Facilities & Destinations - Summer 2016

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Facilities & Destinations BEDROCK COMMUNICATIONS, INC. 152 Madison Ave., Ste. 802, New York, NY 10016

2016 Mid-Market Review 40


& Destinations


A New Day at the

Puerto Rico Convention Center

For Association & Corporate Meeting Planners & Tradeshow Professionals

AEG Facilities is poised to take the island’s meetings hub to the next level 12 12

6 Strategies

to Engage Attendees Across Generations 72

ELITE Awards: CVB Executives 16

Top Meeting Industry Chefs 76

San Jose 29

Atlantic City 33

Jorge Perez

Newly appointed GM of the Puerto Rico Convention Center

The New Henry B. González Convention Center NOW OPEN LEARN MORE AT

MEETINGS.VISITSANANTONIO.COM ©2016 San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau

editor’s note

Facilities & Destinations SUmmer

getting the most out of mid-market cities

For Association & Corporate Meeting Planners & Tradeshow Professionals


Volume 24 No. 2

Chief Operating Officer David Korn


onvention planners have long believed that destination choice affects attendance, but it’s always nice to see some quantitative evidence for that assumption. According to the Decision to Attend Study – Phase One, 82 percent of prospective attendees report that a meeting’s destination factors into their decision to attend a meeting or convention. The result of a partnership between PCMA, IAEE and The EXPERIENCE Institute, the study is based on more than 7,100 responses from members of 10 different associations.

Associate Publisher Michael Caffin Editorial Director George Seli Contributing Editors Anthony Bilden Sibylle Eschapasse Rachel Kapur Rosa Laufer Deborah Shapiro

Of course, it’s not only first-tier cities that can “persuade” delegates to attend; many mid-market cities are replete with attractions and cultural offerings that hold promise for attendees’ free time. Nashville, host of ibtm america 2016, is an example (see p. 10), as is Austin, host of PCMA Convening Leaders, Jan. 8-11, 2017. Featured in this issue’s Mid-Market Review (p. 40), Austin is known as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” and PCMA delegates will surely be visiting some of the city’s more than 250 live music venues. Austin’s Texas Hill Country and farm-to-table cuisine will also beckon, and can be showcased via offsite events.

Creative Direction & Design Scott-Goodman Associates

However, as the recent PCMA Webisode “Leveraging the Destination” makes clear, a city has plenty of resources beyond dining and entertainment that can benefit a convention. In particular, a city’s “knowledge economy” can enhance the event’s educational component. “By leveraging entrepreneurs and academics from the local community in the speaker selection process, meeting professionals can better integrate the host city into the fabric of the experience,” observes Deborah Sexton, PCMA’s President and CEO. Convening Leaders 2017 will take this approach by featuring experts from the University of Texas’s McCombs School of Business and new Dell Medical School, as well as thought leaders from Austin’s booming tech startup scene.

Circulation Manager Winny Cheung Editorial Assistant Shuyu Guo Business Operations Nadia Derelieva © Copyright 2016 by Bedrock Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. Opinions expressed in by-lined articles and advertising copy are not necessarily those of the publisher. Advertisers are responsible for all costs, damages and claims regarding advertising insertions.

Austin has been called the “Silicon Hills” of Texas, and its high-tech industry is more than matched by San Jose, the “Capital of Silicon Valley.” Don’t miss this issue’s feature on San Jose (p. 29), home to the new Silicon Valley Comic Con. The event is a prime example of how to get the most out of a thriving mid-market city.

– George Seli Editorial Director, Facilities Media Group gseli@facilitiesonline.com

Facilities & Destinations is published four times a year by Bedrock Communications, Inc., 152 Madison Avenue, Suite 802, New York, NY 10016. Telephone: (212) 532-4150. Fax: (212) 213-6382. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to Facilities, 152 Madison Avenue, Suite 802, New York, NY 10016. Printed in U.S.A.


Cover ad space is available by contacting a Facilities advertising account executive at (212) 532-4150.


In Brief................................................................................................................. 4 Forum Jorge Perez, Puerto Rico Convention Center.................................................... 12 Larry Beiderman, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort.................................................. 14 Perspectives Pan-Generational Engagement, by Lisa Block and Kristina McCoobery............ 72 A Cost-Savings Checklist, by Robert G. LeValley............................................... 73 Demystifying Strategic Meetings Management, by Terri Woodin...................... 75 F&D A-List Meeting Industry Chefs...................................................................................... 76


ELITE Awards..................................................................................................... 16 Mid-Market Review............................................................................................ 40 Convening Kosher.............................................................................................. 59 Destinations San Jose............................................................................................................. 29 Atlantic City....................................................................................................... 33 F&D International Mexico............................................................................................................... 37

Facilities & Destinations BEDROCK COMMUNICATIONS, INC. 152 Madison Ave., Ste. 802, New York, NY 10016

2016 Mid-Market Review 40

suMMeR 2016


& Destinations AEG Facilities PueRto Rico TM

For Association & Corporate Meeting Planners & Tradeshow Professionals

A New DAy At the

coNveNtioN ceNteR AeG FAcilities is PoiseD to tAke the islAND’s MeetiNGs hub to the Next level 12 12


strategies to engage Attendees Across Generations 72

elite Awards: cvb executives 16

top Meeting industry chefs 76

san Jose 29

Atlantic city 33

began managing the Puerto Rico Convention Center on Aug. 1. The transition included the promotion of Jorge Perez, the center’s Director of Finance, to General Manager. Perez plans to boost business — particularly from international groups — through dynamic partnerships with both Meet Puerto Rico and the AEG network. Jorge Perez

newly appointed GM of the Puerto Rico convention center

Facilities Directory........................................................................................ 61-71 Advertiser Index................................................................................................ 71 Facilities & Destinations 2016 Summer




From its sandy beaches to its world famous Boardwalk, Atlantic City is the perfect destination for your next meeting. Atlantic City offers 233,000 square feet of meeting space and is home to the Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center. Atlantic City promises spectacular dining, entertainment, and accommodations that will suit any event. Find out what Caesars can do for your business at CaesarsMeansBusiness.com or call 855-633-8238.


respondents are avoiding locations with more liberal handgun or weapon laws); meeting budgets (e.g., 54 percent predicted favorable budget/spend over the next year); and meeting session length (84 percent identified the ideal length of a traditional conference presentation with a single speaker as 20 or 30 minutes). To access the report, visit www.mpiweb.org/Portal/ Research/meetingsoutlook. Carina Bauer IMEX Group

Steve Moster Viad Corp.

Gary Sherwin Visit Newport Beach & Company DALLAS, TX — The Summer 2016 edition of MPI’s Meetings Outlook was recently released. Based on a survey of planners conducted May 18-31, the report focuses on trends and strategies in the context of the ongoing seller’s market. In addition, it provides survey results in various areas of planning, such as site selection (e.g., 19 percent of 4

EAST SUSSEX, UK — A new service provided by networking specialists Zenvoy will debut at IMEX America, Oct. 18-20 in Las Vegas. The service will use intelligent data profiling to facilitate face-to-face introductions between pre-registered IMEX America hosted buyers and buyer attendees. The service launched in August, when confirmed buyers were invited to register with Zenvoy and complete a confidential online profile. Zenvoy then matched buyers who share business profiles. Matching factors include job title, nature of business, decision-making authority, geographical remit and number of years in the industry. “We see this new initiative as a valuable way to make it easier for people to meet others with whom they have the most in common,” commented Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group. LAS VEGAS, NV — Last month, GES, a global full-service provider for live events, acquired ON Event Services, LLC, a leading provider of live event audiovisual production services that includes audio, video, lighting, mapping and scenic design. “We selected the business of ON Event Services because of its expertise in high-end AV production and extensive library of AV technologies,” said Steve Moster, President of GES and President and CEO of Viad Corp. “The addition accelerates our position and takes us to the next level of serving our clients with a full range of event and technology services. The exten-

The Cobo Center’s new digital marquee sign, part of a recent tech upgrade at the facility sive event production capabilities of the business of ON Event Services perfectly complement GES’s core live event services for corporate events, exhibitions, conferences and exhibits.” WASHINGTON, DC — The Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) Board of Directors and President and CEO Don Welsh recently announced that the 2016 Annual Convention, held Aug. 1-3 in Minneapolis, MN, drew more than 1,500 attendees. At the event, Visit Newport Beach & Company President and CEO Gary C. Sherwin formally assumed the board leadership role from Austin CVB President and CEO Emeritus Bob Lander. In his new role as DMAI Board Chairman, Sherwin will work alongside Welsh and the global trade association’s new executive team. “I am honored to represent our industry and advance educational opportunities for the association’s members across the globe,” said Sherwin. “It’s a new day for DMAI as we work together to recognize and seize those opportunities that will bring value and collaboration across the industry. Today’s travelers are seeking unique destination experiences, which presents a promising opportunity for destination marketing organizations like never before.”

CONVENTION CENTER WATCH ATLANTA, GA — The Georgia World Congress Center Authority’s (GWCCA) 2020 Vision strategic plan will transform the city’s convention and tourism corridor before

Claude Molinari Cobo Center

Doug McClaine Albany Capital Center the end of the decade. The first phase will be the debut of the Mercedes Benz Stadium next year. Other components of the plan include an 800-1,100 room convention center hotel adjacent to GWCC building C; 1 million contiguous sq. ft. of new exhibit space between the GWCC’s buildings B and C; and renovations to Centennial Olympic Park that will increase the opportunities for special events. Continued on page 6

Facilities & destinations 2016 Summer

247,052 square feet of column-free space

Cutting edge technology Customized network solutions Complimentary Wi-Fi throughout

When you book your next meeting at the Austin Convention Center, the movers and shakers are already here. With six entertainment districts and a safe and walkable downtown, it’s easy to enjoy our famous live music. And with more than 250 venues, honky-tonks and dance halls, everybody leaves with their toes tapping.

[512] 404-4200 www.austinconventioncenter.com

More than 250 live music venues nightly

Awarded LEEDÂŽ Gold Certification First convention center in TX

In Brief Continued from page 4

ALBANY, NY — On July 26, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the “topping off” of the Albany Capital Center, marking the completion of the steel construction phase of the new downtown convention center. Since the March 2015 groundbreaking, 18 events estimated to generate $300,000 in revenue have been booked at the facility, set to open in March 2017. “The new Albany Capital Center will play a key role in transforming the Capital Region into a top destination for major events and conferences, attracting visitors and further growing the local economy,” Cuomo commented. Operated by SMG, the Albany Capital Center will offer 22,500 sq. ft. of ballroom/exhibit space, six meeting rooms spanning 9,200 sq. ft. and 13,500 sq. ft. of prefunction space. The Albany Capital Center will also be directly connected to the Times Union Center. On July 15, Doug McClaine was promoted to General Manager of the Albany Capital Center. McClaine will retain his title and duties as Assistant General Manager of the Times Union Center, where he has held various positions for 18 years. BALTIMORE, MD — Last month, the Maryland Stadium Authority approved a $1 million feasibility study for a Baltimore Convention Center expansion, possibly connected to a new downtown arena and hotel. The study is expected to be completed by fall 2017. DETROIT, MI — The Cobo Center launched a new Technology Services department in June. The Department complements the Cobo Center’s new broadcast studio, digital signage, and Internet and WiFi upgrades. “The creation of Cobo Center Technology Services, though significant on its own, is part of a larger overall plan designed to enhance the customer experience,” says Claude Molinari, General Manager of SMG/Cobo Center. New digital signage, ranging from the 4,800-sq.-ft. 6

Karen Totaro San Diego Convention Center marquee sign on Cobo Center’s exterior, to more than 100 digital message boards outside of each meeting room, ballroom and exhibit hall, provides opportunities for advertising, branding, revenue generation and attendee interaction. “In our first year of digital signage operation, Cobo Center generated more than $800,000 in advertising revenue, an astounding feat for a convention center,” says Molinari. “Our customers quickly caught on to the fact that these signs can create substantial revenue streams.” The broadcast studio enables live streaming from anywhere in the convention center to digital signage. Molinari states, “This broadcast studio positions Cobo Center as a leader in extending events within the facility and to global audiences.” The current WiFi system can accommodate 32,000 devices simultaneously. Soon the Cobo Center will be increasing bandwidth to the facility, upgradable to 10G, depending on the needs of the event. “This final enhancement will make the Technology Services offering in Cobo Center the highest caliber, comparable to any convention center in the world,” Molinari adds. SAN DIEGO, CA — The San Diego Convention Center Corporation has appointed Karen Totaro, CFE, as the facility’s new Senior Vice President and General Manager. Totaro previously served as the General Manager for the Atlantic City

Caesars Palace celebrates its 50th anniversary with a pool party celebration hosted by Gordon Ramsay on Friday, Aug. 5 at Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis. (L-r): Holly Ramsay; Gary Selesner, President, Caesars Palace; Gordon Ramsay; Matilda Ramsay; and Tana Ramsay. Convention Center. She was IAVM’s 2015-2016 chair, and has also served in executive roles with Duke Energy Convention Center and Oregon Convention Center. “We are excited to have someone of Karen’s standards and qualifications join us here at the San Diego Convention Center,” noted Clifford ‘Rip’ Rippetoe, President & CEO of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation.

HOTEL HIGHLIGHTS ATLANTA, GA — The Atlanta Marriott Marquis has completed a $78 million renovation covering its 1,663 guestrooms, public spaces and 160,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. BETHESDA, MD — Nearly a year since the deal was first announced, Marriott International, Inc. and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. completed their $13.6 billion merger on Sept. 23 after

receiving final approval from the Chinese regulatory authority. The company will comprise 30 brands and operate over 5,700 hotels and 1.1 million rooms across more than 110 countries. Marriott and Starwood loyalty programs will be combined so that guests using either program can earn and redeem points throughout the entire network. FRISCO, TX — The Omni Frisco Hotel, set to open in summer 2017, will serve as a cornerstone of the recently opened Star development, which is anchored by the Dallas Cowboys World Headquarters and the Ford Center. The 300-room hotel will house 24,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including a 13,000-sq.-ft. ballroom. There will also be a rooftop pool deck that can accommodate 300 to 400 guests. Omni and the Dallas Cowboys will offer meeting groups access to additional function space in the Ford Center, as well as events on the plaza. Continued on page 8

Facilities & destinations 2016 Summer

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New 60,000 sq. ft. ballroom • 81 breakout rooms with more than 190,000 sq. ft. of space 500,000 sq. ft. of renovated exhibit space © Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau – The Official Destination Sales & Marketing Organization for Greater Miami and the Beaches.

In Brief Continued from page 6

GEORGETOWN, TX — The Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel & Conference Center opened on July 28. Located 27 miles outside of Austin, the 222-room hotel provides 30,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including a 16,000-sq.-ft. ballroom with 10 distinct sections, and four breakout rooms. Offsite points

of interest include Georgetown’s Town Square, local wineries, preserved caves and a nine-mile hiking and biking trail on the bank of the San Gabriel River. LAS VEGAS, NV — Caesars Palace celebrated its 50th anniversary with a pool party on Aug. 5 and a Grand Gala on Aug.

6. Nearly 3,000 guests attended each event, the first hosted by Gordon Ramsay and the second by Howie Mandel. Among the performers were Wayne Newton, Donny and Marie Osmond, Matt Goss, The Righteous Brothers and Tony Bennett, who received a Caesars Palace Icon Award. Several individuals and families from the sports and entertainment worlds were honored, as well as one from the meetings industry: Dr. Kenneth Mattox with the American College of Surgeons,

whose Trauma and Critical Care Meeting has been held at Caesars Palace for 49 years, making it the longest-running convention at the property. NEW YORK, NY — Last month, The Westin New York at Times Square completed its $39 million, multi-phase, property-wide renovation. The latest phase includes the new 45th-floor Empire Suite, redesigned lobby and the new Continued on page 10

Marriott on the Move in Chicago With the debut of the Marriott Marquis Chicago next July, poet Carl Sandburg’s “City of the Big Shoulders” will offer even more support to groups meeting in North America’s largest convention center. Connected to McCormick Place, the 1,206room hotel will house over 90,000 sq. ft. of meeting space across 64 function rooms, including two 25,000-sq.-ft. ballrooms. The brand has developed something of a specialty in large convention hotels, having opened the Marriott Marquis Washington, DC connected to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center just a few years ago. Planners can surely expect a similar top-quality property in the Windy City, where Marriott is already well established. Thirty minutes from O’Hare International Airport is the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile. The centrally located hotel features 1,200 spacious and stylish guestrooms and suites that include HD flat screen TVs and ergonomic furnishings with spectacular downtown city and lake views. The hotel has recently renovated 742 guestrooms and suites. By April 2017, it will have renovated 950 guestrooms and suites, and by April 2018, all 1,200 guestrooms and suites, as well as the hotel’s 65,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, will have been renovated. Named in Cvent’s Top 100 Meeting Hotels list, the Chicago 8

Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile’s function space totals 66,400 sq. ft., with 42 breakout rooms (the largest meeting room accommodates 1,800 guests). Besides having plenty of meeting space options, the hotel features a top-tier culinary team. “The Chicago Marriott Downtown is unique within the Chicago market, especially among the largest convention hotels, as 95 percent of all of our food is made from scratch for all restaurant outlets and banquet events,” notes General Manager Thomas Robertson. “This includes a full-time butcher shop to carve and house grind all meats, a 24-hour pastry shop operation, our own cherry cola, the harvesting of honey bees on our ninth-floor roof deck to produce the Honey Wheat Ale served at Rush Bar, and a dedicated acre of farm land at Heritage Prairie farms in Elburn, IL.” For meeting planners looking for an even more upscale hotel, the four-star JW Marriott Chicago fits the bill. Originally built as a bank in 1914, the 610-room hotel is located one mile from Millennium Park and a short walk from museums and theaters. Groups have at their disposal 44,000 sq. ft. of meeting space including 36 breakout rooms. “Our 6,000-sq.ft. Burnham Ballroom with its domed ceiling was named after our designer of the building back in 1909, and he was also the architect who rebuilt Chicago for the World’s Fair of 1893,” comments JW Marriott

Artist’s rendering of the Marriott Marquis Chicago

Chicago General Manager Catherine Mrowiec. The hotel’s diverse group clients have included Bank of America, the Minnesota Vikings, Accenture, Wells Fargo and the University of Notre Dame. Located 33 miles from downtown Chicago is the 474-room Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel, housing 148,624 sq. ft. of meeting space. General Manager Lisa Timbo explains that the hotel and convention center “was built to provide an urban unexpected experience in the suburbs. We provide our guests and convention attendees a luxury experience that they would be hard pressed to find in our market. The large amount of meeting space, latest technology and supreme culinary [offerings] rivals any city destination.” The hotel staff can also arrange for unique teambuilding activities such as cooking competitions, open mic night, paint by night, wine tastings and more. —Rachel Kapur

Lisa Timbo Renaissance Schaumburg

Thomas Robertson Chicago Marriott Downtown

Facilities & destinations 2016 Summer

In Brief Continued from page 8

Foundry Kitchen & Bar. The 1,800-sq.-ft. Empire Suite is available for meetings, complementing the 873-room hotel’s 34,000 sq. ft. of function space. PHILADELPHIA, PA — The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia completed a yearlong, multimillion-dollar renewal project in June. The renovation covered all 299 guestrooms, the hotel’s 26,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, as well as public spaces. Additionally, a new restaurant by celebrity chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval opened. PUERTO RICO — Through early 2017, the 387-room El San Juan Resort & Casino is undergoing a comprehensive renovation that includes its 35,000 sq. ft. of function space. For updates on the Puerto Rico Convention Center, see page 14.

IBTM America is a Hit in Music City The Gaylord Grand Opryland Resort and city of Nashville played host to the 2016 edition of IBTM America in May. This year’s show was the second utilizing the “pod based” layout implemented during last year’s event, held at Chicago’s McCormick Place. Hosted buyers are selected from a pool of prequalified event planners, and then based upon data collected in the months leading up to the event, an equal number of exhibitors and hosted buyers are mutually matched to maximize the potential of business resulting from the meetings and “eliminate non-relevant meetings,” explained IBTM Event Director Jaime McAuley.


Hotel Crescent Court, Dallas, TX The recently launched “Perks for Planners” offer is available to planners who book 50+ total room nights during November and December. Qualifying planners will receive a full day of personal health and restoration at the hotel’s spa and fitness center. Planners can instead opt for complimentary Internet in the meeting room for all attendees, in addition to complimentary Internet in-room for all overnight guests.

Marriott’s Meetings Imagined From now through Dec. 31, 2016 10

planners who submit an eligible RFP will be entered to win one of six $5,000 meeting credits that can be used toward Marriott’s Meetings Imagined products and services, available at participating JW Marriott, Autograph Collection Hotels, Renaissance, Marriott and Gaylord Hotels. Visit MeetingsImagined.com for more information.

The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland In celebration its 25th Anniversary this year, The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland is extending its 2016 Meetings Inspired offer. The incentive applies to new group programs contracted by Dec. 4, 2016. For every 25 guestrooms reserved, planners may select either one complimentary deluxe guestroom or one complimentary

Another highlight of the event was the sense of community and camaraderie created among the participants from both sides of the negotiating table. Attendees were given multiple opportunities over three days to network informally at meals as well as events hosted on and offsite. During “Discovery Day,” attendees visited sites of importance to meeting planners considering the city, including Music City Center and Honky Tonk Highway. The event closed at the Gaylord with an enormously entertaining concert by artist Phil Vassar, whose songs have reached No. 1 on the country music charts. Based upon discussions with exhibitors and planners, time spent at the event appeared to be productive. As reported by

Jaime McAuley IBTM Event Director the event organizers, exhibitors confirmed that they met with the “right audience that was important to their business” in the event’s post-show survey, with over 90 percent saying they expect to get results from their attendance. Moreover, nearly 70 percent of exhibitors expressed an interest in returning for ibtm america 2017, taking place at the Hilton Diplomat Resort & Spa in South Florida, June 14-16.

suite upgrade. Qualifying meetings will also enjoy a complimentary welcome beverage or celebratory champagne toast for all attendees.

Salamander Hotels & Resorts Salamander Hotels & Resorts has launched a series of new “Work Perks” meetings experiences and initiatives throughout its five retreat-oriented resorts in Florida and Virginia: Salamander Resort & Spa, Middleburg, VA; Hammock Beach Resort, Palm Coast, FL; Innisbrook Resort, Tampa Bay, FL; Reunion Resort, Orlando, FL; and Henderson Beach Resort, Destin, FL. The Work Perks vary by property, but include exceptional starting rates, gift cards, complimentary room and golf club rentals and airport transfers. For details, visit www.salamanderhotels. com/unique-meetings. Trump International Hotel & Tower, Chicago Planners booking a minimum of

25 rooms on peak nights for two or more evenings now through Dec. 31, 2016 can take advantage of “The Art of the Deal.” Consume up to 50 total room nights and choose one option; 51–99 total room nights, two options; 100+ total room nights, three options. Select from the following options: one per 20 complimentary guestroom night policy; 20 percent allowable attrition up to 15 days prior to arrival; one per 10 suite upgrades; 10 percent savings on audiovisual equipment rentals; complimentary wireless high-speed Internet access in main meeting room; two VIP round-trip airport transfers; $25 spa credit per attendee; 10 percent off group wellness workshops at The Spa at Trump; 15 percent off Wendella architectural tour excursions departing from the Riverwalk; two complimentary spin or dance classes for the group.

Facilities & destinations 2016 Summer

Be in The

Center of iT All

Hartford is a destination built for meetings! The connected 540,000 square foot Connecticut Convention Center and 409-room Hartford Marriott is just the start. First-class entertainment and restaurants are all right at your fingertips, so getting from work to play has never been easier. Meet Hartford and discover a connected city like no other.

Put your next event in the center of it all. Call 860.249.6000 or visit ctconventions.com


FORUM Jorge Perez General Manager, Puerto Rico Convention Center

By George Seli


he Puerto Rico Convention Center District Authority selected AEG Facilities to manage the Puerto Rico Convention Center (PRCC), effective Aug. 1, 2016. AEG Facilities named Jorge Perez, who has served as Director of Finance at the PRCC for the last six years, to the position of General Manager of the PRCC.

Q: A:

Has your transition to the position been a smooth one thus far?

As Director of Finance I was involved in a lot of aspects of the operation, so the transition to GM has been fairly comfortable given that I have been exposed to most of the areas of operation of the building. I’ve been here for six years so I have very good relations with our clients, the PRCC District Authority, our staff, my fellow directors and our contractors as well, who are an important part of our success. We have hit the ground running with a dedicated and stable team, including people who have been here since the preopening of the PRCC.

Q: A:

What is your personal relationship with AEG Facilities and its network?

I’ve received calls and emails from the corporate level and GMs at other facilities, so it’s very nice to have that network of support. I’ve also been extremely lucky to have Peter Brokenshire, the GM of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, onsite here as a resource from AEG.

Q: A:

Q: A:

We’re working hand in hand with Meet Puerto Rico to do everything we can to increase the level of international and citywide groups. AEG has a strong presence internationally in the convention center division, so we’ll be doing joint marketing with other facilities. We have joint marketing with the staffs in Kuala Lumpur and Australia to see if we can get leads for those groups. Getting into the rotation of these international and citywide groups will take a few years, but that’s definitely part of the plan. We have also identified the medical and industrial sectors as areas where we haven’t really been e have hit the getting too much business in ground running with a the region. But basically we’re a multi-use facility, so we can dedicated and stable accommodate any type of team, including people convention.


who have been here since the preopening of the PRCC.”

D0es AEG plan to make significant operational improvements?

Absolutely, I think that’s one of the reasons the Authority chose AEG. They have brought in experts from the different areas of the operation, and we are in the stage of assessing what can be improved. Definitely the Authority has [expressed] interest that we improve the maintenance plan of the building, so that’s one of the priorities. There will be new carpeting for second semester of this fiscal year, and we’re also looking to upgrade IT and offer free WiFi, which is definitely a plus for all the meeting planners. We’re trying to get everybody in the same mindset that our expectations are going to be higher than they’ve been for the last 11 years. 12

What are your initiatives on the business development front?


How would you summarize the virtues of the Puerto Rico Convention Center and the destination?


It’s a beautiful building; the architecture is unique. For our region, we’re a large convention center [159,700 sq. ft. of exhibit space, 39,500-sq.-ft. ballroom, 36,400 sq. ft. of meeting space], and we’re a one-stop shop so we’ll give groups all the services from A-Z that they need. Overall, Puerto Rico is a beautiful island with friendly people.

Q: A:

What will you strive for in your first GM position?

Direct and total involvement with anything that I can do to assist Meet Puerto Rico, which has the main responsibility to bring in groups. I’ll have a hands-on approach to working with the sales team to convince these groups to come to Puerto Rico. I always tell my staff here, even as Director of Finance, let’s make this [the client’s] best conference, so they leave Puerto Rico saying this has been the best conference we’ve had. Facilities & destinations 2016 Summer

Roosevelt Row Arts District

Looking Ahead

Facilities & Destinations 2016 Fall Issue Featuring:

annual Small-Market Review, profiling • F&D’s America’s small but capable meeting cities ELITE Awards, recognizing top • The meeting hotel executives Forums: In-depth Q&As with • F&D industry leaders on the move of IMEX America, • AOct.review 18-20, Las Vegas from the pros on designing • Tips teambuilding programs, working with CVBs and recovering VAT tax for overseas meetings

of Boston, New York, Texas • Coverage and Ohio the latest domestic and international • Plus meeting industry news, including facility

10-MINUTE WALK At the Phoenix Convention Center in Downtown Phoenix, your attendees are minutes away from one of USA Today’s “10 Best: City Arts Districts around the USA.” So book today and watch your event take a big step in the right direction.

renovations, deals for groups and much more

To subscribe, see page 47 in this issue.


800-282-4842 | Facilities & DESTINATIONS 2016 Summer


FORUM Larry Beiderman Complex General Manager, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort and Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando

By Anthony Bilden


ast October, Larry Beiderman took on the position Complex General Manager, an expansion of his role as General Manager of Loews Royal Pacific Resort. He now also oversees the new Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, which welcomed its first guests in July with a Caribbean-themed celebration. “We are looking forward to welcoming our first groups this fall,” Beiderman says.

Q: A:

What excites you most about your new appointment?

I am most excited about the opportunity to open a new hotel whose opening is a milestone for Loews Hotels & Resorts. This is the first time in our company’s history that we have connected two Loews hotels. Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is connected to Loews Royal Pacific Resort, and combined they offer 2,000 guestrooms and 247,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. Together, they form the Loews Meeting Complex at Universal Orlando and will give planners more options than ever for their meetings at Universal Orlando Resort.


How would you distinguish the Complex’s value proposition to groups from other large meeting hotel choices in the area, such as the Swan & Dolphin or the Orlando 3000 [the Hilton Orlando and Hyatt Regency Orlando]?


an additional 10,000 sq. ft. that is a combination of hardscape and lush tropical landscape. This outdoor area adjoins the 9,000-sq.-ft. Kingston Hall pre-function space, creating a perfect indoor/ outdoor event area.


What inspired the Caribbean theme? Did the developers feel the theme would complement the existing Loews properties?


All of our onsite hotels at Universal Orlando Resort are built to be destinations within themselves. The hotels are located on theme park property and connected to the theme parks, so we want them to be an attraction on their own. Since the plan was to he opening of the Loews connect Loews Sapphire Falls Resort to Loews Royal Pacific Sapphire Falls Resort “is Resort, Universal Creative felt there needed to be a common a milestone for Loews thread in the themes, and the island inspiration was the most Hotels & Resorts. This compelling. On one side, we have a Caribbean-inspired is the first time in our hotel and on the other, a South company’s history that we Pacific-inspired hotel.


have connected two Loews hotels.”

The Loews Meeting Complex is located in the heart of one of the most exciting resort destinations in the world. Across the resort, we have opened 20 new experiences since 2010, ranging from new onsite hotels to new rides, attractions and restaurants. We are in a period of unprecedented growth and planners can leverage everything our destination offers to deliver amazing experiences for their attendees.

Q: A:

What would you highlight as the most unique meeting space(s) at the Sapphire, either indoor or outdoor? Without a doubt, our new Cayman Court will be an exciting and unique space that will offer more than 15,000 sq. ft. of spectacular outdoor space — 5,000 in a pavilion area and 14


Does your convention staff have connections with the Universal Orlando meetings and events team?


Our teams in conference services at the onsite hotels and the events team at Universal Orlando Resort are working more closely together than ever before to serve our meeting planners. We bring together the hospitality excellence and award-winning food and beverage that Loews Hotels is known for and combine that with Universal, an entertainment icon. It is a powerful combination that gives planners the assets to create unforgettable meetings that cannot be found anywhere else.

Q: A:

What is your personal approach as GM to ensuring that meeting groups receive the best service? My mantra is “unconditional hospitality” and our team brings that unwavering commitment to each one of our groups. Facilities & DESTINATIONS 2016 Summer

PITTSBURGH MIGHTY. BEAUTIFUL. VIBRANT. The perfect setting for powerful events.








Convention & visitors bureau Executives


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e are pleased to announce the convention and visitors bureau executives who received the Facilities & Destinations 2016 ELITE Award, an accolade that recognizes professionals making a difference in the meetings and events industry. Nominated by readers via a ballot appearing in F&D issues and on Facilitiesonline.com, these leaders are among the country’s most dynamic advocates of local tourism and convention industries. They catalyze growth in those sectors, while maintaining fruitful relationships with local hoteliers, civic organizations and businesses. They have a long track record of career successes, often complemented by participation in industry organizations beyond their bureaus. And, most importantly to F&D readers, these CVB leaders ensure their staffs excel in service to client planners. We encourage our readers, who themselves are respected in the meetings industry, to continue to select professionals deserving this recognition. Nominations for next year’s ELITE Awards can be made via the ballot in this issue (page 28). Following are the 16 CVB executives who received the most nominations last year. We look forward to recognizing more ELITE professionals in this category and others in future issues. George Aguel

President and CEO, Visit Orlando

Amy Calvert

Senior Vice President of Convention Sales and Services, Visit Baltimore

Michael Burns

Senior Vice President of Convention Sales and Services, Destination Cleveland

Santiago C. Corrada

President and CEO, Visit Tampa Bay

Julie Coker Graham

William Pate

President and CEO, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau

Kathleen (Kitty) M. Ratcliffe President, Explore St. Louis

Brian Ross

President and CEO, Experience Columbus

Richard Scharf

President and CEO, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau

President and CEO, Visit Denver

Rob Hampton

President and CEO, Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau

Iris Himert

President, Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau

Karolyn Kirchgesler

President and CEO, Meet AC

Senior Vice President, Convention Sales & Services, Visit Seattle Executive Vice President, Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO, Team San Jose

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Gregg M. Mervis

President and Chief Executive Officer, Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau

Martha Sheridan

Mike Waterman

James T. Wood

Facilities & event Management 2015-2016 Booking Guide Facilities & Destinations 2016 summer







Convention & visitors bureau Executives

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George Aguel

Santiago C. Corrada

Julie Coker Graham

President and CEO Visit Orlando

President and CEO Visit Tampa Bay

President and CEO Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau

Since February 2013, George Aguel has overseen Visit Orlando, the marketing organization for a destination that welcomed a record-breaking 66 million visitors last year. Prior to the appointment, he was Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Alliances and Operating Participants with The Walt Disney Company, where he had a 23year career. A respected leader in the hospitality industry, Aguel was honored this year with a position on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Board as well as with HSMAI’s Albert E. Koehl Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Marketing for 2015. His other honors include the Academy of Leaders Award from ASAE and induction into the Convention Liaison Council Hall of Leaders.

Santiago Corrada brings over 25 years of public service experience to his position as the main spokesperson for Tampa Bay’s tourism and hospitality industry. In part due to his leadership, Visit Tampa Bay has been awarded numerous marketing awards over past several years including two HSMAI Platinum Adrian Awards. Since Corrada took the position of President and CEO, the city’s tourism industry has experienced three consecutive record-breaking bed tax collection years with over 12 percent increases over the past two years and 30 consecutive months of RevPar growth. Corrada, who previously served as Chief of Staff for the City of Tampa, was recognized as Hillsborough County’s Hispanic Man of the Year in 2013.

Facilities Facilities&&Destinations Destinations2016 2016Winter summer

On Jan. 1, 2016, Julie Coker Graham became President and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) and the only African American woman to lead a major CVB in the top 50 U.S. markets. Prior to the appointment, she served as the Senior Vice President of Convention Sales and managed a staff of 25 sales and services professionals at the PHLCVB. Among her recent distinctions, Coker Graham was named Chair of Mayor Jim Kenney’s transition team for the Democratic National Convention preparation, and she has been appointed to the 2016 board of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia.

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Convention & visitors bureau Executives

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Iris Himert

Karolyn Kirchgesler

Gregg M. Mervis

Executive Vice President Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau

CEO Team San Jose

President and Chief Executive Officer Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau

Born and educated near Stuttgart, Germany, Iris Himert has worked for the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau for a total of 30 years, first starting at the Bureau in 1983 as a Sales Manager and ultimately promoted to Executive Vice President in 2013. In addition to her Executive VP duties, Himert oversees the Bureau’s Conventions Sales Department, supervising 21 sales and services professionals. Under her stewardship, the Long Beach CVB sales team has been consistently successful in selling meetings and conventions at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center. In addition, her team annually wins many of the top meeting trade awards for excellence in customer service.

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Soon after she became CEO of Team San Jose on Sept. 30, 2013, Karolyn Kirchgesler led the rebranding of the historic San Jose Civic as City National Civic (City National Bank is California’s premier private and business bank). Kirchgesler oversees the Convention & Visitors Bureau and manages the San Jose Convention Center as well as accompanying arts and entertainment venues. Her more than 25 years of industry experience includes her prior position as President of Visit Saint Paul, where she facilitated the merger between the former Saint Paul Convention & Visitors Bureau and RiverCentre Convention & Visitors Authority in Minnesota.

Beginning his professional career in 1981, Akron native Gregg Mervis is an active member and advocate of the travel and tourism industry. He was appointed Director of Sales for the Akron/Summit CVB and the John S. Knight Center in 1995. Mervis ascended to become President and CEO in 2012. He is a member of various national and local industry organizations, including DMAI, the International Association of Assembly Managers, National Association of Consumer Shows, Ohio Travel Association and Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby, Downtown Akron Partnership and ArtsNow, where he is also Board President. Facilities&&Destinations Destinations2016 2016summer Winter Facilities







Convention & visitors bureau Executives

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Kathleen (Kitty) M. Ratcliffe President Explore St. Louis Kathleen Ratcliffe is responsible for both the sales and marketing of St. Louis as a destination for visitors and the operations of the St. Louis Convention Center and the Dome at America’s Center. Under her leadership, the two divisions (CVB and convention facilities) have developed into one strong and aligned team. Ratcliffe has also served in many industry leadership positions throughout her career, including International Chairwoman for MPI. Most recently, she co-chaired the 2016 Convening Leaders Content Committee for PCMA. Ratcliffe has received DMAI’s Award for Leadership in Environmentally Responsible Tourism and MPI’s International Supplier of the Year.

Facilities Facilities&&Destinations Destinations2016 2016Winter summer



Martha Sheridan

James T. Wood

President and CEO Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau

President and CEO Meet AC

Martha Sheridan oversees operations at the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau (PWCVB), leading a staff of 20 destination sales and marketing professionals. In 2010, she spearheaded efforts to form the Rhode Island Sports Commission, now a division of the PWCVB. A Past Chair of DMAI, Sheridan has held leadership positions in organizations including the MPI New England Chapter (MPINE) and the New England Society of CVBs. She is the recipient of the Rhode Island Hospitality Association’s (RIHA) Mary Brennan Tourism Award for outstanding achievement in tourism promotion, and in 2010 was named RIHA Woman of the Year. She is also the recipient of the MPINE President’s Award and the MPINE Supplier of the Year Award.

Jim Wood built the sales organization and implemented the operating policies of MEET AC, a DMO formed in June 2014 to drive meeting and convention business to Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall, Convention Center and surrounding hotels. He also serves as President and CEO of the Atlantic City Sports Commission, formed in 2015 as a department of MEET AC. A major recent achievement of the Commission is Atlantic City’s hosting TEAMS ’16, the world’s leading conference and expo for the sports-event industry, Sept. 26-29 at the new Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center. Wood previously served as President of the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau.

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find time to contribute to their field by participating in meeting industry associations, giving talks, writing articles in trade publications and more. Facilities & Destinations honors our industry’s overachievers with the ELITE Awards.





meeting industry professional’s job is multifaceted. To truly shine, it takes a broad skill set, the kind of network that only comes with many years of experience, and oftentimes industry-specific advanced education. CVB executives must thoroughly know their cities and the latest marketing techniques, while convention center and hotel executives must work to maintain industry-leading products and convey their value proposition to meeting planners. On top of these “musts,” some professionals




We encourage our readers to make nominations for CVB Executive of the Year, Convention Center Executive of the Year and Meeting Hotel Executive of the Year. Who among your colleagues and business partners is making an especially strong contribution to today’s vibrant meetings industry?


NOMINATION FORM CVB Executive of the Year

Nominated By:

1. Name:_____________________________________________

Name, Title:___________________________________________



2. Name:_____________________________________________




Convention Center Executive of the Year

May we contact you?  Yes____ No____

1. Name:_____________________________________________ Company:__________________________________________ 2. Name:_____________________________________________ Company:__________________________________________

Meeting Hotel Executive of the Year 1. Name:_____________________________________________ Company:__________________________________________ 2. Name:_____________________________________________ Company:__________________________________________


Please Fill Out Form & Mail Your Vote To:

Facilities & Destinations

ELITE Awards

152 Madison Avenue, Suite #802 New York, NY 10016 Or Fax to: (212) 213-6382 Or email ballots@facilitiesonline.com

Facilities & Destinations 2016 Summer


San Jose

Plaza de César Chávez in the downtown area is home to live music and festivals

New Silicon Valley Comic Con finds a progressive partner in Team San Jose By George Seli


t sometimes happens that a convention center is ideal for a new event in every respect except one: There is little room for the event to grow, and so eventually the organizers must find another venue. Fortunately for the new Silicon Valley Comic Con (SVCC), the San Jose McEnery Convention Center (SJCC) has not presented such limitations. Conceived by Apple Computer Founder Steve Wozniak in tandem with comic book industry legend Stan Lee, the SVCC enjoyed an unexpectedly high attendance of about 60,000 at its inaugural installment this past March. “We never dreamed that the event would be at the SJCC’s capacity for those two days. That was more than we could have hoped for,” remarks Trip Hunter, CEO of the SVCC. Evidently, the theme of the event — a comic con driven by both pop culture and technology — was a real hit with the Silicon Valley crowd. “When we interviewed our audience afterward, about 35 percent identified themselves as working in technology, and a huge portion of them said they wanted more science and tech” in the comic con experience, Hunter explains. The SVCC answered that desire with a mix of presenters from the fields of science/ technology, film and literature, including William Shatner, Michael J. Fox, Caltech physicist Spiros Michalakis, author Andy Weir and entrepreneur and scientist Astro Teller. The SVCC’s immediate success naturally spurred plans for growth. “Now we’re trying to expand the event, and the Mayor [Sam Licardo] and his staff have been phenomenal in working with us,” Hunter relates. “When we finished [the first event], they said, ‘We love this event and we would love it to stay here; how do we make that happen?’ So we’ve been speaking with them about using other facilities that are around the convention center.” And that’s precisely where the SJCC’s “room to grow” lies. Facilities & destinations 2016 summer

Clustered around the convention center are numerous venues that groups can rent, including the City National Civic, Center for the Performing Arts, California Theatre and Montgomery Theater, as well as the South Hall on the SJCC campus, offering 80,000 sq. ft. of column-free exhibit space. A bit further away but still walkable are Parkside Hall, the Tech Museum of Innovation and Plaza de César Chávez. For the SVCC’s next installment, April 21-23, 2017, “we’re going to be expanding into the City National Civic across the street, and into the South Hall, which will remove all the ticketing lines from the main Civic center,” Hunter relates. “We will possibly be using the Tech Museum of Innovation as well. And while there are a lot of logistical issues, we’re talking to them about closing West San Carlos Street in order to have a band out front. It would allow us to pull in a lot of local businesses onto that street, and the idea is that we would create a festival to incorporate more of San Jose than just the Civic center. A lot of companies we’ve been speaking to are excited about having a downtown event.”


If past experience is any indication, the larger and more complex future incarnations of the SVCC will run just as smoothly as the inaugural event. A key factor is the assistance from Team San Jose, the city’s DMO and manager of the SJCC and surrounding venues that comprise 550,000 sq. ft. total meeting and event space. “Team San Jose was just always willing to help us,” says Hunter. For example, “we would call up and say we want to increase our marketing footprint in the city, and they’d say we’ll deal with the Transit Authority, we’ll deal with getting advertising on the busses and banners in the airports. So we didn’t have to spend a tremen29

(Left): The Back to the Future panel with Michael J. Fox, Lea Thompson and Christopher Lloyd. (Below): Steve Wozniak (left), founder of the Silicon Valley Comic Con, greets Stan Lee

“We’re trying to expand the event, and the Mayor [Sam Licardo] and his staff have been phenomenal in working with us.” —Trip Hunter, CEO, Silicon Valley Comic Con

dous amount of time trying to figure out how to organize all that.” In addition, all of the recommended vendors that Hunter’s team utilized, including a lighting and tech company, were “of the quality that we needed,” he notes. The exhibitors were apparently as pleased with their experience as the event’s organizers. “I had exhibitors say it was the best show they’ve ever done, that they did more business on the Saturday of the event than in the totality of their other shows,” Hunter relates. Initially, “we had some difficulties getting tech company sponsorships at a comic con. But when we announced VIP ticket sales a month ago we had 250 companies sign up to be exhibitors on that day. And we generated almost two billion PR impressions in the two months leading up to our event.” The overall atmosphere at the SVCC was exactly what Wozniak wanted for the event. “Woz’s motto is that we’re doing this for fun. Yes, we’d love it to be a profitable business, but if we’re not having fun then we’re doing something wrong,” Hunter explains. “And that permeated everything. I think everybody at the convention center adopted that [attitude].”


On a more serious note, Team San Jose has in mind local citizens who are facing hunger and homelessness. The organization’s newest initiative, Hunger at Home, is an affiliated 501-c3 nonprofit organization that regularly donates unused Convention Center and hospitality industry prepared meals, fresh food and surplus supplies to soup kitchens and other charities to feed and help the hungry under the Bill Emerson Act. The initiative has thus far made a great impact. Team San Jose and its managed venues, in partnership with Levi’s Stadium, the San Francisco 49ers, Centerplate, Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View and the San Jose hotel community, has collectively donated 1.9 million meals to date that would otherwise be in landfill. 30

San Jose McEnery Convention Center Fast Facts Distance to Airport: 3.9 miles Total Exhibit Space: 214,760 sq. ft., 165,000 sq. ft. contiguous, 143,000 sq. ft. column-free Total Meeting Space: 112,523 sq. ft., including 35,194-sq.-ft. Grand Ballroom and 22,000-sq.-ft. Executive Ballroom # of Meeting Rooms: Up to 43, with capacities from 50 to 3,900 in theater-style seating Pre-function Space: 104,566 sq. ft. Connectivity: Free, fast Wi-Fi from the airport, within downtown and throughout the Convention Center Committable Downtown Hotel Rooms on Peak: 2,200 (including the connected 353room Hilton San Jose and the adjacent 506room San Jose Marriott) Committable Citywide Hotel Rooms on Peak: 4,000 Facilities & destinations 2016 summer


San Jose’s hotel community welcomes a couple of new members this year: the AC Hotel by Marriott San Jose Downtown and Hotel Clariana. The former is a 210-room, thoroughly modern new build located at 350 West Santa Clara Street. It will house seven meeting rooms totaling 6,470 sq. ft. The Hotel Clariana is an upscale boutique hotel with 44 rooms being built at 100 East Santa Clara Street. While neither of these properties is especially large, they will surely assist conventioneers looking for more lodging options in the downtown area. In addition, there are several new hotels in the proposal stage, including: • A 21-story, 280-room hotel expansion at the Sheraton Four Points. It would be the first cantilevered tower in Silicon Valley, built without impacting the historic Montgomery Hotel Building. • An 11-story, 173-room hotel to be located across the street from Westfield Valley Fair mall. If approved by the city, construction will start early next year. • A 60-room boutique hotel on North Fourth Street featuring a rooftop terrace with bar and BBQ area. One renovation of note is the 505-room Doubletree by Hilton – San Jose’s complete meeting room remodel. Scheduled to be unveiled in November, the 48,000 sq. ft. of modernized function space will feature new carpet, wall coverings, lighting and window dressings.


Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) is investing $8.2 million to upgrade its International Terminal, adding a second baggage carousel and indoor waiting area, and renovating seating and restrooms. The project is expected to be completed next spring. New direct flights from SJC include the following: • Once daily to Shanghai via Air China. • Once daily to Baltimore/Washington via Southwest Airlines starting Nov. 6, 2016. • Twice daily to Salt Lake City via Southwest Airlines starting Nov. 6, 2016. • Four times daily to Long Beach via Jetblue beginning Jan. 4, 2017. • Twice daily to Chicago via United Airlines beginning March 9, 2017. • Once daily to New York/Newark via United Airlines beginning March 9, 2017. • Once daily to Newark/New York via Alaska Airlines beginning March 12, 2017. Facilities & destinations 2016 summer

The City National Civic (left) and the California Theatre are available for group rental

“More important than growing attendance, we would like to create an event that drives the syncing of pop culture and technology.” —Trip Hunter DREAMING BIG IN SAN JOSE

The more connections SJC provides, the better for groups with broadly based attendees who want to experience one of the country’s leading hotbeds for innovation. Silicon Valley’s high-tech pioneers are accustomed to dreaming big, and planners can do the same with an event that takes advantage of multiple venues beyond the San Jose Convention Center. The Silicon Valley Comic Con certainly has that goal moving into its second installment. But it’s not just about finding more venues to accommodate more attendees. Rather, the idea is that different spaces — whether a theater, museum or plaza — allow for different experiences that support an event’s objectives. “More important than growing attendance, we would like to create an event that drives the syncing of pop culture and technology,” Hunter says. Science and technology can inspire pop culture, and vice versa. “One of the things Woz says is that for years Star Trek actually drove technology: ‘Hey, that would be cool, how do we make that?’ Pop culture allows one to dream big, and then technology comes in behind it,” Hunter explains. Similarly, Team San Jose’s staff, venues and allied vendors together provide the logistical and technological support to make an event organizer’s dream a reality. The expanded Comic Con in 2017 will be a case in point. 31

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Facilities & destinations 2016 summer


ATLANTIC CITY The host of MPI’s World Education Congress has plenty in store for planners By Anthony Bilden


tlantic City was recently in the meeting industry limelight when it welcomed MPI’s 2016 World Education Congress at Harrah’s Atlantic City Waterfront Conference Center. The event introduced many planners to the city’s newest convention venue, including Diane NicoloPocino, CMP, Vice President of Events and Programs, New Jersey Builders Association (NJBA). “I had the pleasure of attending WEC in Atlantic City and Harrah’s was the official host. The property is phenomenal,” she says. “I know several of my colleagues have utilized the space or are planning to, and there is a potential for us to utilize it as well in the future.” But while the Waterfront Conference Center was a new experience for Nicolo-Pocino, she is quite familiar with the virtues of Atlantic City as a meeting destination. She plans the Atlantic Builders Convention, which brought about 6,500 delegates to the Atlantic City Convention Center in March. “We have been hosting it at the ACCC ever since it opened back in ‘97 because we outgrew the hotel properties,” she explains. “There are other site options [within the state], but we continue to remain loyal to Atlantic City because it has been loyal to us.” Meet AC, the ACCC’s supporting organization led by President and CEO James Wood, “definitely plays a key role in the success of our event,” Nicolo-Pocino adds. “From the very beginning they work hard to make sure that everyone involved is on the same page. They have assisted us with marketing, site visits, and working with the various properties in the city. We’ve even had to call on them with respect to hosting specific events within the convention. So it’s a one-stop shop; you make one phone call and they pretty much have the answers to all of your questions.” Facilities & Destinations 2016 Summer

Atlantic City Convention Center Upgrades

While the ACCC is nearly 20 years old, it is no outdated facility. Several upgrades have been completed, and a Master Plan has been adopted for long-term capital improvements. Recent improvement projects include: a $1 million wireless and technology upgrade; new digital marquee sign on the exterior of the building; new equipment, such as tables, staging, lighting and recycling equipment; and modified work rules, eliminating standby labor for electrical services. “Our attendees and exhibitors definitely noted that there were significant improvements made just this past convention,” says Nicolo-Pocino. “The technological improvements with respect to WiFi just make the experience that much better for me as a planner, for the exhibitors who invest countless dollars to promote their products and services, and for the attendees.” The ACCC provides 500,000 contiguous sq. ft. of exhibit space, as well as 49 meeting rooms featuring an extra 109,100 sq. ft. “We’ve been there so many years it’s basically like flipping a switch,” she describes. “Everyone knows exactly what needs to be done and it all falls into place because the people are so organized. We’re constantly in communication, anticipate things and work very well together.”

Experiencing Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center

The more than 2,000 attendees of MPI’s World Education Congress, held June 11–14, were easily accommodated at Harrah’s Atlantic City Waterfront Conference Center, a 100,000-sq.-ft. 33

“There are other site options [within the state], but we continue to remain loyal to Atlantic City because it has been loyal to us.” Caesars Entertainment welcomed MPI’s 2016 World Education Congress with a beach party. (Above): WEC attendees gather at the Harrah’s Atlantic City pool. meeting space expansion complemented by more than 2,500 hotel rooms. The two 50,000-sq.-ft. ballrooms can be configured 200 different ways and more than 60 smaller rooms can be created. Sonia James Pennington, Director of Operations with the National Dance Showcase, brought her event to Harrah’s Atlantic City for the first time in July. The roughly 1,000-1,200 participants used the Waterfront Conference Center’s meeting spaces, specifically salons 14-21 on the second floor, for the competitions and workshops. “I was very impressed with the Waterfront Conference Center,” says Pennington. “Everything is state of the art, and the production value is amazing. I was also really impressed with their flexibility and their ability to configure different spaces specific to our needs. It’s much easier to have an open palette that fits our needs rather than going into a theater and trying to carve out space.” Based on that experience, the National Dance Showcase 34

—Diane Nicolo-Pocino, CMP, Vice President of Events and Programs, New Jersey Builders Association has contracted with Harrah’s Atlantic City through 2020. Given the participation of families with young dancers in the event, “we were a little nervous going from the Boardwalk side to the Marina side [the event had previous been held at Bally’s, the House of Blues and The Showboat]. But the Marina side was more isolated and had the feel of a resort rather than a casino, as opposed to some of the hotels that are on the Boardwalk side,” Pennington notes. Unlike the National Dance Showcase, the World Education Congress was not restricted to Harrah’s Atlantic City, as the objective was in part to allow planners to experience the city itself. The WEC kicked off with a beach party and continued with a gathering at Steel Pier, where a 200-ft.-high observation wheel featuring climate-controlled gondolas is currently being constructed. The $14 million project is scheduled to open in early 2017. In addition, the WEC’s The Big Deal fundraiser was held in Caesars Atlantic City Hotel and Casino’s 17,135-sq.-ft. Palladium Ballroom. The 1,144-room hotel offers 28,000 sq. ft. of meeting space overall. Facilities & Destinations 2016 Summer

“I was really impressed with [Harrah’s Atlantic City Waterfront Conference Center’s] flexibility and their ability to configure different spaces specific to our needs.” —Sonia James Pennington, Director of Operations, National Dance Showcase

Souzai Sushi, Buddakan, Continental and Phillip’s Seafood. Nicolo-Pocino recommends several Italian restaurants that have been favorites with the NJBA’s members, including Capriccio at Resorts Atlantic City, the legendary Carmine’s at the Tropicana, and Girasole near the Tropicana, “which is excellent for small groups of about 15 people; I’ve sent our officers there,” she relates. And great food and drink can also be found at several of the city’s annual festivals, such as the Atlantic City Cider Social, Atlantic City Seafood Festival and Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival. Last but not least on the recreational scene, plans for an Atlantic City “polercoaster” have been approved. Set to debut in late 2017, the vertical roller coaster will tower 350 ft. high. Atlantic City itself is reaching new heights in the meeting industry with Harrah’s new Waterfront Conference Center, improvements to the ACCC and major hotel renovations. The future bodes well for longtime clients such as the NJBA, as well as groups meeting in this classic Northeast destination for the first time.

A Developing Hotel Infrastructure

Atlantic City’s inventory of 16,000 hotel rooms includes eight major casino hotels and multiple non-gaming hotels. Two of the largest are the Borgata & Water Club at 2,800 rooms and the Tropicana Atlantic City at 2,129 rooms. The former property is investing $50 million on projects this year, including an outdoor pool and beer garden. Also recently opened is an 18,000-sq.-ft. nightclub, Premier. In addition, new meeting space will be built for the fall, as well as a new restaurant by celebrity chef Michael Symon. Meanwhile, Tropicana has finalized a $50 million renovation, including Boardwalk façade enhancements and hotel room upgrades throughout the property. Tropicana has also recently opened the multimilliondollar AtlantiCare LifeCenter, touted as the most advanced gym facility in Atlantic City. The hotel recently announced a $25 million renovation covering 500 hotel rooms in its Havana Tower and the South Tower casino area. Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center is not the only new conference center in town. Recently, Resorts Casino Hotel debuted its $5 million conference center, featuring 15,000 sq. ft. spread over 12 rooms. The NJBA has partnered with Resorts for the last three years. “We utilized their new conference center for our President’s Reception, and it was a spectacular event,” comments Nicolo-Pocino. “The food was phenomenal, and the customer service was excellent.” In addition, Atlantic City’s historic Claridge Hotel, which reopened in 2014 with 502 renovated guestrooms, opened its 15,000-sq.-ft. Conference Center this year. The addition brings the hotel’s meeting space to 100,000 sq. ft., including a 6,400-sq.-ft. room suitable for general sessions or small tradeshows and four smaller conference and boardrooms. The Claridge will also be debuting a rooftop bar in the near future.

Entertainment Begins with the Boardwalk

“In addition to the business of our event in Atlantic City, there are many attractions, activities, entertainment and dining options that make it one of the best places to meet,” asserts Nicolo-Pocino. The premier attraction is of course the world-renowned, five-mile Boardwalk, and attendees will have more to explore once the inlet section is extended into Gardner’s Basin. Complementing the nostalgic Boardwalk experience are several shopping and dining locales that have their own news to share. At Tanger Outlets The Walk, consisting of more than 100 tax-free retail stores, Bass Pro Shops, the famous Outdoor World is the newest addition. In the Marina district, Gardner’s Basin has begun an expansion and redevelopment project that will add restaurants, shops and entertainment venues. And The Playground, formerly known as The Pier Shops at Caesars, offers 464,000 sq. ft. of high-end retail stores and restaurants, including Facilities & Destinations 2016 Summer

Atlantic City Convention Center Fast Facts Contiguous Exhibit Space: 500,000 sq. ft. # of Exhibit Halls: Five, ranging in size from 29,400 sq. ft. to 199,500 sq. ft. # of Meeting Rooms: 45, ranging in size from 672 sq. ft. to 11,880 sq. ft. Meeting Room Tech Features: Soundproof panels, assisted listening systems and voice, video and data communications capabilities Pre-function Space: 32,000 sq. ft. # of Covered Loading Docks: 29 # of Indoor Parking Spaces: 1,400 Headquarters Hotel: Connected to the 502room Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel Accessibility: Connected with the Atlantic City Rail Terminal. Located within a few hours’ drive of nearly one third of the nation’s population. 35

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Facilities & Destinations 2016 Summer


The resorts of Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit and Riviera Maya offer groups all-inclusive deals

The scenic pool at Velas Vallarta (Right): Talia Guerrero, Groups & Conventions Manager for Meetings by Velas Resorts


he serene beaches of Banderas Bay and views of the Sierra Madre mountain range beckon groups to the region comprising Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit. Caribbean views, Playa del Carmen and Mayan ruins are among the attractions of Riviera Maya, on the opposite coast of Mexico. Not incidentally, both areas are home to some of the country’s finest resorts, made all the more attractive to planners by their all-inclusive pricing. F&D staff recently visited several of these properties; our very favorable impressions are detailed below.


This 345 all-suite resort is located in the Marina Vallarta area just five minutes from Puerto Vallarta’s Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR). It was originally designed to be a condominium complex, until a recession hit. A stroke of business acumen by the privately held ownership group turned an economic downturn into an opportunity. The resort has since given rise to a group of luxury properties that locally include its sister properties Casa Velas and Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, as well as the Gran Velas Riviera Maya and a soon-to-open property in Cabo San Lucas.

Puerto Vallarta

Velas Vallarta boasts views of the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Sierra Madre mountain range to the east. Like all Velas properties, it offers groups all-inclusive packages via a dedicated team of planning professionals — Meetings by Velas Resorts. Velas Vallarta houses its own 6,900-sq.-ft. convention center, whose flexible function spaces include the Grand Alejandra BallFacilities & Destinations 2016 Summer

room, which can accommodate 600-1,250 attendees for banquets or cocktails receptions. All meeting venues are equipped with high-speed WiFi, audiovisual equipment and videoconference capabilities. Award-winning chefs at the resorts are well-versed not only in local fare, but also cuisines as diverse as gourmet Spanish, Italian, French and Asian. If a visitor is missing home, there are snack stations offering States-side favorites such as hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream, nachos and guacamole. Recreational opportunities exist both on and offsite. In addition to beach activities, guests can enjoy a cliff-side massage overlooking the Pacific — just one of an array of services offered at the Velas Vallarta Spa. At Velas Vallarta as well as its sister resort, the 80-suite Casa Velas, guests have access to a nearby 18-hole golf course and can enjoy nature in the nearby harbor where turtles nest and dolphins are visible year-round.


To the north of Puerto Vallarta is Riviera Nayarit, a region continuing to find favor with visitors from around the globe. The region’s hotel occupancy rose to 86.22 percent in July 2016 vs. 83.86 percent in July 2015, as reported by the Riviera Nayarit Convention & Visitors Bureau (RNCVB). Praising the recent increase, RNCVB’s Managing Director Marc Murphy commented, “The numbers don’t lie. Every percentage increase is a reflection of the hard and smart work we are doing.” The Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit has not only been a benefac37

The Gazebo at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, a memorable venue for a presentation

Velas Resorts has hosted members of the World Economic Forum, as well as corporate groups ranging from Roche and Pfizer to Nestle and Heineken.

tor of the uptick in tourism to the area, but probably a contributing force. The world’s first AAA Five-Diamond all-inclusive resort wows guests from the moment they step foot on the property. Each of the resort’s 267 rooms is a spacious suite of more than 1,000 sq. ft. Groups also have available more than 32,000 sq. ft. of event space, including the hotel’s convention center. The largest space, the Grand Marissa Ballroom, is slightly over 6,600 sq. ft. with a capacity of 400-800 people. The property also features multiple outdoor plazas for receptions. An especially impressive space is the Gazebo and Gazebo Beach, whose three towering monumental stone structures overlook the beach and Pacific, creating a window-like view into the horizon. Notable amenities include the hotel’s spa and world-recognized dining options. Three of its restaurants are headed by an exclusive chef, Frida (Mexican), Lucca (Italian-Mediterranean) and Piaf (French); each has received an AAA Four Diamond rating. Talia Guerrero, Groups & Conventions Manager for Meetings by Velas Resorts, noted that the properties, due to their private ownership structure, work flexibly with groups, leaving behind some of the surcharges and red tape common when dealing with larger hotel brands. Indeed, groups large and small have found a home in Velas’ three Vallarta/Nayarit properties. Guerrero proudly noted that Velas hosted members of the World Economic Forum in 2012, and continues to host international corporate groups across the spectrum, from pharma — including Roche and Pfizer — to food & beverage conglomerates such as Nestle and Heineken. —Rosa Laufer


In the heart of Riviera Nayarit lies the Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta, beside the legendary beaches and the crystal clear waters of Banderas Bay. This all-inclusive luxury resort is just a 20-minute drive from PVR. The hotel’s 348 stylish guestrooms, including 33 suites and various deluxe rooms with two bedrooms, feature a colonial Mexican décor, original art and spectacular bay views. In-room Jacuzzis help attendees de-stress and unwind privately. With most all-inclusive resorts it has become the norm to expect low quality and variety of food options. That is far from the case at the Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta, which boasts an abundance of dining options across six distinctive restaurants throughout the property. Represented cuisines include Italian, Asian, Mexican and Brazilian. Besides the quality of food and the luxurious accommodations, the hotel features two swimming pools complete with a swim-up bar, as well as the Rock Spa. The hotel recently unveiled the brand-new, 12,900-sq.-ft. Sanctuary Convention Center, reportedly the largest conven38

The Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta (Right): Kevin Edmunds, Vice President, Meeting & Incentive Sales, Hard Rock All Inclusive Collection

The Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta’s new Sanctuary Convention Center is reportedly the largest convention center ever built in Riviera Nayarit.

tion center ever built in Riviera Nayarit. The Sanctuary Convention Center tripled the Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta’s function space to nearly 20,000 sq. ft. When asked about the logistical and technological features of the new meeting space, Director of Sales Manuel Rubio explained that the convention center allows for “better and direct access for external decor, AV and logistics companies, thus [facilitating] more complex and larger events. Also, external participants can now access the event area without even entering the main hotel area, permitting Sanctuary (and Riviera Nayarit) to host large conventions where some percentage of the participants are not necessarily guests of the property.” The hotel also assists planners in designing special events and group activities. “Our No. 1 priority is to provide an experience that no other property can offer,” says Kevin Edmunds, Vice President, Meeting & Incentive Sales for the Hard Rock All Inclusive Collection. “We use our conference service managers on property to assist in making a memorable event. Off Facilities & Destinations 2016 Summer

property, we rely on our DMC partners, as they are the experts on the destination. We all work together to provide an adventure [groups] will want to keep coming back to.” Top group activities include whale watching, the Rhythms of the Night cruise, fishing, golf and a group tour to Las Caletas beach. —Rachel Kapur

The Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya’s Haven Lounge


Located 15 minutes from the lively downtown of Playa del Carmen, the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya offers a beautiful natural sea cove, six large swimming pools, 11 world-class dining options, the Caribbean’s largest spa and a Music Lab among its amenities. It’s all nestled on an 85-acre property where nature is omnipresent with spacious gardens and manicured lawns, and where small monkeys and gentle iguanas can be seen at the doorstep of an impressive Convention Center. As a Hard Rock Hotel, the property also displays numerous historical collectibles from the music industry. The entrance is graced with lyrics from Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody: “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?” Both real and something of a fantasy is the resort’s all-inclusive pricing, which enables planners to put their meetings at the top of the charts without the worry of additional costs. “Not every all-inclusive is the same, especially when it comes to meetings,” says Edmunds. “At the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya, when we offer all-inclusive, we really do mean it. When you have that one price before you even arrive on property, your meetings can last two hours or 12 hours, and it’s all in that rate.” Each of the hotel’s 1,264 rooms enjoys a private balcony or terrace with a hammock, and even its own double hydro spa. The flat-screen HDTV and the sound are excellent, as one would expect to find in a Hard Rock property. Guests can take advantage of complimentary WiFi and unlimited calls to the continental United States and Canada. The Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya offers an 87,017-sq.-ft. Convention Center with the latest audiovisual technology and experienced onsite meeting professionals. “It is a very relaxed spot to get business done,” commented Bill Johnson, Manager of the American Vinyl All Star Band, whose lead singer Danny Beissel mingled that day with a meeting group experiencing the Music Lab. The facility is available for teambuilding programs that allow attendees to feel what it is like to perform and record with a band, as well as learn to DJ. Eleven restaurants on the property let guests experience, at different times of the day, both international and local cuisine. From authentic Brazilian cuisine at Ipanema to Asian fusion at Zen to the delicate French cuisine of Le Petit Cochon to the flavorful Mexican cuisine at Frida, it is a feast for the palate. Attendees looking for relaxation and rejuvenation can Facilities & Destinations 2016 Summer

indulge at the Rock Spa, billed as the largest spa in the Caribbean. Featuring more than 75 treatment rooms, the spa is famous for its Synchronicity massage, combining the healing power of music with advanced massage therapy. —Sibylle Eschapasse


Accessible from Cancún International Airport, Riviera Maya’s all-inclusive Barceló Maya Beach Hotel offers groups numerous activities including golf, tennis, snorkeling, kayaking and windsurfing. The property also presents live shows in the Kukulcán Theatre and Jaguar’s nightclub. The hotel can arrange for a group visit to Cancun or to one of the many historical sites in the area, such as the Mayan ruins of Tulum and Chichen Itza. Last December, the Barceló Maya Beach Hotel completed an $86 million renovation that included redesigned rooms/suites, a new clubhouse and upgrades to the spa. The luxury hotel features 19,375 sq. ft. of function space, as well as outdoor spaces for special events; the largest meeting room can accommodate 1,350 guests. Guests of the Barceló Maya Beach Hotel also have access to a large complex of indoor and outdoor communal areas across four hotels: Barceló Maya Beach, Barceló Maya Caribe, Barceló Maya Colonial and Barceló Maya Tropical, all belonging to the Barceló Maya Beach Resort. Booking at any one of these hotels means that planners have access to the facilities and services at the other hotels, which increases flexibility for planning different sizes of meeting. With the Barceló all-inclusive program attendees will be able to indulge in snacks, meals and drinks available 24-hours a day. The hotel features three restaurants including the Beach Buffet, with an innovative design inspired by Mayan culture; the spectacular México Lindo, offering Mexican specialties; and the Rancho Grande, with views of the Caribbean sea. —Rachel Kapur

Local artwork greets guest in the lobby of the Barceló Maya Beach Hotel 39


Mid-Market Review Second-tier cities shine in the seller’s market By George Seli


he current seller’s market in the meetings industry is especially strong in first-tier cities, and that is driving many planners to seek opportunities in mid-market destinations. Thus, now is an especially good time to explore the meetings resources of the 11 cities profiled in F&D’s 2016 Mid-Market Review. From upstate New York to Colorado, these site choices vary greatly in character, climate and culture, but what they share can be summarized in one word: value. Generally offering lower room rates and event operating costs than their first-tier counterparts, the top mid-market cities are also home to up-to-date meeting facilities, proactive CVBs and engaging recreational opportunities. The following pages detail the virtues of Austin, Birmingham, Boise, Colorado Springs, Columbus, Hartford, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Pittsburgh, Rochester and San Antonio. To provide a snapshot of the success that the second-tier market is enjoying on the meetings front, F&D spoke with representatives of the high-performing convention centers in Austin, Hartford and Pittsburgh, respectively.


The advantages first-tier cities offer are sometimes matched by mid-market cities. One example is strong air accessibility. “With over 300 daily flights in and out of Austin/Bergstrom International Airport, Austin is centrally located and very easy to get in and out of,” notes Paul Barnes, Assistant Director, Austin Convention Center. More logistical ease can be found in the city’s downtown. “We have a compact convention package — restaurants, hotels, and entertainment areas are all within easy walking distance of the convention center,” Barnes adds. “Attendees never have to travel too far to enjoy the sights and sounds of Austin.” Additionally, many mid-market convention centers rival those of the first cities in quality, if not in size. Technology is one aspect. “Technologically, we continue to set the standard for many of our competitors in the meetings industry,” says Barnes regarding the Austin Convention Center. “Complimentary WiFi throughout the facility is a huge hit with all the groups we serve.” Meanwhile, the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford “is diligent in staying on top of the latest technology trends,” says Michele Hughes, the facility’s Director of Sales & Marketing. “From LED lighting in the exhibit hall, to increased bandwidth throughout the Center, to a new video wall in our lobby, we work to ensure all of our clients’ tech needs are met.” Another aspect of convention center quality is sustainability, and Pittsburgh’s David L. Lawrence Convention Center is outstanding in that regard. “Being the only LEED Gold and Platinum convention center in the country, we offer unique operating features including natural lighting, a rooftop garden, landfill diversion and HVAC cost savings,” notes Tim Muldoon, General Manager. Attendees can also feel connected to nature via the facility’s design. “We offer one of the grandest views of not only our downtown cityscape, but also the flowing energy of the 40

“We have experienced our sixth consecutive record year in terms of revenue.” —Paul Barnes, Assistant Director, Austin Convention Center

Allegheny River,” Muldoon adds. The service level of mid-market convention centers can also match that of their first-tier counterparts. At the Austin Convention Center, for example, “our staff is all in-house; that is, we do not outsource our staff positions (with the exceptions of food and beverage and audiovisual staff),” Barnes explains. “Our competitive advantage in this regard is a vested, personal interest in a job well done by each of our employees and a customer service experience that is unparalleled among our competitors — this is consistently reflected in the feedback we receive from our guests.” The Connecticut Convention Center has also received its share of positive customer feedback on service quality. According to Hughes, “our award-winning in-house culinary team, together with the level of service provided by our entire event team, is second to none, and we have the service scores and reputation to prove it. The longevity of our team here at the center contributes to our commitment of excellence.”


Austin, Hartford and Pittsburgh all report healthy meetings industries, both in the recent past and in terms of future bookings. “In regards to the Austin Convention Center, we have experienced our sixth consecutive record year in terms of revenue,” says Barnes. “Convention Center occupancy rates are around 61 percent and rising. We also see that roughly three fourths of our group bookings are return business. Our average number of attendees is trending upward significantly, and will continue to do so.” Thankfully the city’s hoteliers have been making an effort to keep pace with demand. “The number of hotels (especially high-end brands) is increasing in Austin, and interest in Austin as a convention destination is growing,” Barnes adds. “This is evidenced by the approximately 3,000 hotel rooms coming online in the past two years.” A major addition is the 1,012-room JW Marriott Austin, which opened last year just two blocks from the Convention Center. The hotel itself houses over 120,000 sq. ft. of function space. Hartford is enjoying an increase in its education, health, science and fraternal association business, as well as an overall increase in inquiries and RFPs from planners, Hughes Facilities & destinations 2016 Summer

2016 Mid-Market Review “From LED lighting in the exhibit hall, to increased bandwidth throughout the Center, to a new video wall in our lobby, we work to ensure all of our clients’ tech needs are met.” —Michele Hughes, Director of Sales & Marketing, Connecticut Convention Center notes. Similarly, Pittsburgh is ahead of pace in bookings for 2018. “Heading into the new year, we will continue to look at 2019 and 2020 to build our base business by offering our customers added value that positively impacts their bottom line,” Muldoon says.


These dynamic second-tier cities continue to garner the attention of new groups, which helps to keep their bookings on the rise. “We have been privileged to book some leading technological and medical groups over the last year or so, which really enables the city of Austin and the Convention Center to emerge as a destination leader,” Barnes says. “For example, Tableau Software will be coming to the Austin Convention Center for the first time this year, and PCMA will host Convening Leaders 2017 — widely known as the ‘Super Bowl’ of meetings — here in January.” On the technology front, Hughes cites the Association of Science Technology Centers as a new client coming to the Connecticut Convention Center in September 2018. The ASTC represents over 600 members in nearly 50 countries. In addition, the New England Regional Volleyball Association (NERVA) has expanded its Mizuno New England Winterfest Tournament at the Center beginning in 2017. “The additional weekend tournament will add 7,000 attendees to the 17,000 visitors Winterfest currently brings to the city,” says Hughes. “They also committed to the Center through 2020.” Pittsburgh’s latest association meeting clients include the National League of Cities (2016), United States Environmental Protection Agency (2016), American Postal Workers Union (2018) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (2018).


Continued success in the group market can’t be taken for granted, and the best mid-market cities regularly improve their convention product to ensure that returning attendees can enjoy an even better experience. For example, Pittsburgh’s group clients will be able to utilize a fully renovated Rooftop Terrace at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. “We will embark on a $5+ million renovation project of our Rooftop Terrace, boasting views of downtown and the Allegheny,” says Muldoon. “This will provide us an additional multiuse event space accommodating up to 350 people in a glass-walled, climate-controlled destination.” The Austin Convention Center is in the process of adding the Atrium Café and Co. to its guest offerings this November, according to Barnes. “As group sizes increase, we are constantly evaluating ways to maximize meeting space and improve services for our guests. In addition to updating our retail kiosks and reFacilities & destinations 2016 Summer

appropriating outdoor exhibit space on Cesar Chavez Street, we plan to have our ACCD Catering Innovation Kitchen open sometime in 2017. This will be a fully operational tasting kitchen, which will give our guests a unique opportunity to participate in ‘hands-on’ planning and design of their food and beverage menus with our expert staff.” The Connecticut Convention Center’s recent $2.5 million refresh included carpet and public space furniture and will also include a box office. “The new box office is expected to be completed by November 2016 and will be a great addition for our groups that would like to do registration in our main lobby,” explains Hughes.


In tandem with these investments, the Connecticut Convention Center is busy spreading the word about Hartford’s value as a meeting destination. “Our National Sales Team is very active in selling our destination through appointment-based shows, presentations, webinars and tradeshows. We’re also hosting familiarization site inspections with our third parties, as our city is quickly changing and evolving,” Hughes adds. A major evolution of the Austin Convention Center is in the conceptual stage. “There is a process for a possible facility expansion in place, which would nearly double our current exhibit and tradeshow space,” Barnes says. “We could potentially see added meeting rooms, ballrooms and retail space, which would support current and future meetings industry trends. We should note that this process is currently in the early planning stages, and is in front of Austin’s City Council for approval; no actual construction is scheduled.” While the long-term business plan at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center does not include a major expansion, the staff’s approach to customer relations will certainly be strengthened. “We have taken a new direction with our selling approach,” says Muldoon. “We are working closely with our customers on the front end to better understand their goals as an organization and goals of their conventions. We are demonstrating a true partnership not only with the customer, but with their top exhibitors and sponsors as well. We also will offer

“We will offer more attractive incentives to groups who are willing to shift their pattern, so that we may layer our business and get in sync with our hotel partners.” —Tim —Tim Muldoon, General Manager, David L. Lawrence Convention Center

more attractive incentives to groups who are willing to shift their pattern, so that we may layer our business and get in sync with our hotel partners.” Whether the focus is customer outreach, customer relations or facility improvement, these convention centers are ensuring that their respective cities remain competitive in the second-tier market for years to come. 41

Austin, TX


he capital of Texas offers meeting groups many historical attractions, including the State Capitol, the LBJ Presidential Library, the Texas State History Museum, the Blanton Museum of Art and many more museums and art galleries. Or groups can experience the beauty of central Texas, captured by downtown’s Lady Bird Lake and bordered by 10 miles of trails enjoyed by runners, walkers and cyclists. Surrounded by three lakes and a network of parks, Austin offers the perfect environment for enjoying the best of nature.

After conventions and meetings wrap-up each night, attendees may choose to enjoy Austin’s entertainment districts — Second Street, the Warehouse District and the famous Sixth Street. The Austin Convention Center is just down the street from the city’s vibrant nightlife, where visitors can also enjoy everything from fine dining in four-star restaurants, to down-home barbecue and authentic Tex-Mex. As the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin echoes with the sound of country, rock ‘n’ roll, blues, jazz and Tejano. On any given evening, attendees can find live music playing in nearly 250 different venues. Austin offers more than 33,000 hotel rooms, with 7,500 located downtown, including the 800-room Hilton Austin adjacent to the convention center. Additional nearby hotels include: Four Seasons Hotel Austin, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn by Marriott, Hilton Garden Inn Austin Downtown, Radisson Hotel & Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown, Driskill Hotel, Omni Austin Hotel Downtown, Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel, W Austin, Hyatt Place Downtown Austin and the 1,012-room JW Marriott Austin. The 326-room Westin Austin Downtown opened in July 2015 and the Fairmont Austin is scheduled to open in 2017. A winner of the Prime Site Award every year since 1995, the Austin Convention Center, a LEED® Gold-certified building, has

emerged as a leader in the convention and meeting industry. A premier facility located in the heart of the capital city’s downtown business district, the Center spans six city blocks with 369,132 sq. ft. of exhibit and meeting space. The five, column-free exhibit halls, totaling 247,052 sq. ft., accommodate 1,289 10 ft.-by-10 ft. exhibit booths. Seven ballrooms ranging from 3,896 sq. ft. to 40,510 sq. ft. in size and 54 meeting rooms and show offices totaling over 58,000 sq. ft., complete the four-story convention center. Ample parking is provided in two parking garages with a total capacity of 1,700 spaces. Rated one of the most technologically advanced convention centers in the country, this gigabit-rated facility moves voice, video and data at over one billion bits per second. The Center’s hightech capabilities help create the perfect technology partner for the annual SXSW international convention. It offers a variety of in-house services including complimentary wireless Internet access, redundant high-speed Internet II access, plug-and-play capabilities and an onsite technical staff to help with networking needs.

500 E. Cesar Chavez Street, Austin, TX 78701 • (512) 404-4200; Fax: (512) 404-4220 austinconventioncenter.com 42

Facilities & destinations 2016 Summer

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Bringing Venues to the Meeting & Events Market Since 1988

Birmingham, AL


he Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex is Alabama’s foremost convention, meeting and entertainment center. Events and meetings of all types can be accommodated in its Arena, Concert Hall, Theater, Exhibition Halls and Ballroom. The complex embraces a beautiful central piazza used for outdoor events. The Exhibition Halls cover 220,000+ sq. ft. for major tradeshows and exhibitions. For smaller shows, this space can be divided into seven different configurations. The Complex offers full catering service for any size group, ranging from casual box lunches to elaborate cocktail receptions and formal dinners. With the new Uptown Entertainment District, the complex also includes six restaurants with cuisines ranging from fine dining to Southern cooking, plus a premium coffee shop with full-service bar. Two skywalks and an interior corridor stretching over 1,000 ft. connect the BJCC Exhibition Halls, Meeting Rooms and Arena with the adjacent 757-room Sheraton Birmingham Hotel. Connected to the Sheraton via skywalk is the all-new Westin Birmingham Hotel with an additional 294 rooms, bringing total onsite accommodations to 1,051 rooms.

The BJCC offers videoconferencing, satellite, teleconferencing, in-house Ethernet for event use, microwave and satellite connectivity, wireless access to an exhibitor network and a fully staffed, broadcastquality studio with pre- and postproduction capabilities. Total Exhibition Space = 220,000+ sq. ft. with 20 ft.-30-ft. ceilings Number of Meeting Rooms = 90 • Largest Ballroom = 25,000 sq. ft. • Banquet Seating Capacity • 8,800 seats Event Space • 2,800-seat Concert Hall • 1,000-seat Theatre; 276-seat Forum Theater • 18,000-seat Arena

2100 Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard North, Birmingham, AL 35203 • (205) 458-8400 • www.bjcc.org 44

Facilities & destinations 2016 Summer

Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex 205.458.8400 | www.bjcc.org

220,000 Exhibition Space | 90 Meeting Rooms Now Open! UpTown Entertainment District | www.uptownbham.com

Boise, ID

Boise Centre. So Much, So Close.

Groups who haven’t been to Boise lately are missing out on one of the most vibrant cities in the western United States. It is not only a compelling site choice for meeting groups, but also a convenient one. With nonstop air service from 20 major U.S. cities, getting to Boise is a breeze.

Vibrant Downtown

Boise offers the culture, entertainment and amenities of a large urban area, in a place that feels inviting to visitors. Planners will be pleasantly surprised by all that Boise has to offer: a walkable, compact downtown filled with shops, dining, brewpubs, nightlife and culture, all with a fun and hip vibe. With adventurous recreation nearby, including whitewater rafting, skiing, golfing and a 25-mile Greenbelt bicycle and pedestrian path along the Boise River, Boise has an activity for everyone to enjoy. Among the Boise’s recent accolades: Forbes ranked Boise as #15 in America’s Fastest Growing Cities, and Travel & Leisure ranked the Boise Airport #7 on America’s Best Airports listing. In fact, several Fortune 500 companies call Boise home.

Convention Center Expansion Opening September 2016

Boise Centre, Idaho’s largest convention and meeting facility, is expanding to better accommodate national and regional conferences and events. The convention center currently offers 50,000

sq. ft. of flexible and customizable space to suit a planner’s needs. Opening this month is an additional 38,000 sq. ft. of space that will bring the venue’s total square footage to nearly 90,000 sq. ft. Upon completion, planners will have at their disposal eight new meeting rooms with natural light, a new ballroom and spacious glass-enclosed lobby overlooking a civic plaza and fountain. A connectivity concourse will be completed in March 2017. Boise Centre’s professional event team is highly experienced in hosting a variety of events, from conventions and tradeshows to corporate meetings and special events. The convention center has built a reputation for providing excellent service and high-quality events. Boise Centre features full-service catering, audiovisual and technical services, high-speed Internet, WiFi connections throughout, extensive recycling and sustainability programs.


Boise has a wide variety of lovely hotels ranging from luxury to modern and boutique. Several hotels are located within walking distance of Boise Centre. Three new downtown hotel properties are under construction, adding 450 rooms near the convention center. Complimentary airport shuttle service is offered by most hotels. To learn more about Boise Centre or to submit an RFP, visit www. boisecentre.com or contact Cliff Clinger, Director of Marketing and Sales, Boise Centre, (208) 489-3680, cclinger@boisecentre.com.

850 West Front Street, Boise, ID 83702 • (208) 336-8900 • boisecentre.com 46

Facilities & destinations 2016 Summer


Facilities & Destinations SuperBook Advertiser Index Adventure Aquarium .........................15 Akron/Summit CVB............................53 Albuquerque Convention Center.....69 Alliant Energy Center of Dane County ......................................54 Austin Convention Center ................71 Baton Rouge CVB ..............................37 Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex ........................39 Boston Convention & Exhibition Center ...............................19 Branson Convention Center .............55 Charleston Civic Center ....................35 Cox Business Services Convention Center ............................75 Colorado Springs CVB ......................73 Daytona Beach Area CVB .................40 Fairplex ...............................................77


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Give us a call. We look forward to introducing you to a Sheraton Puerto Rico Center ..............................7 bigger and betterConvention Boise Centre.

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boisecentre.com 208.336.8900

colorado springs, CO

Beautiful and Budget Savvy


he challenge of picking the perfect event destination, offsite activities and venues at a reasonable price can be a lot to take on. Colorado Springs is the perfect destination choice. Create meeting perfection with stunning scenic beauty during breaks, refreshing mountain air before or after the keynote presentation and more than 55 attractions and activities to explore. The award-winning staff of the CVB can help provide a smooth, streamlined execution. Colorado Springs is easily accessible from anywhere in the country. Located just 11 miles from downtown, the Colorado Springs Airport has nonstop and one-stop service options from domestic and international destinations worldwide. The region is also a short and scenic 70-mile drive south of the Denver International Airport. Home to the U.S. Olympic Committee, Olympic Training Center, U.S. Air Force Academy and ProRodeo Hall of Fame, Colorado Springs is the ideal location for exceptional performance — creating a higher ground for attendees to refresh, discover and network. The magnificent views and a 6,035-ft. elevation might also have something to do with it. Recreation is as easily found as the endless blue skies and days of sunshine. Set against the Rocky Mountains, the city is a wonderful choice year-round. Mild climates lend themselves to light jackets in the summer and shorts in the winter. Crossing the Royal Gorge Bridge via Segway, rock climbing in North Cheyenne Cañon, ATV tours, or hiking popular trails like The Crags, Intemenn, Catamount and Barr Trail are all opportunities to connect with the prominent beauty of the area.

Take advantage of unique teambuilding activities like handfeeding giraffes at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, solving challenging puzzle rooms, cycling down Pikes Peak Highway, hand-making your own goat cheese, or casting a line into the nearby Arkansas River. Itinerary building is a breeze with so many things to see and do. Tour one of over 30 craft breweries or distilleries like Phantom Canyon, Triple S or 300 Days of Shine. Round out the perfect Colorado meal with a delicious buffalo burger or spicy green chili. Unique shopping and dining can be found in the historic and charming shopping districts of Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs. For overnight stays, breakout sessions or an offsite reception, the region has exclusive options. Lodging ranges from popular brands like Hilton, Marriott and Wyndham to truly Colorado choices like Glen Eyrie Castle or an authentic dude ranch. Home to 14,500 guestrooms, the area can certainly accommodate. The state’s first Great Wolf Lodge and indoor waterpark will open in 2016. Renovations are taking place at the Colorado Springs Marriott and Antlers Hotel, to name a couple. The destination is an economical choice, and the CVB is your single resource for peace of mind. Whether it’s customized site visits, building suggested itineraries, providing promotional assets or distributing RFPs, they are here for you. Elevate your opportunities and start planning your next event in this unrivaled mountain metropolis at VisitCOS.com/meet.

515 South Cascade Avenue, Suite 1300, Colorado Springs, CO 80903 (800) 888-4748, ext. 132; (719) 685-7632 • visitcos.com/meet 48

Facilities & destinations 2016 Summer

SUBMIT AN RFP AT: VisitCOS.com/meet or call 800.888.4748 x132


days of blue sky per year

11 Miles

from COS Airport to downtown


rooms at full-service hotels


turns on the highway to the

14,115 ft.

summit of Pikes Peak



Garden of the Gods Park rank on TripAdvisorÂŽ

55+ Attractions

Home to the Olympic Training Center and Team USA

for attendees to enjoy before, during and after your event

Colorado Springs is a distinctive destination with a year-round mild climate, stunning scenery and more than 55 unique experiences for meeting and convention attendees to enjoy. Let our staff be your local, on-the-ground experts to help you plan a successful and memorable event.

400,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space



where you rank in importance with our professional and helpful destination experts – contact us today!


low lodging tax on great room rates

columbus, OH


he excitement remains at the SMG-managed Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC) as this year has brought the dedication of the new 800-space Goodale Garage and the completion of the Union Station Ballroom and Short North Ballroom featured in the $125 million expansion and full renovation project. The new $18 million fully automated parking garage features colorful LED exterior lighting, plus local artwork at the elevator vestibules at each of the eight levels. The unique combination of garage + gallery prompted a speaker during the dedication ceremony to refer to the new structure as a “gallerage.” The Goodale Garage is being connected by enclosed walkway to the expansion of the convention center being built. The GCCC now has nearly 4,000 parking spaces to offer guests. Both the new garage and the renovated and expanded convention center will include a significant presence of public art created by school children and established professionals. Artwork will be featured at 150 points throughout and around the complex. The expansion and renovation will be completed in July 2017 and propel one of the busiest convention centers in North America to even greater heights. A recent milestone includes the debut of the 15,000-sq.-ft. Short North Ballroom, named in honor of the nearby Short North Arts District. As with the Union Station Ballroom, which opened in March, the Short North Ballroom features the LED ceiling lighting system and upscale carpeting, wall coverings and finishes. The ballroom can be divided into two sections. The expansion includes the addition of more than 10,000 sq. ft. of two-level meeting space near the north entrance, increasing the total number of meeting rooms from 65 to 74. Nearly 37,000 sq. ft. of new exhibit space will bring the grand total to 373,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space and a total of 447,000 when the 74,000-sq.-ft. Battelle Grand — the largest multipurpose

ballroom in Ohio and the crown jewel of the convention center — is included. As part of the exhibit hall enhancements, secondlevel show offices will enable busy show managers to have a bird’s-eye view of the tradeshow floor below. The expansion will propel the property from 1.7 million to 1.8 million sq. ft., and the facility will achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Levy Restaurants was chosen to become the facility’s new caterer as of October 2016 and will provide elevated dining experiences throughout the building. The South Café and Marketplace food and shop merchants will inhabit a redesigned destination with a variety of seating configurations. In addition, Starbucks has opened on Level 2. The GCCC also has established the first of its freestanding rooms exclusively dedicated to nursing mothers. The new Guest Services Center has opened on Level 1, providing a variety of services within a single location. The facility exterior will be enhanced by the creation of event plazas and green spaces and the cleaning and restoring of the venue’s distinctive and colorful Peter Eisenman design. The convention center’s exterior landscaping will be designed in coordination with the city’s own High Street green streetscape projects to mutually heighten the area’s visual appeal. Event planners are enthused by the flexible, linear space the facility offers, coupled with the friendly and knowledgeable staff of Certified Tourism Ambassadors ready to assist. Strategically located within one day’s drive or a one-hour flight of the majority of the nation’s population and only 10 minutes from John Glenn Columbus International Airport, the awardwinning GCCC is nestled within a vibrant entertainment area that includes the Arena District and Short North Arts District. Connected to five hotels — Hilton, Hyatt, Crowne Plaza, Lofts and Drury — by covered walkway, the GCCC is owned and developed by the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority and is known as one of the premier venues in the SMG management portfolio of properties.

400 North High Street, Columbus, OH 43215 • (614) 827-2500, Fax: (614) 827-2659 www.columbusconventions.com 50

Facilities & destinations 2016 Summer

Ellen Dallager/Dallager Photography

The Greater Columbus Convention Center’s new Union Station Ballroom

hartford, CT

Make Meeting History


he Connecticut Convention Hartford’s convenient location will attract a record number of attendees, Center and Front Street and the revitalized downtown will create an experience they’ll never forget. have proven over the years to be the crown jewels of Hartford, Connecticut is a destination purposely built for meetings. The Hartford by boasting connected Connecticut Convention Center and Marriott Hartford Downtown, easy access from the airport and the highway, and a free downtown excellent meeting facilities, circular shuttle leaves you with more time to meet, explore and connect in this a diverse cross-section of restaurants, entertainment vibrant redeveloped downtown. venues and relaxing At the center of it all is the Connecticut Convention Center. Combining ample nightlife.” – Africka Hinds, meeting space with visually stunning touches and unparalleled service the 2016 Conference Chairman Center is the premier meeting destination in the Northeast. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Getting from work to play has never been easier when first-class entertainment and restaurants are just steps from your meeting. Enjoy tantalizing bites at over 40 independent restaurants, see a show at one of the nation’s leading resident theaters, the Hartford Stage, or catch the pulse-pounding action of the NEW AND COMING SOON The new 6,000-seat Dunkin’ Hartford Wolf Pack hockey team at the XL Center. Or better yet, do it all. Donuts Park will be home to the new Hartford Yard This is Hartford, and when you’re here you are the center of it all. Goats Minor League Baseball team for spring 2017 QUICK FACTS

•• •• ••

Downtown Hotel Rooms: 1,600 Attached Hotel: Hartford Marriott (AAA Four-Diamond with 409 rooms) Convention Center: 540,000-sq.-ft. facility Nearest Airport: Bradley International (15 miles from downtown) Downtown Transportation: Free Hartford Dash Convention District: Front Street (directly across the street from the Center)

The former Goodwin Hotel is being renovated into a new boutique property set to open the beginning of 2017

100 Columbus Boulevard, Hartford, CT 06106 • (860) 249-6000 • ctconventions.com Facilities & destinations 2016 Summer


little rock, AR

Meetings are Better with a Southern Accentsm

Arkansas’s capital city, Little Rock is a breath of fresh air. At its core, it is home to numerous attractions that are enjoyed by tourists and meeting-goers alike. Recently honored by Trivago. com as one of the top 10 “US Best Value Cities of 2016,” Little Rock continues to garner national and international acclaim for its quality of life, tourism amenities and economic climate. A catalyst for the city’s renaissance has been the William J. Clinton Presidential Center, propelling Little Rock as a true tourist and meetings destination. Little Rock has produced new attractions, award-winning restaurants and entertainment venues, and a number of new hotels and meeting spaces. Additionally, the downtown is very pedestrian-friendly, and is served by Rock Region METRO’s electric streetcar system. The Statehouse Convention Center, with its 220,000 sq. ft. of public, meeting and exhibit space, features state-of-theart amenities, scenic Arkansas River views and is adjacent to downtown’s River Market Entertainment District. Connected to the Center is the Little Rock Marriott, the state’s only full-service Marriott, which recently completed a $16 million top-to-bottom renovation providing a sleek, urban, contemporary feel. Arkansas’s premier performing arts facility, the Robinson Center, is undergoing a $70 million reimagining and expansion that will provide significant improvements to its performance hall, lobby and back-of-house amenities. One of its most dramatic features will be a new conference center addition and 5,800-sq.-ft. terrace overlooking the Arkansas River and the city’s beautiful LED-illuminated bridges. The Robinson Center’s ballroom will accommodate up to 500 people for a seated banquet, with flexible meeting space on an upper level. Events are currently being booked at the Robinson Center, reopening November 2016. Next door, the Doubletree Hotel has a top-to-bottom, multimillion-dollar renovation occurring concurrently with the Robinson project. It includes numerous exterior and interior upgrades. Little Rock is home to a burgeoning culinary scene — one that is garnering acclaim and truly putting Little Rock on the map as a foodie destination. In fact, in 2014, Forbes Travel Guide named Little Rock as one of “Five Secret Foodie Cities.” James Beard Foundation award winners, semi-finalists and other top culinary school alumni, along with a variety of artisanal food producers,

create their magic here every day. With respect to its beverage scene, Little Rock has a number of microbreweries and brewpubs, two wineries and an awardwinning distillery. For beer, wine and spirits enthusiasts, the best way to explore Little Rock’s adult beverage scene is to pick up a “Locally Labeled” passport and guide that can be used to plan tours and tastings, and score some great Little Rock swag by having the passport validated at participating venues. Groups can also rent the Toddy Trolley (www.toddytrolley.com) to drive them to downtown breweries and distillery. The Little Rock metro boasts approximately 9,500 hotel rooms, accommodating a variety of groups, including an Arkansas-based international association’s annual convention drawing 7,000 domestic and international visitors. Getting to Little Rock is also convenient. The Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport is served by six airlines that offer more than 50 daily flights to major hubs, and 334 unique destinations around the world can be reached with only one stop. In 2013, the airport completed a $70 million renovation that included a new ticket lobby, an in-line baggage handling system, enlarged security checkpoint and a remodeled baggage claim area. A $20.6 million concourse renovation is scheduled to be completed later this year. The airport is located just minutes from downtown, making transportation a breeze. Little Rock is a city on the move, and renowned for its charming hospitality, history and culture. Discover the pleasant surprise of Little Rock, and see why “Meetings Are Better With a Southern Accent.sm” For more information, visit www.littlerock.com and follow Little Rock at www.facebook.com/experienceLR, www.twitter. com/littlerockCVB and www.instagram.com/littlerockCVB. Planners can also contact Alan Sims, Vice President of Sales and Services, Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau at asims@ littlerock.com, (501) 370-3251 or (800) 844-4781.

101 South Spring Street, Little Rock, AR 72201 • (501) 376-4781 • littlerock.com 52

Facilities & destinations 2016 Summer

• $70 million historic renovation and expansion • 2,200 seat world-class proscenium theater • Brand new conference center addition includes flexible ballroom, meeting and pre-function spaces • Directly connected to the DoubleTree Little Rock, currently undergoing its own multi-million dollar renovation • 45,000 sq. ft. of combined conference center space


Oklahoma City, OK


klahoma City is investing $250 million in a new downtown convention center of approximately 470,000 sq. ft. (with about 235,000 sq. ft. of sellable space), replacing the Cox Convention Center by the end of the decade. The new facility is a continuation of the city’s resurgence that includes the nearby Bricktown entertainment district, home to canal-side restaurants, clubs and attractions. In addition, the expanding Boathouse District along the Oklahoma River provides exciting activities for attendees and their families. Since 1993, Oklahoma City has seen more than $5 billion of public and private investment in quality-oflife projects and improvements throughout the city. The Cox Convention Center houses 100,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, a 25,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, 21 meeting rooms, a 15,000-seat arena and a 6,500-seat theater, all connected by a skybridge to the 258-room Renaissance Oklahoma City Convention Center Hotel (66,000 sq. ft. of meeting space). The downtown area is only about 20 minutes from Will Rogers Airport, a streamlined facility that is easy to get in and out of. Oklahoma City offers 1,600 convention center district hotel rooms (16,000 overall), affordable rates, a hospitable atmosphere and cultural highlights such as the Exhibit C art gallery, displaying the works of Chickasaw artists. Other cultural highlights include the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, Oklahoma City Museum of Art and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. 54

Just west of the Cox Convention Center is the Myriad Botanical Gardens and Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory. The Gardens underwent a $38 million transformation in April 2011, and now includes a restaurant, interactive water features, a new children’s garden, dog release area, grand event lawn and more. Attendees can also explore a variety of intriguing neighborhoods in Oklahoma City, including the Plaza District, with art galleries and specialty shops; Stockyards City, showcasing Oklahoma’s Western heritage; the Adventure District, home to the Science Museum Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Zoo and Remington Park Racing Casino; and the Boathouse District along the Oklahoma River, offering rowing, kayaking, cycling, ziplining, running and fitness activities. In addition, the Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau is a boon to planners, offering complete convention servicing and support through a computerized housing bureau and registration technology.

1 Myriad Gardens, Oklahoma City, OK 73102 (405) 602-8500; Fax: (405) 602-8505 coxconventioncenter.com

Facilities & destinations 2016 Summer

The Cox Convention Center is steps away from the vibrant Bricktown district, featuring a variety of canal-side restaurants, clubs, sports and music venues, plus nearby museums and attractions.





of meeting space.

1 Myriad Gardens

of exhibit hall space.

Oklahoma City, OK 73102

15K seat arena.

Phone (405) 602-8500



ittsburgh might be the greenest, hippest and friendliest city you haven’t been to — yet.

Green is the theme of Pittsburgh’s David L. Lawrence Convention Center. A Gold and Platinum LEED-certified building, the Convention Center is an architectural gem prized for the comfort it provides and the ample natural light that pours in, along with its many other environmentally sound physical and operational features. Inhabitants enjoy breathtaking surroundings, including views of the Allegheny River, through walls of windows and from open terraces. Or they can step into the rooftop garden to be surrounded by greenery in the form of native plants. The surrounding landscape can be explored up close by those who venture outdoors, and the adventure begins mere steps from the Convention Center. Visitors can walk alongside a stunning, cascading waterfall to the riverfront trail, where a walk or run along the water can reenergize the body and mind. Cycling enthusiasts can rent a bicycle from a kiosk directly outside the Convention Center and ride along the riverfront trail or the bike-friendly streets in town. Multiple nearby bridges span the Allegheny River and lead to the North Shore, where kayak rentals are available in season. Although always stunning, the iconic Pittsburgh skyline and unique mix of classic and modern architecture is particularly impressive when viewed from the water. Because the Convention Center is located in the compact and walkable downtown (which comprises only 30 blocks), sports venues, theaters, galleries, shops and restaurants are also just steps away. Nearby upscale hotels, all within walking distance, include the 616-room Westin Convention Center Hotel, the 596-room Omni William Penn Hotel, the 333-room DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh Downtown, the 402-room Pittsburgh Marriott City Center, the 300-room Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel, the 712room Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh and the 399-room Sheraton Station Square Hotel. 56

The Convention Center’s features make it a favorite in the secondtier market. The building offers 313,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, a 31,610-sq.-ft. ballroom and 53 meeting rooms, including two lecture halls. The award-winning Convention Center staff and VisitPittsburgh client services staff provide the outstanding and friendly customer service befitting such a spectacular setting. More than a meeting destination, Pittsburgh is a happening destination. Much of the recent buzz in the popular press reveals just how hip the city is, and how remarkably it has transformed. For example, a Condé Nast contributor wrote, “The furnaces are long gone, but this city’s on fire.” In addition, the Chicago Tribune said, “Steeped in spirit and flavor, Pittsburgh can lay claim to being one of the nation’s most underrated cities, with a beauty as breathtaking as it is obvious.” Esquire magazine stated, “Pittsburgh is definitely a must-see,” and the Huffington Post called Pittsburgh “the coolest American city you haven’t been to.” Mighty. Beautiful. Vibrant. The perfect setting for a powerful event.

1000 Fort Duquesne Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA (412) 325-6174 • pittsburghcc.com Facilities & destinations 2016 Summer

rochester, NY


ochester is the northern gateway to the magnificent Finger Lakes region, with its rolling hills, lush valleys and 11 namesake lakes. It is also a region becoming famous for its more than 100 vineyards, excellent wines and numerous “wine trails.” With the New York Wine and Culinary Center in nearby Canandaigua, the wineries and farmer’s markets of the Finger Lakes region offer delegates meeting in Rochester wonderful day-trip options for pre- or post-conference enjoyment. Several entertainment districts surround the Rochester Riverside with restaurants, cafés, coffee houses, pubs, dance clubs, music halls, theaters and more. Rochester also boasts numerous museums, including the George Eastman Museum, the Susan B. Anthony House and the acclaimed Strong National Museum of Play. Rochester is also home to the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, a nineday event featuring 300+ concerts with 1,500+ artists, as well as the Fringe Festival, a unique 10-day event celebrating the arts with 500+ performances all over the downtown. Conveniently located in the heart of the city is the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center, with a scenic setting on the Genesee River, featuring outdoor patios and balconies. The Greater Rochester International Airport — 54+ flights daily — is just a 10-minute drive from the Convention Center’s front door. Complementary airport transportation is provided by all major hotels. Rochester is a community known around the world for its high-tech expertise, which has led to the city being selected as the location for the Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Integrated Photonics. The Rochester Riverside also gets high marks for handling all types of technology needs. The Riverside Convention Center has upgraded to a dedicated Internet connection over fiber optics to meet all of the growing number of technical requirements its customers have. This service is available wireless throughout the facility and is scalable from 50 MB, burstable to 100 MB. Facilities & destinations 2016 Summer

The Center features an in-house food and beverage operation, which includes an Executive Pastry Chef. In addition, the Riverside Productions and Riverside Catering divisions can even provide services to groups utilizing offsite locations throughout the region. Basically, the Riverside Convention Center is New York State’s only one-stop convention facility. More than 1,100 rooms in a quartet of major hotels connect with the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center to create a compact convention district in the center of the city. There is a 217-room Holiday Inn; 460-room Radisson, which has completed a $6 million renovation of its facility; a 338-room Hyatt Regency, and a 106-room Hilton Garden Inn. Delegates also enjoy the convenience of walking between hotels and the Convention Center in minutes using the enclosed skywalk system or the scenic riverside walkway. For more information on the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center, visit www.rrcc.com or call (585) 232-7200. 57

123 East Main Street Rochester, NY 14604 (585) 232-7200 rrcc.com

San Antonio, TX

Meet, Learn and Play in Unforgettable San Antonio


xperience the most unforgettable of meeting destinations – San Antonio. Here, a modern meeting scene has evolved in one of the nation’s most scenic and historic backdrops.

expertise with your attendees. Leading sectors include information technology, healthcare bioscience, cyber security, financial services and tourism.



San Antonio recently opened the doors to the newly transformed Henry B. González Convention Center. The $325 million expansion increased the footprint to 1.6 million sq. ft. with 514,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space and the largest ballroom in Texas. The expanded center sits on the River Walk in historic downtown, placing attendees within walking distance of much of what drives San Antonio meeting attendance: local venues, historic sites (including the Alamo), restaurants, museums, theaters, shops and thousands of hotel rooms. Next to the convention center is the 18-acre Hemisfair Park, which is undergoing its own inspiring transformation. Aside from providing outdoor venue options to capitalize on the city’s 300 days of sunshine a year, Hemisfair is an urban oasis with rolling green lawns and shaded natural groves. It is scheduled for completion in 2020, reconnecting the convention center with surrounding neighborhoods and opportunities to experience the heart of San Antonio.


Engaging your audience makes for better retention and enjoyment, so San Antonio has made it easier to inspire, teach and share information. The Henry B. González Convention Center’s cutting-edge technology, interactive wayfinding and upgraded WiFi are connecting your meeting and attendees like never before. San Antonio is also a destination for big business, with an economic platform and industry leaders who are able to share their

Here, authentic offerings enliven your mind by day and spirit by night — all in a compact, walkable location that frees time and budgets. San Antonio has a vibrant mix of culture, cuisine, legendary architecture and moving history. The city’s heritage and traditions are rich, as are its modern pleasures. With a cosmopolitan blend of top-notch golf courses, remarkable dining and nightlife options, art galleries, spas, theme parks and shopping, there’s no shortage of authentic experiences. San Antonio is also being recognized on the world’s stage as the home of the United States’ newest World Heritage Site, the San Antonio Missions. These five Spanish colonial missions, including the Alamo, are the largest collection of Spanish colonial architecture in the country. They symbolize an era when the world was expanding, cultures were intertwining and the global landscape was forever changed. The mission experience today offers hike and bike trails, guided tours, living history demonstrations, museums and an award-winning film.

A CVB Ready to Help

When you meet in San Antonio, you have the award-winning San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau behind you, dedicated to making your meeting a success. The CVB’s experienced sales and services staff is ready to assist with an extensive services directory, accommodations booking, marketing materials and hot hotel and convention center dates. Contact the staff at saconv@ visitsanantonio.com.

203 S. St. Mary’s, Suite 200, San Antonio, TX 78205 • (866) 517-7771; Fax: (210) 207-6768 www.meetings.visitsanantonio.com 58

Facilities & destinations 2016 Summer

Convening Kosher

Communication and knowledge are key to ensuring the F&B experience pleases all parties


t a recent Tourism Ireland event, I was intrigued by a have seen more requests in the past three years and have also seen query to guest host Lady Dunleath about the menus a steady average of only 20 percent being actually consumed,” Ruby available at Ballywalter Park, Lord and Lady Dunleath’s relates. Aside from costing the venue money on the unclaimed diNorthern Ireland home. A meeting planner representing etary meals, deviations like these can result in a figurative bad taste a law firm in Manhattan’s financial district inquired about the availleft in the mouths of attendees. Food shortages reflect poorly on the ability of vegetarian, vegan and kosher meals at the estate, whose event, its planners and the venue itself. Mansion House is offered for group functions. In the ensuing conversation, the planner noted that, given the costs involved in obtain- In some cases, attendees may reconsider their order in time to change ing kosher provisions, she tries to investigate if attendees are strict the request. Thus, Ruby suggests, it is important to have clarified “in about their observance of the dietary laws, or if they can be satisfied advance with the chef on his policy for cancellation on custom meals with a vegetarian offering or some other option on the buffet. ordered from outside, as well as turnaround time for increasing an order once onsite. This varies in different locations based on the kosher The planner’s remarks echoed a sentiment expressed at PCMA’s or halal provider in that city.” Regarding attendees who simply do not Convening Leaders at the Vancouver Convention Centre earlier pick up their special orders, “I have seen some clients outline in their this year. During a session entitled “Dietary Restrictions Pop-Up,” a registration materials that special meals not retrieved will be added to frustrated participant lamented about a fiasco she coined “koshergate.” the conference cost of the individual,” Ruby observes. “Although this Apparently, it is not an unusual occurrence for attendees to pre-order is not an avenue for all planners, some are using this tactic to create a kosher or other special-order meals, and then fail to claim them. The message that for kosher and halal meals, there is an added cost and a planner bemoaned that “almost two dozen attendees requested kosher mutual respect that if ordered, they should be consumed.” meals [from what would seem to be a very upscale establishment] at a A more positive approach to the iscost of $125 for lunch and $225 for sue, Ruby feels, involves thorough dinner — and none of them were communication. “For many who “Many people don’t picked up.” A solution suggested at do require a kosher meal and have understand that kosher the event was to substitute kosher designated this on their registrawith vegetarian. tion, it is best to understand and is focused on confirm what the guest really As someone who adheres to korequires and then, what the facility processes, not sher dietary rules, I was perplexed is able to provide. Is it fresh? Is it blessings. The rabbi on multiple levels. First, it is frozen? Will it be meat or dairy? erroneous to think that vegetarWhat about breakfast? I have seen affiliated with a kosher certification ian is kosher. Second, I found it some clients who actually reach is merely there as a quality control disturbing that anyone was paying out to the attendee in advance, $225 for a kosher dinner. It seems only to find out they checked the supervisor.” to me that the venues might be box by mistake; they actually do —Deborah Shapiro not need kosher. With the rising unfairly marking up the cost of the meals. One would be hard pressed Vice President of Marketing & Operations, Kosher costs involved, knowing this prior to spend that much on a dinner Media Holdings, LLC to confirming orders with the chef for an individual attendee at the can make a difference.” It is also country’s premier kosher eateries, important to communicate post such as Reserve Cut, Prime Grill or Chicago’s Shallots Bistro. event with guests who deviated from their stated dietary require ments. Ruby suggests that planners confirm with the event staff/chef Third, I was curious as to what the attendees who ordered the that all special meals ordered will be labeled with the guest’s name. meals and failed to pick them up were eating. The idea of not “At the conclusion of each meal period, ask for a list of those that did claiming a kosher meal seemed odd, since that meal is a lifeline not request their meal that day. Follow up with the guest to gain more of sorts. Out of town in a convention center, that meal is all that insight as to why they did not get their meal.” stands between me and my “Plan B” — commencing a search for fresh fruits, or emergency rations of oatmeal, canned tuna or The fact is there is much to contend with when it comes to food and peanut butter, not to mention supporting the legacy of Milton beverage preparation, from food allergens to religious requirements Hershey (to my waistline’s chagrin). to the rules set by the Americans with Disabilities Act. In accom modating all of these needs, it helps to limit the special requests Paul Ruby, CMP, Associate Director of Event Management at the to medically or religiously based ones. “Many times we see that Sheraton Dallas Hotel and President-Elect of the Event Service when a registration list comes in, it has an empty field where each Professionals Association, noted that while many people take their guest types in any kind of meal preference,” says Ruby, “and most dietary requirements strictly, many do not. The latter individuals often they are current diet requests and not something medical or might not follow through on their kosher meal orders, placing an religious in nature. Planners then struggle trying to create menus unexpected stress on the supply of non-kosher items. Ruby cited or order special plates for sometimes 200 or more ‘special requests.’ the case of “short-rib gate” (also discussed at the aforementioned I once had a repeat [church] group that was for 3,600 people over PCMA conference) as an example: Vegetarians decided to forego three days with all meals plated. Two years ago they left this field their self-imposed restrictions and succumbed to the temptation open and had 230 special requests. This year they only offered a of succulent-looking short ribs. “In regards to kosher and halal, we medically required section and the count went down to 29.”

Facilities & Destinations 2016 SuMMER


“When we are able to speak with a guest who had a kosher or halal request, one of the most frequent [concerns they express is] they are never sure if the product is truly certified.” —Paul Ruby, CMP, Associate Director of Event Management at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel and President-Elect of the Event Service Professionals Association To ensure that things go smoothly with medical and religious dietary requests, a partnership needs to be established between planners and attendees founded upon a combination of education, communication and foresight. To address some of the concerns planners have expressed, I compiled a list of pointers for both planners and attendees, primarily related to kosher catering, that I hope proves helpful.


1. Know what you are asking for. Know what kosher is and is not. Misconceptions can lead to frustration on the part of the planner, as well as overpayment for the product. As an example, the planner at PCMA cited above was not cognizant what a substitution of vegetarian meals for kosher would have meant to an observant attendee. The planner I met at the Tourism Ireland event was mistaken in thinking that the reason for the exorbitant pricing on the meals she was ordering was that a rabbi was needed to bless the food. As Deborah Shapiro, Vice President of Marketing & Operations for Kosher Media Holdings, LLC, explains: “Many people don’t understand that kosher is focused on processes, not blessings. The rabbi affiliated with a kosher certification is merely there as a quality control supervisor, not a religious leader. In a conference setting, for example, a kosher caterer would follow an intricate set of processes that would prevent the meal’s cross-contamination with other non-kosher foods being served.” This is not the forum to fully explain the nature of kosher, a topic that has been discussed in countless volumes over three thousand years. The easiest way to satisfy kosher consumers is to turn to an outside service that can provide a properly supervised prepackaged meal. Many facilities whose meeting clientele often require kosher catering are probably already familiar with vendors that will satisfy the strictest of standards. 2. Don’t break the seal. Kosher meals usually come in layers of packaging that are imposing and not pretty to look at. Wait staff may feel compelled to help the attendee by removing all the plastic and aluminum foil to make the food presentable. Doing so without the kosher diner viewing the package being opened could jeopardize the validity of the supervision. One solution would be to call aside the diner for a moment to open all the packaging or observe it being opened. A preopened meal could mean the attendee will leave it behind. 3. Be familiar with the Jewish calendar. While most planners are familiar with major Jewish holidays, there are others that are not as well known. For example, this year, a major international business tourism tradeshow will take place in Las Vegas overlapping in part with the holiday of Sukkoth. While attendees may pay for admission to a conference and request kosher meals for the days they are in attendance, it is 60

more likely they will skip out on sessions that take place over the holiday. (A list of Jewish holidays can easily be found via a Google search.) 4. Google is great, but … Contact the city’s local Orthodox rabbinate or Jewish federation to find purveyors of kosher products, or ask the attendee if he or she is familiar with an acceptable kosher merchant in the city. Self-certified supervision, allowed under the consumer protection laws of certain states, is not necessarily acceptable to kosher consumers. A useful listing of generally acceptable kosher supervision agencies and their associated trade logos can be found at www.kosherquest.org/kosher-symbols. “When we are able to speak with a guest who had a kosher or halal request, one of the most frequent [concerns they express is] they are never sure if the product is truly certified,” Ruby adds. “Has it followed the proper chain of custody from preparation to service? The more a planner can do to gather and provide this information and assuredness to an attendee prior to arrival, the better the experience will be.” 5. Compare pricing. As noted above, generally, dinner at some of the finest kosher restaurants should not cost as much as what the planners were saying they were charged. If the price seems high, find out why. Is the venue marking up the pricing? Is a service fee by the venue or a delivery charge being tacked on? If after comparing pricing a planner believes the costs of the meals are too high, then they should be negotiated like any other event cost. Restaurants or kosher corporate caterers have websites that are a great source for comparative pricing. Ruby adds that kosher caterers “can offer frozen products that are many times on disposable ware and warmed, or these can be provided fresh and served on china that has been certified. The cost varies widely between the two. Do your homework with the venue well in advance.” 6. Retain records. Keep track of attendee requests from prior years, and get feedback from the attendees on the meals. During her years as Senior Conference Planner for the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants, Tamara Samilenko, now a Guest Relations Specialist at the Chopra Center in San Diego, devised a database of previous requests still in use at the Society today. Getting to know the attendees allowed Samilenko to properly account for meal costs at events, work effectively with venue caterers, and become a hero of sorts to attendees, who knew that she “had their back.”


1. Be appreciative of the work the planner is doing. Special meals are part of the event, but do require extra effort to obtain, especially in second- and third-tier cities. Courteously offer assistance, and express gratitude. 2. Communicate requests clearly and in a timely manner. Make sure the venue has ample time to prepare or order the special meal. In many instances, additional arrangements need to be made. Putting the planner and venue on the spot at the last minute is unfair. Also, let the planner know if and when you will not be in attendance. 3. Give specifics regarding the requirements and any associated issues. Do not expect the planner to know what you are thinking. Not everyone shares the same knowledge of kosher or other religious dietary requirements. Ensure that all the particulars are addressed (type of food, supervisory agency is acceptable) prior to getting to the event and being disappointed. 4. Confirm the special request the day before the event. Depending on the size of the event, there could be tens, hundreds or thousands of people to prepare F&B for. And while each attendee is important, we all make mistakes and information can get lost in the shuffle. —David Korn In addition to being the COO of Facilities Media Group, David Korn served as a mashgiach (kosher supervisor) in restaurants and groceries while pursuing graduate studies. Facilities & Destinations 2016 SuMMER

2016 F&D Directory / Jamaica

Facilities & Destinations 2016 Summer



Caesars Palace

Celebrating 50 Years


aesars Palace continues to redefine Las Vegas luxury in its golden year. The iconic property brings exciting and luxurious offerings to new levels with the addition of fresh and enticing options. From contemporary new accommodations to world-class dining options and the hottest new nightclub on the Las Vegas Strip, Caesars Palace has it all. The newly renovated Julius Tower, formerly the Roman Tower, features 587 modern guestrooms at the heart of Caesars Palace, just steps away from the conference space. Highlights of the new rooms include 55-inch TVs, luxurious Beautyrest Bouvet Island Mattresses, a specially curated minibar and English-themed Gilchrist & Soames in-room toiletries and amenities. The latest restaurant to join the Caesars Palace repertoire is the famed and unique dining experience, MR CHOW. MR CHOW is the newest location of the luxurious Beijing cuisine eatery, joining the ranks of Miami, Malibu, New York City, Beverly Hills and the original location in London. The moment guests arrive, MR CHOW entertains and inspires with unparalleled design, impeccable service and notable cuisine. MR CHOW has two private dining rooms, offering beautiful views of the Garden of the Gods pool oasis, and is able to accommodate a complete buyout. In 2015, OMNIA Nightclub at Caesars Palace opened to the sounds of internationally renowned DJ Calvin Harris. The

75,000-sq.-ft. nightclub can host private events throughout the venue, from the main club to the outdoor terrace or the private ultra-lounge. The most recent addition to the empire is the upscale Montecristo Cigar Bar, designed by the award-winning architecture and design firm Rockwell Group. The contemporary 4,000-sq.-ft. cigar bar pairs notable cigar offerings with rare fine whiskeys, small bites and more. The cigar bar features a spacious courtyard space that wraps around the back portion of Montecristo and the 10-seat vault that allows small groups to create an exclusive experience. The vault was designed with a slightly domed ceiling that amplifies voices, allowing guests to communicate with ease across the room. With more than 300,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and an outstanding range of flexible venues with countless configuration options, Caesars Palace has the capacity to host groups of all sizes. At Caesars Palace, imagination isn’t confined to the ballrooms. The ability to create unique events throughout the property is possible with the five-acre Garden of the Gods pool oasis, Qua Baths & Spa, and suites reaching up to an astonishing 13,000 sq. ft. The Colosseum at Caesars Palace houses more than 4,000 seats, and is home to world-famous headliners such as Elton John, Celine Dion and Mariah Carey. For 50 years, Caesars Palace has been creating unique experiences for groups of all sizes. From the space, accommodations and endless array of world-class amenities, Caesars Palace has everything for small or large groups under one roof.

3570 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV 89109 • (855) 633-8238 • CaesarsMeansBusiness.com 62

Facilities & Destinations 2016 Summer


Century Center Convention Center Unique Architecture. Exceptional Experiences.


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75,000 Square Feet of Flexible and Unique Meeting Spaces

Connected to the 291-room DoubleTree by Hilton Located in the heart of downtown South Bend


SOUTH BEND Facilities & Destinations 2016 Summer


new jersey

Meet AC

Meet Space, Meet Style, Meet AC


tlantic City is a hidden gem along the New Jersey shoreline, offering visitors much more than a seaside destination. Atlantic City offers ‘round-the-clock fun and excitement after the work and meetings are through. Year-round, day or night, whatever you are looking for in a destination, Atlantic City’s got it. Atlantic City features miles of scenic beach and Boardwalk that your group can enjoy at any time of the year. They can take a stroll on the famous historic Boardwalk, bask in the glowing sun or take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean. Millions of visitors stroll, ride a bicycle or tour the Boardwalk on the famous rolling chairs. While in town, delegates can try their luck on the table games or slot machines at any of the city’s eight casinos. Atlantic City is made up of over 16,000 first-class hotel rooms that will provide the perfect accommodations for your attendees’ complete comfort and relaxation. The city also offers casino resorts with full resort amenities that range from an adult to a family-friendly atmosphere. The hotel and casino properties consist of meeting facilities and a surplus of unique event venues. The Atlantic City Convention Center provides over 600,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, as well as 45 meeting rooms, ample pre-function space and all the amenities you would expect.

Convention delegates can unwind and dine with plentiful dining options all customized to fit their taste buds, from brand-name eateries to celebrity chef restaurants. The Entertainment Capital of the Jersey Shore will have them laughing and singing all night long. Shopaholics can shop ‘til they drop at the city’s tax-free outlet shopping, Tanger Outlets The Walk, with over 100 retail stores that won’t disappoint with incredible deals, just steps from the convention center. Historic Boardwalk Hall, formerly known as Atlantic City Convention Hall, is Atlantic City’s first convention center and an iconic landmark to Atlantic City that was built in 1929. Home of the Miss America Pageant, it played host to the city’s growing convention industry. Boardwalk Hall has hosted an amazing list of dazzling entertainers and knockout sporting events throughout its 85-year history. When in town for a convention, make it a point to tour the pipe organ in historic Boardwalk Hall that is a national landmark built in the late 1920s.

Atlantic City is 60 miles from Philadelphia, 125 miles from New York, and 175 miles from Washington, DC. Any way you look at it, Atlantic City guarantees fast-paced excitement and nonstop, year-round activities. Meet AC will be happy to help you locate the right space, assist with attendance building and housing, provide temporary staff, and help with all the details, including spouse activities, transportation service, media and much more.

1 Convention Boulevard, Atlantic City, NJ 08401 • (609) 449-7100 • www.meetinac.com 64

Facilities & Destinations 2016 Summer


Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau

Miami’s Unique Appeal


ou don’t have to be a meeting planner to appreciate how perfect Miami is for meetings. If you’ve traveled much, the advantages are obvious. More than 50,000 hotel rooms, venues to accommodate any size group, and the high-tech conveniences a planner expects – all set against the tropical backdrop of year-round al fresco dining, the surf and sand of some of the world’s most glorious beaches, out-ofthis-world off-sites, fabulous nightlife for the entire team, plus unique neighborhoods just made for exploring. Miami is the event destination that goes beyond fulfilling everything on a planner’s checklist. It sails the checklist across the turquoise ocean.

Off Site. Out of this World.

At 647,648 sq. ft., the Miami Beach Convention Center is home to some of the world’s largest events and festivals. Reimagined, the Miami Beach Convention Center is embarking on a magnificent transformation: a $592 million, LEED-certified renovation with 500,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, 81 breakout rooms and a new 60,000-sq.-ft. ballroom to be completed by January 2018.

For off-sites, the challenge for a planner is deciding what to offer delegates. Major League sports are a hit. Downtown is a vibrant cultural hub and the Pérez Art Museum Miami is stunning inside and out. Oceanside, there’s beach volleyball or sunset cruises. Greater Miami also features two national parks – Biscayne National Preserve and Everglades National Park. There’s NASCAR’s Homestead-Miami Motor Speedway, Miami Open and World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship. And the golf and tennis aren’t just for spectators. For fashionistas, Miami is home to the world’s largest collection of designer boutiques.

But There’s More.

Tropical. International. Yet Right in the Continental U.S.

Open for Business Today. Reimagining for Tomorrow.

Along with flagship-hotel meeting rooms and ballrooms, Miami boasts two other convention centers: the 100,000-sq.-ft. James L. Knight Center and the 172,000-sq.-ft. Miami Airport Convention Center. Also in development, the new Marriott Marquis at Miami World Center project will break ground with a 1,700-room hotel and 100,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space.

Easy In. Easy Out. Every Day.

Miami International Airport offers 97 international and 53 domestic, nonstop flights daily from more than 100 airlines, as well as more flights to Latin America and the Caribbean than any other airport in the nation. Modernized infrastructure and streamlined accessibility to and from the airport are designed to make hosting an event in Miami as easy and stress free as possible.

In Miami, delegates can meet people and sample gourmet cuisine from every corner of the earth. Meeting participants can explore the world’s third-largest barrier reef, sample locally crafted beer and rum, discover the perfect Cuban coffee and guava pastry or take in the ballet, a Latin rock concert, or a string quartet. They can mingle over cocktails on rooftop lounges, admire world-renowned public art murals or salsa the night away. There’s an unforgettable event on the horizon waiting to be planned. Make it a reality at MiamiMeetings.com. Citywide Facts & Features Accommodation: 403 Hotels/51,787 Rooms Three Convention Centers Totaling Nearly 1M Square Feet and 74 Specialized Meeting Facilities

701 Brickell Avenue, Miami, FL 33131 • (800) 933-8448, ext. 3071 info@MiamiMeetings.com • MiamiMeetings.com Facilities & Destinations 2016 Summer



Phoenix Convention Center & Venues


onvening in America’s sixth-largest city packs more value than ever. Located in the center of a vibrant walkable downtown, the Phoenix Convention Center & Venues is mere steps from a variety of urban eateries, live music, professional sports, art museums and more. In fact, USA Today recently named downtown’s Roosevelt Row one of the 10 Best City Arts Districts in America. So whether attendees are looking for restaurants featured on The Food Network, or just wanting to take in some local culture, downtown Phoenix has something for everyone. Named one of the top-10 convention center facilities in the country, the Phoenix Convention Center & Venues offers more than 900,000 sq. ft. of meeting and exhibit space, including a 312,500-sq.-ft. main exhibit hall and a 46,000-sq.-ft. ballroom. Conveniences include 99 meeting rooms, 61 loading docks (22 of which are climate controlled), exhibit halls with pre-scored floors and an Executive Conference Center — all complemented by the 2,312-seat Symphony Hall and the 1,364-seat historic Orpheum Theatre. The Phoenix Convention Center & Venues was in the international spotlight in 2015, hosting the Super Bowl’s NFL Experience and Media Center. The Orpheum Theatre was the hottest ticket in town when The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon filmed its live performance there. Not to be outdone, Symphony Hall hosted the nationally televised NFL Honors show. Recently, Phoenix hosted the 2016 College Football Playoff Fan Central and is looking forward to hosting the NCAA Final Four in 2017.

Phoenix has nonstop service from 80 U.S. and 20 international destinations, so getting to and from “America’s Friendliest Airport” is both easy and affordable. The Phoenix Convention Center is four miles from Sky Harbor International Airport. Guests flying into Phoenix have multiple transportation options, including the Metro Light Rail, which has dedicated stops at the Convention Center. There are more than 3,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of the Phoenix Convention Center and more than 6,000 hotel rooms located along the Metro Light Rail System. With more than 325 days of sunshine a year, the weather is almost always permitting. In a 2014 survey of show managers, Phoenix ranked the second most popular destination for tradeshows and events in the country. There are so many things to do, and with an average temperature of 72 degrees, it’s easy to see why Phoenix is an ideal destination for a planner’s next event.

100 North Third Street, Phoenix, AZ 85004 • (602) 262-6225; (800) 282-4842; Fax: (602) 744-2987 phoenixconventioncenter.com 66

Facilities & Destinations 2016 Summer

We HAVE to be at IMEX America.

HURRY, IT’S YOUR LAST CHANCE Don’t miss your amazing opportunity to be at IMEX America. With business, networking, education, innovation and ROI on the agenda, this is one event that can change your year and career. Come meet us in Las Vegas—register now! THE





San Jose McEnery Convention Center


mbedded in the heart of Silicon Valley, the San Jose McEnery Convention Center provides groups over 365,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space in a modern venue with outstanding technological capabilities. As a bonus, Team San Jose’s all-inclusive service assists with housing, event services, customized food and beverage, permits and special events.


Downtown San Jose offers over 250 dining and nightlife options ranging from eclectic galleries and museums in the SoFA District, a diverse dining scene in San Pedro Square — the city’s unofficial dining district — and vibrant performing arts and entertainment offered at any of the four Team San Jose-managed theaters. Other popular cultural pockets in the city are Japantown San Jose — one of three remaining Japantowns in the United States; and Little Saigon — a district that blends traditional Vietnamese and modern American culture. San Jose’s neighboring towns provide central access to notable Northern California leisure activities. Tucked in the hills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Los Gatos and Saratoga are great wine-tasting options, Michelin-starred dining and local shopping. Nearby Santa Cruz and Monterey are perfect distances for a beach getaway day along the iconic Pacific Coast.


San Jose is home to over 6,600 technology companies in the city, and visitors can experience their own slice of Silicon Valley technology with free Wickedly Fast Wi-Fi. The nation’s best free Wi-Fi experience extends from Mineta San Jose International Airport, within downtown and throughout the convention center — all covered under one connection.


San Jose has 8,000 hotel rooms available citywide ranging from contemporary to historic boutiques. Eight hundred and fifty of those rooms 68

are connected to the convention center and another 2,000-plus are within a block. Groups will find familiar brands such as Fairmont, Marriott, Hilton, Westin, Hyatt, Holiday Inn and La Quinta Inn & Suites.

Airport and Transportation

For convenient access to the heart of Silicon Valley, Mineta San Jose International Airport is only 3.9 miles from downtown. Additionally, international airports in Oakland and San Francisco and local transit throughout the Bay Area on VTA light rail, Caltrain and BART ensure a smooth arrival and departure. San Jose’s Airport has added new routes from San Jose to London via British Airways with service that began May 4, 2016, and San Jose to Frankfurt via Lufthansa with service that began May 16, 2016. The airport has also added new routes from San Jose to Vancouver, BC via Air Canada.

Sustainable Meeting Services

Team San Jose’s Director of Food & Beverage and Facilities and Property Operations have identified an opportunity (through the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act) to donate unused food to local nonprofit organizations. Hotel partners from Hilton, Marriott, The Fairmont and DoubleTree, plus Levi’s Stadium, the SAP Center and Shoreline Amphitheater, signed on to the initiative, called Hunger at Home. In appropriate Silicon Valley-style, Team San Jose have partnered with the City of San Jose and Waste No Food to continue this work. Waste No Food provided a web and mobile marketplace to reduce food waste by matching potential donors with charities via mobile app for IOS and Android. In total, Hunger at Home and the Waste No Food app have already provided nearly one million meals.

150 West San Carlos Street, San Jose, CA 95113 (800) SAN-JOSE • sanjose.org Facilities & Destinations 2016 Summer

A year-round destination with all the amenities you expect from a premier resort: 20,000 first-class hotel rooms (8,000 committable), top entertainment, golf, shopping, worldclass dining and 11 casinos. The Atlantic City Convention Center is a bright, modern facility accommodating meetings and expos of all sizes, four contiguous exhibit halls (486,600 sq. ft.); 32,000 sq. ft. of pre-function space; 109,100 total sq. ft. meeting space; 45 meeting rooms including a 29,400-sq.-ft. ballroom; free WiFi; voice/data communications; green facility – single-roof solar systems, and aggressive recycling and PAGE C2 energy-savings programs.

New Jersey

Atlantic City Convention Center

1 Convention Boulevard, Atlantic City, NJ 08401 (609) 449-7136; (888) 222-3683; Fax: (609) 345-3685 www.atlanticcitynj.com • meetinac.com Vice President, Convention Sales: Gary Musich Your Northeast Business Address


A LEED® Gold certified, technologically advanced convention center located near downtown’s famous entertainment districts. Multi-level facility spans six city blocks; features 369,132 sq. ft. of meeting/exhibit space, including five column-free, contiguous exhibit halls (247,052 sq. ft. of total exhibit space), seven ballrooms (40,510 sq. ft. is largest) and 54 meeting rooms. Complimentary high-speed, high-density wireless services throughout; onsite engineers; proven ability PAGE to handle 7,000 simultaneous connections. Pre-function spaces offer downtown views. 5 Pedestrian walkway connects 3rd and 4th levels. Close to 7,500 downtown hotel rooms.

Austin Convention Center

500 E. Cesar Chavez Street, Austin, TX 78701 (512) 404-4200; Fax: (512) 404-4220 www.austinconventioncenter.com Director of Sales: Amy Harris Live Music Capital of the World

Alabama’s largest convention facility, one of the best values in the South, offers 220,000+ sq. ft. of exhibition space, over 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, 90 meeting rooms, a 25,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, 18,000-seat arena, 2,800-seat concert hall, 1,000-seat theatre and 276-seat theater, and The Forum, a 10-story tower featuring high-tech meeting rooms. A 3,800-sq.-ft. broadcast studio offers live TV and satellite uplink capabilities. There are 1,051 onsite hotel rooms. Attractions: Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, award-winning Robert Trent Jones Golf courses.


Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex

2100 Richard Arrington Jr Boulevard North Birmingham, AL 35203 (205) 458-8400 www.bjcc.org Director of Sales and Marketing: Susette Hunter


Boise Centre, Idaho’s largest convention, meeting and tradeshow facility, offers 86,000 sq. ft. of customizable event space. Surrounding Boise Centre is a compact, walkable downtown with over 100 restaurants, microbreweries, shops and art galleries. Boise Centre offers full service catering, audiovisual and technical services. Several hotels are within walking distance, and with over 20 direct flights from most major hubs, getting to Boise is easy.


Boise Centre

850 W. Front Street, Boise, ID 83702 (208) 336-8900; Fax: (208) 336-8803 www.boisecentre.com Director of Marketing and Sales: Cliff Clinger


Caesars Palace is celebrating its 50th anniversary. With more than 300,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, Caesars Palace has the capacity to host groups of all sizes. Special events can be held at the five-acre Garden of the Gods pool oasis, Qua Baths & Spa, and suites reaching up to 13,000 sq. ft. The 4,000-seat Colosseum at Caesars Palace is home to world-famous headliners such as Elton John, Celine Dion and Mariah Carey. Enhancements include the newly renovated Julius Tower, formerly the Roman Tower, including 587 modern guestrooms; MR CHOW, a luxurious restaurant featuring Beijing cuisine; the PAGE 75,000-sq.-ft. OMNIA nightclub; and Montecristo Cigar Bar. 3


Caesars Palace

3570 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV 89109 (855) 633-8238 CaesarsMeansBusiness.com

The Century Center, built on the banks of the West Race canal, overlooks the St. Joseph River and is attached to the 11-acre Island Pavilion, completed in May 2013, as well as the 292-room DoubleTree by Hilton, renovated in 2013. The Century Center features over 75,000 sq. ft. of convention space, including a 25,000-sq.-ft. Convention Hall that can be split into two smaller halls, 41,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, a 700-seat theater, 16,640-sq.-ft. ballroom and 18 meeting rooms. The 12,000-sq.-ft. Discovery Ballroom can be separated into two equal halls. Free basic WiFi available. Main entrance renovated in 2013, lighting retrofit completed in 2013 and PAGE carpet replacement completed in 2014. 63


Century Center South Bend

120 South St. Joseph Street, South Bend, IN 46601 (574) 235-9711 www.centurycenter.org Director of Sales & Marketing: Crista Tompson Unique Architecture. Exceptional Experiences.



Cobo Center

1 Washington Boulevard, Detroit, MI 48226 (313) 877-8777; Fax: (313) 877-8577 www.cobocenter.com Director of Sales: Greg DeSandy


COBO CENTER Greatness comes from within.

Colorado Springs THE NEW COBO CENTER Convention & Visitors Bureau We are not done yet – 515 S Cascade Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80903 $279 Million Renovation is nearly complete and (800) 888-4748 x132; Fax: (719) 635-4968 brings with it lots of www.VisitCOS.com head-turning additions: The new 40,000 Senior Director of Convention Sales:Grand Kathy Reaksq. ft. Riverview

723,000 sq. ft. of Exhibit Space. More robust technology, with Free WiFi and enough connectivity for 30,000 simultaneous users. Ballroom with floor Spectacular Outdoor to ceiling views of the Video Walls – 3X as large Detroit River and over as billboards. 50,000 sq. ft. of flex space. An In-house Broadcast An Outdoor Event Plaza Studio with a soundstage facing the downtown and satellite uplink to skyline, connected to distribute your meeting a terrace overlooking content to stakeholders. the river.

Overlooking the Detroit River and our international neighbor, the Cobo Center’s elegant banquet rooms and over 100 meeting rooms total 200,000 sq. ft., accommodating from 25 to 2,500 attendees. The Center is physically linked to all downtown Detroit hotels and entertainment districts by the Detroit People Mover on the fourth floor, and an elevated railway system and station. The Grand Ballroom is 40,000 sq. ft., dividable with a retractable wall. Features 40-foot ceiling height with built-in rigging points, color-programmable LEDs and 21,000 sq. ft. of meeting space below the ballroom. 2


In Colorado Springs, the views of Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak are as inspirational as your keynote speaker. There are 55+ area attractions, spectacular scenery, seven full-service properties and 5,000 convention guestrooms (14,500 hotel rooms citywide). Groups can visit the U.S. Olympic Training Center, Royal Gorge Bridge & Park, The Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cog Railway and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Downtown Colorado Springs is an inviting, historic shopping, dining SO, WHAT WE WANT TO SAY IS THANK YOU. FOR BELIEVING IN THE ABILITY OF AN and entertainment district, while Old Colorado City is a charming mountain town directly west of ENTIRE CITY TO TURN AROUND. Colorado Springs. The Colorado Springs Marriott has completed a $3.5 million renovation, PAGE and The Broadmoor welcomes groups to the new Seven Falls Soaring Adventure. 49 1 Rendering of Cobo Center Riverside Entrance (now open) 2 South Atrium Renovation 3 Outdoor Video Walls 4 Shinola City Clock



Facilities & Destinations 2016 Summer




Connecticut Convention Center

100 Columbus Boulevard Hartford, CT 06103 (860) 249-6000; Fax: (860) 249-6161 www.ctconventions.com Director of Sales & Marketing: Michele Hughes The CENTER of it all oklahoma

Cox Convention Center

One Myriad Gardens, Oklahoma City, OK 73102 (405) 602-8500; Fax: (405) 602-8505 www.coxconventioncenter.com Director of Sales and Marketing: Tim Linville


David L. Lawrence Convention Center

1000 Ft. Duquesne Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 (412) 325-6174; Fax: (412) 565-6104 www.pittsburghcc.com Director of Sales & Marketing: Kelli Donahoe, CMP Built Green. Working Green. Every Day! OHIO

Greater Columbus Convention Center

400 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43215 (614) 827-2500; (800) 626-0241; Fax: (614) 827-2659 www.columbusconventions.com Senior Director of Sales: Sherry Chambers, CMP, CTA FLORIDA

Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau

701 Brickell Avenue, Ste. 2700, Miami, FL 33131 (305) 539-3071 MiamiMeetings.com SVP, Convention Sales: Ita Moriarty ita@gmcvb.com Hawaii

Hawaii Convention Center 1801 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815 (808) 943-3500; Fax: (808) 943-3099 hawaiiconvention.com Vice President, Meet Hawai`i Citywide Sales & Marketing: Vickie Omura


Irving Convention & Visitors Bureau 500 W. Las Colinas Boulevard,
Irving, TX 75039 (866) 421-4379 www.irvingtexas.com Vice President, Sales and Services: Lori Fojtasek

New York

Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center

123 East Main Street, Rochester, NY 14604 (585) 232-7200; Fax: (585) 232-1510 www.rrcc.com Do it better at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center, where you and your event are always the center of our attention!


The views are stunning, the space is immense, and the ease of booking an event is superior. 205,000 sq. ft. of meeting/exhibit space, dramatic riverfront setting, accessible to 23+ million people within a 2-1/2 hour drive; 19 meeting rooms; 40,000-sq.-ft. ballroom; 180,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space/140,000-sq.-ft. main exhibit hall; 3,200-seat ballroom; attached to 409-room Marriott Hotel; 700 rooms (downtown); 6,500 rooms (within 30 miles). Attractions: Front Street District; The Old State House; Wadsworth Atheneum; Mystic Seaport & Marinelife Aquarium; and Essex PAGE Valley Railroad. 11 Spanning more than one million sq. ft. and four city blocks, this complex is located at the heart of downtown Oklahoma City, a city both accommodating and affordable. Multipurpose venue hosts everything from intimate meetings to major conventions, tradeshows, concerts and sporting events. 27 meeting rooms; 25,000-sq.-ft. ballroom; 100,000-sq.-ft. exhibit hall; 15,000-seat arena. Free WiFi available; Internet access speeds up to one Gb; 1,400 of Oklahoma City’s 15,000+ hotel rooms are across the street. From arts and adventure to cowboy culture and family fun, Oklahoma City PAGE offers an eclectic mix of heritage and hotspots. 55 Located in downtown Pittsburgh’s cultural district along the Allegheny River, the environmentally smart, Gold/Platinum LEED® certified, SMG-managed David L. Lawrence Convention Center features 313,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space with 37 loading docks, 53 meeting rooms and a 31,000-sq.-ft. ballroom. The center’s dynamic architectural design offers breathtaking views, open terraces and column-free space. Technology: Network infrastructure refreshed in 2015 offering free WiFi to attendees and a full range of products and options to exhibitors including high-density wireless and connectivity of 1Gbps PAGE or greater. 15 The SMG-managed Greater Columbus Convention Center is located within a day’s drive and hour’s flight of the majority of the nation’s population. The GCCC houses four contiguous exhibit halls (336,000 sq. ft. contiguous, 410,000 sq. ft. within facility), 65 meeting rooms and three ballrooms, including the 74,000-sq.-ft. Battelle Grand, the largest multipurpose ballroom in Ohio. Connected by enclosed walkway to five hotels; about 26,000 hotel rooms citywide; dozens of restaurants, bars, theaters, galleries, sports and concert venues in walking distance. A $125 million expansion and renovation will conclude in 2017, adding nearly 37,000 sq. ft. of exhibit PAGE space and 10,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. 9 Greater Miami is a vibrant area whose renowned neighborhoods include South Beach, Coconut Grove and Little Havana. Among the area’s major attractions are American Airlines Arena, Pérez Art Museum Miami, MiMo in North Beach, Bal Harbour and two national parks: Biscayne National Preserve and Everglades National Park. There are a total of 50,134 hotel rooms, and the Miami Worldcenter will add an 1,800-room Marriott Marquis when it opens in 2020. The Convention Center currently offers 500,000 sq. ft. of total exhibit space and 81 meeting rooms. The Greater Miami CVB offers groups banners, airport signs, destination material, regisPAGE tration personnel services, website, promotions and more. 7 Honolulu’s Hawaii Convention Center is a spectacular, open-air structure that combines the latest in cutting-edge technology with an authentic Hawaiian ambience. It includes a 200,000-sq.ft. exhibit hall divisible into three halls, a 35,000-sq.-ft. registration lobby, a 35,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, 47 meeting rooms, simultaneous translation rooms and two presentation theaters with tiered seating for 788. Tech features include an extensive fiber-optic and Cat-5 infrastructure with connection points in all meeting spaces and common areas. The Hawai‘i Convention Center is located just eight miles from the airport, surrounded by 30,000 hotel rooms, museums, cultural centers and more than 100 diverse dine-around options. Located adjacent to DFW International Airport and Downtown Dallas and just minutes from Love Field, Irving, TX is an ideal meeting destination. Irving boasts more than 75 hotels with more than 12,000 guestrooms, including luxury, full-service, extended-stay and limited-service accommodation options. The 275,000-sq.-ft. Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas offers nearly 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting and exhibit space, includes a column-free exhibit hall, elegant ballrooms, separate breakout rooms and pre-function areas with views of the Dallas and Las Colinas skyline. Situated in Irving’s Las Colinas Urban Center, the convention center is just one phase of a mixed-use entertainment district that will be completed in 2017. Convenient upstate New York location, with a scenic Genesee River setting. 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting/exhibition space; 22 meeting rooms; 10,000-sq.-ft. ballroom; 50,000-sq.-ft. main exhibit hall with 266 exhibit booth capacity or 5,000 seating capacity; dedicated Internet connection over fiber optics with wireless access throughout facility; 1,100+ hotel rooms in a quartet of major hotels connect to the venue, surrounded by entertainment districts with restaurants, cafes, pubs, dance clubs, music halls and theaters. Rochester offers planners a compact convention district and New York State’s only one-stop convention facility. PAGE C3

Facilities & Destinations 2016 Summer

As the state capital, Little Rock is renowned for its hospitality, culture and charm. There are approximately 9,500 rooms in the greater Little Rock metropolitan area. Major local attractions include the William J. Clinton Presidential Center & Park, Arkansas Arts Center, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, Old State House Museum, and Heifer International and Heifer Village. The Statehouse Convention Center offers 82,892 sq. ft. total exhibit space; 16 meeting rooms. The 418-room Little Rock Marriott is physically connected to the Convention Center. Additionally, Arkansas’s premier performing arts facility, the Robinson Center, is currently undergoing a PAGE $70 million re-imagining and expansion that will be completed in November 2016. 53


Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau

101 S. Spring Street, 4th Floor, Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 376-4781; (800) 844-4781 www.LittleRockMeetings.com Vice President Sales & Services: Alan Sims Meetings are better with a Southern accent

A beautiful, lively island, Montego Bay offers a memorable experience for meeting attendees; excellent hotels, inns and guest houses; and great golf, music and a vibrant culture. With an oceanfront location and breathtaking views, the state-of-the-art Montego Bay Convention Centre features 132,000 sq. ft. of meeting, exhibition, ballroom and plenary space, including: 56,788 sq. ft. of dedicated exhibition space; a 18,845-sq.-ft. ballroom; nine meeting rooms; 6,000-seat theater; a large, full-service kitchen within the facility; and 4,000 hotel PAGE rooms nearby. 61


Montego Bay Convention Centre

Rose Hall, 18 Queens Drive Montego Bay, St. James, Jamaica, West Indies (876) 622-9330; Fax: (876) 622-9360 www.mobaycentre.com Senior Sales and Marketing Manager: Michelle Parkes A World Class Convention Centre in the Heart of Jamaica

Located at the core of Daytona Beach, the Ocean Center Convention Center is just steps away from the Atlantic Ocean and 10 minutes from Daytona International Airport. The center houses 160,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, a 9,050-seat arena, 12,000-sq.-ft. ballroom and 32 meeting rooms. Ocean Walk Shoppes directly across the street offers dining and entertainment featuring Sloppy Joes’, Johnny Rockets, Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company and other establishments. The Ocean Center is adjacent to Daytona Lagoon Waterpark and Entertainment Complex and to Peabody Auditorium offering concerts, Broadway shows and other entertainment throughout the year.


Ocean Center Convention Center

101 North Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach, FL 32118 (386) 254-4524; (386) 254-4512 www.oceancenter.com Assistant Director/Director of Marketing: Angela Daniels The great Florida venue!

The award-winning Phoenix Convention Center & Venues is within walking distance of shopping, entertainment, sports and theater venues, and is just four miles from Sky Harbor International Airport. There are more than 3,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of the center and more that 6,000 hotel rooms located along the Metro Light Rail System. Named one of the top-10 convention center facilities in the country, PCC&V offers more than 900,000 sq. ft. of meeting and exhibit space, including a 312,500-sq.-ft. main exhibit hall and a 46,000-sq.-ft. ballroom — all complemented by the 2,312-seat Symphony Hall and the 1,364-seat historic PAGE 13 Orpheum Theatre.


Phoenix Convention Center & Venues

100 North Third Street, Phoenix, AZ 85004 (602) 262-6225; (800) 282-4842 www.PhoenixConventionCenter.com Director of Sales: Debbi Foshee In the Heart of Downtown: Enjoy Our Space, Explore Our City

The new San Antonio meeting experience allows attendees to Meet, Learn and Play in a place that’s sure to engage and inspire at every turn. San Antonio recently debuted the $325 million expansion of its Henry B. González Convention, increasing the center’s footprint to 1.6 million sq. ft., with 514,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space, 270,000 sq. ft. of new exhibit space, 85,000 sq. ft. of column-free multipurpose space, a more than 54,000-sq.-ft. ballroom and 72 meeting spaces. Other new developments include the city’s five Spanish colonial missions being named UNESCO World Heritage sites, Hemisfair Park’s redevelopment, the new 146-room Hotel PAGE Emma, and the recently completed $358.3 million project to lengthen the River Walk. 1


San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau

203 S. St. Mary’s, Suite 200, San Antonio, TX 78205 (210) 207-6768; Fax: (210) 207-6843 Meetings.VisitSanAntonio.com saconv@visitsanantonio.com

As the Capital of Silicon Valley, San Jose is known as a business mecca, but also offers a variety of sophisticated entertainment options for delegates. The Winchester Mystery House, Tech Museum of Innovation, Levi’s Stadium, Center for Performing Arts, San Pedro Square Market and San Jose Museum of Art are all in easy access of the city’s 8,000 hotel rooms (4,000 committable on peak). Rather than handing planners off to other organizations once the meeting is booked, Team San Jose does it all, from housing, convention center and facility event PAGE services to customized F&B menus, permits and special events.


Team San Jose

408 Almaden Boulevard, San Jose, CA 95110 (800) SAN-JOSE sanjose.org Director of Sales: Mark McMinn


advertiser index Austin Convention Center....................................................................5 Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex............................. 45 Boise Centre............................................................................................47 Caesars Entertainment..........................................................................3 Century Center...................................................................................... 63 Colorado Springs CVB........................................................................ 49 Connecticut Convention Center.......................................................11 Cox Convention Center......................................................................55 David L. Lawrence Convention Center..........................................15 Greater Columbus Convention Center..................................................................................9 Facilities & Destinations 2016 Summer

Greater Miami CVB................................................................................. 7 IMEX............................................................................................................67 Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center.............................................................................. C3 Little Rock CVB...................................................................................... 53 Meet AC................................................................................................... C2 Montego Bay Convention Centre................................................... 61 Phoenix Convention Center.............................................................. 13 San Antonio CVB......................................................................................1 Spectra Convention Centers............................................................20 Team San Jose....................................................................................... C4 71

Pan-Generational Engagement

6 strategies to make your convention appeal to all ages By Lisa Block and Kristina McCoobery


generational mix — gather to e are entering one of learn from experts, network with the most exciting and one another and have fun. SHRM unprecedented eras shares guidelines on messaging in live events. Whether a music and visual identity with all of its festival, industry conference or vendors, partners and exhibitors even a town hall, we often find well in advance of the event ourselves entertaining, engaging to ensure alignment across all and educating attendees across aspects of production. four vastly different generations: The Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X and the Communicate Millennials. And in just a few Through a Variety short years, Generation Z (already of Channels being referred to as “Centennials” Once your message and by some marketers) will begin Lisa Block Kristina McCoobery visual identity have been reaching adulthood. designed, engage your target Each of these groups tends through as many to consume information and e have found that while Baby Boomers audiences communication platforms live experiences differently, but as you can — print, digital, appreciate all their information in one there are also commonalities in social and mobile — and do what they expect as attendees. easy-to-find place with lots of longso before, during and after the With more meetings and events event. We all consume and than ever before having a form content, Millennials like their retain information through generationally diverse audience, information in short-form digestible bits, different means, especially it is critical to deploy strategies across generations. We to keep such an audience often through digital platforms. have found that while Baby engaged and returning Boomers appreciate all their year after year. Here are six information in one easy-to-find place with lots of long-form strategies that we have found to be key. content, Millennials like their information in short-form digestible bits, often through digital platforms.



1. Develop Effective Messaging and Visual Identity

The average consumer is exposed to more than 20,000 messages a day. In order to engage your target audience, you must develop your message and visual identity in a way that is consistent with your brand, yet stands out among the “white noise” of other messages. Millennials tend to be highly visual, often communicating in images or symbols such as emojis as a substitute for words. Older generations tend to appreciate deeper context, and like to feel that they have all the information. It’s important to strike a balance between visual style and expositional substance to reach all audiences. Also critical is consistency of message and visual identity throughout all aspects of the event. Although younger generations are known for enjoying variety at live events, there is nothing worse than attendees coming away from an event confused or underwhelmed by a lack of clarity or inconsistency of message. To promote consistency, create a strategic communications brief on the messaging approach for all the major stakeholders to follow. A case in point is the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference and Exposition. Every summer, 15,000 HR executives from around the world — representing a pan-

3. Create an Experience That Delivers Value to All Attendees

Attendees trust us to design a program that is a satisfactory value swap: I’ll give you my time and some money, and in return, you’ll give me an experience I value. So how do we ensure diverse audiences across multiple generations receive the value they expect? One way is to ground the entire event in a strategic and creative communication device that is tied to a universally human emotion. Often it shows up as a tagline or theme that exists as a unifying thread across the event. For example, SHRM creates value for attendees at its Annual Conference by infusing the event with storytelling, a practice that unites all people. Telling members’ stories enhances the experience and inspires action. The storytelling theme encourages attendees to share a specific part of their lives that is relatable and motivational.

4. Stay Relevant

Whether you are part of The Greatest Generation or a Millennial, you attend a convention or marketing event in part to learn Continued on page 74


Facilities & Destinations 2016 Summer

A Cost-Savings Checklist

The current meetings industry climate demands thoroughness By Robert G. LeValley


hile cost savings and cost avoidance for meetings have been tracked for quite a few years by organizations and their suppliers, increasingly SMMPs (strategic meetings management programs) in place require greater specificity and transparency in reporting. In addition, the delivery of savings on a per-meeting basis is now, more often than not, part of a third-party planning company’s MSA (master service agreement) with the client and significantly impacts service reviews. Average targeted savings range from 12 percent to 20+ percent based on controllable spend, program type and actual services provided. The metrics include not only the dollars saved and costs avoided, but also an analysis of the spend categories within the budget. Given the widespread emphasis on cost savings, analysis and reporting in the meetings industry, planners do well to sharpen their methodology in this area. Following is an overview of the many facets of the cost-savings initiative.

From Sourcing to Negotiation

Cost saving and elimination begins with the inception of the program, including destination analysis, currency exchange rates, third-party RFPs and sourcing/contracting. At this stage, communication and technology choices are also important. Utilizing e-mail for confirmation mailings, apps for welcome kits and jump drives or FTP sites for handouts fulfill most groups’ CSR goals of “green” initiatives and eliminate many costs associated with print communications. The flexibility of the meeting dates should also be considered early on, as that can impact hotel rates (e.g., later in the week gets you better value vs. a meeting that starts on Monday and ends Wednesday), as can the flexibility in location (e.g., the possibility of meeting in a second- or third-tier city). During negotiation with the selected hotel, there are numerous points of negotiation to consider. Here is an inventory: Date and Destination 3 Look at periods where the hotel has had cancellations, spots that they need to fill or their off-season periods 3 Leverage buying: Can you place additional business at the same property within the same calendar year? Meeting Room and AV Concessions 3 In-house AV discounts of approximately 20 percent as well as some complimentary basics (small screens, extension cords, power strips and flipcharts) 3 No charge if the group wants to utilize an outside or preferred audiovisual company 3 Complimentary waiver or reduction on room rentals. Increase

Facilities & Destinations 2016 Summer

the F&B minimum if you know you’ll achieve a higher amount based on number of attendees, in order to negotiate room rentals down. 3 Complimentary meeting planning office and heavily discounted equipment; matching the rates of a local supplier (e.g., Staples or other print shops) or providing discounts on one in the hotel. 3 Complimentary meeting space and a guarantee that it will not be reassigned 3 Complimentary WiFi in all contracted function space. Most attendees are carrying a minimum of two devices (phone/laptop, phone/ipad, etc.), so this is a large cost savings if you can get it. 3 Phone installation charges in office 3 Reduced or waived surcharges for shipping and receiving, as well as discounts for in-house FedEx or other suppliers’ costs 3 Discuss penalties if the hotel has not honored the group’s requirements such as “competitor clauses” or not delivered services at an acceptable level. Sleeping Rooms 3 Number of complimentary rooms offered per paid rooms (e.g., one per 30 paid) 3 Group rates for accommodations three days pre and three days post official program dates 3 Terms and concessions for cancellations, room attrition percentage at 20 percent and reasonable payment terms 3 Group-rate upgrades and discount on any additional upgraded rooms desired 3 Staff discounted rates of 50 percent off of negotiated run-ofhouse rate, or two complimentary rooms for lead hosts or lead planners of the meeting 3 Rooming list(s) due 14 days prior to start date vs. 21 or 30 days prior 3 Complimentary WiFi in all guestrooms, as this is what a normal one-off guest booking a room would receive Food and Beverage 3 F&B attrition of 20 percent, 48 hours prior to start date 3 Reasonable attrition, overset numbers and spend guarantee requirements 3 Waived bartender fees 3 Two-hour a.m./p.m. coffee breaks vs. 30 minutes or one hour, in order to extend your break time and accommodate attendees (if the hotel is not unionized) 3 Plan menus and negotiate rates by using local foods or ordering menus similar to other groups in house 3 Limit wine or alcohol consumption (utilize house red and white wines, and fill wine glasses only one third full at dinner). For lunches (and in some cases dinners), only refill glasses upon the guests’ request. Avoid an open bar if possible. Continued on page 74


A Cost-Savings Checklist Continued from page 73

3 Request large pitchers of iced water or flavored water or water stations rather than individual bottles for breaks. Negotiate large pitchers of iced tea with buffet lunches vs. beverages on consumption. 3 Utilize house linens and alternate colors per function; re-use florals or have centerpieces featuring a dessert. 3 When utilizing an offsite venue, know all charges in advance, including mark-ups if you are booking the venue through a DMC. Miscellaneous 3 Complimentary round-trip airport transfers for a limited number of attendees 3 Discounts for parking — valet and self-park

Financial Wrap-Up

Equally as important as the pre-program negotiations and the management of the event and the budget onsite is the

time-consuming but necessary process of billing reconciliation post event. It is crucial to ensure all negotiated concessions are properly credited to the program in all suppliers’ final billing. While the above list of negotiables is fairly extensive, it is merely a snapshot of areas in which to both contain costs and warehouse data for forecasting the expenses of future programs. Ultimately, tracking these savings serves to demonstrate the ROI of meeting management by third-party or in-house planners. Robert G. LeValley is Executive Vice President and Managing Partner at McVeigh Associates, based in Amityville, NY. A leader in the industry for over 35 years, he has expanded the company’s reach within the marketplace, developing a client demographic with an average of 50 percent internationally based programs and establishing a niche in global association meeting management within the healthcare industry. Prior to forming McVeigh Associates, LeValley consolidated the meeting planning network within a Fortune 500 company and managed international tradeshows across multiple industries.

Pan-Generational Engagement Continued from page 72

about and experience the latest trends. By leveraging emerging trends you can build a reputation that your event is the place to be, therefore creating FOMO (fear of missing out). This will help to maximize your attendance and create the kind of buzz that is sustainable and marketable. If attendees leave your event feeling they have obtained some sort of cutting-edge piece of “social currency” to share with their colleagues, friends and family, it will be an experience that they will want to return to again and again.

5. Be Topical and Developmental

Oftentimes conventions are either topical or developmental. We believe it’s not only possible, but also critical to develop a program that achieves both. Relying on the strategic communications brief will help you curate content at your general sessions, workshops and tradeshow that supports your key messages and remains relevant to your varied audience demographics. We suggest starting with what needs to change within your audience. No matter their age or generation, all of them are there to improve something within their status quo. Maybe they want to sell more effectively, or maybe you want them to buy your product or service. Whatever it is, by identifying what needs to change you create a foundation for an experience that is both topical and developmental. SHRM tries to create the right balance of educational and developmental presentations and workshops that can be applied to CE credits, along with highly topical presentations by speakers ranging from Hillary Clinton to Blake Mycoskie (founder of TOMS Shoes).

6. Create Shareable Content

In a world where lives are broadcast on social media, events give us social currency, allowing us to share what we are doing and whom we are doing it with. Therefore, all forms of content, whether live presentations, video, digital, print or teambuilding activities, should be designed to be easily shared through social media or digital platforms. While younger generations tend to engage in sharing their content more than older generations, it is 74

a trend that is increasing across all age groups. The more our content is shared among attendees and potential attendees, the greater the buzz and the more successful the event. A convention or tradeshow has a clear beginning, middle and end. If the event is shared and socialized, however, not only do you expand the “shelf life” of the event, but you also build a community around it. This sustains engagement and increases your ability to attract attendees for future events. Create platforms that allow you to communicate with your attendees and enable them to build communities around your event. SHRM, for instance, creates online communities for attendees that encourage them to build their social tribes and coordinate in-person meet-ups.

Happy Planning

We hope that you will find the above best practices useful in ensuring your next convention or marketing event informs, entertains, surprises and delights a pan-generational audience. Above all else, no matter the generation, human beings are social creatures. Take pride that we work in an industry that brings people together from all over the world and makes a significant difference in their lives. Lisa Block is Vice President, Meetings and Conferences with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), where she has spent the last 26 years leading event strategy and execution. The organization’s Annual Conference and Exposition is the leading event for the HR profession. Block has served as Board Chair of PCMA and in 2014 was awarded the organization’s highest honor for professional achievement. Kristina McCoobery is Managing Partner at INVNT, a global brand communications agency. She has over 18 years of experience in the field of corporate communications and live media. Her current role is to oversee the Operations Team of INVNT and manage some of the company’s largest accounts, including SHRM, Merck & Co., SC Johnson, Subway and the ongoing partnership with PepsiCo. Facilities & Destinations 2016 Summer

Demystifying Strategic Meetings Management How to establish the program and measure its success By Terri Woodin, CMP


There is no “one size fits all” solution. Identify eeting value and ROI reporting is a the components that you can change, those that hot industry topic, which has increased take priority, as well as the scope of the SMM senior management’s expectations initiative. Remember that whether the program for improved meeting planner productivity, is implemented at the level of the enterprise, a cost savings and hotel contract risk reduction. division, department or cluster of meetings, SMM Additionally, the acceptance of strategic will add value. meetings management (SMM) standards by Furthermore, regardless of which SMM corporate and association planners fast tracks components you focus on, No. 12 is essential. the need for metrics to define, measure and Technology supports common standards and report success. Meetings are big investments enables the pre-approval process for meetings, and today, planners must have a new valueprovides reporting capabilities from the meeting based business model to ensure success. level to the enterprise level, automates processes Providing evidence for this scenario are and reduces paperwork, centralizes data, and statistics from a survey of about 200 planners improves the visibility of meeting activity. conducted last year by Meeting Sites Resource: According to feedback from meeting managers, 49 percent of planners to Define hether the program Metrics are feeling pressured to enhance meeting and Measure Success results, metrics and ROI. According to is implemented at the Among the metrics to gauge the success of a feedback from senior management, over meetings management initiative are 50 percent of CEOs feel their organization level of the enterprise, strategic increased planner and team productivity, return is not getting maximum ROI from its a division, department on objectives (ROO) and return on event (ROE). meetings and events, and over 40 percent Of course, one of the most important metrics of CFOs are not satisfied with their or cluster of meetings, is cost savings. Planners continue to share that company’s travel and meeting spend. SMM one of their top challenges is producing credible SMM will add value. is intended to address these concerns. metrics and formulas to define real cost savings, GBTA introduced the strategic meetings and then communicating total savings to senior management program (SMMP) concept in management. Produce a cost savings report after 2004, and the initiative really gained traction during the recession. each counter-signed contract for a meeting. Be sure to include However, SMM is not a knee-jerk reaction to the recession, but rather all concessions negotiated within the contract, working with the an essential value and accountability business model for corporate hotel to determine the true value of each item. For example, when and association planning teams. In addition to cost savings, there defining savings on group rates, benchmark against the original is an array of value components. According to GBTA, a company rate quoted or average group rate in house over your dates. does not have an SMMP unless it has all the pieces that define Benchmarking against the hotel rack rate creates inflated savings, the program. But in practice, you can have an SMM initiative by since seldom are planners negotiating rack rates, even in this hot customizing the approach around your current priorities. seller’s market.


Developing an Action Plan

So where do you begin? Start with senior management and their objectives and vision for enterprise-wide meetings and events. Prior to meeting with management, review your company’s annual report, website, mission and vision statements, and strategic initiatives announced by the company. In short, understand how your organization works. Next, consider the following 12 critical aspects to your SMM plan: 1 How meetings are generated, the approval process 2 Key stakeholders and their core competencies 3 Meeting needs assessment, including objectives 4 Sourcing, negotiations and cost savings 5 Hotel contracts and risk reduction 6 Planning procedures and logistics 7 Preferred suppliers (services, pricing and agreements) 8 Hotel/vendor master accounts and deposits required 9 Meeting budgets and how they vary 10 Management and financial reports 11 Post-meeting evaluation processes 12 Technology tools and resources that support SMM Facilities & Destinations 2016 Summer

Gain a Seat at the Table

A seat at the table with upper management is very important to demonstrate the value of meetings to the organization, and how meetings drive revenues and profits. You can secure that seat by building your business acumen and speaking the language of senior management, communicating SMM value and outcomes to key stakeholders, and distributing timely data and reports that validate the program’s success. The results will positively impact both your company and career. Terri Woodin, CMP, is Senior Director of Global Meeting Services at Meeting Sites Resource, a strategic meetings management solutions organization founded in 1993. Woodin serves on several industry advisory boards including MPI, PCMA, APEX Standards Committee and The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University. She is the recipient of The Meetings Industry Council (MIC) of Colorado Annual Leadership Award. For a complimentary copy of her Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) Top 10 Tips, contact her at twoodin@meetingsites.net. 75

Stephan Blaser

Executive Chef New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center amed one of the Best Chefs of Louisiana for 2015, Chef Blaser has more than 30 years of experience in the food and beverage industry. He joined Centerplate in 2010. A native of Switzerland, Blaser has mastered the cuisine of the Big Easy and infuses it into menus for high-volume catering.


Cher Harris

Executive Pastry Chef The Hotel Hershey hef Harris is the 2016 American Culinary Federation (ACF) Northeast Region Pastry Chef of the Year. In 2014, Harris won first place in the Ladies’ World Pastry Championship, Rimini, Italy, and received the title of “2014 Pastry Queen.” She also won a gold medal at ACF’s Delhi Catskill Competition in 2011.


Kevin Nakata

Executive Chef Hawaii Convention Center ast year, AEG Facilities named Kevin Nakata to lead the Hawaii Convention Center’s culinary team as Executive Chef. Nakata’s more than 21 years of culinary experience includes executive chef positions at some of the finest restaurants and establishments on Kauai, Maui and Oahu. Among his accomplishments is the successful managing of F&B service for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel.


Michael Swann

Executive Chef InterContinental Hotel and Conference Center, Cleveland ppointed to his current position in May, Chef Swann has served as Executive Chef at the Opryland in Nashville, McCormick Place in Chicago and the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. Chef Swann was named a Top 25 Rising Star Chef by Food & Wine magazine. He is also a level-one wine sommelier and a past performer on the Food Network’s Dinner Impossible.



Robert J. Ciborowski

Executive Chef Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort hef Ciborowski oversees an operation consisting of 16 kitchens and nearly 200 team members. His culinary background includes stints at some of the world’s finest restaurants and hotels, such as The French Laundry, Atlantis Resort and The RitzCarlton. He has also showcased his culinary expertise at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City.




Top Meeting Industry Chefs John Schmitz

Executive Chef Ocean Center hef Schmitz leads the Spectra catering team at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, FL. He previously worked as executive chef for Centerplate at the Kentucky Exposition Center and Centerplate at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, TX. Chef Schmitz has been a member of several gold medal American Culinary Federation competition teams.


Brad Toles

Executive Chef Palm Springs Convention Center hef Toles is Founder and CEO of Savoury’s, a catering company that has served the Palm Springs Convention Center for over 20 years. Toles was on the USA Culinary Olympic Team that won Gold in the 1992 Olympics, and went on to found the California Culinary Olympic Team in 1996. He has also served as Executive Chef for the Hollywood Park Racetrack and Casino.


John Eschler

Executive Chef Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center hef Eschler has served in his current role for 18 years. His honors include membership in the prestigious Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs, and 2015 NYS Culinary Person of the Year from the NYS Restaurant Association – Rochester Chapter. Eschler has also served as Chef D’Cuisine for numerous American Culinary Federation – Rochester Chapter sponsored dinners.


Thomas Horner

Executive Chef JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa graduate of the International Culinary Academy in Pittsburgh, Chef Horner began his culinary career with Marriott in New Orleans and today serves up sustainable, local fare at the JW Marriott in Palm Desert, CA. He has twice been a guest at the James Beard House in New York City, and has received a Golden Scepter Award from the Southern California Restaurant Writers Association.


Masood Shirmohammadi

Executive Chef Phoenix Convention Center he Phoenix Convention Center welcomed Chef Shirmohammadi as the new Executive Chef for Aventura Catering in March of this year. His culinary background includes stints at the Drake and Fairmont hotels in Chicago; most recently, he served as Executive Chef at the Art Institute Museum of Chicago. He is known for merging the flavors and styles of American Southwestern and classical French cuisines.


Alan Wambaa

Executive Chef Oregon Convention Center hef Wambaa’s many distinctions include service as the personal chef to the royal family of Saudi Arabian Prince Fahd bin Khalid Al-Saud, working with Wolfgang Puck as the Executive Chef of Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, an F&B management role with ARAMARK at the Tacoma Convention Center, and the prestigious Pro III chef certification from the Culinary Institute of America.


Facilities & DESTINATIONS 2016 Summer

Whether you have 50 or 5,000 attendees, we can put together the perfect package for your meeting or convention.

585.232.7200 • www.rrcc.com • 100,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting & exhibit space • Directly connected by enclosed skybridge to 800 hotel rooms • In-house catering, production & AV services

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