Shoulder season (also called off-peak season or off-season) is the time of year when demand to a destination tends to be lower. For event and meeting planners on a budget, it's an opportunity to stretch budgets and ensure that attendees enjoy a destination when it is less crowded. There also many colourful festivals and arts events that take place during shoulder season.
How much can groups save during shoulder season? It depends but savings of 30% - 50% are not unusual. Savings can be realized not only on hotels, resorts and event venues, but also on attractions. If flights are booked well in advance, there can also be significant savings in airfare.
Sometimes off-season is dictated by weather patterns and the perception that climatic conditions may be less favourable during certain periods. The photos on this page all demonstrate that during off-season, many destinations are pleasant.
While Caribbean destinations are often considered to be the perfect places to escape the winter chill, during the rest of the year, there is much to make this part of the world appealing. For example, there are music festivals during shoulder season including St. Lucia Jazz in the spring, Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest in Jamaica during the summer, and, in the fall, World Creole Music Festival takes place in Dominica.
If groups stay at a beach resort, they can enjoy the cooling effects of the trade winds. By planning meetings and indoor activities between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM and outdoor activities and events early in the morning and in late afternoon to evening, participants will be comfortable.
Other special events and festivals that can provide a backdrop to business meetings an corporate events include The National Dance Theatre Company's Season of the Dance that takes place annually from the end of July to mid-August in Jamaica and Pirate Week in the Cayman Islands in November. Even in May and October that are considered to be "rainy season" in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and some other parts of the Caribbean, it doesn't rain all day. In fact, a shower to cool things down is appreciated.
Canada is really a destination for all seasons. Yet some parts of the country are associated with particular seasons. Cvent Blog has previously highlighted summer and autumn activities in Mont Tremblant , the Eastern Townships, and The Laurentians in Quebec and Banff and Lake Louise in Alberta, for example, are well known ski resorts. In the summer, in addition to golf, there are numerous activities and special events that corporate groups can enjoy. Temperatures are comfortable and the lakes and rich foliage in these areas deliver spectacular views throughout the year.
By contrast, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Quebec City, and Old Montreal in Quebec, which are often considered to be summer destinations, are stunning when they are transformed by fall foliage or a blanket of snow and lights during the pre-Christmas season.
For more places to enjoy shoulder season, also read Europe: 4 Affordable Spring Destinations for Corporate Groups, Incentive Destinations: Spotlight on Saint-Sauveur, Quebec, Quebec City Fall Festivals, Corporate Events: Fall Fun in Toronto, Corporate Events: Toronto Fabulous Fall Business Meetings and Corporate Events, In the News: Europe and the UK More Affordable This Fall, and Selecting the Right Season For Outdoor Team Building and Corporate Events.