successful event that goes off without a hitch. Before planning your next Alaskan event consider these Top 7 challenges to address head on and how to overcome them.
One of the biggest challenges of planning events in Alaska is the weather. The unpredictable weather in Alaska can create significant challenges for outdoor events. It’s not uncommon for events to be postponed or even canceled due to rain, snow, or high winds. Event planners and hosts should always have a contingency plan that includes backup locations, tents, outdoor heaters, gas generators and more in place in case of inclement weather. Make sure your backup plan doesn’t feel like an afterthought but still is executed in a way that feels intentional.
#2 Transportation Logistics
Anchorage is a sprawling city, and Alaska is a big state. Getting around quickly & efficiently can be a challenge if you are bouncing between multiple venues or incorporating tours into your event. Event planners need to consider transportation logistics for their guests that include contingency plans, road construction in the summer can cause motor coach delays, trains can be delayed because of weather or moose crossings, not to mention all the other less predictable situations. Proper planning will ensure that even if your event is delayed, still goes well, as the guests are content with the amenities you have supplied them so that they are comfortable and are still able to enjoy the experience.
Anchorage experiences distinct seasons, each with its own set of challenges for event planners. During the winter months, the snowy days are many and the daylight hours are limited, which can impact overall event attendance, including your vendor and attendee arrival timelines.
In the summer months the days are long and with a little luck sunny, which comes with its own challenges. The midnight sun is real, and because of this the most common struggle we see as planners is that people are generally much more distracted by the glorious weather. While the summer is high season for tourism, it is traditionally slow season for locals for events.
Bottom line – Alaska can be expensive. With so many items needing to be shipped in, vendors charge typically 10-20% more than in other cities. This can affect your fees for event venues, hotel rooms, catering, rentals, floral and other services. We also put this on the back of challenge #3, as seasonality plays a real factor in costs as well. In the Summer, venue and room rates go up because you are competing with tourism. However in the winter if your event is in a more remote destination transportation of all your rental items could be quite a bit more because of the weather. Event planners should take this all into consideration when budgeting, and start planning early to avoid last minute orders, requests, and rush charges.
#5 Availability of Services
While Anchorage is a city that is very spread out, it is still relatively small. This means the availability of services and vendors may be limited, especially when compared to larger cities. Now don’t get this wrong, Anchorage is metropolitan, offering all the typical luxuries and amenities of any modern day locale. But where many cities have multiple options for say – AV rental companies, Anchorage has just a few. Because of this, having trusted vendor relationships and open lines of communication with those vendors is crucial to the success of an event. Our company has worked hard to build and foster strong relationships with trusted vendors throughout the state so that you never have to worry about this issue.
#6 Permits and Regulations
For any event planner that didn’t just start yesterday, this item comes as no surprise. And while this certainly isn’t unique to Anchorage, it is worth mentioning that it can be a bit of a challenge when you’re not familiar with the right people to talk to around town. Add in they could also be hard to get a hold of….especially during the Summer. Again – this is really where local knowledge and relationships will really make a difference by leaps and bounds.
#7 Cultural Sensitivity
Anchorage is home to a notably diverse population that includes not just Native Alaskans, but cultures and ethnicities from around the world as well. It is no surprise that people everywhere visit Alaska each year to learn more about and experience the vibrancy and beauty of this culture. The challenge here is not so much about avoiding putting these cultures on display, but more about doing it correctly and authentically. We’ve seen many an outsider, with the right intentions, just get this so wrong. Yet when done respectfully and with a genuine intention, the results can be simply breathtaking.
Don’t let these challenges intimidate you. Knowledge is power and with a little help from pro’s like us you can turn these challenges into opportunities. Not to mention show your guests the trip of a lifetime in the great state of Alaska.