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Facilities SMALL-Market Review


Fall / WINTER 2017

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

& Destinations


For Association & Corporate Meeting Planners & Tradeshow Professionals

A Dynamic IPW in D.C.

Keys to 8Optimal Attendee Learning 43

U.S. Travel Association meets in the nation’s capital for the first time 25

Caesars Reimagines the Guest Experience 18

Oklahoma City CVB President Discusses New Convention Center 16

Ohio 28


Barbara Logan

Vice President, Meeting and Event Services, U.S. Travel Association


15 Minutes Away From CAK

Staff Is 87% Friendlier Than The Other Guys

8 Out Of 10 Visitors Rate Food “Excellent”

40 Minutes Away From CLE

99% Chance Of A Successful Event*

(the other 2 think it’s “Really Good”)


123,000 Square Feet For Convening, Collaborating, Dining and Even Dancing. 279 Combined Years Of Employee Service

79 Steps To Some Great Guacamole

Whether it’s a one-night event or week-long conference, our professional staff at the John S. Knight Center is here to ensure a top-notch experience both inside and out. Call 330.374.8900, 800.245.4254 or visit johnsknightcenter.org for information and to reserve your space. DOWNTOWN AKRON, OH

* 1% accounts for the unlikely event of a volcanic eruption

editor’s note

Facilities & Destinations fall / Winter


For Association & Corporate Meeting Planners & Tradeshow Professionals


Volume 24 No. 3

Chief Operating Officer David Korn


raining and teambuilding are among the most important functions meetings can serve. Typically, planners will leave the execution of these programs to the experts who lead the sessions, and focus on sourcing a venue hospitable to learning and bonding. Nonetheless, it is valuable to understand the best practices employed by successful training and teambuilding professionals, for a couple reasons. First, knowing these experts’ methodologies can inform the choice of venue, room, AV and even F&B. For example, if the educator wants to promote informal conversation among participants to complement the learning, you might select a unique space or cuisine that provides “conversation starters.” Second, familiarity with the principles for effective teaching and teambuilding can help you identify the best facilitators, i.e., those who can be seen to follow the principles. In turn, you can seek to partner with them for future programs. In this issue, two industry veterans present field-tested approaches to training and teambuilding, respectively: Doug McPhee, M.Ed, CMM, CMP, Senior National Account Manager with Experient, and Bill John, President and Founder of Odyssey Teams, Inc. Both have decades of experience in working with major organizations to create events that educate attendees, improve their cohesiveness as coworkers, or achieve both goals. McPhee’s piece (page 43) highlights eight keys to effective teaching, several of them supported by neuroscience. John’s article (page 42) provides six tenets of teambuilding, as well as advice on teambuilding for remote participants. Another way that planners glean from great educators is by seeing them in action at the association meetings of our industry, whether it’s MPI’s World Education Congress or PCMA’s Convening Leaders. Recently, one of the most dynamic proponents of planner learning, Deborah Sexton, announced she will be leaving her position as PCMA President and CEO after Convening Leaders wraps up in Nashville next month. Sexton, who also serves as President of the PCMA Education Foundation, has demonstrated keen awareness of the value of virtual education in particular. She significantly enhanced PCMA’s online offerings with the acquisition of the Digital Experience Institute. Planners will miss her leadership, and many have been “taking notes” on how to push the frontiers of attendee education. In that vein, we hope that the insights from McPhee and John will help you take your training and teambuilding programs to the next level.

Associate Publisher Michael Caffin Editorial Director George Seli Contributing Editors Anthony Bilden Deborah Shapiro Creative Direction & Design Scott-Goodman Associates Circulation Coordinator Aryeh Korn Editorial Assistant Gabriella Davino Business Operations Nadia Derelieva

© Copyright 2017 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. 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.

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

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 Michael Carrier, President, Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau......... 16 Photoviews IMEX 2017......................................................................................................... 12 Expo! Expo! 2017.............................................................................................. 14 Perspectives Sourcing and Contracting in Today’s Environment, by Stacey Jackson Bloom... 40 Enduring Truths of Teambuilding, by Bill John................................................... 42 Powerful Learning and Training, by Doug McPhee............................................ 43 A-List: Northeast CVB Executives...................................................................... 44


Caesars Entertainment: A Reimagined Guest Experience.................................. 18 Small-Market Review......................................................................................... 22 Destinations Mid-Atlantic....................................................................................................... 25 Ohio................................................................................................................... 28 Texas.................................................................................................................. 32

Facilities SmAll-market review


Fall / WINTER 2017

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

& Destinations



The U.S. Travel Association enjoyed a successful partnership with Destination DC to stage the first-ever IPW in Washington, according to USTA VP of Meeting and Event Services Barbara Logan. One of the CVB’s recommendations was to hold the Chairman’s Circle Honors at the Washington National Cathedral (backdrop). The venue received rave reviews from the high-level international buyers who attended the Chairman’s Circle.

For AssociAtion & corporAte Meeting plAnners & trAdeshow proFessionAls

A DynAmic iPW in D.c. U.S. TrAvel ASSociATion meeTS in The nATion’S cAPiTAl for The firST Time 25

caesars reimagines the Guest experience 18

oklahoma city cvB President Discusses new convention center 16

ohio 28

TeXAS 32

Keys to 8optimal

Attendee learning 43

Barbara Logan

Vice President, Meeting and Event Services, U.S. Travel Association

Facilities Directory............................................................................................. 36 Advertiser Index................................................................................................ 41 2 Facilities & Destinations 2017 fall / WINTER

DISCOVERY AROUND EVERY CORNER Pasadena delivers the convenience of a big city with a charming neighborhood feel. A short drive from all the major Los Angeles airports, Pasadena offers a historic, walkable downtown, a stateof-the-art 130,000 square foot convention center, and 2,500 hotel rooms and unique venues. Pasadena is a city teeming with unexpected experiences just waiting to be discovered.



& Events; MPI Academy CMP Master Class; and MPI Academy Women in Leadership: Executive Leadership Skills.

Anthony Napoli, Briggs CHICAGO, IL — This summer, AlliedPRA, Inc., a leading DMC firm with 26 locations, acquired Briggs, a DMC leader in the New York City area market. Anthony Napoli, CMP, DMCP, President of Briggs, continues to lead his award-winning company, founded in 1982. Briggs specializes in corporate and incentive events, custom transportation solutions, and creating experiences unique to the New York market. CHICAGO, IL and DALLAS, TX — The SITE + MPI Global Forum, taking place in Rome, Italy, Jan. 1214, will be the first collaboration between the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) and Meeting Professionals International (MPI) on a global event for meeting and incentive travel professionals. Organizers recently announced that the program will include more than 30 education sessions, and feature the following keynote speakers: Italian paleontologist Alberto Angela; Frans Johansson, Founder and CEO of The Medici Group; and Julie Cottineau, Founder of Brain Twist. The speakers will address the Forum’s theme, “Connecting Event & Incentive Professionals,” by focusing on how breakthrough ideas occur when concepts from diverse industries, cultures and disciplines intersect. In addition, SITE and the MPI Academy will offer four pre-conference certificate programs: the SITE Certified Incentive Specialist (CIS) Course; MPI Academy Emergency Preparedness for Meetings 4

DALLAS, TX — Last month, Freeman acquired design studio Helios Interactive, increasing Freeman’s ability to integrate technologies such as touch and gesture sensing, augmented reality and virtual reality into customers’ digital experiences. Helios has designed such experiences for high-profile events like the NBA Finals, CES, Comic-Con International: San Diego and South by Southwest. “We are just beginning to see how exciting and immersive technologies like virtual and augmented reality are enhancing brand storytelling, and you’re only going to see demand increase over time as brands look for new ways to engage and inspire their audiences,” said Mike Schaiman, Managing Director, Helios. DALLAS, TX — The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) recently released the eighth and final report in its series on attendee floor engagement, entitled “Exhibition Organizers – Methods Used to Evaluate Outcome, Areas to Improve, Interest in New Models.” This 20-page report provides an overview of exhibition organizer evaluation practices relating to attendee floor engagement efforts. “Exhibitor marketing practices are evolving, and so are B2B exhibition attendee engagement preferences,” said CEIR CEO Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE. “It is vitally important that organizers remain focused on improving and evolving attendee engagement offerings in tandem with these changes. This report provides a useful benchmark report to compare one’s practices to industry norms.” For more information on the report, visit ceir.org/ products/2721. HOVE, UK — She Means Business, launching at IMEX in Frankfurt (May 15-17, 2018), is a new half-day conference both celebrating the role of women in the meetings industry and

Pink Hour at IMEX in Frankfurt, 2017. (L-r): Tanja Knecht, PR IMEX in Frankfurt; Kerstin Wünsch, Editor-in-Chief at TW Magazine; Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group; and Heike Mahmoud, former Director of the Visit Berlin convention office. addressing the crucial issues currently faced by women in that sector. The IMEX Group invites both female and male meeting professionals to share expertise and learn from inspiring speakers and mentors. Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Group, explains the motivation for the new event: “It has long been noticeable that whilst women are in the majority in the meetings industry, they are in the minority in leadership positions. We want to play our part in highlighting the challenges that women face, but more importantly helping to introduce solutions. The best way to do this is to bring people together for open conversation, collaboration and learning.” She Means Business will take place before the show on May 14, as part of EduMonday. TOKYO, JAPAN — Last month, NYC & Company, New York City’s official destination marketing organization, and Tokyo Metropolitan Government, signed a first-ever official partnership to boost international tourism between New York City and Tokyo. The collaboration will

include the exchange of marketing assets to boost reciprocal travel, and the sharing of best practices in tourism marketing. “New York City was Tokyo’s first Sister City. Since the establishment of this relationship in 1960, our two metropolises have enjoyed a great deal of exchange,” noted Head of Tokyo’s Bureau of Industrial and Labor Affairs Yuji Fujita. “We hope this new tourism partnership between New York City and Tokyo will result in more international visitors coming to Tokyo from New York, and lead to even more opportunities for exchange between our two cities.” According to NYC & Company President and CEO Fred Dixon, “There could not be a better time for us to align our efforts to promote each other’s dynamic and vibrant destinations and sign this first-ever tourism partnership. We look forward to learning from each other and working together in the years ahead to create mutually beneficial opportunities to increase international travel by positioning NYC and Tokyo as not-to-be missed destinations.”

Yuji Fugita (left), Head of Tokyo’s Bureau of Industrial and Labor Affairs, and NYC & Company President and CEO Fred Dixon announced a new partnership between the cities at a press conference held Nov. 10 in Tokyo. Facilities & Destinations 2017 Fall / Winter


Convention & Event Venues

Worldwide Entertainment and Convention Venue Management

One click. One Call. SMG. Where do you want to show today? To inquire about any or all SMG-managed Convention Centers contact: Gregg Caren Executive Vice President This direction,(866-266-5764) but with more options 1-866-BOOK-SMG gcaren@smgworld.com


Number To Call 866.BOOK.SMG

Shopping for almost anything is either one click or one call away. In the world of conventions, exhibitions and special events, how can you effectively shop for convention centers and destinations with only one click or call? The answer is simple. The answer is SMG. With exhibition venues in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, and China, we can shorten the site selection process from months to days, or even hours.

深圳国际会展中心建筑设计方案优化 Shenzhen International Convention and Exhibition Center Architecture Project Design Optimization

In Brief


The Kentucky International Convention Center expansion was topped off this fall.

Cobo Center’s new green roof DETROIT, MI — Last month, Claude Molinari, General Manager of the SMG-managed Cobo Center, announced the facility’s plan to install a visitor observation area near the convention center’s living green roof. “Last year, we installed honeybee hives and saw our living roof and organic herb gardens thrive,” said Molinari. “Next year, we will create an observation area, with murals and signage, overlooking the living green roof to bring our visitors more information on these features.” The 10,000-sq.-ft. green roof was installed at Cobo Center as part of the facility’s recent $279 million renovation.

In addition, Cobo Center will debut two nursing mother lactation stations in January. The portable Mamava suites will include benches, tables, mirrors and electricity for use by nursing mothers. LAS VEGAS, NV — Last month, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Board of Directors approved a recommendation to retain tvsdesign / Design Las Vegas to provide design services for the Las Vegas Convention Center District Phase Two Expansion and Renovation. The phased project has a projected completion date

of 2023. Construction of Phase Two, a 1.4 million-sq.-ft. expansion, is projected to be complete by the end of 2020. Phase Three will be the complete renovation of the existing 3.2 million-sq.-ft. facility. LOUISVILLE, KY — The topping-off ceremony for the $207 million Kentucky International Convention Center renovation was held on Oct. 19. With opening day set for Aug. 1, 2018, the new facility will offer 200,125 sq. ft. of exhibit space, a 40,000-sq.-ft. column-free ballroom, 52 meeting rooms, a 175-seat tiered conference theater, 15,000 meals-per-day kitchen capacity and simplified pedestrian circulation and wayfinding. The enhancement is projected to draw a 25 percent increase in convention business.

Rendering of tv design / Design Las Vegas’s new exterior for the Las Vegas Convention Center 6

SEATTLE, WA — Furthering its plan for a $1.6 billion expansion, the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) has entered into an agreement with the Community Package Coalition to provide $82.8 million in public benefits. The coalition includes nonprofits, community organizations and advocacy groups serving neighborhoods adjacent to the WSCC Addition. The $82.8 million includes $29 million in funding for affordable housing, $10 million for improvements to Freeway Park, $10 million for cycling improvements in the Pine Street-Pike street corridor and $10 million for pedestrian improvements in the corridor, according to officials. The WSCC expansion would add approximately 255,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space, 125,000 sq. ft. of meeting rooms and 60,000 sq. ft. of ballroom space.

Facilities & Destinations 2017 Fall / Winter


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

585.232.7200 • www.rrcc.com Rochester, New York

In Brief

JFK Airport’s TWA Terminal will be home to the new TWA Hotel in 2019


Rendering of the Crowne Plaza Fiji Wailoaloa Beach, projected to open in 2020

AUSTIN, TX — Last month, the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa began a $150 million renovation and expansion that will add a new resort tower, conference center and ballroom, a event pavilion, six dining outlets, Mokara Spa and tennis complex. The project will also redesign the property’s 493 guestrooms, lobby, poolscape and golf course. FIJI — InterContinental Hotels Group has signed a management agreement with Quantum Hi-Tech Group Limited to develop the largest hotel in Fiji, the Crowne Plaza Fiji Wailoaloa Beach. Opening in 2020, the 453-room beachfront resort will be located just a 10-minute drive from Fiji’s main airport, Nadi International Airport. Groups will be able to convene in what will be one of Fiji’s largest conference centers.

Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts to operate the luxury hotel within one of the capital’s best-known and most prestigious monuments. Admiralty Arch Waldorf Astoria, London will open in 2022, following an extensive restoration of Admiralty Arch, commissioned by King Edward VII in memory of Queen Victoria. The hotel will include 96 guestrooms and suites, and three world-class restaurants. Plans include a rooftop bar with views across London’s skyline, private meeting and event spaces, as well as a spa. LOS CABOS and MEXICO CITY, MEXICO — Hyatt Hotels is bringing the Park Hyatt brand to Mexico with the opening of the 162-room Park Hyatt Los Cabos in late 2020 and the 155-room Park Hyatt Mexico City in early 2021.

LEESBURG, VA — The National Conference Center recently introduced a new approach to teambuilding and leadership development, “Challenge by Choice,” facilitated by The Browne Center for Innovative Learning. According to the Conference Center, Challenge by Choice is a method of making learning fun that enables people of all capabilities to learn from a common physical and cognitive activity. See our coverage of The National Conference Center in this issue’s Mid-Atlantic feature (p. 25).

LOUISVILLE, KY — The Omni Louisville Hotel, slated to open in March, recently began taking reservations. The 612-room hotel is located just steps away from 4th Street Live, the Kentucky International Convention Center and Whiskey Row. Groups will have approximately 70,000 sq. ft. of flexible function space at their disposal. Property highlights include Bob’s Steak & Chop House, an urban rooftop pool deck, fitness center, a Mokara signature spa, lobby art gallery and a speakeasy with a bowling alley.

LONDON, UK — Prime Investors Capital Ltd has appointed

MIAMI, FL — Wyndham Hotel Group recently signed the


largest hotel development in the Brickell district of Miami to its managed hotel portfolio: a 445room property combining the Wyndham Grand and TRYP by Wyndham brands. Expected to open in late 2019, the hotel is the first U.S. development for Galwan, one of the largest residential and hotel developers in Brazil. The 41-story hotel will offer 200 rooms under Wyndham Grand and 245 rooms under TRYP by Wyndham. Groups will have 8,000 sq. ft. of meeting space at their disposal. NAPLES, FL — Naples Grande Beach Resort reopened on Dec. 15 after a three-and-a-halfmonth closure to repair damage caused by Hurricane Irma. The property has invested millions to refurbish its 474 guestrooms, indoor and outdoor public spaces, and several meeting spaces within its 83,00 sq. ft. of function space. NEW YORK, NY — The TWA Hotel at JFK Airport is scheduled to open in the historic TWA terminal in early 2019. The retro-style, 505-room hotel will offer 5,000 sq. ft. of function space, eight restaurants and a 10,000-sq.ft. public observation deck. NEW YORK, NY — The restoration of the Waldorf Astoria hotel

began this month. According to owner Anbang Insurance Group, the project will create approximately 350 guestrooms and suites (a significant reduction from the original 1,413) and approximately 350 residences, as well as renovate public and event spaces. ORLANDO, FL — Universal Orlando Resort is debuting two hotels in the summer of 2019. Featuring a combined 2,800 guestrooms, the properties will provide value lodging options, with nightly rates starting below Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Universal’s Aventura Hotel (opening in August 2018). The 750-room and 2,050-room hotels will be located in proximity to Universal Orlando’s three theme parks and Universal CityWalk’s dining and entertainment options. WEST PALM BEACH, FL — The Hilton West Palm Beach has entered into an exclusive partnership with the historic Harriet Himmel Theater, located in Downtown West Palm Beach. The 400-room hotel now executes and services all events within the 4,500-sq.-ft. space that accommodates 600 guests. Group clients of the Hilton will have the option of booking the theater through the hotel’s sales team.

Admiralty Arch Waldorf Astoria, London opens in 2022 Facilities & Destinations 2017 Fall / Winter


W W W. C E N T U R Y C E N T E R . O R G

75,000 SQFT. OF FLEXIBLE UNIQUE MEETING SPACES Located in downtown South Bend Indiana, and connected to the 291 room DoubleTree By Hilton, the Century Center is ready to accomodate your needs No matter what configuration your event requires.

120 South Saint Joseph Street, South Bend

Ph: 574-235-9711 – Fax: 574-235-9185


ASHEVILLE, NC — Explore Asheville is offering a booking incentive for meetings held May through December, with room nights Sunday through Thursday. RFPs for meetings held January through April and any day of the week are eligible for an additional 20 percent incentive amount. The incentive amounts are up to $500 for 100-250 total contracted rooms, $1,000 for 251-500, $2,000 for 501-1,000, and $2,500 for 1,001plus. The incentive applies to new business only (groups that have not met in Asheville for the past three years) and does not apply to existing contracts. Groups must contract by June 30, 2018, to be eligible. For more information or to submit an RFP, contact meetings@exploreashville.com.

AUSTIN, TX — The Omni Austin Hotel at Southpark’s Pick Your Perks promotion provides qualified meetings a 5 percent master account credit for all guestroom, F&B and AV charges. Choice of perks includes: complimentary Wi-Fi in meeting and guestrooms; one complimentary opening reception; and one complimentary room night for every 40 paid. Minimum of $15,000 in total room and F&B spend. Offer must be consumed no later than Dec. 31, 2018. For details, call (512) 383-2611 or email AUSSTH.Leads@OmniHotels.com.

BOULDER, CO — The Boulder CVB Incentive Program offers

approved organizations a money incentive to book business in the City of Boulder. Meetings held between October and May could qualify for a cash incentive to help offset meetingrelated expenses, as follows: $500 for 25-50 total number of room nights booked; $1,000 for 51-100; $2,000 for 101-200; $3,000 for 201-300; $4,000 for 300-400. For meetings of 400+ rooms, planners are asked to contact the CVB to discuss additional funding and services. Submit RFPs to GroupSales@bouldercvb.com. For more information, contact Andrew Heidt, Director of Group Sales and Marketing, at andrew. heidt@@bouldercvb.com. HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA — For planners that sign a contract within 45 days of their site visit, Visit Huntington Beach will apply $1,000 to the master folio of meetings with a minimum 100 cumulative room nights contracted at a HB Collection Huntington Beach resort. The collection includes the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa, Kimpton

Shorebreak Hotel, Pasea Hotel & Spa and Waterfront Beach Resort, a Hilton Hotel. Over $1,000 will be applied for groups with a minimum of 250 cumulative room nights for each meeting at a Huntington Beach resort hotel. Offers are valid until Dec. 31, 2018. For more information, call (714) 969-3492 or email sales@surfcityusa.com. PUERTO RICO — Check Off Your Bucket List, a new promotion from Meet Puerto Rico, offers room night savings as follows: 1,000-plus room nights, $20 per booked room night; 500-999 room nights, $15 per booked room night; 100-499 room nights, $10 per booked room night. Qualified booking entitles planners to choose one entertainment experience, either cultural or culinary, for the group. Hotel contract must be signed by March 31, 2018. Travel window until Dec. 31, 2019. For more information, contact Meet Puerto Rico at (800) 875-4765 or info@meetpuertorico.com.

Fac i l i t i e s & D e s t i n at i o n s

PRISM Prime Site Meeting H o t e l Aw a r d W i n n e r s 2018

2018 Prime Site Meeting Hotel Awards Ballot

VOTE for the top hotels, resorts and conference centers your group has used for its meetings in the last three years. Please base your vote(s) on the following criteria: • Attractiveness and functionality • Technological capabilities • Quality of staff and conference planner • Teambuilding • Food & beverage/catering • Lighting • Acoustics • Climate control • Proximity to airport & other transportation • Onsite or offsite lodging • Other support services • Front-desk operations • Setups and breakdowns • Room décor • Quality/size of ballroom • Special packages • Spa • Nearby attractions 10

Name of nominee_______________________________________ Name of nominee_______________________________________ Name of nominee_______________________________________ Check the award you want to nominate the above for: Meeting Hotel/Resort

Conference Center

Your name and title______________________________________ Organization____________________________________________ Phone__________________________________________________ Email___________________________________________________ Additional comments____________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ May we contact you? Yes___ No___ Fill Out Form & Mail, Email or Fax Your Vote: Facilities & Destinations 152 Madison Avenue, Suite 802, New York, NY 10016 Fax: (212) 213-6382 Email: ballots@facilitiesonline.com Facilities & Destinations 2017 Fall / Winter

Jackson, Mississippi is anew! New properties: Westin Jackson/Residence Inn. New museums: MS Civil Rights Museum/MS Music Experience. New venues: Cathead Vodka Distillery (tasting tour offered)/Underground 119. Coupled with James Beard award-winning chefs and restaurants, great music, complimentary professional planning assistance, affordable meeting space, including a 330,000 sq. ft. Convention Complex, and warm hospitality, your event will be unforgettable! Contact us today! 1-800-354-7695 or www.meetinjackson.com

City with life. City with style. City with soul .




IMEX America took place Oct. 10-12 at Sands Expo in Las Vegas, NV


F&D ELITE Award winner Ric Booth

Brad Mayne, CFE, President and CEO of IAVM

Kathleen Ratcliffe, President, and John Bettag, Vice President of Sales, Explore St. Louis

Carina Bauer, IMEX CEO, and Ray Bloom, IMEX Chairman/Founder, attend SITE Nite North America at the Brooklyn Bowl

Lexi Sweet (right) and Amy Frazer of Experience Columbus discussed the recent $140 million expansion and renovation of the Columbus Convention Center.

Milton Segarra, former President and CEO of Meet Puerto Rico, speaks on the island’s recovery at a press conference.

Michael Dominguez, Senior VP and Chief Sales Officer for MGM Resorts International, attends VegasStrong press conference.

Charles Starks, President/CEO of Nashville’s Music City Center, and his wife, Dina, at the Events Industry Council’s Hall of Leaders gala

Michael Massari, Chief Sales Officer, Caesars Entertainment Corporation

Sandi Harvey, Senior Director of Sales, and Joseph Huntenburg, Marketing Services Coordinator, at MEET AC’s booth

Mark Cooper, CEO of IACC, speaks at the IACC media luncheon.

Facilities & Destinations 2017 Fall / Winter

there’s teamwork happenIng here!

It’s ImpossIble to convey all the strengths of our exceptIonal team In just a hundred words, so we Included a pIcture to add a thousand more. Why do clients love our team so much? It’s a combination of collaborative spirit, a ‘whatever it takes’ tenacity and decades’ worth of know-how. Every event we host is different, each client’s goals unique. But no matter how challenging or enormous the event may be, our team sees to it that every aspect exceeds the expectations of clients, participants and attendees. Event planning, promotion, hospitality, food, drink and beyond – our people manage it all with professionalism and efficiency. If your event is too important to trust to just any venue, talk to the team at The International Centre.

canada’s leadIng event & meetIng facIlIty 6900 Airport Road Mississauga, Ontario, Canada 905.677.6131 / tf 1.800.567.1199 InternationalCentre.com

Follow us!

the International centre staff (from left to right) Ron Bentley, Director of Event and Client Services; Sandra Martin, Director of Sales; Trevor Lui, Director of Operations and Sustainability; Trevor Graham, Vice-President of Sales; Raiman Dilag, Director of Technology Services; Rita Medynski, Sales Manager – Trade and Consumer Shows; Kevin Parker, Sales Manager – Corporate; Tawfik Shehata, Executive Chef; and Nadena Singh, Director of Events Management


IAEE Expo! Expo! 2017 The IAEE Annual Meeting & Exhibition was held Nov. 28-30 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, TX


John Washko, VP of Exhibitions & Convention Sales for Mohegan Sun, discussed the new Mohegan Sun Expo Center, opening summer 2018

John McGinn of the Rhode Island Convention Center and Katie Merse of the Meadowlands Exposition Center pose at SMG’s booth.

Brad Mayne, President and CEO of IAVM, and Twee Vuong, Director of Sales & Marketing, Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Center

Craig Liston, Regional Vice President, SMG, and Rebecca Williams, Director of Sales & Marketing, Knoxville Convention Center

Chuck Rogers (left), Dilshan Coorey and Jennifer Pacheco of Staff Pro’s Southern California branch

Andrew McCauley, National Sales Manager, Connecticut Convention Center, poses with a 2017 F&D Prime Site Award certificate

Tara Letort, CMP, Director Group Public Relations for the New Orleans CVB, hosts an outdoor reception.

Eddie Tadlock of DeVos Place holding a 2017 F&D Prime Site Award certificate, flanked by Kathy Bart (left) and Mary Manier of Experience Grand Rapids

Courtney Dyer, CFE, General Manager of the Virginia Beach Convention Center, poses with a 2017 F&D Prime Site Award certificate.

Facilities & Destinations 2017 Fall / Winter


Nick Langella, General Manager of the Alamodome

Yulita Osuba, Deputy Director of the Orange County Convention Center

Tim Hemphill, Elaine Williams (center) and Sallee Pavlovich of the New Orleans CVB

Stephen Genovesi, Executive VP, Austin Convention Center, poses with a 2017 F&D Prime Site Award certificate.

Tim Buckley, CEM, Sales Manager, Ocean Center, proundly holds a 2017 F&D Prime Site Award certificate.

Joe Cascio (right), Senior VP Sales and Marketing, and Gary Minter, Regional Sales Manager, at SMT expo’s booth

Looking Ahead Facilities & DESTINATIONS 2017-2018 WINTER / SPRING Issue

Margaret Colon, Director of Sales & Marketing, Puerto Rico Convention Center, poses with a 2017 F&D Prime Site Award certificate.


Michael Ross (left), CEO, Pasadena Civic Auditorium, Convention Center and CVB, with Naz Sabripour (holding 2017 F&D Prime Site Award certificate), Director of Events and Operations, and Matthew Hourihan, Senior Sales Manager, Visit Pasadena Facilities & Destinations 2017 Fall / Winter

• ELITE Award and PRISM Hotel Award winners annual Planner Roundtable, featuring perspectives from • Our high-level planners on a hot topic in the industry Forums: In-depth Q&As with industry leaders • F&D on the move from the pros on incentive planning, meeting • Tips technology and more reports on California, Florida, Hawaii • Destination and the Caribbean • The latest domestic and international meeting industry news 15

FORUM Michael Carrier, CTA

President Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau


By George Seli

klahoma City evokes the Old West with attractions such as the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Historic Stockyards City and world-renowned horse shows. In a sense, the capital of Oklahoma is still a “boomtown” with a long-running improvement program called MAPS (Metropolitan Area Projects Plan). The latest stage, MAPS 3, includes a venue that is drawing the attention of planners nationwide: a state-of-the-art, new-build convention center that will replace the existing Cox Convention Center. Scheduled to break ground in late April/early May and open in the summer of 2020, the Oklahoma City Convention Center will house a 200,000-sq.-ft. exhibit hall (double the exhibit space at Cox), 45,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and a 30,000-sq.-ft. ballroom. A 600room Omni hotel with approximately 60,000 sq. ft. of meeting space will serve as the headquarters hotel. Visit OKC President Michael Carrier gives an overview of the new center and other developments in the city that will benefit its group clients.


How did MAPS originate and progress to where it is today?


What is the current state of MAPS 3?

MAPS 3 is about to end in terms of the collection of money. Right now we’ve put in miles of biking and hiking trails that allow you to go from one corner of the city to another, which is a long way considering that we are 620-plus square miles. We are also putting in the first section of a streetcar system. It will consist of two loops: One is in our primary downtown entertainment area, called Bricktown, and it will touch the new convention center. The second loop takes you up to an area called Midtown, and it also traverses through two other entertainment areas. Also as part of MAPS 3, we have built a new, 200,000-sq.-ft. tradeshow facility at our fairgrounds, and we’re building a he new convention new downtown park. The upper park, the Scissortail Park, is 40 acres center will feature “a lot called and immediately across the street from the site of the new convention more open-air spaces, center. So it will literally be the convention center’s front yard. a lot more windows in



The idea of MAPS came about in the late 1980s meeting rooms. … How has convention business when Oklahoma City was suffering from a pretty been trending? Has the new serious recession. Ron Norick, our mayor in early ‘90s, It used to be that you’d convention center project helped had been on the City Council looking at ideas of how bookings? go to a convention the citizens could do something for themselves, instead Our convention business of relying on federal government or state government. center and you never has been good for the And so the proposition was to put a referendum in front overwhelming majority of the of the citizens to increase our local sales tax by one cent knew if the sun was 10 years I’ve been here, and the for a defined period of time. The tax would roll off of the last couple of years have been books at the end of that time, and the money that we shining or not.” particularly good. We’ve seen a generated would be used to build all of these projects, significant uptick as word has and pay cash for them so they would be debt free when gotten out about the new convention center, and we’ve been able completed. The first MAPS passed in ‘93 and was completed in to start showing planners renderings and floorplans. Obviously 2002. The first project was a new minor league baseball stadium, we’re still working hard to keep the Cox Convention Center which is now the home of the Dodgers Triple-A baseball team. The booked, but we’re also introducing the new building to groups. last project in the original MAPS was what is now Chesapeake The Paddlesports Retailer show is a prime example. They’re Arena, the home of our NBA team. A new mayor then had the coming here starting next year, and they’ll be in the Cox the first idea to do the same thing but for education, so MAPS 2 was called couple of years that they’re here, maybe three depending on the MAPS for Kids. The money from that was used by the Oklahoma timing of the new building. The new convention center provides City public schools to either build new schools or renovate every them with a great opportunity to grow the size of their tradeshow. school in the district. When that rolled off, our new mayor became One of their major needs that we very nicely fulfill is a location to very involved in trying to recruit major league sports to come here. do on-water product demonstrations. Our boathouse district with And in 2005, SMG, which manages our arena, helped to bring the the new RIVERSPORT Rapids is located three quarters of a mile Hornets here for two years. Local businessmen then bought the from the convention center. Seattle SuperSonics and convinced them to move to Oklahoma City [becoming the Oklahoma City Thunder]. With that, we were off and Did meeting planner input inform the design of the new running, and it was time to do another vote on the MAPS program. convention center?




Facilities & Destinations 2017 FALL / Winter

Rendering of the Oklahoma City Convention Center


Our architect, Populous, recently did the Anaheim Convention Center expansion and the new-build portion of the San Antonio Convention Center, so they’re highly regarded in the industry. They stay in close touch with our clients and meeting planners from all around the country. And we put together several focus groups of users. So we’ve had a lot of input; even now we have a client advisory board that has met a couple times over the last year. Populous was present at both of those meetings and heard some of the latest information from planners about what delegates are looking for, and what they think delegates will be looking for in the coming years. We’ve been able to incorporate quite a bit of that into the new convention center design, and will continue tweaking it as we enter into the bidding phase to get ready to start construction.


Which design features have been responses to trends in the industry?

One of the things that we have heard, and that Populous has heard on a number of different instances, is the continued extreme flexibility of convention centers, as well as the need for more informal meeting space. When a small group of people are just walking out of a session and want to continue discussing, what do they do? Well, we will have locations all over the building for informal meetings of that nature. There are also a lot more openair spaces, a lot more windows in meeting rooms, and the ability to still have a blackout condition for AV presentations. It used to be that you’d go to a convention center and you never knew if the Facilities & Destinations 2017 Fall / Winter

sun was shining or not. In terms of technology, the key there is also flexibility. The challenge with technology is that what is state of the art today may be totally obsolete in three years. So having a solid backbone in your building that can be restrung as technology changes is vital. The tech piece will be one of the last that is put into the building because we want to make sure we’re not putting in outdated technology at the time of construction. The center was also designed for expansion; we have the land. There was a lot of thought given in the initial design to potentially adding more exhibit space, more meeting space, a high-level conference center — whatever the industry requires. We will be able to do that without disrupting business in the existing center. Overall, it’s a tremendous upgrade from Cox Convention Center, which originally opened in 1972, and expanded and updated in ‘97/‘98. The structure is old, and a lot of things have changed in the industry.


What are some Oklahoma City points of interest that may be less familiar to planners?

Oklahoma City has a very diverse culture; we have 14 districts around the city that are special gems. For example, we have a huge Asian population and an Asian district that is a great place to experience that culture. We also have a wonderful fine arts museum that last year hosted the Matisse exhibit; we were one of only three cities in the world to host it. The Oklahoma City Museum of Art has rentable space that groups can use for banquets and receptions. So there is a broad diversity of culture here that most people don’t expect to find. 17

A Reimagined Guest


remarks. “We have increased aesars Entertainment attendance year over year, but Corporation literally this is the highest amount of reached a new height in “After 2019, we’ll have attendees we have ever had at Las Vegas with the 2014 almost 90 percent new one of our events.” Discussing the opening of the High Roller, currently motivation for returning to the the world’s tallest Ferris wheel at 550 ft. product on the Strip. hotel each year, she comments: Since that year, the company has also “The hospitality of the staff is been taking the guest experience to Even with the new extraordinary and something you new heights with a massive renovation hotels coming online, don’t come across everywhere. initiative. By the end of 2017, more After four years of hosting the than 50 percent of the guestrooms we’re going to be the event I look at many of the hotel at Caesars’ Las Vegas properties will staff as friends, making the have been upgraded. newest guys on the block.” Most recently, renovations were —Don Ross, Vice President of Catering, Conventions & partnership very easy to maintain. The hotel’s service is impeccable, completed at the 1,181-room Palace Events, Caesars Entertainment Corporation not to say we have not run into Tower, located in Caesars Palace. hiccups, but they are always Overall, 90 percent of the resort’s room resolved in a timely manner.” product is new or being remodeled, Also impeccable are the including redesigns of the Octavius, new suites on the top two floors (28th and 29th) of the Palace Tower. Julius and Augustus towers. The Indigo Tower is currently being The top floor now features 10 luxurious new villas ranging in size renovated, and the Forum Tower renovation in 2019 will conclude the from 2,750 sq. ft. to 4,085 sq. ft. Similar to the grand villas in the Octavius, project. The total investment at Caesars Palace alone is nearly $1 billion. “Once we get the Forum Tower done, we’re a brand-new property,” asserts Forum and Augustus towers, the new Palace Tower villas feature refined flooring, intricate finishes and wall coverings imported from around the Don Ross, Vice President of Catering, Conventions & Events at Caesars globe. They reflect four primary aesthetics: Ancient Grecian, a formal Entertainment Corporation. yet masculine style utilizing warm hues of grey and blue with splashes For meeting groups that have been “regulars” at Caesars Palace of red; Biedermeier (German), a streamlined, elegant European style for years, the investment promises a fresh lodging experience at the with a slightly masculine aesthetic that incorporates warm neutrals and company’s flagship property, which boasts 3,792 rooms and 300,000 sq. gold with strong accents of black and a touch of red; English Regency, ft. of meeting space. The Palace Tower’s new guestrooms and suites, for a refined, formal European style that incorporates rich woods, creams example, feature cool grey tones accented by royal blue and champagne and sapphire blue with accents of emerald green; and French Empire, a gold. Design highlights include pillow-top king and queen beds, stone formal, elegant European neoclassic style featuring a soft blend of handbathrooms and LED flat-screen televisions. “Customers have noted the painted finishes and light shades of neutral and celadon mint green. elegance, comfort and attention to detail,” says Ross. Additional villa highlights include powder rooms, a curated art program, One such customer is the American Association of Private architectural lighting, fully integrated whirlpool tubs, private elevator Lenders, which has brought its Annual Conference to Caesars Palace entry, butler service, limousine transportation to and from McCarran for the last eight years. “The rooms are beautiful after the renovation, International Airport and many other upscale amenities and services. although I thought they were very nice before,” notes Linda Hyde, AAPL “A lot of our villa product can be rented. Typically, they’re for our Executive Director. “We had many guests comment on the change in the high-end casino guests, but we will be using them for convention rooms, how impressed they were with the upgrades and decorations.” customers as well,” Ross says. “The villas are in proximity to our The 2017 AAPL Annual Conference took place Nov. 12-14 and drew meeting space and ballrooms.” The Palace Tower is a short walk to the nearly 500 attendees — almost a 24 percent increase over last year, Hyde


Facilities & destinations 2017 Fall / Winter


Caesars Entertainment upgrades thousands of its Las Vegas hotel rooms By George Seli

resort’s meeting facilities, which (L-r): The LINQ Promenade, which will have been re-carpeted as part of be the site of the Strip’s first zipline; the renovation. the renovated Eldorado Ballroom “We had many guests Other Caesars properties at the Flamingo Las Vegas; and a in Las Vegas have also seen comment on the Grecian Villa at Caesars Palace’s meeting space upgrades. Palace Tower, one of 10 new luxury change in the rooms, In 2016, ballrooms were villas on the top floor. refurbished at the 2,916-room how impressed they Paris Las Vegas, which offers 140,000 sq. ft. of function space were with the upgrades Gordon Ramsay’s fifth establishment overall. Ballroom space at the with Caesars Entertainment, HELL’S and decorations.” Flamingo Las Vegas has also KITCHEN will seat 300 guests amid a been remodeled. “We wanted —Linda Hyde, Executive Director, TV studio-like environment. Early 2018 to elevate the ballroom space American Association of Private Lenders will also see the opening of Pronto to coincide with the new by Giada, serving De Laurentiis’ guestrooms,” Ross explains. California-influenced Italian fare in a The Flamingo is also fast, casual format. undergoing a property-wide guestroom renovation. The $90 million On the entertainment front, Caesars has always been a leader in first phase, including 1,260 of the hotel’s 3,460 rooms, will be completed the Las Vegas market, hosting top-tier performers at Caesars Palace in April 2018. According to Ross, “Once the first phase is completed it and other properties. Entertainment offerings were enhanced in is anticipated that we will go right into the next phase until property 2014 with the debut of the LINQ Promenade, located between The is completed.” The fully renovated rooms will feature contemporary LINQ Hotel & Casino and the Flamingo. Here, attendees can enjoy and retro-chic designs with accents that celebrate Flamingo’s history, live music at the Brooklyn Bowl, virtual reality experiences at VR spanning more than 70 years. The property offers groups the 73,000-sq.-ft. Adventures and eventually ziplining at Fly LINQ. Construction is Corporate Convention Center and Executive Conference Center. Other expected to begin this spring on what will be the first and only zipline renovations of note include 2,050 rooms at Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. The approximately $20 million Fly LINQ & Casino, scheduled for completion in May 2018, and 2,350 rooms at features 10 side-by-side ziplines, capable of simultaneously launching Planet Hollywood Las Vegas Resort & Casino, completed in June 2017. all riders. From the 122-ft.-tall launch tower, the ride continues The former property houses 175,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, and the latter eastward, traveling 1,080 feet above the LINQ Promenade. Riders 88,000 sq. ft. disembark near the base of the High Roller. “We already have an Ross feels that these projects will both help to maintain Caesars’ attraction in our High Roller and a lot of people are walking down that existing group business and draw new clientele. “Caesars has always whole LINQ Promenade, so it seemed like a natural to offer another maintained its customer base, but now with the new product, we’re attraction for people to fly overhead from the Strip all the way down getting a lot of interest from customers and I think our convention traffic to the High Roller,” says Ross. “I think it will be a nice complement to will certainly [increase]. After 2019, we’ll have almost 90 percent new what we already have in terms of restaurants, clubs, the Brooklyn Bowl product on the Strip. Even with the new hotels coming online, we’re going and other attractions.” to be the newest guys on the block. It’s really refreshing to our company For meeting groups, the simultaneous launch of 10 riders certainly has and a sense of pride for our employees.” a teambuilding aspect, as participants depart from their “comfort zones” New celebrity chef restaurants are also drawing attention to together. With the widespread guestroom upgrades at Caesars’ Las Caesars’ Las Vegas hospitality product. Most prominently, the world’s Vegas hotels, they also have remarkable comfort zones to return to after first HELL’S KITCHEN restaurant opens at Caesars Palace on Jan. 26. their offsite adventures. Facilities & destinations 2017 Fall / Winter


CAESARS FORUM: ON THE HORIZON FOR LAS VEGAS MEETINGS This month, Caesars Entertainment Corporation made the kind of announcement that captures the attention of any planner interested in bringing large meetings and events to Las Vegas. By the second quarter of 2018, the company will break ground on CAESARS FORUM, a 550,000-sq.-ft. conference center located east of the Las Vegas Strip. The venue will be connected via bridges to Harrah’s and The LINQ Hotel, and via an outdoor plaza to The LINQ Promenade. The most salient feature of the $375 million facility will be its two 108,000-sq.-ft. ballrooms, the largest pillarless ballrooms in North America. Rounding out the overall 316,000 sq. ft. of total function space will be two 40,000-sq.-ft. ballrooms and stateof-the-art boardrooms, complemented by a 100,000-sq.-ft. outdoor plaza suitable for expansive F&B functions. Scheduled to officially open in 2020, CAESARS FORUM will feature the latest in technology and design. “This was a real blank slate for us; we had almost unlimited resources to work with,” says Michael Massari, Chief Sales Officer. Massari discusses the genesis of the new venue and what will make it one of the world’s most “customer friendly” conference facilities. What was the motivation for creating CAESARS FORUM? The Flamingo, and particularly the Harrah’s and LINQ hotels, have a disproportionately low amount of meeting space, so we wanted to fix that problem in order to get more meeting attendees at those hotels. Can you describe the kind of group business you expect the facility to draw? When you’re attaching a 300,000-sq.-ft. facility and the two largest ballrooms ever built to 8,500 hotel rooms, you’re doing everything — big national sales meetings, product launches, tradeshows, association events … Over the course of the year we’ll probably do 4,000 meetings and events at this facility. We’re building it for events that are in the 1,000- to 6,000-person range; I think that’s really the sweet spot. What do you consider CAESARS FORUM’s most significant design feature? This is the fifth big meeting facility [construction project] that I’ve been a part of, and the real trick to these is to build them with the amount of flexibility that you need in order to do anything that the customer wants. So I think it’s a catchphrase that we’re building the two largest ballrooms ever built, but we’re also building the two most divisible ballrooms ever built. And I think that’s probably going to end up being more valuable to us. The airwall configuration is really state of the art, and I think it’s the key contributor to the success of the building for us and our customers. We’ll have more linear feet of airwall than has ever been put into a building. That allows us to do all these unique things, such


as having a general session and then 20 breakouts, lunch and then 20 more breakouts, all using the same exact space. How divisible will the ballrooms be? That remains to be seen, as we’re still finishing up the last pieces of the interior design. But [taking into account] all four ballrooms that are in this space, it looks like it will be something in the range of 200 individual spaces and something like 400 or 500 meeting room combinations. When you have that kind of size, divisibility and flexibility, [a group is] going to be all on one floor. So you have contiguous space from an attendee standpoint, as well as really easy load in and load out. Does the venue have any special relation to the Forum Tower at Caesars Palace? The Forum Tower and the CAESARS FORUM were both named after the same place, which is the original Forum in ancient Rome. It was a place of commerce and a place to exchange ideas and debate. It was also one of the most advanced architectural places of its time. So we thought that made sense in terms of the name. CAESARS FORUM will have about the same total meeting space as Caesars Palace. If a planner is deciding between the venues for a large event, what are some factors to consider? There is a difference in the type of feel that Caesars Palace has versus The LINQ and Harrah’s, so I think there’s a place for different customers to make different choices there. But I think the much more practical reason will be that the largest space at Caesars Palace is 50,000 sq. ft. while the largest at CAESARS FORUM will be 108,000 sq. ft. So if you outgrow the space at Caesars Palace you can move to CAESARS FORUM. What will be the venue’s niche in the national meetings marketplace? There are roughly 30 hotels across the country that compete for the large meetings market, and so this facility will jump right in there and become the 31st really. It’s a great place to compete, and we think we’ve got the expertise and now the additional product to help us compete. We’ve got a few irons in the fire already, and without naming names, we have a half-dozen major corporations that saw the press announcement and called their salesperson and said, “We should take a look at that for our annual conference in 2020.” Will the construction create any disruptions that clients should be aware of? It’s basically a green-field build, so there will be no impact whatsoever on customers. The facility will connect into Harrah’s and The LINQ pretty seamlessly. It’s a really nice situation in that regard. —G.S.

Facilities & destinations 2017 Fall / Winter

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Small-Market Cities With First-Tier Ambition


have 25,000 sq. ft. of function space and 12 meeting rooms at their disposal. New in town is the AC Hotel Gainesville Downtown, a 144-room boutique hotel, slated to open in early 2018. The hotel features two meeting rooms with 1,000 sq. ft. of flexible indoor space. The property will be part of the newly constructed The Standard at Gainesville, a 10-story, multi-use complex. Robert Plutto brings more than 20 years of hospitality and tourism experience to the AC Hotel Gainesville Downtown as its General Manager.




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Located in historic downtown Branson next to Lake Taneycomo, the Branson Convention Center offers 220,000 gross sq. ft. of flexible meeting space and is connected to the 293-room Hilton Convention Center. Steps away attendees will find shopping and dining at Branson Landing. Branson’s first AAA Four Diamond resort, the 301-room Chateau on the Lake Resort & Spa, features 43,500 sq. ft. of meeting space. Groups can enjoy new golf courses at Big Cedar, including the Mountain Top Golf Course, opening in 2018.


This northern Florida city’s primary meeting facility is the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center, located on the University of Florida’s campus near the Harn Museum of Art. An IACC-accredited facility, the 249-room property has undergone a $15 million renovation and added a Shula’s Steak House last month. Groups 22




nlike first-tier cities that have their pick of meetings business proposals these days, small-market cities are typically hungrier for group clientele. That can work to a planner’s advantage, in terms of obtaining great deals and go-the-extra-mile service. Moreover, a town’s ambition to ramp up its business and leisure visitation often results in a stronger push to improve its tourism product. When all the major hospitality players are on board with that initiative, it’s more likely to succeed. Such is the case in Akron, OH, a small-market standout that continues to “leverage the momentum of our local hospitality industry’s collective success,” states Gregg Mervis, President & CEO of the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau and John S. Knight Center. Mervis goes on to describe the various “moving parts” of the city’s dynamic hospitality industry: “Our full-service and select-service accommodations afford planners a wide range of price and amenity options. Planners considering our community have the advantage of our management of the John S. Knight Center (the only instance in Ohio where the CVB manages the community’s convention center) and the Sports Alliance of Greater Akron. The resulting synergy is always a benefit for our clients.” “Equally important, our attraction partners are developing increasingly more engaging experiences for meeting/convention delegates,” Mervis adds. “From the recently opened Akron Children’s Museum to the 102-year-old Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, planners will find wonderful ways to include our iconic points of interest — a must-have strategy to create even more lasting event memories.” Learn more about Akron on page 23, as well as an up-and-coming small-market city on the West Coast, Pasadena (page 24). Following is a selection of small-market developments to perhaps inspire ideas for sites and new ways to create those “lasting memories” for attendees.


Historic Downtown Grapevine is home to shops, wineries, restaurants and artisans. The town’s attractions include Grapevine Vintage Railroad, Grapevine’s Urban Wine Trail, 81 holes of golf, 8,000-plus acres of recreation on Lake Grapevine, LEGOLAND® Discovery Center and SEA LIFE Grapevine Aquarium. The Gaylord Texan Resort is undergoing a $120 million expansion and renovation that will add 300 rooms and 86,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. The expansion is expected to be complete in June 2018. In addition, the 329-suite Embassy Suites DFW Airport North has completed a $13 million renovation.


Billed as the craft beer capital of Alabama, Huntsville is home to 10 breweries. Huntsville’s Von Braun Center offers 170,000 sq. ft. of meeting and exhibit space, a 9,500seat arena, a 1,950-seat concert hall and the attached 295-room Embassy Suites Hotel and Spa. The Center is adding 50,000 sq. ft. of new meeting space. Bridge Street Town Centre includes the 380-room Westin/Element hotel and 70 shops and restaurants. The 120-room AC Hotel by Marriott, 187-room Drury Hotel and 120-room Hyatt Place at Bridge Street all open next year. Groups can explore white-sand beaches, historical lighthouses, culinary delights, premier golf courses, Gatsby-era gold coast mansions and award winning vineyards in Long Island. The AAA Four Diamond, 269-room Garden City Hotel recently unveiled a new event space. In addition, Danfords Hotel, Marina & Spa recently underwent a renovation, adding a new outdoor “mega deck” overlooking the Long Island Sound.


The Adelphi Hotel in downtown Saratoga Springs completed a five-year renovation this fall, preserving the elegance of the Victorian-era property. Highlights include a grand staircase; 32 large, well-appointed guestrooms; the Adelphi Gardens; and the new, 2,300-sq.-ft. Grand Ballroom that can accommodate up to 250 guests when combined with the Blue Hen restaurant. Facilities & destinations 2017 Fall / Winter


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Akron, OH

The John S. Knight Center and garden room provide inviting and elegant event spaces. The Akron-Summit County Public Library borders the Center on the west and the popular Akron Art Museum is directly to the north. Additionally, a wonderful variety of restaurants are located within blocks of the Center, promising cuisines to please everyone. The space at the John S. Knight Center is as accommodating and flexible as its professional staff. The Center features an exhibition hall with approximately 30,000 sq. ft.; 12,000 sq. ft. of banquet space; an additional 12,600 sq. ft. of meeting space; and 22,000 sq. ft. of magnificent lobby, highlighted by the distinctive glass rotunda and spiral staircase. The lower level features an atriumstyle concourse, 12 flexible meeting rooms and six permanent 2016 Greater Akron Chamber Annual Meeting at the John S. Knight Center


he John S. Knight Center is a state-of-the-art exhibition, convention and banquet center, located in the heart of Akron’s vibrant downtown, named for the Pulitzer Prize-winning editor and publisher of the Akron Beacon Journal. In 1937, the Knight publishing family bought the Miami Herald, which began a series of purchases and mergers leading to the formation of the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain in 1973. This established the Akron Beacon Journal as the original Knight headquarters of what would evolve to be the second largest newspaper group in daily circulation in the United States until it was sold in 2006. Offering tremendous flexibility, the Center hosts large meetings and tradeshows held by national, regional and state organizations and trade associations, as well as smaller, more intimate business gatherings. Medical, religious, fraternal, corporate, legal education and government organizations are among the many groups that have had successful events at the John S. Knight Center and have benefited from the expertise and help of the Center’s professional staff. The John S. Knight Center is surrounded by landmarks and attractions, all within easy walking distance. Directly adjacent to the Center is Greystone Hall. Formerly the Masonic Temple, the 1917 building is now downtown Akron’s most majestic banquet and special event venue. A two-story ballroom, sitting parlor, lounge

Facilities & destinations 2017 Fall / Winter

The View, a new outdoor event space at the John S. Knight Center meeting rooms. The upper level features banquet room and ballroom space totaling 12,855 sq. ft. that can be divided into 5,080 and 6,775 sq. ft. to separate dining and meeting functions. A new outdoor space, The View, provides a spacious outdoor patio for entertaining. The upper level’s 30,000 sq. ft. exhibition hall has ceilings 30 ft. to the trusses and 48 ft. to the decking. The Center boasts an in-house, full-service culinary department. The executive kitchen and its dedicated and talented staff are capable of preparing unconventional concession offerings to plated dinners for more than 1,500 — and every delicious option in between. Complimentary WiFi, ample adjacent surface and deck parking (one attached via skywalk) and AV services are available. For more information about these or other Center services, call (330) 374-8900 or (800) 245-4254, or visit www.johnsknightcenter.org. 23


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Pasadena, CA

Pasadena Convention Center Plaza


here’s a reason Pasadena is the perfect choice for meetings. The weather is idyllic. Mountain views and blue skies abound. Intimate neighborhood allure is infused with modern energy and metropolitan offerings that make it a destination unto itself.

Colorado Street Bridge

Pasadena is located just 10 miles from downtown Los Angeles, and is conveniently accessible from all L.A. area airports and freeways. The Gold Line light rail transports passengers from Pasadena to downtown Los Angeles and points in between. The state-of-the art Pasadena Convention Center features 130,000 sq. ft. of space for meetings of all sizes, with spacious exhibit halls, an expansive ballroom and 29 meeting rooms. Over 2,500 hotel rooms are available within the city to fit all budgets, 1,200 within walking distance of the Convention Center. Recent changes in Pasadena include a $20 Old Pasadena million renovation of guestrooms, lobby and meeting spaces at Sheraton Pasadena; a $25 million renovation of guestrooms, lobby, bar and meeting spaces at Hilton Pasadena; an $11 million guestroom beautification at Westin Pasadena; construction of a rooftop pool, meeting space, fitness center and 25 new rooms at dusitD2 Hotel Constance Pasadena; and a new 186-room upscale Hyatt Place hotel in Pasadena’s most popular retail and entertainment center, The Paseo. The downtown six-story hotel is scheduled for completion by the end of 2018. Pasadena provides the rare opportunity to host more personalized meetings, with all the benefits of the big city. Unique social breakout experiences run the gamut from local team-building activities like 24

hiking Eaton Canyon, to popular wine bars, shopping excursions and cultural events with special group rates. The city’s convenient layout, in conjunction with an array of world-class business and entertainment venues, make Pasadena the perfect destination. There’s an eclectic mix of shopping, theaters, golf, museums and gardens are all conveniently just steps away from Pasadena’s Civic Center. There’s literally something significant around every corner, whether attendees are into architecture, music, theater, museums or galleries. Pasadena is the heartbeat of SoCal’s cultural side. Art connoisseurs have myriad landmark museums and galleries, housing everything from European masters to early California Impressionists to modern art. Literary lovers can peruse rare books and manuscripts. Explore mile upon mile of stunning botanical gardens, top-notch arts performances and live concert venues. A tour of the town will lead to a beautiful tree-lined shopping district along South Lake Avenue, galleries and specialty shops in the Playhouse District, 19th century structures and quaint alleyways in Old Pasadena, and an open-air urban village in Paseo Colorado. Pasadena could easily be called “Foodie City,” with more than 500 restaurants — more per capita than New York City. Some of the world’s greatest minds have chosen to live and work in Pasadena. Plan your next meeting here and imagine the possibilities. The destination experts at the Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) offer a variety of personalized services to meeting planners. For more information, visit www.PasadenaMeetings.com or call (800) 307-7977. Facilities & destinations 2017 Fall / Winter


Mid-Atlantic A capital choice for conventions By George Seli


hile the U.S. political climate has been anything but stable in recent times, our nation’s capital has been steadily welcoming group business. The success of Washington’s meetings industry is partly due to the allure of lodging in hotels where world leaders have stayed, and the inspiration gleaned from gathering in view of national monuments. But from a more practical standpoint, the city and surrounding Mid-Atlantic area are home to highly accessible, top-tier meeting facilities, from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to the Baltimore Convention Center to the National Conference Center. So while the news out of Washington continues to create controversy, there is general consensus on the value of bringing meetings to D.C., Maryland and Virginia.


This year marked a milestone for Washington’s convention industry as the city welcomed the U.S. Travel Association’s IPW for the first time. Held June 3-7, the 49th installment of the travel industry’s premier international marketplace brought in a total of 6,300 attendees — one of IPW’s top three turnouts. “Certainly we were interested in trying to showcase Washington as our nation’s capital. For a little while there we didn’t have quite the hotel package we needed, but once the Marriott Marquis came into play [in 2014], that really helped us a lot,” says Barbara Logan, Vice President, Meeting and Event Services for the USTA. While the 1,175-room Marriott Marquis offers its own 105,000 sq. ft. of function space, IPW was held entirely at the connected Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The center houses 703,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, including a 473,000-sq.-ft. exhibit hall that can Facilities & destinations 2017 FALL / Winter

be subdivided into three rooms; 198,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space; a 52,000-sq.-ft. ballroom; and 77 breakout rooms. Groups enjoy complimentary WiFi throughout the facility, and can take advantage of a digital signage system with more than 140 HDTVs. The convention center also boasts the largest public collection of art in D.C. outside of a museum, including more than 130 pieces by 93 different artists. “It’s a beautiful convention center, and I love the way they have all the local artists reflected there,” Logan comments. “One of our challenges is that we have luncheons everyday where we seat over 5,000 people, and it worked out great using the halls upstairs and then having the exhibit hall for our exhibits and business appointments. It’s always a challenge feeding that many people in a very short period of time, and they really helped us to make that an efficient and well-produced luncheon on each of those days.” For offsite special events, Washington has no shortage of iconic venues, and USTA partnered with the National Air and Space Museum for its Sunday evening kickoff. The event also took place on the National Mall, where a number of local acts performed, along with headliner Aloe Blacc. Delegates “looking forward saw the Capitol, and when they turned around they could see the Monument. It gave you chills; it’s the kind of thing that only [can be experienced] in D.C.,” Logan relates. For the Chairman’s Circle Honors, an exclusive event for high-level international buyers, USTA selected the National Cathedral. “We try to make sure they are appreciated for what they contribute to the U.S. economy, and we try to do it in a really cool place. [The National Cathedral] was just an absolutely gorgeous venue for it, and everybody said it was one of the best locations ever,” she says. For the closing night event, the 25

Destination DC “introduced us to the idea of having our Chairman’s Circle Honors at the National Cathedral, and got all of the city partners to understand the importance of [IPW] to the city for future tourism.” —Barbara Logan, Vice President, Meeting and Event Services, U.S. Travel Association group secured access to Nationals Park. “They had some really fun activities set up. People could go down into the field where they had a batting cage set up. The fireworks afterward rivaled the ones at the National Mall,” Logan describes. Overall, she feels that the stellar attendance was partly due to a “pent-up desire” to see Washington, a new destination for IPW. “A lot of folks were really anxious to see what D.C. has to offer, and I think they were all extremely pleased with what they saw,” she says. “We did sightseeing tours on the two days prior to the business appointments, and it really gave them an opportunity to see a lot of the city. In addition to all the classic monuments and the free museums, I think everyone was really impressed with the food scene and in general the culture that exists here — all the great neighborhoods.” Logan adds that Destination DC was an “incredible partner” in orchestrating IPW 2017. “They had teams of people that worked on this in addition to their daytime jobs for at least two years leading up to the meeting, helping us with our marketing. They’re the ones that introduced us to the idea of having our Chairman’s Circle Honors at the National Cathedral, and got all of the city partners to understand the importance of this event to the city for future tourism,” she explains. According to Destination DC, the city welcomed 21 citywide conventions and special events this year, including several firsttime groups such as the USTA. Examples include True Value Company’s Spring Reunion (Feb. 9-12), the World Conference of the International Gas Union (June 25-29), Inforum (Sept. 25-26) and American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting (Dec. 10-14). Groups arriving after Oct. 12 have been able to take advantage of the three new hotels at The Wharf: a 278-room Wharf InterContinental and a dual-branded 175-room Canopy by Hilton and 237-room Hyatt House. At the Wharf, planners can rent four public piers and a new 6,000-capacity venue called Anthem. Other new offsite venues in the city include the Museum of the Bible, which features the 472-seat World Stage Theater; the 17,000-sq.-ft. District Winery, overlooking the Anacostia River; and Artechouse, a 400-capacity digital art gallery located near the Wharf. The Wharf is part of $11.8 billion in development underway in Washington and more than 4,000 hotel rooms in the pipeline. Other new hotels include the 226-room Darcy Washington, DC, Curio Collection by Hilton and The Pod DC, a 245-room property in Chinatown. In addition, the Loews Madison Hotel, a historic property whose commencement ceremony was attended by President John F. Kennedy, has been reflagged as The Madison Washington DC, a Hilton Hotel. The 356-room downtown property is a short walk to the convention center and D.C. landmarks, and has its own 12,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. 26

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum hosts IPW delegates for the June 4 opening event.


Convention business is also on the upswing in Baltimore, another staple of Mid-Atlantic meetings. During this fiscal year, the city welcomed 53 conventions and tradeshows, including 22 citywide conventions, to the Baltimore Convention Center, marking an increase over the last three fiscal years. Major conventions held this year in Baltimore include ConferenceDirect’s Annual Partner Meeting (April 30-May 3), the American Organization of Nurse Executives’ 50th Annual Meeting (March 29-April 1) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Annual Convention (July 22-26). “Baltimore’s meetings destination story is one of tremendous value and convenience,” says Al Hutchinson, President and CEO of Visit Baltimore. “The Baltimore Convention Center and worldclass Inner Harbor are located in the historic seaport district of downtown Baltimore, a walkable convention campus home to first-class hotels, an award-winning culinary scene, exciting cultural attractions and major league sporting arenas and game experiences.” For most large groups, the starting point to exploring all these attributes is the Baltimore Convention Center, which offers 300,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, 85,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and a 36,000-sq.ft. ballroom. Accessible via the light rail system, the facility boasts an ideal location between the Inner Harbor and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and just eight miles from Baltimore-Washington International Airport. The convention center is connected to the 757-room Hilton Baltimore, 488-room Hyatt Regency Baltimore Inner Harbor and 338-room Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel. Notable features include 32 covered loading docks, a state-of-the-art telecommunications network, in-house sound system in 43 meeting Facilities & destinations 2017 FALL / Winter


The Baltimore Convention Center

Baltimore offers “a walkable convention campus home to first-class hotels, an award-winning culinary scene, exciting cultural attractions and major league sporting arenas and game experiences.” —Al Hutchinson, President and CEO, Visit Baltimore

rooms and the ballroom, and F&B service by Centerplate. During their free time, delegates will experience a city that has seen one of the country’s largest millennial booms, resulting in new food halls, breweries and boutiques. One example is this year’s debut of the Sagamore Spirit Distillery and Rye Street Tavern, a five-acre complex offering a closer look at how Sagamore Spirit whiskey is made. Rye Street Tavern is a 13,000-sq.-ft., bi-level American restaurant showcasing seasonal ingredients sourced from local farmers and fishmongers. Other new additions to Baltimore’s thriving culinary scene include Bygone, a 1920s-themed eatery located atop the Four Seasons Hotel and Residences; Gordon Ramsay Steak at Horseshoe Casino Baltimore; and Tagliata and The Elk Room, an Italian Chophouse located in Harbor East. Planners may be especially interested in R. House. Set in a historic auto shop, the food hall features 12,000 sq. ft. of open seating and 10 chef-driven F&B concepts. On the lodging front, Hotel Revival opens in Baltimore early next year in the Mount Vernon Cultural District. The property offers over 4,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, as well as an enclosed rooftop bar and restaurant with views of the Washington Monument. In 2019, a 156-room Canopy Hilton opens in Harbor Point, a three million-sq.-ft. waterfront development site between Harbor East and historic Fell’s Point. Maryland’s most significant hotel news in recent times is quite arguably the opening of the MGM National Harbor last December. Located in proximity to both Washington, DC and George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate in Virginia, the property is an ideal vantage point to explore the Mid-Atlantic’s rich history. Its offerings to groups are considerable: a LEED Gold-certified, 308room resort and casino; 50,000 sq. ft. of function space, including the 16,137-sq.-ft. MGM Grand Ballroom; the 3,000-seat Theater at MGM; and the scenic Potomac Plaza. Complementing all these facilities are restaurants by world-renowned chefs such as José Andrés, Marcus Samuelsson, and Bryan and Michael Voltaggio. Facilities & destinations 2017 FALL / Winter

Among Virginia’s many historic towns is Leesburg, founded around 1755 by colonist Thomas Lee. His family coat of arms bears the colors of the U.S. flag, and a recent renovation of The National Conference Center in Leesburg was inspired by that patriotic motif. The 18-month, property-wide renovation promises a fresh experience for groups partnering with one of the Mid-Atlantic’s most respected meeting venues. The 65-acre campus includes 917 guestrooms, over 265,000 sq. ft. of function space, a 900-seat Dining Room and the 200-seat Black Olive Bar & Grill. What is more, The National is easily accessible, located just 12 miles from Washington Dulles International Airport. In the southeastern tip of the state, Virginia Beach offers groups one of the Mid-Atlantic’s most memorable coastal experiences. Located just blocks from the beach and in the heart of the oceanfront resort area, the Virginia Beach Convention Center houses a 148,000-sq.-ft. exhibition hall; five meeting suites can be subdivided into 26 meeting areas; and a 147-ft. glass tower that includes a Café, Executive Board Room, VIP Lounge and Observation Deck. The facility is an ideal choice for groups that prioritize sustainability, as it holds the distinction of being the nation’s first convention center to earn LEED Gold certification for Existing Buildings. The Virginia Beach CVB encourages attendees to be “locavores” and take advantage of fresh ingredients from the Atlantic, Chesapeake Bay and 8,000 acres of Virginia farmland. The convention center’s culinary team supports this practice by featuring hand-cut herbs and vegetables from its onsite garden beds, oysters sustainably cultivated and harvested from the Lynnhaven River, seasonal soft shell blue crab and other local favorites on its menus. Sports and art lovers will appreciate Virginia Beach as much as foodies. The city is home to the Virginia Beach Tennis and Country Club, one of the largest tennis facilities in the country, as well as the Virginia Beach Sportsplex. On the cultural side, the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts is not only home to great acts since 2007, but also several rentable venues, such as the 1,300-seat Performance Hall, Miller Studio Theatre and Outdoor Performance Plaza. Also rentable for group functions is the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, an architectural award-winning facility.

The Virginia Beach Convention Center Numerous quality midsize properties are available to groups in this coastal city, many affording ocean views for guests. They include the 289-room Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront (12,000 sq. ft. of meeting space), 292-room Doubletree by Hilton (12,000 sq. ft.), 149room Crowne Plaza (12,000 sq. ft.), 295-room Virginia Beach Resort Hotel and Conference Center (16,000 sq. ft.), 244-room Wyndham Virginia Beach Oceanfront (16,000 sq. ft.), 214-room Sheraton Virginia Beach Oceanfront (12,000 sq. ft.), 240-room Founders Inn and Spa (24,000 sq. ft.) and 309-room Holiday Inn Virginia BeachNorfolk Hotel & Conference Center (22,000 sq. ft.). A new addition next fall will be the 120-room Residence Inn by Marriott in Town Center, Virginia Beach’s shopping and dining hub. 27

Cleveland skyline



The Buckeye state continues to position itself as a hotbed for Midwest meetings By George Seli


of Cleveland, and the he state of Ohio is hitting all availability of nearly 5,000 the right notes with meeting guestrooms in Downtown groups, and that’s not just “Since 2012, we have Cleveland and 24,000 due to the Rock & Roll Hall doubled the size of rooms in the region. The of Fame in Cleveland. Major convenwalkability of our downtown tion center developments in both our Convention Sales has helped us to attract Cleveland and Columbus, together new interest in our city as a with growing hotel portfolios, have team to handle the meetings and conventions made those cities even more attractive increased interest” destination.” to groups. Meanwhile, Cincinnati has Cleveland welcomes completed multimillion-dollar restorain Cleveland. groups to an integrated tions of two historic cultural venues —Mike Burns, Senior Vice President Convention campus that includes the that are sure to enhance the experience Sales & Services, Destination Cleveland Huntington Convention for clients of the Duke Energy ConvenCenter, Global Center tion Center. And while Akron conducts for Health Innovation, its meetings business on a relatively Cleveland Public smaller scale, attendees convening Auditorium and the Hilton Cleveland Downtown. The at the John S. Knight Center will find a surprising variety of offsite Huntington Convention Center offers 225,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, venues, from the renovated Goodyear Theater to a 200-year-old more than 140,000 sq. ft. of meeting and event space, 30 breakout farm in the Cuyahoga Valley. rooms and a 32,00-sq.-ft. Grand Ballroom divisible into three spaces. Supporting Cleveland’s strong medical meetings business, CLEVELAND the Global Center for Health Innovation is home to the offices of 45 Cleveland’s tourism industry is going strong in recent years. of the world’s leading healthcare, health IT and medical innovation A record 18 million people visited the city in 2016, including both brands, and has its own 22,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. The entire business and leisure visitors. On the business side, Destination campus is within walking distance of nearly 4,000 hotel rooms. Cleveland has been ensuring the continued success of the city’s “Healthcare- and manufacturing-focused meetings are meetings industry this year, bringing about 250 meetings and conespecially strong industry verticals for the region,” says Burns. ventions to the region. Major 2017 events include the American Bus “Greater Cleveland is a medical capital with more than 60 hospitals, Association’s Annual Meeting and Marketplace, Experient’s including the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic and University EnVision and Content Marketing World. Hospitals, and more than 700 biomedical companies.” “Cleveland’s meeting business is growing year over year The city’s hotel inventory grew significantly last year with since 2012, with a significant increase in lead volume and definite the opening of three new downtown hotels. “With this growing bookings,” says Mike Burns, Senior Vice President Convention supply of hotel rooms, Destination Cleveland is able to further Sales & Services, Destination Cleveland. “This is due in large its collaboration with the convention center and other facilities part to the recently opened Huntington Convention Center 28 Facilities & destinations 2017 FALL / WINTER


cody york (2)

Cleveland’s highlights include the iconic Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and popular East 4th Street (left)

throughout the region to target larger groups and refine our strategy around groups that have not been to Cleveland before,” Burns comments. “Since 2012, we have doubled the size of our Convention Sales team to handle the increased interest.” Most noteworthy for convention groups is the opening of the Hilton Cleveland Downtown in June 2016. The 600-room property is connected to the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland and houses its own 55,000-plus sq. ft. of meeting space. A culinary highlight is The Burnham restaurant, which serves fresh seafood, Cajun-creole fusion and Midwestern comfort food. The 189-room Drury Plaza Hotel, opened in April 2016, is located inside the historic Cleveland Board of Education building and offers 3,900 sq. ft. of meeting space. Yet another new property is the 137-room Aloft Cleveland Airport. Located less than four miles from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, the Four Points by Sheraton Cleveland Airport is a recently renovated property with 147 guestrooms and 6,500 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space. In addition, the Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland has upgraded its 206 guestrooms, reconfigured its lobby and created a larger, redesigned fitness area. The property houses more than 19,000 sq. ft. of function space. “Outside the walls of meeting rooms, the city is an unconventional destination that offers business travelers arts, culture and rock ‘n’ roll; diverse dining options; and a friendly environment,” says Burns. “Attendees can step outside their hotel or the convention center and be within walking distance of attractions like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, award-winning chef-owned restaurants, the largest performing arts center outside of New York, facilities for three professional sports teams and an urban park environment in the heart of the city.” The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Power of Rock Experience opened in July, affording guests a front-row seat to performances from their favorite Rock Hall inductees. The three-part exhibit begins with short cuts from induction ceremony presentations, continues to an immersive film by Academy Award-winning director Jonathan Demme featuring legendary Rock Hall Induction performances, and concludes with “Say It Loud” story booths that allow guests to be interviewed by inductees such as Smokey Robinson and Alice Cooper. Planners looking for an elegant offsite event venue can partner with the Ariel Pearl Center, which has transformed a historic bank building that lay vacant for over five years to create an elegant event center. The restored Grand Hall features magnificent crystal chandeliers, marble columns and floors, bank vaults, a rotunda and stone walls with large arched windows under an ornate plasterwork ceiling. Other attractions include Playhouse Square, the largest performing arts center outside of New York City; Cleveland Museum of Art; Severance Hall; the West Side Market, one of the few public markets in the country that only houses food vendors; and Edgewater Park, featuring a new beach house and pier. Facilities & destinations 2017 FALL / winter

This summer, Spectra by Comcast Spectacor, the providers of both Venue Management and Food Services and Hospitality to the Duke Energy Convention Center welcomed Charles Saunders as the venue’s new General Manager of Food Services and Hospitality, reporting to General Manager Ric Booth. Saunders has held a number of leadership roles in the hospitality industry, including the Four Seasons, Starwood and Marriott, where he served as Director of Food and Beverage. The Duke Energy Convention Center makes Cincinnati a major player in the state’s meetings industry, as well as a competitor for national groups. The facility houses over 750,000 sq. ft. of exhibit, meeting and entertainment space, including 200,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, 30 deluxe meeting rooms and a 40,000-sq.-ft. grand ballroom. On the tech side, the Center offers free Wi-Fi areas and an in-house AV company. Just minutes away from the Duke Energy Convention Center lies Cincinnati’s riverfront entertainment district, The Banks. There, delegates will have a new lodging option with the recent opening of the AC Hotel by Marriott on The Banks. The 171room hotel is located next to Great American Ball Park. Next year, the downtown welcomes another Marriott property. Cincinnati’s Daniel Carter Beard Bridge over the Ohio River and the Museum Center at Union Terminal (below)


The Historic Anna Louise Inn building, which dates back to 1909, is being redeveloped as a new addition to Marriott’s Autograph Collection family. This 106-room hotel will include 10,800 sq. ft. of meeting space, a 5,000-sq.-ft. rooftop terrace and several bar and dining options. The wider Cincinnati area will see The Summit, A Dolce Hotel, open next year about 10 miles from downtown. The 239-room hotel will offer 21,000 sq. ft. of indoor meeting space and more than 20,000 sq. ft. of terrace and gardens.

Two historic offsite venues have undergone major renovations. Music Hall, built in 1878, offers more than 31,000 sq. ft. of new usable space after a $135 million renovation. And the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal recently completed a $212.7 million restoration, preserving the historic structure and making the building more energy efficient and sustainable. Union Terminal is home to the Cincinnati History Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the Duke Energy Children’s Museum and the OMNIMAX Theater. The Center for Holocaust and Humanity

Columbus completes major convention T

he state capital is primed to welcome more meetings business with the recently completed $140 million renovation and expansion of the Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC). The 22-month project added 37,000 sq. ft. of new exhibit space and 10,000 sq. ft. of two-level meeting space, including nine new meeting rooms. The GCCC now offers 373,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space (complemented by new show offices overlooking the exhibit halls) and 75 meeting rooms. Newly LEED certified, the GCCC features a fully renovated exterior and upgrades to interior wall coverings, lighting, sound systems, social seating, wayfinding and digital signage. New facilities include a Nursing Mothers Room and an 800-space parking garage connected to the center by skybridge. There are more local F&B outlets at the enhanced GCCC, as well as a Smartfarm at the center’s new Discovery Café, installed by food-service provider Levy. The GCCC also showcases local art, with more than 150 pieces on display, including an interactive 14-foot sculpture entitled “As We Are,” displayed in the north atrium. Designed by local artist Matthew Mohr, the piece, shaped like a universal human head, is made from ribbons of ultrabright LED screens and equipped with a photo booth capable of taking 3-D portraits, which are then projected on the face of “As We Are.” The two-level open atrium entrance on the North End is a new special event venue at the GCCC, and serves to better connect the convention center to the Short North Arts District. For outdoor events, there is the transformed, 10,000-sq.-ft. Arnold Plaza. This May, the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) held its annual meeting for the first time in Columbus, and enjoyed a reception in the GCCC’s north atrium. The expansion was almost complete at the time of the meeting, and the group used some of the new meeting rooms. “It’s great they added more meeting rooms; you can never have too many,” remarks Ann McLeod, CEM, CAE, Director of Meetings, Marketing & Business Development for SAME. “The building was already pretty flexible, but [the expansion] gave it even more flexibility. Their meeting rooms are sort of set up into pods. And on the end room of the pods, in the main corridor, they have these spaces with huge roll-up doors. We put our registration area into one of these, which is great because you don’t use corridor space and you can shut the roll-up door at night and secure everything.” But the state-of-the-art convention center is not the only reason SAME selected Columbus. “One of the things that is very important to us is walkability,” says McLeod. “Everybody wants to be able to walk from their hotel to the convention center, and to different entertainment options in the evening. And Columbus has that; everything is right there.” Attendees stayed at the 633-room Hyatt Regency Columbus, 532room Hilton Columbus Downtown, 180-room Drury Inn &


Columbus offers scenic green spaces where attendees can relax after sessions at the enhanced Convention Center (right). Suites Columbus Convention Center and the 149-room Courtyard Columbus Downtown — all except the latter connected to the GCCC. That logistical convenience, coupled with reasonable pricing, contributed to an overall positive experience that pleasantly surprised delegates. “Many of our members didn’t get why we chose Columbus, but everyone really loved it. People did not expect to like it as much as they did,” McLeod observes. Members enjoyed a variety of restaurants in the Short North district, from chain to independent establishments, and a private event at the COSI Museum. The professional engineers in attendance appreciated the scientific focus of the exhibits. SAME’s own exhibitors appreciated the graces of Experience Columbus, the city’s CVB. “They came to our exhibit hall to welcome the exhibitors, handing out some information about Columbus to our exhibitors and handing out the famous Buckeye candies,” McLeod relates. “And exhibitors are often the ones who support your group financially, and so for Experience Columbus to go the extra mile and thank them was really a nice extra touch for those folks.” Many other large groups are sure to feel at home in Columbus in the coming years. Examples include National Urban League Conference (2018), American Dental Hygienists Association (2018), ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition (2019), American Academy of Audiology (2019) and American Association of

Facilities & destinations 2017 FALL / winter

Education will relocate to Union Terminal next year. Flying into Cincinnati is now easier with new routes and low-cost carriers serving the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Recent additions include Southwest Airlines in June 2017 and several new routes through Frontier.


Planners will find 13 full-service hotels in Greater Akron, all surrounding the John S. Knight Center. Akron’s primary meeting facility

center upgrade “Exhibitors are often the ones who support your group financially, and so for Experience Columbus to go the extra mile and thank them was really a nice extra touch for those folks.” —Ann McLeod, CEM, CAE, Director of Meetings, Marketing & Business Development, Society of American Military Engineers

The city of Akron, home to the John S. Knight Center (top) offers a 30,000-sq.-ft. exhibit hall, 12,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, 17,000 sq. ft. of additional breakout rooms and a 3,000-sq.-ft., two-story glass rotunda. A rooftop patio, ideal for receptions with a view, is also available. Many of the spaces are divisible or combinable, increasing a planner’s options. Across the street from the John S. Knight Center is Greystone Hall, a 100-year-old Masonic Temple with ornate interiors. Groups can take advantage of its seven stories of banquet and breakout space. While Greystone Hall may be familiar to groups who have convened at the John S. Knight Center, there are many other intriguing nontraditional event venues in Akron and its environs, including the following: The newly renovated Goodyear Theater complex, comprised of the 1,458-capacity Goodyear Theater and 3,500-capacity Goodyear Hall. The Designer’s Barn & Gardens, home of the late Robert L. Hunker. An environmental, architectural and interior designer, Hunker was responsible for the preservation and restoration of the Village of Peninsula and founded the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Among many projects, he helped to restore Bronson Memorial Church, a rentable venue built in 1839. The Akron Art Museum, which includes a brick building that opened in 1899 as Akron’s main post office and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2007, a visually spectacular 63,000-sq.-ft. building debuted as part of the museum; the facility received a 2005 American Architecture Award from the Chicago Athenaeum. Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park, a 200,000-sq.-ft. venue that represents the history of arena rock with a priceless collection of memorabilia throughout the property. Special event venues include the 300-seat Club Velvet, 1,800-seat Hard Rock LIVE concert venue and the Northfield Park Racetrack Clubhouse accommodating 600 guests. Hale Farm & Village, an outdoor living history museum that includes the 200-year-old farm of the Hale Family. Nestled in the Cuyahoga Valley, the 90-acre grounds are home to the 1850 Greek Revival Meetinghouse, Gatehouse, Crawford Rotunda, Hanna Garden and other picturesque venues. 31

• Physicists in Medicine (2021). These groups will be able to take advantage of numerous upgrades to the city’s hospitality product. Highlights include: A streetscape improvement of High Street in the Short North that will make it easier to access the area’s 100-plus restaurants, galleries and boutiques. The National Veterans Memorial & Museum, currently under construction on downtown Columbus’ Scioto peninsula and scheduled for completion by mid-2018. A new 12,000-sq.-ft. event venue on the roof of the six-story Smith Bros. Hardware Building, located near the GCCC. New hotels including the 149-room Hotel LeVeque, Autograph Collection; a dual-branded Marriott property featuring a 240-room Marriott hotel, a 114-room Residence Inn and 12,000 sq. ft. of function space; a 167-room Aloft hotel (late 2018); a 168-room Canopy by Hilton across from the GCCC (early 2019); and a 171-room Graduate Hotel in the Short North neighborhood (spring 2019). —G.S.

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Facilities & destinations 2017 FALL / winter

• •

The Alamo is among the state’s historical treasures



The Lone Star State boasts an impressive roundup of hospitality news


By Anthony Bilden

irst-tier cities are typically growing their hospitality infrastructures. Given the strong influx of leisure and business travellers, major upgrades to lodging, meeting, dining and entertainment venues are often justified investments. But when many of a state’s second-tier cities are also seeing such investments, it’s a sure sign that the overall tourism industry is performing well. Such is the case in Texas, where San Antonio, Arlington and Irving all have projects in the headlines, from a major convention center expansion to large-scale growth in entertainment districts.


They say “third time’s a charm,” but for the American Academy of Family Physicians’ October meeting in San Antonio, the first time was definitely a charm. The Family Medicine Experience had never been held in the city before, and by the end of the meeting “89 percent of attendees said they would recommend the city and us going back there,” says Tom Pellet, Division Director, Meetings & Conventions for the Academy. He gives insight into how the city was selected. “We were looking for a location in Texas, and San Antonio offered the hotel package that we needed. At the time they were going through the renovation of their convention center, so it was going to be an excellent facility for us. Also, because of the ambiance of the city itself — the River Walk, The Alamo, etc. — it was an ideal location.” The Henry B. González Convention Center itself offers an ideal location in walking distance to the famed River Walk. Completed 32

last year, the facility’s $325 million expansion was the largest capital improvement project in the City of San Antonio’s history. Today, the Convention Center features 514,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space, 86,500 sq. ft. of column-free multipurpose space, 70 meeting spaces including divisible breakout rooms and the 54,000-sq. ft. Stars at Night Ballroom. Attendees will enjoy enhanced wayfinding technology, and encounter new public art installations representing the history and culture of San Antonio. Among them is “Liquid Crystal,” whose 3,510 LCD interactive panels create a digital fountain effect in the center’s expansive new lobby atrium. “They’ve done a really good job,” says Pellet. “One of the impressive things was the variety of rooms and the ability to divide those rooms so that you can use them in multiple ways. The convention floors are nice the way they’re laid out. And they also created a lot of space for networking; they built in places where people could sit, eat and gather.” He adds that “the Stars at Night Ballroom is fantastic. We used that for our general sessions, and for our final-night celebration. The lighting in that room is so versatile; you’re able to do a lot of neat stuff with it.” (Editor’s note: The Convention Center recently hosted the IAEE Annual Meeting; see page 14 for photographic coverage.) From a financial standpoint, San Antonio was also a fine choice for the Academy and the roughly 10,000 health professionals, exhibitors and guests who attended the Family Medicine Experience. “The labor is good and not overly expensive, so it makes it a very economical place to run a show,” says Pellet. And the hotel package offered “a variety of rate structures.” The 1,003-room Grand Facilities & Destinations 2017 Fall / Winter

The Henry B. González Convention Center’s “Stars at Night Ballroom is fantastic. We used that for our general sessions, and for our final-night celebration.” —Tom Pellet, Division Director, Meetings & Conventions, American Academy of Family Physicians

Hyatt San Antonio served as the headquarters hotel. Located adjacent to the Convention Center, the hotel houses 115,000 sq. ft. of flexible function space. “Prior to the convention we have the congress and delegates meet, which needs two large ballrooms plus a myriad of breakout rooms, so we used the Hyatt for those events and the board meetings,” Pellet explains. Apart from the Convention Center, a key partner for the American Academy of Family Physicians was the San Antonio CVB, which assisted in marketing the annual meeting. “We had our marketing department get together with theirs to help us emphasize all the different things that people could partake of within the city of San Antonio,” Pellet says. The CVB continued to be proactive when the event began. “They were there every day checking and making sure everything was fine. When I needed to get out of the convention center and run some errands for the show, they took me to do it. And one day when I couldn’t do the errand, they did it for me,” he relates. “So they were very receptive to helping in any way they possibly could.” The Family Medicine Experience included a private event at the San Antonio Museum of Art, which offers a rentable Great Hall, sculpture garden and various courtyards and pavilions. Another option is the Witte Museum, which recently underwent a major renovation and expansion. The Witte’s new Family Center offers 10,000 sq. ft. of meeting space with views of historic Broadway Street and the San Antonio River. The 33-acre San Antonio Botanical Garden offers rentable venues including the Lucile Halsell Conservatory Courtyard, the historic Auld House, and an outdoor amphitheater and demonstration kitchen. And for groups who want a taste of history, the Pearl Brewery on the River Walk’s Museum Reach offers a mixed-use space that operated as a brewery from 1883 to 2001. On the Convention Center campus, planners have two notable venues for special events: the 2,319-seat Lila Cockrell Theatre and Hemisfair Park, which will be expanded to accommodate more outdoor events. Home to the 1968 World’s Fair, the park celebrates its 50th anniversary in April. Throughout 2018, San Antonio celebrates its Tricentennial with numerous special events. For details, see the website created for the occasion: VisitSanAntonio.com/300.


The history of Austin began a few years after the founding of the Republic of Texas in 1836. Much of that history is on display at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, where groups can stage private events in various venues, from the Lone Star Plaza to the Texas Spirit Theater. Other exceptional museums in the city include the Austin Museum of Art, Mexic-Art Museum and the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum. The region’s flora is showcased at Lady Bird Johnson National Wildflower Center and Zilker Botanical Gardens. And for attendees who prefer physical activity during their free time, Austin offers 10 miles of hike-andbike trails bordering Lady Bird Lake. But the heart of Austin, it may be said, is the live music venue. Among hundreds of choices are iconic ones such as The Continental Club, The Mohawk, Austin City Limits, Facilities & Destinations 2017 Fall / Winter

San Antonio’s renovated and expanded convention center was an inviting setting for the American Academy of Family Physicians’ annual meeting (right).

Austin’s green spaces are growing thanks to a partnership with the Waller Creek Conservancy. Stubb’s BBQ and Antone’s. The latter establishment, aka the “World-Famous Home of the Blues,” opened in 1975 and has seen performances by blues greats such as Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Now located on the corner of Fifth and Lavaca Streets, Antone’s accommodates up to 320 attendees for a private reception. Austin, host of PCMA’s 2017 Convening Leaders, is also experiencing significant growth in its dining and entertainment infrastructure. New venues include Fareground, the city’s first food hall; St. Elmo’s Market, a 50,000-sq.-ft. public market that will include rooftop event spaces and a beer garden; and the 5,000-capacity Moody Amphitheater, opening at Waterloo Park by 2019. Attendees can also explore Rock Rose, a rapidly developing entertainment district in North Austin. The city’s green spaces are also growing, thanks to a partnership between Waller Creek Conservancy and the City of Austin. Running from Waterloo Park at 15th Street to Lady Bird Lake, the new Waller Creek district will include more than 37 acres of newly designed and connected urban parks and public open space, and more than three miles of new hike-and-bike trails. In the center of it all is the Austin Convention Center, situated 33

eight miles from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and in proximity to 7,500 downtown hotel rooms. The inventory includes the 800-room Hilton Austin (directly across from the facility’s north side) and the 1,012-room JW Marriott Austin (two blocks away). The convention center’s design emphasizes native Texas materials such as rustic limestone, and plenty of natural light and downtown views. Its 369,132 sq. ft. of function space includes 247,052 sq. ft. of column-free exhibit space, the 40,510-sq.ft. upper-level Grand Ballroom, the 23,418-sq.-ft. South Ballroom, and 54 meeting rooms totaling over 58,000 sq. ft. On the tech side, the facility has installed a communication infrastructure capable of moving voice, video and data at one billion bits a second. On the catering side, the Austin Convention Center serves groups of 10 to 5,000 attendees.

Downtown with 8,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. Next year will see the debut of a 185-room AC Hotel By Marriott, the 150-room Hotel RL Houston Downtown and the 353-room Intercontinental Houston Medical Center property in the Texas Medical Center.

Groups can take advantage of a hotel development surge in Dallas.


The George R. Brown Convention Center has seen a revitalization of Avenida Houston pedestrian plaza.


Despite the severe challenges Houston faced this summer with Hurricane Harvey, it continues to be one of the most rapidly developing cities in the state. The most salient project is Avenida Houston, fronting the George R. Brown Convention Center. Five restaurants have been built on the pedestrian plaza, which is part of a campus that includes the Convention Center, Discovery Green park, Hilton Americas-Houston and the new 1,000-room Marriott Marquis. The area includes three main parking garages: Avenida North, South and Central. The Convention Center features a new grand entrance that connects the building with the plaza and park across the street. Groups convening at the George R. Brown Convention Center not only have 1.2 million usable sq. ft. at their disposal, but also a collection of downtown venues ideal for attendees’ free time, such as ToyotaCenter (home to the NBA Rockets and many blockbuster concerts) and Minute Maid Park (home to the MLB Astros). This year, a new, 99,000-sq.-ft. outdoor plaza and 95,000-sq.-ft. concourse complemented the Convention Center’s 550,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space. More than 20 million visitors traveled to Houston in 2016, representing a visitation record for the city. Future visitors, including meeting attendees, will be able to enjoy many developments beyond Avenida Houston. These include an expanded Museum of Fine Arts, expected to be completed by 2019; the new North Houston Bike Park; a renovated Emancipation Park, Houston’s oldest; and the Grand Texas Theme Park, a 632-acre amusement park scheduled to open next summer. On the lodging front, the new Hotel Alessandra brings 225 guestrooms and 10,000 sq. ft. of function space to the downtown. Also located downtown is the historic Melrose Building, which has been redeveloped into the new, 255-room Le Méridien Houston 34

The centerpiece of Dallas’s meetings industry is the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. The facility’s resume includes prominent conferences and tradeshows such as the NAHB International Builders’ Show, Mary Kay’s Annual Seminar, International Air Conditioning Heating Refrigeration, Solar Power International and The Great American Trucking Show. Groups have one million sq. ft. of exhibit space at their disposal, as well as three ballrooms (divisible into four) spanning 65,124 sq. ft., 88 meeting rooms, a 9,816-seat arena and 1,750-seat theater. The 4,000 hotel rooms within walking distance include 1,001 at the adjacent Omni Dallas Hotel, which itself has 110,000 sq. ft. of function space. The Convention Center is located 30 minutes from Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW) airport and has an onsite DART rail station. Dallas’s hotel industry is replete with small-property development, including new hotels opened this year by Holiday Inn, Home2 Suites, Towneplace Suites, Fairfield Inn & Suites and Cambria Suites. Next year will see openings by Residence Inn, Canopy by Hilton, AC Hotels by Marriott, element Hotels and other boutique and economy brands. While these are not “meeting hotels” per say, they certainly increase the lodging options for convention delegates. In addition, a 250-room JW Marriott and 220-room Marriott are scheduled to debut in 2020. On the historic side of Dallas’s hotel industry is The Adolphus, which opened in 1912 and offers a resplendent atmosphere. The 407room property houses 24,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space divided into 22 rooms, a spa, rooftop pool and even an art collection in the French Room Bar and Salon. The French Room, with its restored European architecture, and the 19th floor Century Room, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, are two fine choices for group gatherings. Located about one mile from the Convention Center is the Longhorn Ballroom. Built in 1950, the oldest ballroom in North Texas has been fully renovated and offers 23,000 sq. ft. of indoor space (accommodating up to 2,550 attendees) and two acres of outdoor function space. Venue staff provide F&B, AV and décor service. A particularly aesthetic ballroom can be found in the Dallas Design District. The Hall of the Dragon accommodates up to 700 attendees under dramatic and versatile ballroom lighting. Another intriguing offsite venue is the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, located on the shores of White Rock Lake. Listed among the world’s top arboretums, the 66-acre facility is available for rental to groups of up to 500 attendees.


Located near Dallas, this city is becoming more attractive as an option for Texas-bound groups with the development of the $150 million Live! by Loews. The project broke ground in November and is expected to open in 2019 as the convention anchor for Texas Live!, Facilities & Destinations 2017 Fall / Winter

rooms, each averaging about 1,000 sq. ft.; and a 20,000-sq.-ft. grand ballroom and pre-function area on the top level. A Silver LEED-certified facility, the Convention Center is managed by SMG and provides catering services by Savor Las Colinas. With the new Westin Irving Convention Center Hotel opening next year, groups will have 350 guestrooms and 16,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including a 10,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, at their disposal. On the entertainment side, the recently opened Toyota Music Factory in the Las Colinas neighborhood will ultimately include more than 20 restaurants, an eight-screen Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and a 50,000-sq.ft. outdoor event plaza with daily programming. Live! by Loews, opening in 2019, will be the convention anchor for Arlington’s new Texas Also part of the complex is The Pavilion, which Live! dining and entertainment district (rendering above). debuted with a ZZ Top concert this fall. The Pavilion is a flexible venue that accommodates 2,500 theater style, 4,000 as an arena and a dining and entertainment district opening next year. Both Texas 8,000 as an open-air pavilion. Beyond providing an entertainment Live! and a new stadium for the Rangers constitute a $1.25 billion resource for attendees’ free time, The Pavilion makes “an excellent investment into the Arlington Entertainment District. venue for opening or closing night events,” Gast suggests. Live! by Loews will offer 302 guestrooms and the two-story, 35,000-sq.-ft. Grand Event Center, which includes a Grand Ballroom, Executive Boardroom, five breakout rooms and an outdoor terrace. Additional gathering spaces at Live! by Loews include the Tower Terrace, an Event Lawn with LED screen, outdoor Infinity Edge pool, rooftop terrace suitable for private events and the Revolver Brewing Brewery, Bar and Tasting Room.


“Irving’s meetings industry is in an incredible place, primarily due to the evolution of our entertainment district anchoring the convention center.”

Similar to the downtown areas of Arlington and Houston, Irving is seeing much investment into its convention center district. “Irving’s meetings industry is in an incredible place, primarily due to the evolution of our entertainment district anchoring the convention center,” notes Maura Gast, FCDME, Executive Director of the Irving CVB. She goes on to provide an overview of that evolution: “Live Nation’s Pavilion opened in September, and already will have hosted 45 concerts by the end of 2017. The first three restaurants in —Maura Gast, FCDME, the project have opened, with the remaining 20 restaurants and Executive Director, Irving CVB entertainment elements opening by March 2018. The Westin Irving Convention Center hotel is under construction and making great progress, and will open by the end of 2018. A boutique hotel by the Valencia Group is under construction and will open in August 2018. And Water Street, a mixed use development around the corner from the convention center with another collection of restaurants, will open in the spring of 2018 as well, activating the Lake Carolyn waterfront with many new choices for meeting attendees.” Many of those groups will partner with the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas. This architecturally distinctive facility offers over 100,000 sq. ft. of function space, including the 50,000-sq.-ft., column-free exhibition hall on the first floor; 20,000 An aerial rendering of the Toyota Music Factory being developed in Irving. sq. ft. of meeting space in up to 20 different breakout Facilities & Destinations 2017 Fall / Winter


Austin Convention Center Located in the heart of the capital city’s downtown, the LEED® Gold Certified Convention Center spans six city blocks


winner of the Prime Site Award every year since 1995, the Austin Convention Center has emerged as a leader in the convention and meeting industry. The Center offers 369,132 sq. ft. of exhibit and meeting space, including five column-free exhibit halls accommodating 1,289 10 ft.-by-10 ft. exhibit booths. Seven ballrooms ranging from 3,896 to 40,510 sq. ft. 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 of 1,700 spaces. In January 2017, the Austin Convention Center hosted what is arguably the premier event in the meetings industry, PCMA’s Convening Leaders.

Technological Features

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. It offers a variety of in-house services including complimentary wireless Internet access, redundant high-speed Internet II access, plugand-play capabilities, and an onsite technical staff to help with networking needs.


Austin offers more than 33,000 hotel rooms, with 9,000 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, the new W Austin, Hyatt Place Downtown Austin, the 1,012-room JW Marriott and the Westin Austin Downtown. The Fairmont Austin is scheduled to open in early 2018.

Austin by Night

After conventions and meetings wrap-up each night, attendees can enjoy Austin’s entertainment districts — Second Street, the Warehouse District and 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 is home to nearly 250 venues that echo with the sound of country, rock ‘n’ roll, blues, jazz and Tejano.

Austin by Day

During the day, attendees can enjoy the capital city’s many historical attractions, including the State Capitol, the LBJ Presidential Library, the Texas State History Museum and the Blanton Museum of Art. Or they can experience the beauty of central Texas, captured by downtown’s Lady Bird Lake, 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.

Fast Facts: Facility

Location: Downtown Austin Total Area: Spans six city blocks 369,132 sq. ft. of exhibit and meeting space Exhibit Space: 247,052 contiguous sq. ft., column free Ballrooms: 40,510 sq. ft. level 4; 23,418 sq. ft. level 1 Meeting Space: 54 meeting rooms totaling over 58,000 sq. ft. Technology: Gigabit-rated facility, wireless Internet access, plug-andplay capabilities


Hotels: 9,000 downtown hotel rooms; adjacent 800-room Hilton Austin Airport: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, eight miles from facility Nearby Attractions: State Capitol, Sixth Street Entertainment District, Warehouse Entertainment District, University of Texas, LBJ Presidential Library, more than 20 museums including The Texas State History Museum, dozens of art galleries and historical attractions, Lady Bird Lake

Contact Information

Mark Tester, Director of Austin Convention Center Department Paul Barnes, ACCD Deputy Director/ Chief Operating Officer Amy Harris, Director of Sales

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

Facilities & Destinations 2017 fall / WINTER

COX Convention Center


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-of-life 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 and a 15,000seat arena, 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.

Facilities & Destinations 2017 fall / WINTER

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 event rental space, 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 37

Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center


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 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. 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 facility offers 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting/exhibition space featuring a 50,000-sq.ft. exhibit hall, 10,000-sq.-ft. elegant ballroom, plus 22 meeting rooms of various sizes. The Greater Rochester International Airport — with 54+ flights daily — is just a 10-minute drive from the Floreano Center’s front door. Complimentary airport transportation is provided by all major hotels. Several entertainment districts surround the Floreano Center with restaurants and cafes, coffeehouses, pubs, dance clubs, music halls, theaters and more. Rochester boasts numerous museums, including the George Eastman Museum, the Susan B. Anthony House and the acclaimed Strong National Museum of Play. Rochester is also proud to be home to the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, a nine-day 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 downtown Rochester. 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 Floreano Center itself gets high marks for handling all types of technology needs. The facility has a dedicated Internet connection over fiber optics to meet all of the growing number of technical requirements 38

its customers have. This service, which is self-operated, is available wireless throughout the facility and is burstable from 200 MB to 1 GB. The Floreano 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 Floreano 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 Floreano Center to create a compact convention district in the center of downtown Rochester. There is the 460-room Rochester Riverside Hotel, a 106-room Hilton Garden Inn, a 217-room Holiday Inn and a 338-room Hyatt Regency, which recently completed a multi-million dollar renovation. Delegates also enjoy the convenience of walking between hotels and the Floreano Center in minutes using the enclosed skywalk system or the scenic riverside walkway. Rochester offers groups a compact convention district.

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

Facilities & Destinations 2017 fall / WINTER

Sites & Cities Directory OHIO

Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau

77 East Mill Street, Akron, OH 44308 (330) 374-8900 / (800) 245-4254; Fax: (330) 374-8971 johnsknightcenter.org VP of Sales: Dirk Breiding The Center of an All-America City Texas

Austin Convention Center

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

Greater Akron – where metropolitan amenities meet breathtaking natural vistas just steps away in Ohio’s only national park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The John S. Knight Center is located in the heart of downtown Akron and boasts a team with more than 270 years of combined experience. Features include: in-house culinary department; 30,000-sq.-ft. exhibition hall; 12,000-sq.-ft. ballroom; 17,000 sq. ft. of additiona breakout rooms; and 3,000-sq.-ft. two-story glass rotunda with spiral staircase. 5,500+ guestrooms county-wide. Let’s Start Planning!


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 to handle 7,000 simultaneous connections. Pre-function spaces offer downtown views. Pedestrian PAGE walkway connects 3rd and 4th levels. Close to 9,000 downtown hotel rooms. C2


Century Center South Bend

120 South Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., South Bend IN 46601 (574) 235-9711 centurycenter.org Director of Sales & Marketing: Jacob Hamman Unique Architecture. Exceptional Experiences. oklahoma

Cox Convention Center

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


Ernest N. Morial Convention Center 900 Convention Center Boulevard, New Orleans, LA 19107 (504) 582-3023; Fax: (504) 582-3032 mccno.com Director of Sales: Elaine Williams, CMP Ontario, canada

The International Centre

6900 Airport Road, Suite 120 Mississauga, ON. L4V 1E8 (905) 677-6131; (800) 567-1199; Fax: (905) 677-3089 internationalcentre.com Director of Sales: Sandra Martin There’s Something Happening Here! New York

Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center 123 East Main Street, Rochester, NY 14604 (585) 232-7200; Fax: (585) 232-1510 rrcc.com Director of Sales: Kris Hughes

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. 9 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. C4 The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is located in the Warehouse/Arts District, in walking distance to 20,000 hotel rooms and the historic French Quarter. The Center houses 1.1 million sq. ft. of exhibit space; a 60,300 sq. ft. divisible, column-free ballroom; 140 meeting rooms; a 4,000-seat theater; and a 1-gigabit per-second fiber-optic Internet backbone that is 100-percent redundant. Plans are currently underway for a new $65 million linear park that will update the urban environment with a tree-lined pedestrian plaza, outdoor event space and fountains. Plans also call for a multi-modal transportation hub where shuttles will collect and attendees will PAGE experience a grand new covered entrance with a series of moving sidewalks. C3 Located three minutes from Toronto Pearson International Airport, The International Centre offers 548,000 sq. ft. of expansive and versatile function space, an exceptional culinary experience and a team of dedicated and knowledgeable professionals, many with CEM and CMP designations. Thirty-three meeting rooms, 125,500-sq.-ft. main exhibit hall, 48,000 sq. ft. of conference center space. State-of-the-industry AV equipment built in, ultra high-speed Internet, complimentary Wi-Fi in the Grand Lobby. Forty brand-name hotels nearby, providing over 10,000 rooms. Recently completed Phase 1 of a $7 million improvement PAGE project that renovated Hall 1, added a new Connector building to Hall 5 and more. 13 The Floreano Center is conveniently located in upstate New York, in the heart of downtown Rochester. 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting/exhibition space features a 50,000-sq.-ft. exhibit hall, 10,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, 22 meeting rooms of various sizes, in-house food service, themed décor and floral services, as well as dedicated wireless Internet connection over fiber optics. Over 1,100 hotel rooms, with 800 directly connected by an enclosed skyway. Surrounded by entertainment districts with restaurants, pubs, theaters and more. Rochester offers planners a compact convention district, and New York State’s only one-stop convention facility. PAGE 7


Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau

300 East Green Street, Pasadena, CA 91101 (800) 307-7977; Fax: (626) 795-9656 PasadenaMeetings.com Executive Director: Jeanne O’Grady Goldschmidt

Facilities & Destinations 2017 fall / WINTER

Pasadena offers groups year-long warm weather, five-star accommodations, endless shopping and entertainment options, and more restaurants per capita than New York City. There are over 2,500 guestrooms citywide, more than 1,200 of which are within walking distance of the Pasadena Convention Center. The expanded Pasadena Convention Center features a 55,000-sq.-ft. exhibit hall (expandable to 80,000 sq. ft.), a newly restored 17,000-sq.-ft. historic exhibit hall, 25,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, 29 meeting rooms, 3,000-seat Civic Auditorium and a 22,000-sq.-ft. outdoor plaza. Major local attractions include the Historic Rose Bowl PAGE Stadium, Pasadena Playhouse, Norton Simon Museum and Pacific Asia Museum. 3 39

Sourcing and Contracting in Today’s Environment Step-by-step best practices for the first phase of planning By Stacey Jackson Bloom


ite sourcing, the first stage of planning, has become more challenging today. In the buyer’s market of the past, meeting planners had the upper hand in selecting and negotiating with venues. But in recent years we have seen a dramatic shift in pricing and hotel availability, due to a robust economy and a reduction in the number of new rooms coming to market. With the increased demand, it is clearly a seller’s market. The environment has fluctuated greatly in the following ways, which planners should be aware of when beginning their venue searches: Venues are being booked farther out than before. In some cases, they are being booked two or more years out, especially for larger meetings. First-tier cities, such as New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles, are in such high demand that their willingness to negotiate on pricing has diminished.

• •

• Organization Information – Include your company’s information • • • • • •

Under these market conditions, the following best practices are especially critical to successfully conducting a venue search and negotiating the final contract.


Planners will need to gather several details to begin the sourcing process and to create an RFP (request for proposal). Location – Determine the target destination and type of property for the meeting. How important is ease of air and ground accessibility? Are downtown venues or resort properties preferred? Does the meeting profile lend itself more to an upscale, smaller boutique property, or to a larger convention hotel with several meeting space options? Sleeping Room Needs – Make sure to gather all types of sleeping rooms needed across all date, including shoulder dates. Do you need any suites for VIPs? Do you need guestrooms pre and post meeting for staff, vendors or clients? Are the meeting dates flexible? Meeting Space Needs – Compile all events that are associated with the meeting, including meals and breaks, set-up/tear down time, general session(s), breakout(s) and ad hoc meetings. Remember to include 24-hour hold when requesting space from venues. Budget – If you can get a budget range from your client, that will help in determining which cities to pursue for the final venue, in terms of sleeping room rates and so on. The budget range can also be included in the RFP, and assists hotels in providing you with a firm proposal.

• • • •


In my experience, including the information below will help to ensure you receive the best proposals and cut down on any questions from the venues. 40

and profile (if you are a third-party planner), as well as the client’s profile and industry that you are sourcing for. Event Dates – Include all date patterns that are being considered for the meeting. If you have more than one date that will work, that increases your chances of receiving more proposals and allows for better negotiation down the road. Event Specifications – Include all sleeping room needs and the budget, if available, as well as all meeting space needed for the event, such as galas, welcome receptions, attendee meals, teambuilding, etc. It is helpful to be transparent with your needs and budget, as that will save you time in the end. Deadline to Respond – A general rule is to allow venues to respond to the RFP within two days. I have found that most properties adhere to these deadlines, and it will reduce the amount of proposals you will need to chase down. Concessions to Consider – When sending out the RFP, provide venues with a list of concessions that you would like to be considered for the proposal. Meeting History – If you have this information from past years, it is beneficial to include it in your RFP. Provide the history of what was spent in previous years, as well as sleeping room pickup. Additional Questions – Have they recently renovated the sleeping rooms and meeting space, or are they planning a renovation in the future that could affect your meeting? What is the total cost of the meeting space? In addition, you should ask the venues to attach catering menus and venue layouts, so you have it handy to reference if you have any questions.


Once most or all proposals are received, it is best to compile all of the information in a grid, so you can review the proposals side by side. I suggest narrowing it down to three to four venues to present to your client, based on the best pricing, meeting space and the overall proposal received. Following are a few key points of comparison: Sleeping Room Rates – How do the sleeping rates compare, and what is included in those rates? Meeting Space – Does the meeting space proposed fit the needs of the program and provide a nice program flow for the attendees? Are set-up and tear-down times available based on your needs? Food & Beverage – What food & beverage minimum does the venue require? Are set-up times and tear-down times available when they are needed? What are the concessions the venue is offering on top of their proposal?

• • •


Once you have narrowed down the options and discussed them with the client, it is advisable go back to the top venues being considered for further negotiations. Even though it is harder to negotiate in this economy, planners should try to receive the best deal possible by negotiating the following items. Facilities & Destinations 2017 fall / WINTER

• Rates – Ask the venue to come down on their sleeping room

• •

and suite rates. If there is a resort fee, can it be waived? Will they reduce the amount of food & beverage spend required of the group? If meeting room rental has been proposed, can they offer any space comp or at a reduced rate? Bear in mind that if your ratio of sleeping rooms to meeting space needed is low, that could increase the amount a venue will charge for the space. Attrition (Reduction of Rooms or F&B Spend) – This area is where planners can really assist their clients by negotiating a higher attrition rate (e.g., 20 percent attrition allowed on guestrooms and F&B, vs. 10 percent). Concessions – Negotiate further discounts or concessions to include comp rooms per guestrooms picked up (e.g., one comp room per 40), comp snacks in meeting planner office, comp transportation for VIPs, comp VIP amenities, room upgrades, turndowns, and F&B/ audiovisual discounts (I recommend asking for 10 percent–20 percent off). Additional discounts to ask for and consider include reduced costs for business center needs, shipping and receiving, free WiFi in guestrooms and meeting space, comp parking, etc. Multiple Events – If you have other meetings for the same client that could be held at the venue, you can leverage these to help negotiate better package deals, or yearly contracts with lower rates.


Once a venue has been selected and the contract has been requested, always make sure the contract is reviewed with a finetooth comb. Check that all concessions, rates, meeting space, guestroom needs, and attrition are included in the contract. If you

are a third-party company and receive commission on guestroom rates, make sure the venue includes a clause in the contract referring to the amount. Other contract details that are extremely important to review for the protection of your client include force majeure, cancellation clauses and penalties, cut-off dates, deposit schedules and payment information. Once reviewed and approved, make sure you have all signatures required, and always request a countersigned agreement from the hotel. In many cases, this is a detail that is overlooked and can create havoc if the client or venue cancels the meeting down the road. In summary, we tend not to think of the first phase of the planning process as being as important as the execution of the event, but it is one of the most important steps that affects the success of the meeting and success in your client’s eyes. With venues becoming less flexible in contract negotiation, it is crucial that planners are educated in these best practices. Stacey Jackson Bloom is a Senior Meeting Planner at Boca Raton, FL-based Global Meetings & Incentives (GMI). She brings over 21 years of industry experience to GMI, a leading meetings logistics provider with emphasis on the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries. Her extensive background, before joining GMI in 2010, includes planning for large convention hotel chains such as Marriott, Starwood and Hilton, as well as corporate planning for companies including Cox Enterprises, Inc., Ernst & Young, KPMG, LLP, IAC (InterActiveCorp) and J.P. Morgan (private banking division).

Advertiser Index Akron/Summit CVB ..........................................................1 Austin Convention Center.............................................. C2 Century Center..................................................................9 Cox Convention Center.................................................. C4 Ernest N. Morial Convention Center............................. C3 International Centre........................................................13 Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center............................................7 Pasadena CVB...................................................................3 SMG..................................................................................5 Visit Jackson...................................................................11 Facilities & Destinations 2017 fall / WINTER


Enduring Truths of Teambuilding 6 guidelines for success in today’s world of virtual connectivity By Bill John


here is no doubt that when you (The Helping Hands Project) on the same day in 18 different put your heart into something, you locations across eight countries. In this kind of scenario, a company tend to do it better. If the classic can also instill a sense of unity by promoting the various groups’ adage “home is where the heart is” rings accomplishments on an internal website or app. true, then working from home should be Decide when in-person sessions are imperative. Although we the key to business success. However, know that quarterly reports, financial breakdowns, brainstorming working offsite can create challenges and business strategy are elements that can be adequately covered for your business or organization through technological platforms, the best connections are still made face— particularly when it comes to to-face. With so much technology jockeying for our attention, making eye teambuilding, camaraderie and chemistry. contact is a dying art. Establishing and maintaining a strong workforce So how can you effectively conduct requires an occasional “all-hands-on-deck” function that gives your entire teambuilding sessions when team members work offsite, whether at team an opportunity to connect, bolstering good old-fashioned press-thehome or in offices at different locations? flesh personal connection and team vibe. Remote working is now a reality affecting nearly half of the Gauge the team “climate” beforehand. Beyond the strain country’s workforce. According to Gallup’s 2016 State of the that technology can place on team connectedness, there may American Workplace study, 43 percent of employees spend at be a longstanding hostility or indifference between team members. least some time working remotely. The same study found that I suggest taking an audit of the team “climate” to determine if there finance, insurance, real estate, transportation, are such feelings. This should be carried out manufacturing and retail have been the during the planning stages of your teambuilding industries most impacted by remote working. event, and will help guide both choice of activity The problem is that technological connectivity and event logistics. hoose teambuilding does not necessarily imply relational connectivity. Include informal conversation. A crucial that is a strong I am, for example, connected to more people than way to create bonds that go beyond “talking ever in my life, but I can’t say that I have more shop,” informal conversation should play an metaphor for the work important role in any teambuilding session. “friends.” The ability to connect with people is often lost under a superficial umbrella of technology, participants do and the This could include questions about hobbies which can result in both awkwardness and distance and interests that team members participate business they are in. among team members, employees and partners. in when not working — just make sure that In our line of work at Odyssey Teams, those the conversations and content aren’t always little things that we miss when over-relying on virtual business related. connections regularly manifest themselves. During our face-to-face Make your event inclusive. When team members work offsite, teambuilding programs, we regularly hear, “It’s so great putting a it’s easy to let personal achievements or special occasions slip face to a name!” and “I learned more about you in the last two hours through the cracks. Announcing and celebrating these highlights in than I have in the last year.” team meetings is a great way to build cohesion and to give remote However, when teambuilding events are well planned, workers a sense of community long after the session is over. collaboration can flourish — even when many team members Accommodate baby-boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials. Do participate virtually. Odyssey Teams has been in the business for each of these distinct generations need a customized teambuilding more than 25 years and along the way we have worked with industry plan? I don’t believe that they do! While your workforce population leaders such as Microsoft, Charles Schwab, Disney and LinkedIn. can be multigenerational and dispersed, there is a common theme of While trends come and go, we’ve found that several enduring truths wanting relevant and interactive corporate teambuilding activities to remain when creating a successful teambuilding program, including reinvigorate their “why” for working better together. those with remote participants. Now that remote working is a reality in the American workplace, companies and organizations cannot lose sight of how to best serve these Select an activity that “connects” to the workplace. People workers when it comes to planning and executing essential teambuilding give up a lot to attend face-to-face meetings, and what they do functions. By carefully considering connection and philanthropy, face should be more than just “fun.” Choose teambuilding that is a time and team climate, as well as engaging activities, inclusiveness and strong metaphor for the work they do and the business they are informal communication, you’ll be ensuring an optimum experience for in. Additionally, the activity can connect to the values of the host your scattered crew’s next teambuilding session. organization, a case in point being philanthropic teambuilding. These programs can be transformational for the recipients of As President and Founder of Chico, CA-based Odyssey Teams, what you build and/or donate, and simultaneously reflect the Inc., Bill John brings over 25 years of experience working with host organization’s values. When colleagues simply cannot be in senior executives from the world’s biggest organizations, John the same physical location, it is still possible to foster a sense of and Odyssey Teams received the Prevue Visionary Award collaboration. For example, one of my clients hosted a “Global Day for forward-thinking initiatives in the areas of environmental of Service” where participants built prosthetic hands for amputees sustainability, social innovation, community building and CSR.









Facilities & Destinations 2017 fall / WINTER

Powerful Learning and Training 8 keys to achieving optimum results By Doug McPhee


ver the last 30 years the best educators have observed certain principles in planning and executing teaching, training and facilitation. In what follows I discuss eight of these keys for engaging learners and enhancing learning. Each alone is valuable, and together they offer a philosophical foundation for learning and training programs. As an event planner, you may not be directly involved in educating attendees, but it is nevertheless important to be familiar with the best practices for do so. That will allow you to support those practices through the logistics of the session, and to better evaluate the performance of educators and speakers contracted for an event.


Limitless Capacity Acknowledge that all learners are capable. They have knowledge and experience when they join a class or training, and a limitless capacity for adding to that knowledge. The brain is an amazing organ with between 100 billion and 300 billion cells and well over a trillion connections. The brain never forgets what has meaning and makes sense.


Orchestrated Facilitation The challenge is to orchestrate learning so the brain will choose to remember, consolidate and integrate information. One approach to brain-compatible learning is to “chunk” information into bite-size pieces. Another method is to use metaphors, analogies and stories, which help to make new connections in the brain’s pathways. Those connections create dendrites, which hold learning together.


Personalization Adult learning is just like learning when we were children. It must be meaningful and engage us in the content. Personalizing actions, events and approaches is easier when you know your learners first. Build on prior knowledge and experience to engage everyone and acknowledge their competence. Involve learners in “real” work that applies their individual and collective knowledge. Students who have an opportunity to legitimize learning by applying it in their real world will succeed.


Congruent to Outcomes Make sure your words and actions match. Activities should always be aligned with intended outcomes. This goes back to the all-important planning aspect of teaching. Align all activities around the content with achievable, realistic outcomes.


Big Picture The brain looks for the big picture first, so plan lessons to include the overall context for learning. Situating the content in a broader context is part of “teaching for transfer,” the application of knowledge or skills learned in one scenario to another.

Facilities & Destinations 2017 fall / WINTER


Purposeful Spiral Look to provide a purposeful spiral — the revisiting of material already experienced and not yet mastered. Reviewing and discovering new applications (i.e., constructing new meaning) for knowledge enriches learning. Link the new learning with prior learning so that students create more connections.


Atmospheric Conditions Successful learning depends on the atmosphere. “Everything speaks,” as my good friend Bobbi DePorter, President of Quantum Learning Network, says. And it is true. Think about and create an atmosphere that combines the physical and emotional environments. Be conscious and intentional about what’s included in the room and its arrangement. The emotional environment is just as important as the physical space, so make it friendly. Leverage interpersonal relationships and humor, inviting all to contribute to the environment.


Change and Consistency Plan for change in the learning environment, but keep consistencies (e.g., rituals) over time. Both the reptilian brain (which likes stability) and the neocortex (which grows more dendrites with change) will be happy. A good lesson plan allows for spontaneity. There is great value in living in the moment.


Content and context are equally important in planning a learning program. While you are competent in the content, the methods of delivery and student engagement with the content are the most challenging parts of instruction. Context includes purpose, atmosphere, environment and design. Strong planning with congruent activities allows students to have choices that align with expected outcomes. Learn to reflect on your practice, modify your approaches and implement new ones. The most proficient trainers reflect on teaching and make changes with great intention. Seek to add one key element at a time to your learning presentations. This will enrich participant learning and success. Your goal for program delivery can be described as kaizen, a Japanese word that means small steps of continuous improvement. Making those small changes is necessary if you want to grow into better teaching models and practices. Doug McPhee, M.Ed, CMM, CMP, is Senior National Account Manager with Experient and consultant to Coast to Coast Consultare, Inc. An Experient team member since 2000, McPhee works with organizations to improve learning. His background includes consulting with corporations such as TJX Companies and Pfizer, as well as teaching elementary school. As a professional speaker and trainer, McPhee has presented to groups in the United States and abroad for over 35 years. McPhee has also served MPI in local and international positions, including President of the NENY MPI chapter, and has held the position of Chair of the Albany County CVB. 43


President Discover Central Massachusetts, Worcester, MA s president of Discover Central Massachusetts, Worcester native Christina Andreoli oversees the official tourism and travel agency for the region. She also serves as the Executive Vice President for the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, where she focuses her efforts on economic development and business growth in the city of Worcester.


JERRY CITO SVP of Convention Development NYC & Company New York, NY


hospitality professional with over 20 years of experience, Jerry Cito oversees NYC & Company’s network of global sales representatives, including the NYC-based staff, as well as regional offices in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. He serves as a trustee on PCMA’s Foundation Board, is a an Executive Committee member of USTA’s Meetings Mean Business Coalition, and sits on the MPI US Council.




President & CEO Philadelphia CVB, Philadelphia, PA ormerly Executive Vice President, Julie Coker Graham was appointed President and CEO of the PHLCVB following the retirement of President and CEO Jack Ferguson. A 21-year Hyatt Hotel Corporation veteran, she serves on the board of Center City District and has served on the board of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia.


Northeast CVB Executives


ince 2013, Don Jeffries has driven Rochester’s tourism industry to higher levels of growth through convention bookings, tourism marketing and event promotion to visitors. Jeffries has also installed a local ambassador campaign to further develop meeting and convention business, and has forged a stronger partnership between Visit Rochester and the Monroe County Sports Commission.


President and CEO Providence Warwick CVB, Providence, RI artha Sheridan oversees all day-to-day operations at the PWCVB, leading a staff of 22 destination sales and marketing professionals. In 2016, the PWCVB received a Providence Business News Business Excellence Award in the Not-for-Profit Category. She holds or has held leadership positions with organizations including the U.S. Travel Association and the MPI New England Chapter.



VP of Marketing & Interim President Visit Syracuse, Syracuse, NY arol Eaton has dedicated over two decades to the tourism industry working for Visit Syracuse. Eaton was recognized as a 2014 Star of the Industry and presented with Outstanding Tourism Executive of the Year award from the New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association. She currently serves on the board of the Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council and is a past Chairwoman.



President/CEO Discover Long Island, Long Island, NY risten Jarnagin came to Long Island from Arizona, where she spent almost 20 years in various capacities of the tourism industry, including destination marketing for the state of Arizona, branding a luxury resort and serving as the state’s lobbyist for tourism advocacy. Jarnagin was recently named one of the Top 50 Women in Business on Long Island.



President and CEO Visit Rochester, Rochester, NY



President and CEO Buffalo Niagara CVB, Niagara, NY


atrick Kaler has more than 20 years of experience in the travel and tourism industry. He joined Visit Buffalo Niagara in January of 2014 as President and CEO. Before moving to Buffalo, he served for three years as President and CEO of Visit Loudoun and previously oversaw Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board’s offices in multiple international markets, including China, Europe, Japan and Latin America.


Director of Convention Services Visit Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA risten Turner joined VisitPittsburgh in 2004 as Housing Coordinator and now oversees the Housing Services department as well as serves the larger citywide conventions. Her passion for customer service, travel and tourism are the perfect mix for a destination services professional. Turner is also a longtime member of the Event Service Professionals Association.



President Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau, Middletown, CT ver a career of almost four decades, Scott Phelps has handled everything from convention bureau membership and community affairs to sales operations and top executive responsibilities. He previously served as President of the Greater Hartford Convention & Visitors Bureau for 30 years, during which time the Connecticut Convention Center was constructed.



CEO Meet AC, Atlantic City, NJ erving in his current role since 2014, Jim Wood, FCDME, has helped Meet AC exceed its goals by attracting more diverse meetings and conventions to Atlantic City. In building the meetings market, Atlantic City has hosted several key industries shows, including MPI’s WEC 2016, Health Professions Network, TEAMS ‘16 Conference & Expo, African American Travel Conference and Meetings Quest 2017.


Facilities & DESTINATIONS 2017 Fall / Winter

Profile for Facilities Media Group

Facilities & Destinations - Fall/Winter 2017  

Cover Feature: Spectra Puts Industry Leading Ideas Into Practice || Inside: Small Market Review, 8 Keys To Optimal Learning, Caesars Reimagi...

Facilities & Destinations - Fall/Winter 2017  

Cover Feature: Spectra Puts Industry Leading Ideas Into Practice || Inside: Small Market Review, 8 Keys To Optimal Learning, Caesars Reimagi...