Why do religious meeting planners like conference centers? Martha Davis chooses conference centers for two reasons: setting and cost. Davis, executive assistant for the General Commission on United Methodist Men in Nashville, says her attendees enjoy being in an environment that's close to nature.

“A lot of our attendees like to go jogging, to get away from the stress of the meeting, and they can usually do that easily at a conference center,” Davis says. The typical conference center setting, with plenty of natural light, makes the meetings productive, and she also likes conference centers because all the attendees can be at the same location for meetings and meals.

David Register, CMP, regional meeting planner with the United Church of God in San Diego, agrees that conference center settings and pricing are an important part of their appeal.

“A lot of conference centers are in the mountains or, here in California, along the coast. That makes them more conducive to a more relaxed atmosphere,” Register says. “A more relaxed atmosphere allows attendees to focus on things that they normally don't focus on.”

Register feels that conference centers have the added benefit of being a great fit for the smaller, more interactive meetings that many people are seeking. “Conference centers have an advantage with the smaller-meeting model because they usually have more breakouts and more opportunities get involved in smaller meetings,” he says.