Facilities & Destinations - Winter 2019/2020

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WORLD CLASS CITY The Miami Beach Convention Center is a dynamic, vibrant business destination offering 500,000 square feet of flexible exhibit space, 84 breakout rooms, and a 60,000 square foot ballroom. Coming soon, this stunning venue will be enhanced with an 800-room headquarter hotel, making Miami Beach the ultimate meetings destination.


800-933-8448 ext. 3071 Meetings@MiamiMeetings.com Š Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau — The Official Destination Sales & Marketing Organization for Greater Miami and the Beaches





mong the highlights we look forward to at this year’s Expo! Expo! is the recognition IAEE bestows upon our industry’s young leaders via the 20 Under 30 program. The current roster of honorees includes professionals from organizations as diverse as the United States Institute for Theater Technology, Inc., Association of Equipment Manufacturers, American Association for Cancer Research, Food Processing Suppliers Association and International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions. And the honorees themselves are diverse in their positions, from exhibition management and sales to roles in social media, marketing, event technology and even audience engagement. It’s encouraging to see the younger generation making inroads into all facets of the events industry, and garnering praise for their achievements as well as educational and networking opportunities thanks to IAEE’s program. In this issue, we recognize certain senior-level leaders who have helped turn around their city’s hospitality industry. Since 2013, Cleveland’s star has been rising in the convention market, due to the state-of-the-art Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland, connected Hilton Cleveland Downtown and burgeoning entertainment scene. Among the hospitality leaders that have been involved in facilitating and/or promoting these developments are George Hillow, Executive Director, Cuyahoga County Convention Facilities Development Corporation; Ron King, General Manager, Huntington Convention Center; Teri Agosta, General Manager, Hilton Cleveland Downtown; and David Gilbert, President/CEO, Destination Cleveland. In our cover story, these executives and others share their perspective on Cleveland’s renaissance and what lies ahead for this great American city. If last year is any indication, Cleveland will continue to forge ties with meeting industry associations. In 2018, the city hosted the PCMA Education Conference and became a Corporate Partner of ASAE. “Destination Cleveland is a dedicated supporter of our community,” said ASAE President and CEO John H. Graham at the time, “and this partnership will provide our members a great opportunity to learn more about how Cleveland has expanded its facilities and overall infrastructure to better serve and host association meetings and conventions.” I expect that our “inside story” of Cleveland’s comeback will also enlighten many planners. And perhaps some young professionals in our field will be inspired by the sweeping, positive economic change brought about by the vision and effort of Cleveland’s civic and hospitality leaders.

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

FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS winter For Association & Corporate Meeting Planners & Tradeshow Professionals


Volume 26 No. 4

Chief Operating Officer David Korn Associate Publisher Michael Caffin Editorial Director George Seli Contributing Editors Anthony Bilden Laura Janelle Downey Debi Lander Deborah Shapiro Creative Direction & Design AR Design Business Operations David Mermelstein © Copyright 2019 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 quarterly by Bedrock Communications, Inc., 55 East 59th Street, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10022. Telephone: (212) 532-4150. Fax: (435) 578-8193. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to. PO Box 1807, New York, NY 10150 Cover ad space is available by contacting a Facilities advertising account executive at (212) 532-4150.


In Brief................................................................................................................................. 4 State Spotlight: Ohio......................................................................................................... 14 Perspectives A Security Shopping List, by Peter Alexan........................................................................ 43 Make F&B the Best It Can Be, by Courtney Dyer and Beth Williamson............................. 45 Meeting Room Must-Haves, by Mercy Ehrler..................................................................... 46 AV Your Way, by Steve Wildemann.................................................................................... 47


Cleveland’s Comeback....................................................................................................... 16 Mid-Market Review............................................................................................................ 35 Destinations Texas.................................................................................................................................. 22 San Francisco..................................................................................................................... 25 Vail..................................................................................................................................... 29 Venue Reviews Henderson Beach Resort & Spa, Destin, FL....................................................................... 31 NOPSI, New Orleans, LA................................................................................................... 33


Posing in an homage to the Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover, this group of hospitality leaders have proven themselves “rock stars” in driving Cleveland’s resurgence as a convention destination. The home of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has a newfound fame among groups, and deservedly so. A thoroughly modern convention center, awardwinning headquarters hotel, distinctive downtown entertainment and robust airlift are among the reasons.

Advertiser Index................................................................................................................ 48





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CHICAGO, IL — PCMA recently announced that Convening Leaders will be hosted by Caesars Entertainment at CAESARS FORUM in Las Vegas, NV, from Jan. 9-12, 2022 and by Columbus, OH, from Jan. 8-11, 2023. “We are collaborating with two incredible host city partners, each with their own inspirational story on how they are transforming their organizations and communities through business events,” said Sherrif Karamat, CAE, President and CEO of PCMA. “Caesars Entertainment has demonstrated its commitment to the economic and social power of business events with the opening of CAESARS FORUM in Las Vegas, while the world is watching how Columbus is using business events as a catalyst for its prosperity as a smart city of the future.” CAESARS FORUM, a 550,000-sq.-ft. conference center, opens in March 2020. Experience Columbus will host PCMA at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. CHICAGO, IL — PCMA recently named Marco Bloemendaal Global Vice President of Business Development. He joined the organization on Dec. 2 and reports to Chief Business Officer Mona Cotton. Previously, Bloemendaal served as Senior Vice President of Sales for VISIT Milwaukee. He has also held senior sales roles at 4

began serving as MPI’s Senior Vice President of Experience on Sept. 9. Reporting to COO Darren Temple, Gregg ensures MPI continues to empower its community with education, events and experiences that continuously elevate their meetings and careers, according to the organization. Gregg, an MPI Board of Directors member since 2014, previously served as Senior Vice President for PRA.

Marco Bloemendaal, PCMA

VISIT Seattle, Experience Columbus and the Orlando/ Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau. CINCINNATI, OH — The Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau has appointed local sales professional Kathy Ehlman Senior Sales Manager for Specialty Markets. In this role, Ehlman is responsible for prospecting for new business in the state association, cultural fine arts, hobby and direct sales segments. Most recently, Ehlman was a top producer as a Senior Sales Manager for the sports, state association and specialty markets at meetNKY, the Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Annette Gregg, MPI

HONOLULU, HI — The Hawaii Convention Center has promoted Sherry Pokakaʻa to Director of Event Management from Associate Director of Events, and Marybeth Jenkins to Event Manager from Administrative Assistant, Events. Pokakaʻa has

Sherry Pokaka‘a, Hawaii Convention Center

Kathy Ehlman, Cincinnati USA CVB

DALLAS, TX —Annette Gregg, CMM, MBA,

22 years of convention experience, and was part of the team that opened the Center in 1997. She has managed numerous highprofile, international, public,

Marybeth Jenkins, Hawaii Convention Center

corporate and returning local events. Jenkins has 20 years of events experience. She previously served as the Pageant and School Director for Susan Page Modeling, and as an Artist Liaison and Office Coordinator at TMR Events in Hawaii. LAS VEGAS, NV — In September, the Events Industry Council launched the EIC Centre for Sustainable Events, with the goal of furthering adoption of sustainable practices across the industry, and to support a stronger alignment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. A central initiative of the new Centre is the release of the EIC Sustainable Event Standards, formerly the APEX/ ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Meeting Standards. More than 100 of the industry’s leading practitioners from across 15 countries contributed to the development of the new standards. Resources available through the virtual center include online reference materials, ondemand education via EIC’s new learning management system, monthly webinars and access to education from EIC’s 33 member organizations. For more information, visit www. eventscouncil.org/CSE.







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DETROIT, MI — TCF Center has been awarded LEED Gold Certification. Spanning 2.4 million sq. ft., the convention center is now the largest LEED-certified building in the state of Michigan. TCF Center’s $279 million renovation in 2015 included significant upgrades in energy-saving HVAC equipment, water-saving fixtures and a living green roof. With a grant from the Smart Buildings Detroit Energy Conservation Program, the venue also installed overall energyreduction enhancements. They included $9.9 million in insulation, computerized mechanical and lighting controls, induction lighting in all exhibit halls, enclosed loading docks and energyefficient escalators.

TCF Center GM Claude Molinari (left) receives the LEED Gold Certification plaque from Mahesh Ramanujam, President and CEO of the USGBC.

HONOLULU, HI — On Oct. 1, the LEED Gold-certified Hawaii Convention Center hosted its first-ever zerowaste event, the Pacific Building Trade Expo. The Center worked with the Expo to organize the zero-waste efforts, helping 6

to divert 1,283 pounds of waste from the landfill. This process included reducing, reusing, sorting and recycling, as well as sending items to H-POWER, the Honolulu Program of Waste Energy Recovery. “Not only are we reducing the amount of waste sent to the landfill, thereby cutting air, soil and water pollution, but we are also recovering valuable resources that can be repurposed for other uses. This will serve as a springboard for future zero-waste events,” commented Teri Orton, General Manager of the Hawaii Convention Center, managed by ASM Global. LAS VEGAS, NV — On Oct. 24, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) marked a construction milestone for the Las Vegas Convention Center’s 1.4 million-sq.-ft expansion, with more than 50 percent completed. “We’re excited to show off the unobstructed views of the new 600,000-sq.-ft. West Hall,” said Lori NelsonKraft, Senior Vice President of Communications and Government Affairs. “When completed, this will feature the largest column-free space in North America.” The expansion is expected to be completed in December 2020. Renovation of the existing 3.2 million-sq.ft. convention center will begin in summer 2021, and the entire $1.52 billion development is expected to be completed in 2024.

LAS VEGAS, NV — Construction of a $52.5 million underground people mover, designed by Elon Musk’s The Boring Company, is under way at the Las Vegas Convention Center campus. The people mover will include three passenger stations connecting the existing 3.2 million sq. ft. of convention space with the Center’s new 1.4 millionsq.-ft. West Hall, currently under construction. When completed in January 2021, the people mover will be comprised of two vehicular tunnels of approximately one mile each, allowing passengers to traverse the 200-acre campus in about one minute. The system will have the potential to expand and link key attractions including Downtown Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Boulevard Resort Corridor and McCarran International Airport. LAS VEGAS, NV, and STAMFORD, CT — Last month, Centerplate was awarded the long-term contract with World Market Center Las Vegas to provide hospitality and food service at the newly enhanced venue, following a competitive bidding process. The contract grants Centerplate management of catering, food and beverage, and concessions services at the venue. World Market Center Las Vegas maintains a five million-sq.-ft. campus with three buildings, and The Expo at World Market Center Las Vegas is slated to open In July 2020. Offering 194,785 gross sq. ft. of exhibit space, the new facility will host tradeshows as well as corporate and private events. “We are

honored and ecstatic to be chosen for this new and exciting venue, a market we know well,” said Steve Pangburn, Centerplate Chief Executive Officer. “Our team stands ready to provide outstanding guest experiences through a focus on quality and customer service, partnerships with premium local, regional and national partners, and innovative new design.” PORTLAND, OR — The Oregon Convention Center has completed a $40 million, 14-month renovation that imparted a Pacific Northwest motif to the carpets throughout the building, including the 25,000-sq.-ft. ballroom and pre-function area. The former’s ceiling design now resembles a forest canopy, while the latter displays a topographic representation of the Cascade Mountain range. The ballroom was also engineered for maximum sound absorption. In addition, the plaza at the north end of the convention center now includes an amphitheaterlike area for outdoor concerts, receptions and other events. TUCSON, AZ — In August, the Rio Nuevo Board of Directors unanimously approved a $65 million improvement plan for the Tucson Convention Center campus. Projected to last two years, the renovation will include upgrades to the Tucson Music Hall, the Leo Rich Theater and the Eckbo Plaza and Fountain. The plan includes $14.7 million in convention center upgrades and a $9.2 million meeting room expansion.


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ABILENE, TX — A 206room DoubleTree by Hilton opens in downtown Abilene in late 2021. Located near the Abilene Convention Center, the full-service hotel will include 38.700 sq. ft. of meeting space, a restaurant, bar and lounge, and 200 free parking spaces. EAGAN, MN — The Omni Viking Lakes Hotel is scheduled to open on the Viking Lakes mixed-use development next fall. The 320-room hotel will house 35,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, along with a specialty restaurant, spa and fitness

center. It is located along I-494 with easy access to both Minneapolis and St. Paul downtowns, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and Mall of America. HOLLYWOOD, FL — The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood opened the new Rock Spa & Salon on Oct. 24. The 42,000-sq.-ft. luxury spa, salon and fitness center is one of the largest wellness venues in South Florida. The facility offers 21 individual treatment rooms; ladies and men’s locker rooms with

steam, sauna, hot tubs and relaxation areas; as well as co-ed lap pool, hot and cold plunge pools and sauna. The fitness center features the latest technologybased equipment from Technogym. HOUSTON, TX — The Hilton Houston North will undergo a $35 million renovation to include all guestrooms and suites, common areas and meeting spaces. Expected to be complete by April 2020, the renovation will enhance the 18,000-sq.-ft. ballroom and 12 salons used for small meetings and breakout spaces. In addition, the 40,000-sq.-ft. atrium lobby will be completely reimagined to include a new Tech Center, Lobby Lounge Bar, Herb N’ Kitchen Grab &

Go, Hearth Restaurant and a Starbucks. INDIAN WELLS, CA — Renaissance Indian Wells has been rebranded as Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa at Indian Wells following a multimillion-dollar transformation that included a complete makeover of its 560 guestrooms including 103 suites, redesigned corridors, a new multistory lobby, new fitness center, pool-area enhancements and new lobby bar. IRVING, TX — Last month, the Westin Dallas Fort Worth Airport completed interior renovations to its 506 guestrooms, restaurant and bar, Westin Club, fitness center and public spaces. The Continued on page 10

Rendering of the Omni Viking Lakes Hotel, Eagan, MN



Boise’s Best. At its Centre. Centrally located in the heart of vibrant downtown Boise, the newly expanded Boise Centre has a variety of customizable meeting spaces, modern amenities, exceptional culinary services and a friendly and dedicated staff ready to make your next event an unforgettable experience. Explore Idaho’s premier convention center for yourself.

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Continued from page 8

property houses over 34,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. NASHVILLE, TN — The new Drury Plaza Hotel opens this winter in downtown Nashville. Located in the city’s popular SoBro district, the hotel will feature 389 guestrooms and more than 7,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. Local attractions include Bridgestone Arena, Country Music Hall of Fame and Ryman Auditorium. NEW ORLEANS, LA — Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is developing a new property in New

Orleans, scheduled to open in early 2020. The 202-room Kimpton Hotel Fontenot, located just blocks from the Central Business District and the French Quarter, will pay homage to the city’s rich musical history. The property will feature a signature restaurant and bar and a corner café. NEW YORK, NY — Marriott International recently purchased the 270room W New York – Union Square for $206 million, with plans for a significant renovation. According to the company, the existing hotel will be transformed into

a cutting-edge W Hotels showcase. Currently the property offers 7,000 sq. ft. of function space. SAN FRANCISCO, CA — The San Francisco Marriott Marquis has completed an extensive transformation that redesigned its 1,500 guestrooms, adding multipurpose work surfaces and smart TVs are equipped with streaming services including Netflix, Hulu, and curated TED Talks. The project also covered the hotel’s public spaces, including the all-day M Club lounge, multiple dining options, health and fitness center, and expansive meeting and event spaces. The Marriott Marquis offers 65 renovated rooms spanning more than 133,000 sq. ft. of function space. TAMPA, FL — The Seminole Hard Rock

Hotel & Casino Tampa officially unveiled its $700 million expansion on Oct. 23 following the brand’s signature Guitar Smash and a high wire walk by the “King of the High Wire,” Nik Wallenda. Another highlight was Keith Urban’s performance in the property’s new, 1,500-seat Hard Rock Event Center. The expansion also includes a new, 562-room hotel tower, three pools and a 26,000-sq.ft. Rock Spa & Salon. WASHINGTON, DC — The new Thompson Washington D.C. opens in December. Located in the emerging Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, the property offers more than 7,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor function space. The design of the 225 guestrooms was inspired by historic Navy Yard.

The signature Guitar Smash christened the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa’s $700 million expansion.



DOWNTOWN DURHAM'S PREMIER MEETING AND CONFERENCE DESTINATION Meet in the heart of vibrant Downtown - just steps away from Durham’s newest hotspots, restaurants, hotels, shops, and art galleries. With 35,000 square feet of versatile meeting and event space, a team of planning professionals, exceptional cuisine prepared by culinary experts, on-site audio visual and exhibitor services, we are the perfect fit for any occasion.


CAUSEWAY BAY, HONG KONG — Mandarin Oriental’s Mindful Meetings Offer invites planners to book a meeting of at least 20 rooms with any Mindful Meeting component by Dec. 31 and give attendees Mandarin Oriental Signature oils, developed by the awardwinning U.K. based company, Aromatherapy Associates. Planners can choose to either incorporate the oils into their meeting or give them as a welcome or turndown gift. For more information, visit mandarinoriental. com/luxury-hotel/venues/ mindful-meetings/offer.

LITCHFIELD PARK, AZ — The Wigwam is Enhancing the Way the World Meets with a special offer over value dates in December 2019; Jan. 1-15, 2020; and May, June, July, August, September and December 2020. Offer includes up to 8 12

percent rebate to the master account; 2 percent donation to charity of planner’s choice; and a complimentary onehour Wigwam Pow Wow reception. Contract must be signed by Dec. 31, 2019. For further information, call (877) 752-6140.

MONTAUK, NY and NEWPORT, RI — Gurney’s Resorts is offering a “Meet Me By The Water” discounted group rate promotion available at Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, Montauk, NY, and Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina, Newport, RI. Available through April 30, 2020, the promotion offers discounted group rates starting at $129 for Gurney’s Newport and $210 for Gurney’s Montauk; waived rental fees and waived resort fees; 20 percent off AV; and 10 percent off F&B; one per 40 complimentary room policy; one per 20 complimentary upgrade policy; 12 percent commission for meeting planners; $500 AMEX gift card with a total spend of $5,000 or more applied to the master account; and a $1,000 AMEX gift card with a total spend of $10,000 or more applied to the master account. Contract must be signed by Dec. 31. For more information, contact Kasey McKenna at (401) 851-3378.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Meet Kimpton, Get Rewarded, a promotion available at various participating Kimpton hotels, allows planners to earn triple IHG Rewards Club Points for all qualified bookings. In addition, when booking over 10 rooms per night, planners are eligible for a free meeting room over their program dates. Book by Feb. 1, 2020 and meet by Dec. 31, 2020 to take advantage of the offer. For more information, call (888) 954-6786 or email 1800meeting@ihg.com.

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch Group Special Offer applies to meetings booked by Dec. 31, 2019. Based on number rooms on peak nights, planners can select exclusive value additions including 20 percent allowable attrition; 20 percent discount on non-package banquet dinner menu pricing; complimentary one-hour beer, wine and margarita reception; 10 percent discount at dining outlets; and more. For more details and to RFP, visit destinationhotels.com/ scottsdale-resort/offers/ new-meeting-spaces-offer.

SEATTLE, WA — Motif Seattle is offering the Pick Your Perks! promotion to groups booking by Dec. 31 and actualizing by Dec. 31, 2020. Planners can select one to five perks based on number of peak room nights. Perks include 1:40 complimentary rooms; 10 percent F&B discount; 20 percent discount on PSAV equipment; complimentary meeting room rental with F&B minimum; 2 percent rebate to master account; 20,000 World of Hyatt bonus points; complimentary coffee break with breakfast or lunch contracted; complimentary basic meeting Wi-Fi; and more. For more information, call (206) 971-8012 or email motifseattlesales@ destinationhotels.com.

SHARONVILLE, OH — The Greater Cincinnati CVB and the Sharonville Convention Center’s $2K PayDay promotion offers planners over $2,000 in savings for new meetings booked for 2020. Offer includes complimentary morning or afternoon break, breakout meeting rooms, and AV screen and projector, as well as discounted room rates and one complimentary guestroom at the Hyatt Place. For more information, contact the sales team at (513) 771-7744.


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Following is a roundup of meeting news from the Buckeye State. For updates on Cleveland’s meeting industry, see this issue’s cover story, page 16.


•A kron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau President and CEO Gregg Mervis was awarded the Ohio Travel Association’s Paul Sherlock Award during its annual Conference on Travel, held Oct. 16-18 in West Chester, OH. Named after a pioneer in Ohio tourism, the award recognizes individuals with outstanding accomplishments in the state’s tourism industry. Mervis currently serves on the Board of Directors for Downtown Akron Partnership, ArtsNow, Akron Roundtable and the FirstEnergy AllAmerican Soap Box Derby. He has helped foster the hospitality economy at the state level as a Past Board President of the Ohio Travel Association and through involvement with the Ohio Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus and Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association. •D uring the same event, Jim Mahon, Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau Vice President of Marketing & Brand Management, was installed as the Ohio Travel Association’s 50th President of the Board of Directors.


•S haronville and Hamilton County officials plan to expand the Sharonville Convention Center’s exhibit space from 21,000 sq. ft. to about 40,000 sq. ft. According to the convention center’s Executive Director, Jim Downton, the expansion would create a space for midsized conventions that are too small for the Duke Energy Convention Center. The plan is to finalize funding and construction plans by the end of this year, begin work on the building next summer, and complete the project by summer 2021. • The Sharonville Hotel & Event Center reopens as the Delta Hotel by Marriott Cincinnati in February, following a $9.5 million renovation. Located across from the Sharonville Convention Center, the 226-room hotel will offer 14,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, a full-service restaurant, year-round swimming pool and other amenities. •A 143-room Kimpton Hotel opens next year in the historic Traction Building, located three blocks from the Duke 14

Energy Convention Center. Built in 1902, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. • The Graduate Hotel Cincinnati will replace the Kingsgate Conference Center. The property offers a 500-capacity Grand Ballroom and a variety of amphitheaters and conference rooms. Reservations will be accepted beginning March 23. •T hird Eye Brewing Company, a craft brewery and restaurant, opened this year in Sharonville. The 6,000-sq.-ft. taproom is complemented by 3,600 sq. ft. of outdoor space with a covered porch.


• I n September, the Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC) earned LEED Silver Certification for Building Operations + Maintenance – Existing Building and announced its commitment to offsetting its entire electricity usage to wind energy. In May 2018, the GCCC earned LEED 2009 New Construction and Major Renovations Silver certification in connection with its $140 million expansion and renovation project. • The Hilton Columbus Downtown is debuting a 468-room tower in 2022, bringing the total number of guestrooms to 1,000 and total meeting space to 75,000 sq. ft. The tower will include rooftop event space and an “open fire” restaurant. •T he Fives, billed as the largest event venue in downtown Columbus, opens next year. The Fives will accommodate seated events for over 400 guests and receptions for over 300 guests. A rooftop terrace will be able to host over 300 attendees. • I n early 2020, a new food destination from Cameron Mitchell Restaurants opens in the Italian Village neighborhood. Budd Dairy Food Hall will include multiple chef-driven restaurants, bars, a live-performance stage, interactive games, private event space and a rooftop deck. •B y 2022, the North Market will expand by 11,000 sq. ft., including 4,400 sq. ft. of public and event space and 3,300 sq. ft. of outdoor space. The expansion is part of a $92 million mixed-use project that will feature a 210-room boutique hotel, residential units and office space. FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2019-2020 WINTER

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f there ever was a watershed in a city’s meetings industry, it venerable Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to Playhouse Square — the was Cleveland’s completion of the Huntington Convention largest performing arts center outside of New York. Center and the ensuing major growth in its hotel infrastrucThe civic leaders that catalyzed this transformation have ture. Prior to the convention center’s opening in 2013, the seen the fruits of their labor in recent years. The revitalized home of the Browns had been “down and out” in the convention industry for nearly 25 years, with “The increase in meetings business has an outdated convention center and brought more than a million visitors to our minimal lodging and entertainment community, resulting in the creation of options. Thanks to visionary planning by local leaders, all those deficits are thousands of hospitality industry-related now assets. Today, groups are drawn jobs [and] millions of dollars in economic to Cleveland’s state-of-the-art convention center surrounded by 5,000 guestdevelopment.” rooms in walking distance, including —George Hillow, Executive Director, Cuyahoga County the attached Hilton Cleveland Convention Facilities Development Corporation Downtown. Classic Cleveland attractions are also nearby, from the 16


strategy. We’ve been a city that typically is booking a few years out, and we now have a stronger focus on booking three to five years in the future to further elevate our business levels.” There are numerous examples of meeting groups that have chosen Cleveland specifically due to the enhanced infrastructure. One is Experient’s EnVision conference in 2017. “The event planning company is headquartered in the region, but had not held their annual event here because the city didn’t have the tourism infrastructure in the past,” Taylor explains. “Similarly, Hyland hosted its annual Community Live event here in 2019 and brought more than 2,700 attendees to Cleveland, the company’s hometown. Other examples are the American Bus Association, which brought more than 3,000 attendees to town in 2017, and the PCMA Education Conference held in Cleveland in 2018.” Further affirming the city’s resurgence in the meetings market, Experient and Cvent have ranked Cleveland a Top 30 and Top 50 destination, respectively.


meetings industry has been an economic powerhouse for the city, observes George Hillow, Executive Director, Cuyahoga County Convention Facilities Development Corporation. “The increase in meetings business has brought more than a million convention attendees to our community, resulting in the creation of thousands of hospitality industry-related jobs, millions of dollars in economic development and contributed to a revitalized downtown with a sharp increase in downtown residency,” he relates. And the escalation in meetings has not yet plateaued. “We continue to see significant year-over-year growth since 2012,” says Gordon Taylor III, Vice President of Convention Sales & Services, Destination Cleveland. “More recently, we are seeing a trend of business booking farther out, which ties in to our

But the new convention center and hotel growth alone haven’t driven this success. The promotional prowess of Destination Cleveland has been invaluable in raising awareness among meeting planners. “One way we’ve increased our exposure of our revitalized convention package is by targeting industry events that bring the influential meeting planners to town,” says David Gilbert, President/CEO, Destination Cleveland. “We know that seeing is believing, and getting people to experience Cleveland first-hand is an effective way to show all our region has to offer.” Gilbert’s staff looks forward to hosting more meeting planners and decision-makers at next year’s ASAE Leaders Retreat. “We’ve also utilized the exposure of high-profile events held in Cleveland to illustrate the city’s capabilities and effectiveness as a host city for large meetings and events,” he adds. “From the Republican National Convention in 2016 to the MLB All-Star

“Once meeting attendees step outside the convention center, it’s easy to experience the city’s signature offerings of sports, culture and rock and roll.” —David Gilbert, President/CEO, Destination Cleveland

Game in 2019 and the upcoming NFL Draft in 2021 and NBA All-Star Game in 2022, having our city in the national spotlight allows us to highlight the positive experience event organizers and attendees encounter when choosing Cleveland.” Part of that positive experience is the CVB’s attendancebuilding assistance. “One of the most impactful ways we help build attendance is by providing one-on-one support to event organizers and offering materials and resources that are tailored FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2019-2020 WINTER


to their specific audience,” Taylor says. “From customized pre-promote materials to a ‘Come Early, Stay Late’ campaign that encourages event attendees to explore the city based on their interests, our team helps organizers meet and surpass attendance goals.”


Destination Cleveland’s marketing creativity is evident from the energetic videos used to promote the Huntington Convention Center, a facility with many virtues to extol. Managed by ASM Global, the Center houses 410,000 sq. ft. of function space, comprised of a 225,000-sq.-ft. exhibit hall, 32,000-sq.-ft. Grand Ballroom, 11,000-sq.-ft. Atrium Ballroom and 41 meeting rooms, including a high-tech conference center and executive boardroom. Apart from its diversity of spaces, the facility excels in the key areas of sustainability, technology, logistics and F&B. Hillow notes that the “12.5-acre green roof has become a magnificent park space for downtown residents and visitors” and points out the extensive use of natural light. “Our LEED Goldcertified building features magnificent light spaces through the installation of glass panels in the Global Center Atrium, the Lakeside Avenue entrance and the floor-to-ceiling glass on the far north end of the building. This use of natural light lessens the demand for artificial lighting and maintains views to Lake Erie.” On the technology front, significant upgrades have been made by the in-house IT team since the Center debuted in 2013. Regarding logistics, move-in for shows is “much easier and more economical” thanks to the 20 loading docks and Exhibit Hall floor access, according to General Manager Ron King. Coordinating sessions outside the Center is simplified with additional meeting rooms at the Global Center for Health Innovation and connected Hilton Cleveland Downtown and Public Auditorium. When it comes to food service, the Huntington Convention Center caters to attendees favoring locally sourced ingredients with an onsite farm, known as The Real Farmville, that houses chickens, bees, pigs and goats, as well as a variety of produce. The local sourcing also extends into the city and region. Says King, “Our team creates a world-class culinary experience, focusing on locally sourced meats, cheeses and produce from Cleveland’s vibrant food scene, including

“Our team creates a world-class culinary experience, focusing on locally sourced meats, cheeses and produce from Cleveland’s vibrant food scene.” —Ron King, General Manager, Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland



The resurgence of Cleveland’s meetings industry over the last seven years has spawned many successful events beyond association and corporate meetings. A stellar example is Major League Baseball’s PLAY BALL PARK, held July 5-9 at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland. The largest indoor and outdoor interactive baseball theme park in the world, PLAY BALL PARK was visited by nearly 150,000 people during All-Star Week. The indoor portion was hosted in the Convention Center Exhibit Halls, meeting rooms and Grand Ballroom, while the outdoor portion was hosted on the facility’s roof, Cleveland Malls B & C. “The PLAY BALL PARK event for MLB this year was held both indoors and outdoors, so it was great to have the flexibility to make changes,” says Jacqueline Secaira-Cotto, Director of Special Events, Major League Baseball. “The meeting space was great and the Convention Center team was so flexible and open to working with MLB when we had different things come up that we originally didn’t think that we’d need. To have the staff be open to working with us and be flexible was very beneficial.” Secaira-Cotto not only commends the Huntington Convention Center, but all the other stakeholders in the planning process as well, including the City of Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and the Cleveland Indians. “We worked closely together for a long time to put this event together,” she says. “We were really happy that the All-Star Game and PLAY BALL PARK were in Cleveland and that it was so successful. “ —G.S. West Side Market and Farmer Lee Jones and Chef’s Garden, a sustainable, 350-acre family farm in Huron that provides chefs worldwide with seasonal specialty vegetables, microgreens, herbs and edible flowers.” The value that the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland delivers in all these areas has resulted in a steady rise in business, with profits more than $1 million ahead of projections as of this summer. Travis Poppell, the facility’s Director of Sales, notes that “the three strongest markets for Cleveland in 2019 were Communication/IT, Education and Medical/Healthcare, followed by Consumer Goods & Retail Trade, and Sports, Travel and Amusement. As a community, our strengths are healthcare and manufacturing, and the conventions that book Cleveland are FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2019-2020 WINTER

East Fourth Street’s dynamic entertainment and dining scene is ideal for attendees’ free time.

indicative of those strengths.” Organizations in all fields and industries, particularly those bringing in thousands of delegates, can benefit from a campus that includes several facilities beyond the convention center. “We have hosted several large conventions and tradeshows (more than 5,000 attendees) that utilized our entire campus, including meeting and sleeping rooms in the Hilton hotel; our entire building, including Exhibit Halls and 35 meeting rooms; the Global Center meeting rooms; and Public Auditorium spaces for meetings and additional exhibit space,” Poppell explains. “Our Convention Center District also includes three adjacent hotels, the Westin, Drury, and Marriott at Key Tower, that provide nearly 1,000 hotel rooms alongside the 600-room Hilton. It’s a very connected, easy-to-reach destination that also is right in the middle of a vibrant downtown.”


The Hilton is the centerpiece of the city’s lodging industry from a convention standpoint, but it is also a top performer within the Hilton brand, having won the 2018 Connie Award in the “500 Rooms or More” category. The honor indicates excellence in Overall Guest Experience and Overall Guest Service, as well as a high Quality Assurance Score. Several clients of the Huntington Convention Center experience the Hilton’s meeting services as well. With over 50,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including a 20,825-sq.-ft. ballroom, the hotel is FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2019-2020 WINTER

an ample resource for such groups. “Many groups that have more robust general sessions/ exhibits in the center will elect to host smaller board or regional meetings with our hotel or utilize the Hilton for receptions and dinners,” explains Hilton General Manager Teri Agosta. “Some recent examples are Associated Wire Rope Fabricators, Special Libraries, AAMI-Association for the Advancement of Medical Instruments and Content Marketing Worldwide.” Agosta highlights the amenities meeting groups appreciate most about the hotel: “the connectivity to the convention center, our team members, the views from our guestrooms and meeting space, our outlets including Bar 32 and Eliot’s Living Room for networking opportunities, and all of the public space seating available for checking emails and making calls on breaks in between meetings.” The Hilton Cleveland Downtown’s 600 guestrooms are part of an inventory of 24,000 in the Greater Cleveland region, representing a great variety in hotel brands and price points. Since 2016, many new properties have opened in Downtown Cleveland and several have undergone major renovations. Properties opened this year include Tru by Hilton Cleveland Midtown Hotel and Residence Inn by Marriott, both near the Cleveland Clinic. In 2018, the 400-room Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Tower completed a transformation that enhanced the lobby and added the Trilogy Spa & Fitness Center and the new St. Clair Ballroom. Part of the property’s 19

17,918 sq. ft. of function space, the ballroom accommodates up to 300 guests and features floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Lake Erie. Also last year, the 205-room Crowne Plaza Cleveland at Playhouse Square completed a $6 million renovation adding 36 Chandelier Suites, mimicking the adjacent Playhouse Square chandelier. The WorkLife guestrooms are ideal for meeting groups, who also have 13,079 sq. ft. of meeting space at their disposal.

of more than 100 diverse ethnicities. New options this year include Lindey’s Lake House, with views of the Cuyahoga River; Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink, by Miami-based Chef Michael Schwartz; Sawyer’s, by James Beard Award winner Jonathon Sawyer; Goma, a Japanese fusion by award-winning chef Dante Boccuzzi; and Zhug, featuring Israeli dishes from Doug Katz, chef/partner of Provenance at the Cleveland Museum of Art.



A city’s “walkability” is a big selling point in today’s meetings market. Attendees don’t want to incur the time and expense to reach offsite dining and entertainment venues located far from their meeting venue. In Cleveland, a short walk will take delegates to Lake Erie, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Playhouse Square theater district, East Fourth Street entertainment district and major sports venues including FirstEnergy Stadium (home of the Cleveland Browns), Progressive Field (home of the Cleveland Indians) and Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The latter debuted a $185 million transformation this fall, adding 22 unique meeting and banquet spaces. “Cleveland’s renaissance and recent investments in visitor-related infrastructure offers an exciting downtown that is convenient for visitors to explore,” Gilbert says. “Once meeting attendees step outside the convention center, it’s easy to experience the city’s signature offerings of sports, culture and rock and roll.” He points to a few new developments in the city’s entertainment offerings: “The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has introduced an immersive Power of Rock theater experience, an All-Access Café with specialties from popular Cleveland chefs, and a reimagined Hall of Fame Experience. On the riverfront, the Flats East Bank entertainment district has undergone a significant rejuvenation, including an expansive boardwalk and a number of dining, nightlife and entertainment options for visitors.” On the dining front, Cleveland blends the culinary traditions

Cleveland is keen to maintaining and augmenting its newfound level of success in the meetings market. Accordingly, Destination Cleveland has grown its Convention Sales and Convention Services teams to ensure it can fulfill the needs of its clientele. “Since 2012, we have doubled the size of our Convention Sales team to leverage the positive meetings momentum and increased interest that the organization is experiencing,” says Gilbert. “This includes an enhanced presence in other markets with the addition of two national sales managers serving the association market in Washington, DC, and a national sales manager in Chicago.” As for the expanded Convention Services team, its members are “experts in all things Cleveland and help partners create a flawless event,” he adds. “They can assist with elements like programming development, arranging unique venues, customized airport greetings, performances or food trucks at events and leveraging partnerships to maximize cost savings.” With the city’s convention game in full swing, it makes sense that Destination Cleveland is bringing more players online. And while the emphasis now is on promoting Cleveland’s new virtues as opposed to further infrastructure development, there is always room for improvement. “We are relatively new in the convention industry and will continue to pursue additional connectivity to other hotels,” Hillow says. As it stands, Cleveland’s first-rate convention center, hotel portfolio and overall downtown package have become a force to be reckoned with in the national meetings market.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, a visual and cultural icon of Cleveland 20


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The heartbeat of the global business events community 21


TEXAS A sunset cruise on Austin’s Lady Bird Lake is a memorable addition to any meeting program.

Lodging and offsite venue development create more opportunities for groups in the Lone Star State


By Anthony Bilden

hree of Texas’s most high-profile cities — its capital, largest city, and the home of the Alamo — are becoming even more inviting destinations for meeting groups. Planners considering Texas can count on significant hotel development in Austin, particularly driven by Marriott; cultural institution enhancement in Houston; and various new offsite venues in San Antonio, showcasing nature, sports and craft spirits, respectively.


Austin has become a second-tier city with first-tier popularity, and it’s easy to see why. Buzzing with entrepreneurs, chefs, artists and musicians, Austin brings a creative energy to the meetings it hosts. Each night, for example, attendees have a selection of more than 250 live music venues representing a variety of genres. Classic option include the Broken Spoke, billed as “the last true Texas dance hall”; the Continental Club, home to blues, rock and folk since 1957; and Antone’s, the “home of the blues” and stomping ground of the great Stevie Ray Vaughan. Newer stages include Mohawk and 3TEN. Attendees can pair the sonic experience with a gustatory one, sampling everything from fine dining to indigenous offerings like barbecue and Tex-Mex. Whether it’s Second Street, the 22

Warehouse District or Sixth Street, Austin offers a rich entertainment and dining scene. The city’s educational bastion, the University of Texas at Austin, houses the Blanton Museum of Art, featuring nearly 18,000 Blanton Museum of Art works ranging from Ancient Greek pottery to abstract expressionist paintings. Planners can book the museum’s spaces, such as the soaring atrium with a 50-ft. ceiling and iridescent blue walls, for offsite events. An event with a uniquely Texas flavor can be arranged at the Bullock Texas State History Museum, located near the University of Texas campus. Among the museum’s largest rentable venues are the plaza, adorned with a three-story bronze Lone Star sculpture, and the grand lobby. Austin is also a city that makes it inviting to stay fit, the prime example being the 10 miles of running/cycling trails along downtown’s scenic Lady Bird Lake. Attendees can quickly repair to the lake for a brisk walk before or after sessions at the Austin Convention Center. Located a mere 15 FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2019-2020 WINTER

Performance at the Austin Bergstrom International Airport

minutes from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, the convention center is a LEED Gold-certified leader in the mid-market meetings industry (see the Mid-Market Review, page 36, for specs on the facility). Another downtown event venue of note is Brazos Hall, housed in a converted turn-of-the-century grain mill. The venue features an 8,400-sq.-ft. Main Hall with long-leaf pine floors, brick walls and wood rafters, as well as a 3,500-sq.-ft. Rooftop Deck with downtown views. Many of Austin’s largest convention clients commute to their meeting venue from the 1,012-room JW Marriott Austin, which opened in 2015. The property certainly has enough function space to host large conventions of its own — 120,000 sq. ft. And the city’s lodging portfolio continues to expand, with a total of 12,700 downtown hotel rooms projected by 2020. Marriott continues to increase its footprint with the 613room Marriott Downtown opening next summer. Located across from the Austin Convention Center, the hotel will offer 65,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, an underground parking garage, outdoor pool, three bars and a full-service restaurant. In addition, The Otis /AC Hotel by Marriott debuts in early 2020 on the southwest corner of the University of Texas campus. The Otis will include 191 guestrooms, 6,000 sq. ft. of event space, a restaurant, and rooftop bar and pool. The AC Hotel will offer 156 guestrooms, a restaurant and bar.


Similar to Austin, Houston saw the opening of a major Marriott property a few years ago: the 1,000-room Marriott Marquis Houston. The hotel houses over 150,000 sq. ft. of event space and is connected to the George R. Brown Convention Center, which completed façade and concourse renovations around the time of the Marriott’s opening. Today, hoteliers continue to pursue developments in Houston. This year saw the opening of a variety of small to midsized properties, including the 185-room AC Hotel Houston Downtown, the 354-room C. Baldwin, Curio Collection by Hilton (including 14,000 sq. ft. of function space), 226-room Cambria Hotel Houston Downtown Convention Center and 150-room Hyatt Place Houston/ Downtown (scheduled to open by year’s end). In addition, The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa, soon to celebrate its 40th anniversary, has begun a $45 million renovation that will cover its 289 guestrooms and lobby, as well as debut a FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2019-2020 WINTER

Downtown Houston

deck overlooking Buffalo Bayou and an indoor/outdoor restaurant. The Forbes Four Star hotel is well equipped Saint Arnold Brewing Company, to host groups with 32,000 Houston sq. ft. of function space. Property highlights include the Historic Manor House Estate Restaurant, Trellis Spa and 27 wooded acres. Many of Houston’s cultural and recreational institutions are being enhanced, which is good news for groups that have the free time to explore these venues. Following is a sampling of the major projects: • The Stages Repertory Theatre has completed a $30.5 million expansion including three new theaters and a fourstory parking garage. • The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Campus Expansion is scheduled for completion next year. Described as the largest cultural project under way in North America, the expansion includes public plazas, reflecting pools and gardens, along with improved sidewalks, street lighting and wayfinding. The new Nancy and Rich Kinder Building will also be introduced, featuring two floors of gallery exhibition space, a theater, cafe and restaurant. • The Lynn Wyatt Square for the Performing Arts, a transformation of Jones Plaza, opens in the summer of 2021. The $29 million project includes a performance lawn, cascading water feature, gardens, street theater and new restaurant.

George R. Brown Convention Center 23



San Antonio’s Houston Street

• The Houston Zoo celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2022 and expects to complete Phase 1 of its $150 million transformation that year. The project redevelops nearly half of the zoo’s acreage with multi-species habitats.


Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center 24



The home of the Alamo is also introducing new offsite venue options for meeting groups, perhaps most notably the Education and Event Center at the San Antonio Botanical Garden. Set to open next spring, the 3,500-sq.-ft. center features 16-ft. floor-to-ceiling windows and a ceiling adorned with Sinker Cypress wood. Attendees can take in views of the Grand Lawn, wisteria arbor, oak trees and Santikos Fern Fountain. The center accommodates sessions of up to 350 guests or receptions and banquets for up to 200 seated guests. The Grand Lawn accommodates a sit-down dinner for up to 720 guests. Sports-inclined groups may wish to visit Morgan’s Wonderland Sports, opening early next year. Located in nearby Wonderland, TX, the three-acre sports complex will offer a zipline, horse stable, hiking trails, a nature farm, multiple pools, archery range, enclosed sports pavilion, arts and crafts center and more. For an experience that is more deeply tied to San Antonio’s culture, planners may consider the Maverick Whiskey distillery, which opened this spring. Housed in the restored Historic Lockwood Bank Building, the establishment produces whiskeys aged in Texas-made oak barrels in the tradition of the Alamo Whiskey of 1836. Legend has it that Samuel Augustus Maverick left a jug of whiskey to be passed around among the heroes who died at the Alamo after he was elected to represent San Antonio de Bexar in the new Republic of Texas. Groups can

learn about this fascinating background at the distillery’s tasting saloon. Along similar lines, the Pearl is a former brewery replete with the city’s history and character. Located along the Museum Reach of the famed River Walk, the Pearl enables planners to host a luncheon or reception at the Pearl Stables, once home to the brewery’s draft horses, and send their group to a “culinary boot camp” at the Culinary Institute of America’s San Antonio campus. Also located along the River Walk is the Briscoe Western Arts Museum campus, which includes the rentable Jack Guenther Pavilion. San Antonio’s Witte Museum, recently renovated and expanded, is another cultural icon of the city. Here, groups can utilize the Entertainment along the renowned River Walk 10,000-sq.-ft. Mays Family Center, which affords views of Broadway Street and the San Antonio River. Currently renovating is Hemisfair Park, home of the 1968 World’s Fair. The goal is to create a mixed-use development in the heart of the city; the completed first phase has introduced Yanaguana Garden. Attendees gathering at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center often take a short walk to Hemisfair Park to unwind after sessions. In proximity to the convention center is one of San Antonio’s major convention hotels, the 1,003room Grand Hyatt San Antonio. Recently renovated, the Hyatt offers 115,000 sq. ft. Hotel Emma at the Pearl of indoor and outdoor function space. Another major property, the 1,001-room Marriott Rivercenter, is undergoing a multimillion-dollar remodel through February 2020. Meanwhile, El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel, which opened in 1962, is receiving a $40 million refresh and will be reintroduced as an independent boutique-style hotel affiliated with the Tapestry Collection by Hilton in 2021. In the coming years, San Antonio’s lodging scene will be developing further with several smaller properties coming online. They include a 195-room Canopy by Hilton, opening at the River Walk in late 2020; a 200-room Curio Collection by Hilton, opening February 2021; a 195-room W Hotel, opening January 2022; and the 177-room Cambria – San Antonio Downtown, opening December 2022. Greater diversity in hotel brands and price points will make it easier for delegates to find their ideal “home base” to both attend meetings and explore this historic Texan city. FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2019-2020 WINTER



The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is among several world-class museums in the city with rentable spaces.

An expanded Moscone Center welcomes groups to a transformed City by the Bay


ft associated with the Gold Rush of the mid-19th century, San Francisco will forever be impacted by that historic event. The California Gold Rush is commemorated in the state’s nickname, the Golden State, and is recalled in its 49ers football team name as well. The spirit of the Gold Rush brought change to the region, and it does not appear that the City by the Bay ever really demonstrated signs of letting up. The wealth and population that poured into the area, a once sleepy coastal settlement of 200, created a center of finance, commerce and industry that has been transforming itself through the present day. SalesForce Tower, for example, has risen over the city’s skyline above TransAmerica’s pyramid-shaped skyscraper, symbolizing an era in which San Francisco’s tech sector is propelling the city into its next boom phase. During the past decades, the tradeshow industry — indeed the way people meet — has transformed itself as well, and the trends have influenced convention centers that compete in the national and global markets. Understanding that a stateof-the-art convention center positively impacts tourism and the general economy, Joe D’Alessandro, President and CEO


of the San Francisco Travel Association, gathered together leadership to get to work. Spearheading a public-private partnership, D’Alessandro independently convened a group of community, political and business leaders to develop the Moscone Center’s $550 million expansion, which debuted this January. The diverse needs of stakeholders were taken into account in its construction, while keeping the facility attractive to MICE groups. For instance, many residents did not want an imposing, overshadowing structure that came up to the property line, as many downtown office buildings are apt to do. Architects and convention center management needed to be sensitive to that concern, given their goal of maximizing the use of every square foot. Indeed, during the development of the original site of Moscone Center, residents preferred that the structure not impose itself on the community. As a result, most of the original structure was built below street level. Artfully designed escalators descend into the spacious halls below, with pedestrians unaware of the cavernous event spaces that lay beneath the surface. For the expansion, architects created terraces, setting back the structure from the 25

street. The terraces, which extend length-wise across much of the new building’s front and back, satisfied the community’s concerns, while providing 20,000 sq. ft. of versatile outdoor event space for an array of functions.


Sustainability practices and San Francisco have gone hand in hand for quite some time. The city has banned the use of plastic bags; the sale of water bottles in public facilities — recently extended to SFO (San Francisco International Airport); and most recently, the use of plastic straws. “Sustainability will become norm; it is better to be ahead of the game,” said D’Alessandro. Reflecting the city’s ecological sensitivities, the new convention center incorporated a plethora of “green” features into its architecture and design; so much in fact, that the Moscone Center will be the first LEED Platinumcertified convention center in the United States. Solar panels will generate 20 percent of the building’s energy needs. The facility also has an onsite water treatment system designed to capture more than 12 million gallons of rainwater, foundation groundwater and condensation water annually, which in turn is used for landscape irrigation, onsite toilet flushing and street cleaning. Furthermore, since the city’s facilities ban the sale of plastic water bottles, there are numerous hydration stations around the structure to uphold that enactment.


The city blocks surrounding the convention center have also undergone a transformation in recent years. Footsteps from the Moscone Center are a number of museums whose spaces can be utilized Natural light has been thoughtfully incorporated in the Moscone Center’s design. for events. The LEED Gold-certified San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) took up residence in the downtown area in 1995 and underwent a massive expansion in 2016. Tripling the museum’s size to 10 stories, the expansion made SFMOMA the largest modern art museum in the world (until New York City’s Museum of Modern Art surpassed it in he new Moscone Center incorporated size earlier this year). The museum can host a range of events indoors and out. A sculpture garden on the fifth floor has been a plethora of “green” features into its a favorite for events, while the museum’s spacious Atrium and Schwab Hall on the lower levels are ideal for an array of architecture and design, becoming the receptions. Galleries as well as an educational center with first LEED Platinum-certified convention classrooms and a theater can be tailored to meet the needs of groups as well. center in the United States. On the same city block as the SFMOMA is the Museum of the African Diaspora (MOAD), a Smithsonian affiliate.




The museum celebrates and explores how the culture and expression of the peoples dispersed in the African Diaspora have been forged, through the museum’s programming and exhibits. While its space is somewhat limited (its first-floor lobby can accommodate up to 125 guests), one might consider pairing a visit with the St. Regis San Francisco, situated in the same building as the MOAD. At the time of this writing, the hotel had completed upgrades to it over 22,000 sq. ft. of function space and was scheduled to have completed a refresh to all of its guestrooms. The Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) is situated close to the Moscone Center, about a block’s walk. Architect Daniel Liebeskind’s design for the CJM expanded upon the original structure of a power station built in 1881. He incorporated the Hebrew word “chai” (life) into its design, perhaps in order to symbolize the melding of past and present. The museum attracts a broad range of groups from all walks of life that utilize its unique spaces. San Francisco’s accepting culture has shaped its Jewish community in many ways, and the museum’s exhibits engage visitors to share contemporary experiences of the broader community through that lens. For example, in February, a look at the impact Levi Strauss had on American fashion will be a featured exhibit. While CJM’s in-house caterer, San Francisco’s Wise Sons Deli, does not adhere to kosher dietary restrictions, a kosher caterer is available for groups looking to utilize the space. The museum’s largest event space is its 5,200-sq.-ft. lobby that contains elements of the original power station as well as modern artwork. Its 3,500-sq.-ft. Goldman Hall contains built-in A/V system and accommodates up to 170 guests seated.

preserved, as are balcony spaces where orchestral music once played. The largest of the spaces, the Grand Ballroom, is nearly 9,000 sq. ft. and can be divided in half. There are two additional ballrooms on the lobby level — the Gold Ballroom and Ralston Room, which measure close to 5,000 and 5,300 sq. ft., respectively. On the hotel’s second level, a combination of spaces new and old are available for an array of functions. While a series of meeting and breakout rooms were created from former guestrooms, there are also historic spaces that peer down into the Garden Court. The design of a new space — the 5,178-sq.-ft. Sunset Court — took inspiration from the Garden Court with pillars and glass ceilings. “The Palace will remain current and relevant for the modern business traveler,” said Renee Roberts, an independent marketing and public relations consultant in the Bay Area, “but at the same time preserve its historic elements” that make


For planners looking for a bit of history, the Palace Hotel (the Palace), a member of Marriott’s Luxury Collection, is worth exploring. Originally built in 1875, the Palace Hotel was the world’s most expensive hotel at the time. Its design helped it withstand the earthquakes in 1906, only to be destroyed by fire. Rebuilt in 1909, the elegant hotel has few challengers when it comes to its elegance. Guests will take note of the Garden Court, a glass-roofed courtyard off of the lobby, decorated on each side with marble columns. The Garden Court serves as a lounge and restaurant and is one of the power-meeting spots in the city. Situated on both sides of the Garden Court are ballroom spaces with 18-ft.-high ceilings, whose design has retained much of its original splendor. As an example, etchings for what was once a music hall are faithfully FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2019-2020 WINTER

The Palace Hotel’s Garden Court 27

the hotel unique. Roberts formerly served as the Palace Hotel’s Director of Public Relations. Modern business travelers and meeting attendees are often looking for someplace unique to unwind after hours, and that has increasingly become a rooftop space. Accessible without a reservation is the Everdene Rooftop Bar at the newly opened 194-room Virgin Hotels San Francisco, located near the Moscone Center and Yerba Buena Gardens. The San Francisco Proper Hotel also offers a rooftop lounge, Charmaine’s, that boasts great views of San Francisco’s City Hall. Located 10 minutes from the convention center, the 131-room historic property, built in 1909, has recently undergone a redesign. Although not accessible to the outdoors, the 1,921room Hilton San Francisco’s 47th-floor Cityscape Lounge provides awesome 360-degree views of the city, including the Golden Gate Bridge.


The Mission Bay District has seen a transformation of sorts with construction of new residential and commercial properties. It is also home to the new Chase Center, and adjacent to the South Beach neighborhood that is home to Oracle Park, the San Francisco Giants’ baseball

The food truck trend is alive and well in the City by the Bay. 28

stadium. Newer sports stadiums and arenas are designed with spacious concourses, and increasingly, venue managers are converting their facilities into event spaces when a game or show is not filling the seats. PCMA’s event at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field last year is a prime example of this trend. Both the Chase Center and Oracle Park have been designed to accommodate non-sports functions. Chase Center can be divided into smaller theaters to give it the feel of a performing arts center. Smaller theater seating can be used to accommodate keynote speakers or product launches that may not require a full arena. The Giants have hosted an array of events, be it in their parking areas or within the ballpark. The Chase Center is new and no doubt will play a role in San Francisco’s evolving meetings and events scene. —D.K. FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2019-2020 WINTER



Rocky Mountain resort town reaches new heights of popularity among meeting groups


rior to the United States’ entry into World War II, multiple battles in Europe saw outnumbered forces familiar with rugged mountainous terrain defeat larger well-equipped armies. When drawn into the war in the early 1940s, United States Army officials expressed concern about the ability of their forces to fight winter battles in Europe or even in the United States, and took action to remedy that concern. The result was the creation of the 10th Mountain Division — then referred to as the 10th Light Division (Alpine) — that took residence in a newly constructed Camp Hale, 9,200 feet above sea level in the Colorado Rockies. At the base, soldiers were trained in combat as well as mountain climbing, various styles of skiing and winter survival techniques. When the camp was in full operation, approximately 15,000 soldiers were housed there. The 10th Mountain Division made its mark on the region. Across the country, soldiers of the division returned home after the war and used their skills to help shape the burgeoning skiing industry. Vail’s founders were soldiers of the famed army division that had encamped on Vail Mountain during their training and identified it as an ideal location for skiing — and to build a resort. The division


is commemorated in public art and monuments throughout the area. Local distiller 10th Mountain honors the division “in spirit” by crafting bourbons, ryes and other spirits from locally sourced ingredients. 10th Mountain has tasting rooms in Vail and welcomes groups to host events in its distillery. While its founders’ fortunes waxed and waned, today’s Vail Resorts is a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange. Some of the notable resorts in its portfolio include Vermont’s Stowe Mountain Resort, Colorado’s Keystone

Vail’s off season includes many recreational opportunities for the active attendee. 29

The system makes transportation easy for attendees no matter where they choose to lodge. Closer to the Lionshead Village area is the luxury, 134-room Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail, whose nearly 8,500 sq. ft. of function space includes a 3,500-sq.-ft. ballroom. The 285-room Grand Hyatt Vail’s indoor and outdoor function space features a 6,100-sq.-ft. ballroom.


Vail Marriott Mountain Resort & Spa

Resort, Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly Resort and Utah’s Park City Mountain Resort. The resorts have been linked with the Epic Pass (which provides unlimited, unrestricted access to the properties) and the PEAKS loyalty program, which encourages guests to stay and ski within the growing network.


In addition to managing the mountain and its year-round activities, Vail Resorts Hospitality operates the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort & Spa. A short walk from the Eagle Bahn Gondola that rises to the top of Vail Mountain, the 344-room property is a favorite among both leisure and business travelers. Planners will appreciate the Marriottflagged property, whose flexible Grand Ballroom is the largest in the Vail valley at over 8,200 sq. ft. Another formal onsite function space is the 4,400-sq.-ft. Colorado Ballroom, complemented by smaller rooms suitable for breakout sessions. The Mountain View room, as its name implies, has breathtaking views of the Rockies. While Denver-area groups are responsible for a large number of the hotel’s bookings, Eric Laituri, Executive Meetings Manager at the hotel, noted a steady business from the Midwest and a growing interest from the East Coast. High-profile personalities taking up residence in the area have given the town greater visibility and produced more interest in bringing groups to the region. While walking and basking in the crisp Rocky Mountain air is an experience to be taken in, free shuttle busses are available throughout Vail. 30

During winter season, multiple ice-skating rinks throughout Vail are open to the public at no charge, including the Vail Square Ice Rink in the Lionshead Village area. The rink is near a Marriott property and a number of other lodgings including the Arabelle, a 62-room luxury resort. Another rink is located outside Solaris Plaza, home to a number of dining and entertainment establishments. Matsuhisa, located within the plaza, serves the dishes of world-renowned chef Matsuhisa Nobu in a restaurant whose floor-to-ceiling windows afford panoramic views of Vail Mountain. Less formal opportunities for groups or individual attendees looking for a break include the Vail Brewing Company and Bol — a 14,000-sq.-ft. space whose 10-lane bowling alley and separate private dining area can accommodate up to 100 guests. While skiing and snowboarding in the winter months have been a perennial draw to the area, spring and summer recreational opportunities can also sway planners to consider the region. Off-season activities include biking, hiking, golf, rafting and fishing. Further options for the outdoorsy attendee include ziplining, summer tubing down the mountains, as well as the “Forest Flyer” alpine coaster. While Laituri reported that the best pricing can be secured for bookings between the end of August and Christmastime, as well as between April and July, that may soon be changing. —D.K.

The scenic pool area at Vail Marriott Mountain Resort & Spa FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2019-2020 WINTER



Award-winning facilities and services await groups in Destin, FL


By Debi Lander

he Henderson Beach and Spa Resort is an ideal location for meetings and conferences up to about 400 people. Despite being only 3 years old, the Salamander-owned resort is already highly acclaimed, having earned the only AAA Four Star, Four Diamond distinction in Destin. One side of the hotel rests next to Henderson Beach Nature Preserve, giving it a quiet and peaceful atmosphere. Three main coastal areas anchor the Emerald Coast: Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island. Destin, known as “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” traces its heritage to the 1835 arrival of Captain Leonard Destin, who pioneered the fishing industry. Destin’s harbor ranks as the largest and most elaborately equipped commercial fishing fleet in the nation. On land, the city offers a variety of recreational venues, from a state park to amusement parks to open-air shopping and dining. The Henderson’s lobby area resembles a vast living room that could appear in the pages of an interior design magazine. Every sofa, chair, pillow, coffee table and piece of art reflect the beachy locale with hues of sand, coral and blue. The mood feels inviting and comfortable. Each of the 170 guestrooms spans a generous 425 sq. ft. and has a balcony. The oversized bath features folding shutters that open up the bath space. Comfy beds and fine linens assure a FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2019-2020 WINTER

good night’s sleep. The resort also contains six suites, each with a 1,000-sq.-ft. parlor. The Henderson rests about a block from Destin’s famous sugar-sand beaches. To get to the beach, take a short walk past the swimming pools and the sister property, the Henderson Park Inn. The hotel’s zero-entry main pool is perfect for toddlers and seniors, but an adult-only pool is available as well. The staff arranges for beach chairs, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) lessons or rentals from YOLO outfitters, kayaks, boogie boards and bicycle rentals. The dining options run far above average. A seafood appetizer in a shell resembles a work of art. Most guests dine in the Primrose Restaurant on the main floor, with a wall of windows overlooking the pools and shore. An outdoor terrace adjoins. The hotel also offers a casual poolside grill. The competent hotel culinary staff caters all meeting functions.


According to the sales team, approximately 40 percent of the hotel’s income comes from business groups. About 70 percent of that business is corporate, and the other 30 percent is associations. Incentive travel award bookings are popular at this top-of-the-line facility. “After three incentive programs at The Henderson, my customers don’t want to change locations for the 31

of Destin. The lawn accommodates 200 seated and 250 standing guests. The western location boasts a magnificent view of the sunset with 200 acres of unspoiled nature as its backdrop. This multilevel venue has a paved lower tier and grass-covered upper tier. It accommodates 75 guests seated and 100 standing.


The spacious pool deck is perfect for a reception or dinner serving up to 300 guests. This private space allows you to enjoy the company of your guests under the glow of the southern stars.


Picture an event on a lush green lawn with walking paths adjacent to the nature preserve. This ideal reception space features a spiral stone staircase suited for a dreamy grand entrance as well as a scenic location to enjoy cocktails.


The Crystal Ballroom

annual incentive trip,” says Jill Roth, CMP, of Jill Roth Events. “They find this resort the perfect place to relax, interact and engage in the beauty it has to offer. “ Meeting rooms are separated from the main hotel guest areas and have drive-up entry. A hallway past the gift shop leads to the meetings area, which totals 30,000 sq. ft. The meetings team stands ready to assist planners from inquiry to final execution of events. “The Henderson staff are some of the friendliest I have worked with,” Roth adds. “They take pride in the resort and want each minute to be memorable.”


The Crystal Ballroom offers the largest space (approximately 6,000 sq. ft.) and is accented with beautiful chandeliers. It’s the heart of The Henderson’s meeting wing, divisible into three sections to accommodate up to 550 guests.


The Rooftop Terrace, often used for yoga or fitness classes, can host a mixer, private dinner or meeting. The 2,200-sq.-ft. area affords the best view of the Gulf. Up to 190 guests can enjoy an alfresco event at this partially covered, open-air space.


The eastern side of the hotel offers an event lawn with a view of the Emerald Coast as far as the eye can see. If you are planning a ceremonial presentation, this is arguably the best spot in all 32

The staff at the Henderson will develop programs for specific groups. In the past, they have held a Smithfield Ham cook-off, beach Olympics, golf tournaments, boating contests and fishing charters or cruises. Consider arranging a catamaran outing, snorkel at Crab Island, s’more roast or sushi-making lesson. The sushi-making lesson/lunch became the highlight of my visit. The artistic and colorful raw fish and veggie creations tasted equally fantastic. Chef Hicu Nguyen, a low-key, totally unintimidating guy, made the experience fun. When I later asked him about his undeniable passion for his work, he said, “You know, I decided to apply for a position at this hotel, and they picked me. But I didn’t get to choose my boss. If I could, however, I would pick the one I have,” pointing to the General Manager, David Mars. I didn’t ask for that testimonial, but I think it shows the chef’s satisfaction.


The full-service spa at the Henderson deserves a phenomenal rating. The entryway glistens with a fabulous, Chihuly-like glass design. The relaxation room evokes calm and sets guests up for a pampering treatment. The experienced therapists utilize some of the most innovative modalities and healing techniques to restore, renew and inspire. The Salamander Spa presents 11 private treatment rooms and a wet area with an experiential shower, whirlpool tub, and sunlit relaxation spaces within its 10,000 sq. ft. The spa/fitness teams combine to offer cryogenic therapy treatment using sub-zero temperatures to help with swelling, pain and reducing post-workout fatigue. I’d never been surrounded by sub-freezing air before, but have to say I felt energized afterward. The resort also includes a full-service, 24-hour fitness center with weights, machines and daily classes offered as well. FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2019-2020 WINTER



This picturesque hotel connects groups to the best of The Big Easy


By Debi Lander

n 2017, the over $50 million redesign of the New Orleans Public Service Incorporated Building created the first new luxury hotel to open in New Orleans in years. Known as NOPSI, the hotel sits in the Central Business District, just a stone’s throw from Canal Street and the French Quarter. This location earns favor because it’s quiet and gets less pedestrian traffic, yet remains within easy walking distance to the Superdome, Warehouse and Arts District, WWII Museum and the popular the Vieux Carre, aka French Quarter. Upon opening, it was hailed by Architectural Digest as one of the most beautiful new hotels in the country. In sum, this is a hotel with style and heritage and the best of The Big Easy at its doorstep. Built in 1927, the nine-story brick building now features 217 guestrooms, including 76 suites — all with spacious whitetile bathrooms. The hotel also contains a regionally inspired restaurant, 14,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor meeting space, a lobby bar, and a rooftop pool and bar. The rooftop comes alive at night with a live DJ. Without question, Crescent City knows how to handle visitors; it welcomed 18.5 million guests last year. According to New Orleans & Company statistics, that number includes 1,200 separate groups. Of course, the city also knows how to FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2019-2020 WINTER

party and let the good times roll. Your event at the NOPSI will be no exception. Before planning, check the calendar for the endless array of happenings, festivals, seasonal tours, sporting events and dates for Mardi Gras. The NOPSI staff will put together plans and offer suggestions for meeting planners considering an onsite event. Their website supplies an online RFP to get you started as well as the layout of the meeting venues. Another helpful resource is the CVB. Stephanie Turner, Vice President, Convention Sales & Strategies, New Orleans & Company, says planners can work with the local experts at New Orleans & Company “to assist with identifying all of the resources that will make your event memorable — musicians, artists, caterers, photographers and venues — all designed to host a uniquely New Orleans event. Our team of marketing professionals will assist with promoting your event by providing our extensive list of complimentary marketing tools — including email blasts, promotional videos and customized microsites. Once onsite, our convention services team takes over. Our complimentary services are designed to help you maximize your planning efforts from start to finish.”


The Dryades Ballroom accommodates 25 to 665 attendees in 33

NOPSI’s rooftop pool and bar area

a 4,000-sq.-ft. authentic gathering place filled with character. The room’s exposed brick, impressive arched windows and soaring 30-ft. ceiling evoke industrial elegance. Adjacent to the ballroom, five breakout meeting rooms, approximately 600 sq. ft. each, boast natural light. The courtyard patio becomes the ideal mingling space and makes a great opening reception area. The NOPSI Hotel also offers additional venue options aptly named along the lines of the hotel’s history. These include CURRENT Bar & Patio off the main lobby, Above the Grid rooftop pool and bar, and PS Reserve, a private 1,200-sq.-ft. private dining room above the hotel’s signature restaurant, Public Service. Each of these venues makes an excellent choice for group cocktails and dining functions as well as receptions.


The hotel’s guestrooms range in size from 350 to 800 sq. ft. and are decorated with local artwork. Huge bathrooms incorporate a soothing spa-like tile design and oversized, luxurious showers. The ninth floor features the expansive Power Suite as well as four spa suites with airy terraces.


Dining ranks as a prime reason to visit New Orleans, and meals at the NOPSI will not disappoint. Executive Chef Neal Swidler manages all food and beverage in the hotel, including catering and banquets. A longtime New Orleans chef, Swidler draws from an impressive 20-year career of executive-level experience at some of the most acclaimed kitchens in the city, including 10 34

years with Emeril Lagasse. He served as Chef de Cuisine at both NOLA and Emeril’s Delmonico, as well as corporate chef at NHS Restaurant Consulting.


New Orleans offers experiences unlike any other city, and Bourbon Street is just the beginning. The cuisine scene ranks as legendary, so planners should please their attendees with dinner or a jazz brunch at a famous NOLA restaurant. Favorites include Arnaud’s, Brennan’s, Galatoire’s, Commander’s Palace and Emeril’s. The myriad of attraction suggestions begins with the National World War II Museum, one of the finest museums in the country. In case you’re wondering why this gem rests in New Orleans, the connection harkens back to NOLAbased Higgins Industries. This company built 22,000 boats, hundreds for the D-Day invasion in Normandy. First-timers to the city will delight in an architectural tour showcasing wrought-iron balconies, townhouses and the impressive Jackson Square with its famous Basilica and park. Other suggestions for attendees’ free time include a Creole or Cajun cooking class, a tour of the above-ground cemeteries, and the Mardi Gras Museum. Attendees can also stroll among the swanky antique and art shops, as well as vendors hawking masks, T-shirts and voodoo paraphernalia. Further out of town, groups can explore the Garden District, take swamp tours of the Bayou, or tour one of the famed Old South plantations such as Oak Alley, Laura Plantation, Houmas House or Whitney Plantation. FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2019-2020 WINTER



2020 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: •A ttractiveness and functionality •T echnological capabilities •Q uality of staff and conference planner • Teambuilding •F ood & beverage/ catering • Lighting • Acoustics • Climate control

•P roximity 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

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 PO Box 1807, New York, NY 10150 Fax: (435) 578-8193 Email: ballots@facilitiesonline.com FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2019-2020 WINTER


ccording to hotel industry forecasts from organizations such as CBRE Group and CWT, RevPAR for U.S. hotels will decline in 2020 and rates will see only modest increases compared to previous years. Supply appears to be outpacing demand as of late, causing a weakening of the seller’s market that has been in place for several years. That’s good news for planners considering first-tier cities, which is where the seller’s market has been strongest. However, the challenges planners have been experiencing in securing their preferred dates, rates and space in first-tier cities has often led to site searching in mid-market locales, and ultimately establishing successful relationships with cities outside the first tier. Although planners may now find new opportunities in first-tier markets thanks to industry conditions, they may well opt to continue taking their groups to those welcoming and affordable mid-market cities that have already proven themselves. In this year’s Mid-Market Review, we profile four cities that boast strong relationships with a variety of meeting groups: Austin, TX; Boise, ID; Long Beach, CA; and Rochester, NY. Austin needs no introduction as a major player in the mid-tier. For an overview of its virtues, see the following page, and to learn about its latest hotel developments, see the Texas feature on page 22. Similar to Austin, Boise (page 37), Rochester (page 38) and Long Beach (page 40), all dispel the myth that second-tier cities lack sufficient free-time entertainment resources for attendees. Among the highlights are Boise’s historic Basque Block, Long Beach attractions such as the Queen Mary and Aquarium of the Pacific, and the Rochester region’s 100 vineyards and the city’s Strong National Museum of Play. Distinctive experiences such as these are certainly found in many second-tier cities. But when a city combines characterful diversions with excellent convention facilities and airlift, it makes its mark on the meetings market. Austin, Boise, Long Beach and Rochester have all done that, and the more accessible first-tier market of 2020 will not diminish their draw. 35




he Austin Convention Center, a LEED® Gold-certified building, has emerged as a leader in the convention and meeting industry. A premier facility located in the heart of the capital city’s downtown business district, the Center spans six city blocks with 374,278 sq. ft. of exhibit and meeting space. The five column-free exhibit halls total 247,052 sq. ft. and accommodate 1,289 10 ft.-by-10 ft. exhibit booths. Two ballrooms ranging up to 43,400 sq. ft. in size and 54 meeting rooms and show offices totaling over 63,000 sq. ft. complete the four-story convention center. Ample parking is provided in two parking garages with a total capacity of 1,700 spaces. TECHNOLOGICAL FEATURES Rated one of the most technologically advanced convention centers in the country, this gigabit-rated facility moves voice, video and data at over one billion bits per second. The Center’s high-tech capabilities help to create the perfect Technology Partner for the annual SXSW international multimedia festival. 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. HOTELS Austin offers more than 36,000 hotel rooms, with 11,000 located downtown, including the 800-room Hilton Austin adjacent to the Austin Convention Center and connected by the Hilton Overhead Walkway at 4th. Additional nearby hotels include: Four Seasons Hotel Austin, JW Marriott, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn by Marriott, Hilton Garden Inn Austin Downtown, Radisson

Hotel & Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown, Driskill Hotel, Omni Austin Hotel Downtown, Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel, W Austin, Hyatt Place Downtown Austin, Westin Austin Downtown and the Fairmont Austin. North America’s largest Fairmont property, the Fairmont Austin is connected directly to the Austin Convention Center via the Fairmont Canopy Walk. AUSTIN BY NIGHT After conventions and meetings wrap up each night, attendees may choose to enjoy Austin’s entertainment districts — Second Street, the Warehouse District, Rainey Street and world-famous Sixth Street. The Austin Convention Center is just down the street from the city’s vibrant nightlife, where visitors can also enjoy everything from fine dining in four-star restaurants to down-home barbecue and authentic Tex-Mex. As the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin echoes with the sound of country, rock ‘n’ roll, blues, jazz and Tejano. On any given evening, one can find live music playing in nearly 250 different venues. AUSTIN BY DAY During the day, visitors can enjoy the capital city’s many historical attractions, including the State Capitol, the LBJ Presidential Library, the Texas State History Museum, the Blanton Museum of Art, and many more museums and art galleries. Or, one 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: Six city blocks 374,278 sq. ft. of exhibit and meeting space Exhibit Space: 247,052 contiguous sq. ft., column free Ballrooms: 43,400 sq. ft. level 4; 23,418 sq. ft. level 1 Meeting Space: 54 meeting rooms totaling over 63,000 sq. ft. Technology: Gigabit-rated facility, wireless Internet access, plug-andplay capabilities


Hotels: 11,000 downtown hotel rooms; connected to Hilton Austin and Fairmont Austin via Hilton Overhead Walkway and Fairmont Canopy Walk, respectively 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, CMP, Director of Sales

500 E. Cesar Chavez Street, Austin, TX 78701 • (512) 404-4200; Fax: (512) 404-4220 conventionsales@austintexas.gov • austinconventioncenter.com 36





his city on the rise offers meeting planners an expanded convention center, new hotels, a lively downtown and adventurous recreation all within a compact urban area. With nonstop air service from 20 major cities in the United States, getting to Boise is a breeze.


Located in the heart of downtown is Boise Centre, Idaho’s premier convention center. Following a recent expansion, Boise Centre offers 86,000 sq. ft. of modern and versatile event space that accommodates groups of up to 2,000 people. Within the convention center, you will find 31 flexible meeting rooms, the latest in wireless technology and beautiful views of the Boise Foothills. The facility features exceptional catering services with fresh, locally inspired menus, in-house audiovisual and event production services. Boise Centre’s team of event professionals are highly experienced at hosting conferences, conventions, corporate meetings and special events.


In the past two years, several new hotels have opened near Boise Centre, and another property is expected to open in late 2020. Groups and conventions have over 1,200 sleeping rooms near the convention center with convenient access to dining, nightlife, shopping and entertainment.


Boise’s energetic, friendly and walkable downtown invites visitors to discover one-of-a-kind eateries, more than 100 shops, live music venues and a growing number of breweries and wine-tasting rooms within a 10-block radius. The city’s 8th Street is a lively hub of activity, with outdoor dining options, nightlife and weekly farmer’s market (seasonal) all centered here. The historic Basque Block offers a museum and cultural center, restaurants and annual festival held in late July. Numerous art galleries, opera, philharmonic orchestra and the Idaho Shakespeare Festival outdoor amphitheater add to Boise’s urban appeal.

Just four blocks from downtown is the Boise Greenbelt, a 25-mile walking and biking path that follows the Boise River through the city. The nearby Boise Foothills boast hundreds of miles of hiking trails with options for all abilities. Golf, skiing, whitewater rafting and wineries can all be reached within an hour.


FACILITY Location: Downtown Boise Total Sq. Ft.: 86,000 Meeting Space: 31 meeting rooms including an Executive Boardroom with videoconferencing Largest Room: 24,426 sq. ft., seats 2,400 Technology: Complimentary shared Wi-Fi throughout with dedicated Internet bandwidth up to 500 mbps available to purchase and plug-and-play capabilities BOISE Hotels: 1,200 downtown hotel rooms and thousands more within a short shuttle ride Airport: Boise Airport, seven minutes from the facility Nearby Attractions: State Capitol, Historic Basque Block, Boise State University, over 100 shops, 80 restaurants and 20 breweries, live music venues, 25-mile Boise Greenbelt walking and biking path along the Boise River, many museums, whitewater rafting, nearby hiking and golf CONTACT INFORMATION Pat Rice, Executive Director Phone (208) 336-8900 or pat_rice@boisecentre.com Ali Ribordy, Director of Sales Phone (208) 489-3608 or aribordy@boisecentre.com

850 West Front Street, Boise, ID 83702 • (208) 336-8900; Fax: (208) 336-8803 • boisecentre.com FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2019-2020 WINTER





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 Kitchen in nearby Canandaigua, NY, 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 and featuring outdoor patios and balconies. The facility offers 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting/exhibition space, including 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 more than 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 cafés, 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 CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival, a nine-day event featuring more than 300 concerts with over 1,500 artists, as well as the Fringe Festival, a unique 10-day event celebrating the arts with more than 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 AIM Photonics Test, Assembly and Packaging Facility. The Floreano Center itself gets high marks for handling all types of technology needs. The facility has a dedicated 38

Internet connection over fiber optics to meet all of the growing number of technical requirements its customers have. This service, which is self-operated, is available wireless throughout the facility with bandwidth of 200mb (up/down) and bursts to 400mb if needed. 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 460room Rochester Riverside Hotel, a 106-room Hilton Garden Inn, a 217-room Holiday Inn and a 338-room Hyatt Regency. 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



• 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 FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2019-2020 WINTER




LONG BEACH — California Fresh, Urban Coast

Long Beach is an innovative leader in creating “a new essence of meeting style” with its $50 million renovation of the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center. Using many of the concepts pioneered by the revolutionary TED conference, which Long Beach hosted for five years, the city created an open, collaborative and comfortable, all-inclusive environment where people can easily connect. A campus atmosphere in downtown Long Beach encourages the development and sharing of ideas. This campus includes newly renovated hotels just steps from the convention center and the surrounding waterfront entertainment district, which includes shopping venues, entertainment and nightlife. More than 125 quality restaurants, many with spectacular oceanfront views, are within a compact, very walkable eight-block area surrounding the Convention Center. WalkScore.com rates Long Beach among its top “Most Walkable Cities in America.” Spacious palm-lined pedestrian promenades and bike paths are well-lit at night with colorful LED light displays. The Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, with more than 400,000 sq. ft. of modern, versatile exhibit and meeting space, is located in the center of the downtown waterfront with sweeping harbor views and is designed to give guests a warm, stylish and welcoming social experience offering flexible and multiple event options. Recent renovations and upgrades at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center bring new and versatile special event options such as Bogart & Co. (a sophisticated and stylish space to relax and recharge), plus outdoor tropical plazas and patios, highlighting the best in innovative “plein air” event space decor. The newly revamped Pacific Lounge includes chic pod seating with customized lighting.

The Pacific Room, one of the region’s premier venues, revolutionized the platform design for event spaces. The “loft-style” ballroom utilizes the 45,000-sq.-ft. floor space of the Long Beach Arena. This completely customizable event space uses a floating tension grid ceiling and moveable, floor-to-ceiling curtain walls to create the perfect environment for any group. The adaptable, electronic walls are able to accommodate groups of all types, from an intimate gathering to a grand and lavish 5,500-person reception. A built-in, $1.6 million state-of-the-art sound, light and video system is included in the rental of the Pacific Room, providing substantial cost savings. The Pacific Room’s catchphrase is “Your Canvas! Your Show!” Long Beach is LA’s “Urban Waterfront Playground,” located in the center of Southern California. All of the attractions of Los Angeles and Orange County are just minutes from the downtown waterfront. But Long Beach has its own world-class attractions: The Queen Mary and the Aquarium of the Pacific, the Pike Outlets at Rainbow Harbor, Shoreline Village, harbor cruises, whale watching tours, every type of boating and on-the-water activity imaginable, plus four distinctive museums and two historic ranchos. Getting to Long Beach is a breeze thanks to the newly modernized Long Beach Airport, which offers a resort feel while welcoming daily nationwide commercial flights. A 2013 renovation and major building project created a modern gateway to better accommodate the airport’s three million annual passengers, who can enjoy a relaxed, resort-like atmosphere as they walk through an open courtyard with fire pits, lounge-style seating, a wine bar and a garden walkway with California native vegetation. A new Food Marché provides travelers a taste of Long Beach, offering local eateries at street prices. Guests can order and have meals delivered gate-side through the iPad Bar. Long Beach is guaranteed to please visitors looking for those special experiences that create lasting memories.

301 E. Ocean Blvd., Suite 1900, Long Beach, CA 90802 • (562) 436-3645 • visitlongbeach.com 40



REIMAGINED & EXCEPTIONAL More than a remodel, we’re transforming what it means to stay in Pasadena.

2.5k guest rooms


square feet of meeting and event space

$150m invested

Come Curious.


To book, visit PasadenaMeetings.com





ocated in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley, the McAllen Convention Center is the preferred venue in the region for gatherings. Facility staff specializes in making every event memorable and ensuring every detail is executed perfectly. The 18.5-acre complex hosts over 500 events each year and has an average attendance of 400,000 attendees annually. With over 174,000 sq. ft. of flexible function space, the campus can accommodate virtually any event, from small, intimate meetings to large conventions, weddings, tradeshows, sporting events and concerts. The McAllen Convention Center offers a 60,000-sq.ft., column-free exhibit hall, an over 25,000-sq.-ft. Grand Ballroom and up to 16 breakout rooms. With the help of Meeting Matrix, the facility’s event coordinators provide clients the best service. Meeting Matrix is the most accurate, streamlined and efficient event space communication tool in the industry. Whether it is a luncheon for six or a banquet for 2,000, the convention center’s exclusive in-house caterer offers groups a superior food experience. With spectacular catered presentations, ranging from an eye-opening breakfast to a seven-course extravaganza of food and fun, attendees will not be disappointed. Not only does the McAllen Convention Center provide the latest in technology services, but it also provides special event and production design. From complimentary Wi-Fi and phone services to event lighting, audio and video design, the staff will make your meeting or exhibition an extraordinary event.


The heart of the McAllen’s Convention Center district is its palm tree-lined, 2.4-acre Oval Park, which features native

trees and pergolas as well as a lively water fountain that feeds into its impressive reflective pond. Home to festivals and concerts, Oval Park is the perfect space for opening receptions, fitness breakouts and teambuilding activities.


Located alongside the McAllen Convention Center is the McAllen Performing Arts Center. This stunning, 93,000-sq.ft. facility brings a wide variety of nationally recognized productions of music, dance and theater to the region. Home to the best in live entertainment, the McAllen Performing Arts Center also serves as additional space for your event, offering seating for 1,800 guests.


In addition, the Center offers affordability, accessibility and convenience. The McAllen Convention Center District is surrounded by four walking-distance hotels: Embassy Suites, La Quinta Inn & Suites, Cambria Suites and Home2 by Hilton. This hotel package makes it easy for your guests to commute to and from the Center. McAllen Convention Center District is also one of McAllen’s premier shopping and dining destinations, featuring 23 retail shops and 20 restaurants.

801 Convention Center Boulevard, McAllen, TX 78501 • (956) 681-3800 • mcallenconventioncenter.net 42


A SECURITY SHOPPING LIST Choose among these best practices for safeguarding your convention By Peter Alexan


n this age of active shooters and terrorism, event planners must increase their efforts to provide a safe environment for exhibitors and attendees, reduce their organization’s exposure to liability and show due diligence in public safety programs — all while being mindful of budgetary considerations. Event public safety should be an agile, ongoing process of evaluation and implementation. While there are common practices, organizers have many options depending on their budget flexibility, the type of event (i.e., public, corporate or industry based), the type of attendees the event attracts, the number of expected attendees, aspects of the venue and surrounding area, and the level of safety and security the organizer wants to project. The best way to assess these options is via a “shopping list” that can be utilized in whole, or in part, to create effective combinations that would address the event’s safety/security needs, while respecting the budget.

•U tilize signage stating that it is required for all attendees, exhibitors and laborers to appropriately wear and display their credential while in the venue at all times • I mplement random bag checks at street access points •L imit the number and size of bags that can be brought into the event, publishing announcements to that effect prior to the event •U tilize clear or mesh bags as your tote bags giveaway •R equire attendees to bring only clear or mesh bags, of limited size, when attending the event •C onsider using metal detectors and/or wands • I mplement RFID for access control and badge verification • I mplement Prop Check Procedures utilizing police •C reate, implement and manage a queueing plan for attendees awaiting to access to the event


•C reate an EAC (Exhibitor Appointed Contractor) desk with appropriate exhibitor and EAC lists, showing proof of insurance coverage to then enable the team to appropriately issue daily wristbands •W ork with the general contractor on providing stickers or wristbands to their labor •U tilize wristbands that have the event logo or the year to restrict duplication •U tilize the same bands to credential exhibitors before registration opens •C reate guidelines to how to issue these bands •C hange wristband colors daily •C harge a nominal $1 fee per band, which helps ensure the companies do not give bands away to friends or coworkers just to let them on the show floor. This reduces the number of non-authorized personnel accessing the event.

•R equest a government ID and a second ID to qualify exhibitors and attendees when registering •R equire that each person only pick one badge •L imit reprinting or attach a fee to reprint badges for better control •S et group registration guidelines for badge distribution •E stablish a code of conduct that describes the expected level of courtesy and professionalism in interacting with attendees. Most will abide by the guidelines, which reduces the chance of incidents, especially with public shows. •C onsider this disclaimer on all badges: “All badges are the property of *** event and can be revoked at any time,” or, “This credential is a revocable license where the event has sole discretion in revocation of a person’s access to the event” •R equire attendees with VIP-level access to also wear an accompanying designated wristband in an effort to deter badge swapping or sharing



•C onfirm with the selected venue whether they have alreadyestablished access points •E stablish lobby and dock points for labor to access


•U tilize building security to man the labor access points for better control and functionality •S ubcontract to multiple security and temp companies based Continued on page 44



A SECURITY SHOPPING LIST Continued from page 43

on the needs of the event, in an effort to receive the best services from each of the suppliers and avoid relying on the “bottom of the barrel” staff from any participating vendor • I mplement roving patrols inside the halls and meeting rooms, in addition to staffing the front and dock doors. The patrol personnel are most often security, or a combination of security and law enforcement staff. •P lan and perform line control and crowd management functions •U tilize response teams to effectively address “on the spot” needs or challenges •U tilize code words in radio communications to help avoid causing panic among exhibitors and attendees during crisis situations •W ork with local law enforcement, Homeland Security and other pertinent agencies during site visits for enhanced preparedness and coordination •C reate a command post that houses representatives from each department, as appropriate to the event. This allows the most efficient communications between all involved and a much better and faster response.

•T he fourth is plain-clothes police that blend with the attendees for an overall effective program of protection •P lus, having first responders on hand is one of the best ways to ensure immediate response in any crisis


•C reate a “if you see something, say something” icon on the event app that allows attendees to email or text the appropriate party •W ork with the building to address their camera systems and identify to them your key areas of concern within the event •U tilize body cams, which are ideal for documenting any incidents or potential liability. When a security staff member wearing a body cam interacts with attendees and they are made aware that the camera is active, they tend not to create conflicts. •D eploy Web-based cameras for sensitive areas •E nable push notifications to onsite attendees •U tilize communication group apps for better info distribution between organizers and subcontractors •U tilize two-way radios for better communication


Work with local law enforcement, Homeland Security and other pertinent agencies during site visits for enhanced preparedness and coordination


•C onduct complete sweeps by K9 teams in the mornings prior to the start of sessions •U tilize meeting room monitors and ushers •A bide by and maintain fire marshal guidelines and procedures •C reate meeting room overflow procedures


Implement a four-layer style program utilizing visual elements, patrols and access point controls: •T he first layer is parking a police car or cars in the front driveway/docks of the venue or in other visible locations around the venue •T he second is a combination of uniformed police and building security for visibility and deterrence from possible active shooter scenarios or other challenges •T he third is a roving patrol of K9s that can randomly inspect crates, packages, trashcans, etc.; these K9s are a combination of air-vapor K9s that can detect potential threats from the air, in addition to typical bomb-sniffing K9s 44

•C reate a plan that encompasses evacuation, marshalling points, power outage procedures, medical, and active shooter procedures and response plans. This plan should be compatible with the venue’s plans so that no conflict may occur. •D esignate team leaders with their responsibilities and contact information. Designate contact list priority and media spokesperson. •D esignate an offsite location with necessary communications equipment in the event that the venue is out of commission •W ork with the key exhibitors on their emergency plans that they may have internally to establish better cohesiveness


Safeguarding an event can be a detailed, multifaceted and time-consuming aspect of operations. In many cases, it is best to hire a professional consulting firm to design, implement and manage the overall public safety program. Topquality management consulting firms will bring an additional team that works on your behalf, which ultimately means better results. Peter Alexan is President of Santa Ana, CA-based security management firm RA Consulting. Over 20 years, he has successfully managed and implemented security programs for more than 2,500 conventions and tradeshows nationwide. Coordinating with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, Alexan has developed and implemented security plans for Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, Margaret Thatcher and other political and military figures, as well as celebrities in the entertainment industry.


MAKE F&B THE BEST IT CAN BE 4 tips on working with venues to optimize the catering experience for guests By Courtney Dyer and Beth Williamson


hen organizing a meeting, there are a plethora of important factors to consider. Location, travel, scheduling, entertainment — the list is practically endless. This comes with the territory of the job. One piece of any successful event that should never be overlooked is the dining experience for your guests. The food is a touchpoint for guests and something that everyone remembers. As William Burroughs once said, “You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.” Delegates often rank networking atop their list of most important reasons for attending an industry event. And the bulk of these conversations take place over meals, breaks or an opening/closing gala. Outside of networking purposes, though, any event benefits from delicious food and friendly service. These are key pillars of event hospitality, and also a key facet of the value we provide at the Virginia Beach Convention Center through our longstanding relationship with hospitality provider Centerplate and sub-brand Distinctive Gourmet. When it comes to hospitality, we know what it takes to manage and curate a modern hospitality operation. It must be guest-centric — more than anything — and it must be authentic and carefully curated. Your food provider should be an extension of the city itself, supported by established relationships with local and regional producers, suppliers and partners. Here are four best practices when it comes specifically to dining at your next event. Adhering to these tips will help reinforce the connection with and among your guests, so that you make the time they spend together more enjoyable and more valuable. It will also leave your guests content with a full stomach and full heart.


Ensure your culinary partner has their finger on the pulse of the city. Do what it takes for the food and beverage offering to feature seasonal menus that are distinct to the city. Presented in the FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2019-2020 WINTER

most creative ways, and bursting with regional flavors, the menus for an event should reflect a steadfast commitment to local ingredients and city-specific menu items. When you design and prepare with the soul of the city in mind, each individual element becomes part of the overall sense of place.


Pick a venue with an onsite garden. This site selection practice ensures your attendees will experience meals made with fresh products. A case in point is the Virginia Beach Convention Center’s onsite garden, which began in 2008 with only a few herbs. Over the next couple of years the garden expanded. In 2010, it was time once again to expand, so we enlisted the help of a local master gardener to design and build 10 raised garden beds and one flowerbed to attract bees and birds to pollinate the fruits and vegetables. The garden’s warmer months provide plants like tomatoes, a variety of melons, cucumber, squash, peppers, grapes and berries, while fall allows for Swiss chard, mustard greens, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and other winter vegetables — all of which are used in dishes for events.


Embrace the talent and staff — they are what make the true difference. Your venue’s culinary operation should be wholly dedicated to the craft of hospitality and feature top talent. A great example from our team is the Virginia Beach Convention Center’s Chef Desiree Neal. Trust these professionals to deliver creative off-menu items. They know best what excites guests. The venue should not only have high standards for their F&B service, but also hold each employee accountable, from the general manager to line-level culinary employees to catering sales directors.


Convey the overall F&B needs of the incoming group. The planner knows the group best and can provide a lot of essential information to the venue and F&B provider. This Continued on page 48


MEETING ROOM MUST-HAVES 6 features that are critical to enhancing collaboration and productivity By Mercy Ehrler


table, some chairs and your team — these are the bare essentials to get a collaborative session going. But how do you take your space to the next level in terms of fostering productivity? Following is a list of the biggest game-changers you can bring to your organization’s meeting space.


Have you ever huddled around a laptop to try to share something with your team? Having a projector and screen for your visual aids is essential to sharing your ideas and driving home your message. If possible, you’ll want to opt for ceiling-mounted options in order to make the most of the space in your room. Large TVs and monitors can also be great alternatives for projectors, especially if your conference room is on the smaller side. With an articulating wall mount or mobile cart, and you can configure your space in any way you please. Whatever option you choose, you’ll want to ensure that the pixel density is high enough to read small text from every seating position in your room.


With the increasing popularity of remote work and video calling in today’s corporate environment, effective virtual collaboration has never been more important. Fortunately, bringing remote participants into your meeting is a breeze thanks to the rise of dedicated, business collaboration services like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Slack and a host of others. Each has its own unique feature set, so you’ll want to consider which will integrate best with your organization’s workflow, hardware and existing services.


The services mentioned above are powerful tools, but you’ll need the right tech in your meeting space to make sure your video calls are effective. Integrated webcams and microphones on laptops just aren’t up to the task. With a high-definition camera, microphone, speaker system and a dedicated monitor for remote participants’ video feeds, it can feel like remote participants are right there in the room with you. An all-in-one solution like a Room System from Avaya is a great way to get everything you need to take your virtual meetings to the next level.


Internet connectivity is the lifeline of today’s meeting room. 46

None of the cool gadgets, tools or software listed above will provide any benefit to your meeting experience if you don’t have the broadband connection to support it. Without a quality connection, you’ll be staring at choppy video feeds and struggling to understand the delayed audio that keeps cutting in and out. In most major metropolitan areas, ISPs offer fiber Internet connections with speeds up to 400 times faster than traditional broadband connections. To ensure your team never misses a beat, you’ll want to make sure you have wired connectivity options in your meeting space, as they are far more reliable than Wi-Fi connections.


Though virtual collaboration has come a long way, there is still nothing that really compares to getting your team in a room and hashing out ideas together in real time. Sometimes you just need to feel the squeak of a marker in your hand to get the creativity flowing. Flip charts and white boards are absolutely essential to the creative process. Products like Walltalker surfaces are an easy way to turn your meeting room wall into a floor-to-ceiling collaboration canvas.


A state-of-the-art meeting room won’t help your team at all if they’re distracted and uncomfortable. Good posture and comfort are essential for keeping your meeting participants focused and on-task for what can sometimes be multi-hour sessions. Meeting room seating and tables should be comfortable and configurable according to the layout most conducive to your session’s goals. Implement these features into your organization’s meeting space and you’ll take your team to a whole new level of collaboration and productivity. Mercy Ehrler has been marketing for corporate learning and development organizations for over 15 years. Currently she serves as Director of Marketing for Attune (attune.com), a leading provider of business meeting and training venues (including nine owned-and-operated venues and a partner network of more than 3,000 venues worldwide), virtual communication solutions, cloud-based labs and professional event planning. Ehrler helps shape the company’s internal and external positioning of Next Generation Classroom solutions. FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2019-2020 WINTER

AV YOUR WAY How to preserve the freedom to choose between independent and in-house audiovisual providers By Steve Wildemann


udiovisual (AV) providers come in as many shapes and sizes as there are kinds of events. There are large and small companies, in-house and independent providers. It’s up to you, as the planner, to evaluate what type of AV company will work best for your event and client. But if you want the event done your way, you need to be proactive. Before a venue contract is signed, planners should secure their freedom of choice between the inhouse AV company and an independent provider. Here’s how to preserve that freedom:


Once the venue contract is signed, a planner has lost negotiation power. At that point, you’re committed to the in-house AV option, or to paying a variety of fees if you opt to bring in your own AV partner. Start off early with the RFP and include a provision that allows the freedom to bring in outside AV providers. Supply the venue with terms that maintain freedom of choice with no additional fees or penalties. All fees are negotiable during the contract stage and are easily avoided if planners take a proactive stance during their site selection process.


Here is a sample clause planners can use in the RFP to preserve freedom of choice: Due to the unique nature of our meeting program format, [Your company] has a partnership with an AV provider that is familiar with our needs. We will plan to utilize their services for much of our AV meeting requirements. They, in turn, may rent equipment and/or labor from the in-house provider to augment their needs while onsite. When replying to this RFP, please address our requirement to exclude any fees or charges or requirements to [Your company] or our AV partner. It is incumbent upon the facility to remove clauses regarding such fees or requirements from any proposals prior to submission to FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2019-2020 WINTER

[Your company]. [Your Company] expects the facility to openly bring up and address these items for a detailed discussion prior to including any of them within our final agreement. The following is sample language planners can use in the contract when negotiating with the venue: [Your company] reserves the option to use our own AV provider for all of our AV needs with no additional charges, fees or penalties of any type to [Your company] or our AV partner. Examples of these include, but are not limited to: •R equirements for supervisory labor to move-in/out of the facility • Fees to prepare rooms for use •C harges for podiums, basic power, staging, heating, air conditioning or lights within the meeting room • Flat daily outside vendor fees •R equirements to use floor or wall coverings when not practiced by the in-house AV company •N ew labor/union contracts (if there were none at the submission of the proposal or when signing the contract) •W i-Fi rates that are higher than if the in-house AV company were utilized. A planner’s choice of AV provider should not impact the cost of Wi-Fi service. An independent AV partner can assist planners with the contract language and provide sample terms and advice for negotiating with venues.

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE VALUE INDEPENDENT AV CAN OFFER If preserving freedom of choice seems difficult and going with the in-house option looks more convenient, there is a reason for that. It’s in the venue’s interest for planners to use the in-house company. In-house AV vendors pay venues commissions for their “preferred vendor” status. Ultimately, you as the event planner pay for these commissions as in-house vendors set their prices so they can cover the costs. Outsourced AV partners don’t have the burden of paying the facility, and that freedom often lets those companies deliver the same services at a

Continued on page 48


MAKE F&B THE BEST IT CAN BE Continued from page 45

assists in preparing for different types of groups, taking into account their F&B preferences and habits. Special dietary requests are on the rise in the industry; be prepared to ask your attendees for their needs ahead of time and communicate those requests to the venue. This eases the burden of last-minute requests and allows the catering team to provide a better solution. Be transparent and candid, and expect the same in return. Courtney Dyer, CVE, is General Manager of the Virginia Beach Convention Center. A Virginia Beach native, Dyer began his career with the City in 1972 at the Virginia Beach Civic Center. In 1980, he helped open the new Pavilion Convention Center. In 2001, Dyer became actively engaged in the planning, design and construction of the Virginia Beach Convention Center. He has been an active member of IAVM for more than 40 years and has served in a number of leadership positions. Beth Williamson, MBA, is Centerplate General Manager at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. She is responsible for menu development, meeting profitability targets, strategy ideation and more for six managers and over 100 employees. Previously, Williamson served as the Premium Services Manager at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, and as Food and Beverage Manager for the Annapolis Yacht Club.

LOOKING AHEAD 2020 SPRING ISSUE FEATURING: •T he annual Small-Market Review, profiling third-tier cities that are overachievers in the meetings industry •T he PRISM Hotel Awards, recognizing the top meeting hotels and resorts based on reader nominations •P lanner Roundtable: Veteran planners weigh in on a hot topic in the field •P ost-event coverage of PCMA Convening Leaders •F &D Forums: in-depth Q&As with industry leaders on the move •T he latest meeting news from California, Florida and the Mid-Atlantic

AV YOUR WAY Continued from page 47

If preserving freedom of choice seems difficult and going with the in-house option looks more convenient, there is a reason for that. It’s in the venue’s interest for planners to use the in-house company. lower cost, or more comprehensive solutions for the same cost, as the in-house vendor. Whether or not planners use an independent AV company or go with the in-house provider, if they preserve their freedom in the contract stage, they have options later. At the very least, there can be a competitive bidding process that includes the in-house provider as well as independent AV companies. Steve Wildemann is President of Rental and Staging Network (RSN) and President and Owner of Advanced Staging Productions, based in West Chester, PA. With more than 30 years of experience in the event technology business, he leads RSN, a network of top-tier live event production companies throughout North America. For more information, visit RentalandStaging.net.

ADVERTISER INDEX Akron/Summit CVB........................................................... 15 ASM Global......................................................................... 3 Austin Convention Center................................................. 7 Boise Centre.......................................................................9 Durham Convention Center............................................ 11 Explore St. Louis.............................................................. C3 Greater Miami CVB............................................................. 1 Huntington Convention of Cleveland............................ C2 IMEX.................................................................................. 21 Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center........................................................... 39 Long Beach CVB................................................................. 5 McAllen Convention Center............................................ 13

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Orange County Convention Center............................... C4 Pasadena CVB................................................................... 41 FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2019-2020 WINTER

SAY GOOD NIGHT. THEN GO HAVE ONE. If you step outside America’s Center and stroll down Washington Avenue, you’ll find no work and all play. With a diverse slate of restaurants and bars, boutique shops, and nightspots, you’ll have plenty of memories to share after your meeting. Turn your good meeting into a great adventure at explorestlouis.com/meet.


Building for THE



BUILDING FOR TOMORROW. SERVING YOU TODAY. The Convention Way Grand Concourse and the Multipurpose Venue expansion will bring total exhibit space at the OCCC to 2.3 million square feet. The Multipurpose Venue brings an additional 200,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space in the South Building. Overall, the South Building will have a total of 675,141 square feet of exhibit space for a grand total of 1.15 million square feet of exhibit space in the North-South Building. The Multipurpose Venue will also incorporate connectivity between the North and South concourses. The Convention Way Grand Concourse expansion includes an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space and an 80,000 square foot ballroom along with a new entry to the North-South Building along Convention Way.

sales@occc.net | 800.345.9845 | www.occc.net/expansion

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