Do You Know Your Meeting’s WalkScore?

There probably is research showing how much attendees love to meet in walkable cities, but all you really have to do is think back to a meeting you attended where the convention center and hotel was within easy range of shops, restaurants, and maybe even a little green space.

Now think of a meeting where you felt more or less marooned without a shuttle bus. Most people — all other things being equal — would choose the first option.

If walking is important to your attendees, there is a tool called WalkScore that allows you to gauge the walkability of properties you are considering for a meeting. It’s not perfect — it doesn’t factor in crime rates, for instance, or distinguish between the length of city blocks — but it’s a good starting point. (I plugged in the addresses of the last two hotels I stayed at, and WalkScore’s assessment was spot on.)

And if you’re interested in learning more about about walkability, another great resource is New York City-based Project for Public Spaces. (Convene interviewed founder Fred Kent in 2008.) Don’t miss the PPS case study of Houston’s new downtown Discovery Green, including comments about its popularity with meeting planners.

By the way, U.S. investment in walkability (and bikability) reflects our growing fondness for people-powered transportation: Since 1990, the Department of Transportation has increased its spending on pedestrian and cycling projects from $6 million a year to whopping $1.2 billion in 2009.


Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.