Facilities & Destinations - Winter 2016-2017

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Facilities &

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

2017 ELITE Awards 23

Winter 2016-2017



For Association & Corporate Meeting Planners & Tradeshow Professionals

A Bright Day for PCMA

Austin Convention Center hosts one of the most successful Convening Leaders to date

5 Incentive

Travel Trends for 2017 66


Planner Roundtable: Seller’s Market 20

California 37

Florida 44

Lima, Peru 51

Austin Convention Center Deputy Director Paul Barnes (left), Catering GM Katherine Putnam and Director Mark Tester


ONE AMAZING DESTINATION! AUSTIN, WE DID IT! We pulled off an amazing event for PCMA Convening Leaders, one of the meeting industry’s premier events of the year. 40 local musicians performed at the Austin Convention Center, Palmer Events Center, ABIA, and during events

42 venues and restaurants were booked or rented for 63 client events

325 volunteer hours locals contributed during the conference

53 local sponsors from the worlds of retail, tech, spirits and restaurants

$40K worth of donations gifted to local non-profits thanks to PCMA volunteering and fundraising

[512] 404-4200 www.austinconventioncenter.com

A big Thank You to all sponsors and partners who helped make PCMA Convening Leaders possible.

The Great Florida Venue D A Y T O N A


The Ocean Center is located in the heart of one of America’s favorite family destinations. It’s the perfect venue for meetings and conventions large and small, exhibitions, entertainment events and sporting competitions. And when the meeting breaks, the ocean awaits. Book the Ocean Center and the best staff in the business will make your next event your best event.

The great Florida venue! 101 N. Atlantic Ave. Daytona Beach, FL 32118 800.858.6444 oceancenter.com

Facilities &

editor’s note


Destinations Winter

meeting outside the box


For Association & Corporate Meeting Planners & Tradeshow Professionals


s a premier association for convention managers, PCMA strives to exemplify the latest trends in event design at its own meetings. One of those trends can be described as the “decentralization” of the meeting site. As always, a convention center or hotel remains the primary gathering place, but sessions and events are increasingly being spread out to other venues in the host city. The rationale is to enrich the experience for attendees: A change in venue can rekindle attention, create conversation starters, dovetail with a theme of the conference and make the event more memorable overall. For PCMA’s audience, an added benefit is that delegates become more familiar with a city they may bring events to in the future.

For all these reasons, the PCMA Education Conference, to be held June 11-14 at the New York Marriott Marquis, will include a panoply of offsite venues: Convene at 237 Park Avenue, Shubert Theater, Microsoft Flagship Store, Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, the historic New Amsterdam Theater and Central Park’s renowned Tavern on the Green. The Marriott, with its 124,000-plus sq. ft. of function space, is of course capable of accommodating the full breadth of PCMA’s programming. And more “centralization” would mean less ground transportation and logistical hurdles. But according to Kelly Coppola, the association’s Senior Director of Business Events Strategy, the benefits of venue diversification “outweigh the operational challenges.” The same philosophy drove the design of PCMA’s 2017 Convening Leaders, in Austin, TX, where several venues outside the Austin Convention Center were used to great effect (see the feature on p. 31). Indeed, no matter how inviting and functional a convention center is (and Austin’s is among the finest), engagement tends to increase when a group “meets outside the box.” For planners keen on following PCMA’s approach and partnering with more offsite venues, ground transportation can be a significant piece of the puzzle. Sourcing the right provider ensures attendees get to those venues with as much logistical ease as possible, and minimizes risk to the host organization. Don’t miss the invaluable tips from ground transportation expert Bill Knepper of GoldSpring Consulting on p. 65 of this issue. – George Seli

Editorial Director, Facilities Media Group gseli@facilitiesonline.com


In Brief................................................................................................................. 6 Photoview PCMA Convening Leaders 2017........................................................................ 14 Expo! Expo! IAEE Annual Meeting & Exposition............................................... 16 Forum Dean Dennis, Atlantic City Convention Center.................................................. 18 Perspectives Vetting For-Hire Ground Transportation Providers, by Bill Knepper.................. 65 Top 5 Incentive Travel Trends for 2017, by Mike May........................................ 66 Using Technology to Measure Attendee Behavior, by Neal Thompson............. 67 F&D A-List Women CVB Executives..................................................................................... 68


Planner Roundtable........................................................................................... 20 ELITE Awards..................................................................................................... 23 Collaborating with PCMA.................................................................................. 31 PRISM Awards.................................................................................................... 34 Destinations California........................................................................................................... 37 Florida............................................................................................................... 44 Lima, Peru.......................................................................................................... 51 Facilities Directory........................................................................................ 53-64 Advertiser Index................................................................................................ 64 Facilities & destinations 2016-2017 Winter

Volume 24 No. 4

Chief Operating Officer David Korn Associate Publisher Michael Caffin Editorial Director George Seli Contributing Editors Anthony Bilden Laura Downey Rosa Laufer Deborah Shapiro Creative Direction & Design Scott-Goodman Associates Circulation Manager Winny Cheung Editorial Assistant Shuyu Guo Business Operations Nadia Derelieva © Copyright 2017 by Bedrock Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. Opinions expressed in by-lined articles and advertising copy are not necessarily those of the publisher. Advertisers are responsible for all costs, damages and claims regarding advertising insertions. Facilities & Destinations is published four times a year by Bedrock Communications, Inc., 152 Madison Avenue, Suite 802, New York, NY 10016. Telephone: (212) 5324150. Fax: (212) 213-6382. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to Facilities, 152 Madison Avenue, Suite 802, New York, NY 10016. Printed in U.S.A. Cover ad space is available by contacting a Facilities advertising account executive at (212) 532-4150.

ON THE COVER In January, the executive staff at the Austin Convention Center led a team that hosted one of the best installments of PCMA’s Convening Leaders to date. Among the keys to success were extensive pre-planning, citywide teamwork and incorporating local flavor. Get the staff’s perspective on the event in this issue’s cover story (p. 31).


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





of meeting space.

1 Myriad Gardens

of exhibit hall space.

Oklahoma City, OK 73102

15K seat arena.

Phone (405) 602-8500




he travel industry has been paying close attention to President Trump’s 90-day limitation of new visas for citizens of six nations: Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan. These countries happen to have Muslim majorities and are either state sponsors of terror, or have had significant ISIS-related activity. Most meetings industry bodies reacted to the revised order in a manner similar to U.S. Travel Association President Roger Dow, who said, “The American travel community supports efforts to bolster national security, and the Trump administration deserves some credit for the substantially more cautious and deliberate introduction of the revised executive order.” Criticism of the measure was mainly focused on the damage to the industry that the original order may have caused, and Dow questioned “whether the revised order did enough to mollify the prospective traveler from Canada, Europe, or elsewhere around the world who may have been put off by the initial travel ban.” He added that the order could have more clearly delineated between visitors who are potential security risks and legitimate business and leisure visitors, but that seems a bit much to ask. After all, people who are security risks would likely infiltrate as refugees, students, tourists or business travelers. Thus, vetting of all travelers, as inconvenient as it may be to the industry, would be needed. ASAE’s statement on the matter brought the specter of religious discrimination into the mix. “Not only does [the travel ban] concern us in terms of the impact on international attendance at association meetings and conferences, it raises questions about whether we are making policy as a nation based on religion,” said ASAE President and CEO John Graham, CAE. He further stated that “ASAE urges the administration to

Location. Location. Location.

clarify the intent of this order and confirm our nation’s commitment to equality and humanitarianism.” While I commend Graham’s concern for “equality and humanitarianism,” I am disappointed that he did not extend this concern to travel bans apart from the current executive order. One example is the travel ban on citizens of Israel. At IBTM World, over cocktails, a hotelier from the Middle East unabashedly told me Israelis were not welcome in her country unless they hold a second passport. How many Israeli academics or association professionals cannot attend international congresses or events in numerous countries throughout the globe by virtue of their country of birth, and where is ASAE’s reported concern and critique in that arena? Despite any negative repercussions, temporarily limiting travel from certain areas is a necessary security measure. Let us not lose sight that there is a security issue, and that the source of the threat is partly outside our borders. True, some of the attackers in recent terror incidents and live shooting incidents may have been home grown, an example being the January shooting at Fort Lauderdale airport. But over the past few years, multiple attacks in France and Belgium, as well as Southern California, have been perpetrated by foreigners from or with ties to foreign terror groups rooted in areas noted in the travel restriction. In a sign of the times, one of the highest attended sessions at PCMA Convening Leaders this year was on how to prepare for a “live shooter” situation. If the meetings industry has a challenge in preventing the world traveler from being “put off” by the executive order, that can be achieved by promoting the United States with facts. We have some of the world’s best cities and facilities, and our country’s freedoms make it a beacon of opportunity. Statements from industry officials or the trade media filled with conjecture about the travel ban, or questioning “our nation’s commitment to equality and humanitarianism,” do nothing to inform the global traveler about our country’s virtues as a destination. —David Korn Chief Operating Officer Facilities Media Group dkorn@facilitiesonline.com

If you’re looking for a unique location for your next meeting, conference or special event, then we invite you to discover Boise Centre. Boise Centre is Idaho’s premier convention facility and features: • An ideal location in downtown Boise, just 7 minutes from the airport, and surrounded by restaurants, shops, hotels, culture and entertainment • 92,000 sq. ft. of flexible/customizable event space • A newly completed expansion with 8 additional meeting rooms and ballroom • Exceptional culinary services and a diverse menu with many locally sourced ingredients • The meeting space, atmosphere and professional event staff to deliver unforgettable experiences

Visit boisecentre.com to view interactive floor plans or to submit an event inquiry.


Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter


15 Minutes Away From CAK

Staff Is 87% Friendlier Than The Other Guys

8 Out Of 10 Visitors Rate Food “Excellent”

40 Minutes Away From CLE

99% Chance Of A Successful Event*

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


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

79 Steps To Some Great Guacamole

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

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


host venue compatibility, total room night demand, verified event history, spend visibility and performance. For details, visit hipnetwork.com.

Fredia Brady, new GM of the Wilmington Convention Center CHICAGO, IL — PCMA will honor Carol Krugman, Martin Balogh and Barry Smith at the 2017 Visionary Awards on May 3. Held at the Marriott Marquis, Washington, DC, the awards ceremony will be attended by more than 1,000 industry professionals. PCMA Education Foundation presents the event in partnership with the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau and Austin Convention Center, both of which welcomed PCMA for Convening Leaders 2017 (see page 31). Krugman, MEd, CMP, CMM, Chair of the Department of Hospitality, Tourism & Events at Metropolitan State University of Denver, is the 2017 Educator Honoree. Balogh, Associate Executive Director – Meetings and Travel Group at the American Bar Association, is the 2017 Meeting Professional Honoree. Smith, President and CEO of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, is the 2017 Supplier Honoree. INDIANAPOLIS, IN — HIP Network, a subscriber network of over 7,500 meeting industry planners and suppliers, officially launched its Business Intelligence Platform and Reporting Standard, featuring ShowScore™, at the Tech Central Pavilion during PCMA Convening Leaders, Jan. 8-11, in Austin, TX. The tool is described as the first reporting standard for event organizers and suppliers who seek guidance and dealcycle transparency on core event analytics including: host destination direct economic impact, 6

MCLEAN, VA — This January, Hilton released telling statistics on the use of its Hilton Honors app, including the following: • Guests have used their smartphone to check into their rooms nearly 24 million times since mid-2014. • Digital check-in with room selection is used over one million times per month. That’s once every two-and-a-half seconds. • Hilton Honors members have used Digital Key to open more than three million doors across 820 properties in the United States, Canada and Singapore. • More than 70 percent of those who use digital check-in also opt to use Digital Key. • The Hilton Honors app is one of the highest-rated travel apps in the Apple App Store with more than 3.6 million downloads in 2016 alone. TWINSBURG, OH and WEST CONSHOHOCKEN, PA — Experient, A Maritz Global Events Company, and SMG have finalized a preferred partner agreement that continues a relationship between the two companies since 2005. “We have always seen the parallels between our two organizations,” says Gregg Caren, Executive Vice President of SMG’s Convention Center Division. “We both offer bestin-class service to our mutual clients. This new and expanded partnership is a ‘renewal of vows,’ so to speak. It will encourage even more event activity at our facilities by simplifying the process of contracting with our convention centers, and providing added benefits for clients.” WASHINGTON, DC — The Convention Industry Council (CIC) has selected SmithBucklin to provide full-service association management. The council’s CEO, Karen Kotowski, CAE CMP, will continue to

Experient and SMG recently finalized their preferred partner agreement. (L-r): Michael Guerriero, Division President, Experient; Gregg Caren, Executive Vice President, Convention Center Division, SMG; and David Peckinpaugh, President, Maritz Global Events serve as CIC’s chief executive, and its headquarters will move to 2025 M Street, N.W., Washington, DC, on April 1. SmithBucklin will provide CIC with a complete management solution and support its initiatives. “The Board of Directors is very pleased with the level of support that SmithBucklin will bring to CIC, and its ability to help our organization both now and as we work to realize our potential in the future,” said Susan Robertson, CAE, CIC Chair. “SmithBucklin’s culture and values are aligned with CIC’s. The staff is extremely well qualified to support critical areas such as the domestic and global expansion of the CMP credential, APEX standardsetting, and major events such as the Hall of Leaders. Further, SmithBucklin’s solid services in the areas of marketing and branding, IT and website development are essential for taking CIC to the next level.” WASHINGTON, DC — The Meetings Mean Business Coalition (MMB) has secured a new licensing agreement that will allow partners in countries and regions outside the United States to use MMB branding, messaging and research. “We are thrilled to welcome more international partners into the MMB family through this global expansion,” said Paul Van Deventer, President and CEO of Meeting Professionals International and Co-chair of Meetings Mean Business. “This will allow us to extend

the MMB brand in an authentic, grassroots and meaningful way, which truly emphasizes that meetings matter all over the world, and provide a platform to engage the global events community.” The Business Events Industry Coalition of Canada, founded in 2009 to advocate on behalf of the Canadian meetings industry, is the first to execute the MMB licensing agreement and will soon be rebranding as Meetings Mean Business Canada (MMB Canada). WEST CONSHOHOCKEN, PA — SMG has selected Fredia Brady as the new General Manager for the Wilmington Convention Center, Wilmington, NC. Brady is a hospitality industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience in convention sales and marketing, business development, facility operations and event management, including serving SMG as a Regional Senior Director of Sales & Marketing for SMG’s Southeast Region from 2008 to 2014. She most recently was the Senior Director of Sales & Marketing for the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center. “Fredia’s experience will be invaluable as the Convention Center positions itself to support the rebranding of the River District and the opening of an adjacent Embassy Suites Hotel this year,” said Bob McClintock, SMG’s senior Vice President/Chief Operating Officer for the SMG Convention Center Division.

Facilities & destinations 2016-2017 Winter

Whether you have 50 or 5,000 attendees, we have a prime site for you.



123 East Main Street, Rochester, NY 14604 585.232.7200 • www.rrcc.com

In Brief

Convention CENTER WATCH Cobo Center recently completed a major tech upgrade

The new Albany Capital Center ALBANY, NY — The Albany Capital Center (ACC), the largest meeting space in Upstate New York at 159,000 sq. ft. of total event space, opened on March 1. The ACC will be connected via an enclosed walkway to a newly renovated hotel, the Renaissance Albany, and there will be several enclosed walkways linking the ACC with the Times Union Center Arena, the Empire State Plaza Convention Center and the Egg Performing Arts Center, forming what will be called the Capital Complex. The ACC offers groups 22,500 sq. ft. of event/ballroom space, 13,500 sq. ft. of pre-function space, 9,200 sq. ft. of meeting space across six meeting rooms, customizable LED lighting, exterior and interior digital signage, charging stations and plasma screens, high-speed Internet and 4K audiovisual capabilities, and catering by Mazzone Hospitality. The facility welcomes its first convention group, the New York State Council for Social Studies, on March 22.

ATLANTA, GA — The Georgia World Congress Center, serviced by Levy Restaurants, recently introduced Social Table, one of the first configurable restaurant spaces in a convention center. Social Table will serve rotating menus based on different show needs and attendee preferences. Social Table launched in February for the International Production & Processing Expo. DETROIT, MI — In December, Claude Molinari, General Manager of the Cobo Center, announced the completion of a two million-dollar technology upgrade that includes an enhanced Nortel core switch that distributes the Wi-Fi signal, along with several new Nortel edge switches located throughout the center. “For the visitors that use our Wi-Fi network, these upgrades will be like moving from a one lane highway to a three lane super-speedway,” said Molinari. The upgrades will allow 32,000 simultaneous users on the network.

The Georgia World Congress Center’s new Social Table, an innovative restaurant concept 8

LAS VEGAS, NV — In December, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority launched one of the nation’s largest Neutral-Host Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) throughout the Las Vegas Convention Center. Developed through a partnership with Cox Business/Hospitality Network and InSite Wireless Group, LLC, the $18 million DAS can provide state-of-the-art wireless voice and data cellular services to more than 100,000 patrons simultaneously. LOS ANGELES, CA — December marked the three-year anniversary of the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC) and AEG Facilities partnership, which has delivered record-breaking financial results, new sales and marketing initiatives, and capital improvement projects at the LACC. According to AEG Facilities, the company has generated an operating profit of over $11.8 million in the span of three years, after reimbursing the City of Los Angeles $4.6 million for the Department of Convention & Tourism Development overhead. Additionally, AEG Facilities has surpassed the City’s initial goal of building a financial reserve of $2.1 million in five years with $6.1 million at the conclusion of 2016. Reaching that reserve and creating substantial operating surplus has enabled an investment of $30 million into capital improvement projects from 2014-2016. “In accordance with best business practices, we believe in appropriating our operating surplus toward sustaining and improving the LACC facility,” said Brad Gessner, General Manager of the Los Angeles Convention Center and Senior Vice President at AEG Facilities. “Since 2013, the LACC has completed and/or is in

progress of over 40 capital and alteration and improvement projects to provide a modern, safe, environmentally conscientious and competitive facility.” NEW YORK, NY — Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky recently announced the selection of LendLease Turner as the design-build team for the $1.5 billion expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, located on Manhattan’s West Side. “The Javits Center is one of New York State’s greatest

Howard Zemesky Empire State Development economic assets, and this project will turn this building into a 21st century marvel, a convention center of the caliber that New York deserves,” said Zemsky. “With these new state-of-the-art facilities, we will be able to attract the world’s best conferences and events and drive economic activity throughout the region for decades to come.” Among the project’s major components are the following: 90,000 sq. ft. of new exhibit space, 45,000 sq. ft. of state-of-the-art meeting space, a 55,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, a green roof terrace and pavilion, an onsite truck marshaling facility, 27 new loading docks and LEED Silver certification.

Facilities & destinations 2016-2017 Winter

40 years

SMG is Celebrating of success!

40 years is a milestone moment in the life of a company. From our very first account, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, an account we still manage today, to our portfolio of more than 230 accounts, we celebrate them all. All year long we will remember and celebrate our terrific employees and clients. It’s been an amazing history, and we look forward to a fantastic future.

Worldwide Entertainment and Convention Venue Management

In Brief The Breadfruit & Rum Bar

Carnegie Mellon University students install “hoop houses” for growing produce at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center

In Brief

Convention CENTER WATCH Planting in Pittsburgh


8-MINUTE WALK At the Phoenix Convention Center in Downtown Phoenix, your attendees are minutes away from James Beard Award winners, ethnic delights and local culinary wonders. So book today and watch your event take a big step in the right direction.


800-282-4842 | 10

ustainably sourced foods have been a welcome trend at convention centers for some time now, with these facilities cultivating their own gardens to ensure meals are prepared with the freshest produce and herbs. The David L. Lawrence Convention Center has taken this initiative a step further by involving the local community. Architecture students at Carnegie Mellon University who study agriculture in post-industrial cities, such as Pittsburgh, have recently partnered with Thomas Bugel, Director of Concessions and Lead Horticulturalist at the convention center, on a “hoop house” project. Hoop houses fit directly over raised planter beds and help extend the growing season for fresh produce in cold climates. Students were restricted to a simple material palette of steel conduit and a greenhouse plastic that can be heat shrunk to the steel frames. Fifty-five students and six professors participated, with each student team responsible for their own concept, design and installation. “Garden boxes allow us to grow herbs from May until October and vegetables to supplement our local purchases that support the local economy,” Bugel explains. “Planning starts in February for which varieties we are going to grow, and we create a map and timeline of when and where the varieties are going to be planted in our 28 garden boxes. Then, garden preparation starts in March with turning fresh compost

into the soil and reinstalling the irrigation system. Most of the planting is in mid-late April through the beginning of June. From there it is a team effort to maintain the beds and harvest, get a second summer planting or fall crop in, and winterize the beds in late fall.” Overall, the David L. Lawrence Convention Center is ecoconscious in its F&B operations. All organic waste from the kitchen areas is separated and sent out to be composted, and all waste from the public spaces is sorted and separated into organic waste, recyclables and trash, currently at a 56 percent landfill diversion rate. “Once turned into compost, we buy it back in a 25 percent compost soil blend, which we use in the garden,” says Bugel. “All seeds and seedlings for the garden are either produced here or sourced locally, with a focus on heirloom varieties from which we let a small amount of the plants go full term to claim the seeds. All products grown are used in the facility.” Bugel feels that all these efforts support clients’ sustainability goals. “Convention planners should aim to have as little environmental impact on the city as possible, while at the same time having a maximum contribution to the local economy,” he says. “Just by attending a convention where sustainability initiatives are in place, guests become more aware [of green practices and values], and so we are creating a special guest experience.” —G.S.

Facilities & destinations 2016-2017 Winter


ATLANTIC CITY, NJ — Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa will be opening its new 18,000-sq.-ft. Central Conference Center in May. The $11 million project features two stories of highly customizable event space including five meeting rooms, a boardroom, and an office on the lower level, as well as a 6,500-sq.-ft. ballroom on the upper level. The venue boasts the latest in technology, offering high-definition digital projection, TV and Internet system capabilities paired with all digital distributed sound systems. Touch-panel controls and décor lighting experiences allow for customizable AV services. LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL — Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is expanding over the next two years, adding new dining options, resort rooms and outdoor networking spaces. As part of that expansion, construction is under way on a new 15-story, 500-room tower that will offer a new rooftop restaurant with panoramic views of nighttime fireworks from nearby Disney theme parks. Current guestrooms will also be redesigned. The expansion will include new meeting venues, adding a boardroom and two multipurpose rooms to the resort’s current 220,000 sq. ft. of dedicated meeting and function space. In related news, Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort will expand its convention center by 28,000 sq. ft., bringing its total

amount of flexible meeting and event space to 100,000 sq. ft. For more Orlando hotel updates, see the Florida feature on page 44. MCLEAN, VA — Ground has been broken on the Canopy by Hilton Atlanta Midtown, which is scheduled to open in summer 2018. The 176-room hotel, which includes four suites, will offer 3,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space with an adjacent boardroom and elevated outdoor terrace. MCLEAN, VA — First Hospitality Group, Inc. and Hilton have partnered to bring Hilton’s first triple-brand hotel, consisting of a Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn by Hilton and Home2 Suites by Hilton, to McCormick Place. Connected by skybridge to the convention center, the properties will offer a collective 466 guestrooms and suites and share many amenities, including six rooms of meeting space totaling roughly 7,000 sq. ft. MIAMI, FL — The 225-room Virgin Hotels New Orleans is expected to break ground in April for an early 2019 opening. Located in the city’s Warehouse District, the property will include the brand’s signature space, The Commons Club, a rooftop pool and lounge, gym, and function spaces. NASHVILLE, TN — Scheduled to open in summer 2018, the

The ballroom at the Borgata’s new Central Conference Center

Rendering of Disney Coronado Springs Resort’s expansion JW Marriott Nashville will be a 33-story property located on one of Nashville’s highest elevation points. The 533-room hotel will offer 50,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space, a Michael Mina Restaurant and a rooftop bar on the 33rd floor, a state-of-the-art spa and more. SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants will be debuting two hotels in Los Angeles this spring: The Everly, situated at the base of the Hollywood Hills with 360-degree views, and La Peer Hotel, the first hotel in West Hollywood’s renowned Design District. The Everly, slated to open late April, will feature 216 guestrooms,

while La Peer opens in May with 105 rooms. Kimpton’s Southern California expansion will continue later in 2017 with the launch of a new property in Palm Springs. (See page 39 for more on Palm Springs’ meeting scene.) TORONTO, ONTARIO — The historic Century Plaza Hotel, located in the heart of Century City in Los Angeles, is undergoing a restoration and is slated to reopen as Fairmont Century Plaza, Los Angeles in 2018. The approximately $2.5 billion mixed-use redevelopment project includes 394 guestrooms and approximately 100,000 sq. ft. of boutique high-street shopping and expanded parking facilities.


2017 Prime Site and Top • The Destination Awards Forums: In-depth Q&As with • F&D industry leaders on the move from the pros on planning medical • Tips meetings and religious conferences Facilities & destinations 2016-2017 Winter

reports on Las Vegas, • Destination Orlando and Philadelphia, plus part two of this issue’s Peru feature latest domestic and international • The meeting industry news To subscribe, see page 22 in this issue. 11


Puerto Rico: El San Juan Hotel Reintroduced to a Thriving Resort Market


n Feb. 5, the El San Juan Hotel opened its doors as part of Curio – A Collection by Hilton following a propertywide multi-million-dollar renovation. The 382-room hotel, offering groups over 40,000 sq. ft. of function space, now boasts numerous upgrades, including completely remodeled guestrooms, a new pool, 22 luxury cabanas, a new fitness center and spa facilities, new restaurants and a modernized lobby. The renovation is sure to spark interest from planners considering San Juan. Puerto Rico’s capital and largest city is also home to the venerable Condado Plaza Hilton, recently visited by F&D staff. We were also welcomed by the El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, whose brand allure is another reason why Puerto Rico’s eastern region is increasingly popular among groups. CONDADO PLAZA HILTON The Condado Plaza Hilton opened its doors in the 1950s and has been an iconic hotel in the heart of San Juan ever since. This 571-room property became part of the Hilton collection in 2009 and features newly installed 52-inch televisions in all rooms and new guestroom windows overlooking the Condado Lagoon. The hotel’s 53,800 sq. ft. of meeting space includes 18 meeting rooms, most with natural lighting. Groups have a variety of options, from the hotel’s boardrooms, two flexible ballrooms and hospitality suites to terraces, an oceanfront garden and the main pool area. Hotel Managing Director Raul Bustamante states that the resort is “ready for every event whether it is a structured business meeting, incentive trip or small group gathering. The Condado Plaza Hilton is an exceptional choice for meetings and


incentives with state-of-the-art meeting features in an active location full of both daytime recreation and nightlife options.” The hotel has recently renovated its Plaza Grand Ballroom, one of the biggest ballrooms in San Juan at 12,800 sq. ft. The Condado Plaza Hilton’s Wi-Fi system has a bandwidth capability scalable up to 1,000 mbps, providing high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity in all meeting areas. In addition, the hotel can create a personalized group webpage to publish and organize the details of the agenda. Planners of small meetings have the advantage of using the hotel’s custom e-events website to manage the planning process. From one convenient website, it is possible to reserve conference venues, book accommodations and create catering menus for small groups requiring up to 25 guestrooms. The hotel’s team of professional event managers is available to assist with every detail, including space selection, seating configurations, catering, table settings, floral arrangements, venue design and technology needs. An award-winning culinary team is also on hand to custom design menus, complementing the cuisine at acclaimed Puerto Rican Chef Wilo Benet’s Pikayo restaurant. The Condado Plaza Hilton is home to an eco-friendly artificial reef that provides groups a chance to learn about coral reefs and experience a snorkeling adventure. Three underwater educational trails are perfect for teambuilding activities. Attendees can also enjoy kayaking and paddling in the Condado Lagoon or relaxing in one of four oasisstyle pools, including the only saltwater pool in Puerto Rico. The historic streets of Old San Juan are just five minutes from the hotel, and if a group is feeling adventurous, a 45-minute drive brings them to the El Yunque National Forest.

San Juan’s Condado Plaza Hilton EL CONQUISTADOR RESORT El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort is located one hour away from the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Fajardo, a small city bordering the Atlantic. This 1,200-room luxury hotel features stylish hotel rooms and suites with spacious living areas, plasma TVs and Ferragamo bath amenities. According to hotel Managing Director Dermot Connolly, the resort is “perfect for groups who want to stay together — or keep apart. Guestrooms and suites are divided into five villages, including Las Casitas Village, a separate luxury resort which features one-, two- and three-bedroom style villas with full kitchen facilities as well as 24-hour resort butler service. The exclusivity of Las Casitas Village makes it an ideal choice for the most prestigious, executive-level gatherings.” The El Conquistador Resort is home to over 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. Prior to arrival at the resort, planners can use the El Con 360 iTunes app to visualize meeting possibilities with immersive tours and 360° floorto-ceiling maps. The $42 million state-of-the-art Grand Atlantic Conference Center is the most expansive and cutting-edge center of its kind in the Caribbean. Providing two adjacent conference areas with two ballrooms and 16 breakout rooms, the conference center offers function sites such as the 21,090-sq.-ft. Grand Atlantic Ballroom — one of the largest ballrooms in Puerto Rico — and the 19,982-sq.ft. Grand Caribbean Ballroom. Meeting rooms available on the resort’s Mirador and Mezzanine levels include the Pablo Casals Ballroom, accommodating up to 800 guests, and the Mirador Terrace, featuring stunning ocean views and a reception capacity of

250 guests. With the help of the resort’s onsite destination management company, GSI, planners can bring their events to life and create an unforgettable experience. GSI is on hand to assist with everything from décor to entertainment to VIP transportation. The resort also offers expert audiovisual services through PSAV. With its onsite office, PSAV provides the full gamut of event technology services including audiovisual, creative, digital, exhibitor, staging, network, projection, rigging, mobile app and visual services. Two banquet kitchen facilities can prepare kosher meals as well as other specialty meals for attendees. El Conquistador Resort’s team of highly skilled chefs can create a bespoke menu that combines a group’s taste with their creative flair, signature style and the finest ingredients. For example, the resort recently introduced the Flavors of Puerto Rico catering offering. From longaniza sausage sliders with mango and papaya marmalade to pastelillitos de carne (Puerto Rican meat turnovers), local delicacies are prepared by the resort’s Executive Chef Ernie Reyes for receptions or work breaks. The resort also presents a wide choice of entertainment options for groups, ranging from an Arthur Hillsdesigned 18-hole golf course and Waldorf Astoria Spa to Coquí Water Park, a stateof-the-art aquatic playground, and the resort’s 100-acre private Palomino Island. Groups can escape to Palomino Island, an unspoiled tropical oasis offering pristine white beaches, horseback riding, snorkeling, wave running, sailing and more. —R.K.

Facilities & destinations 2016-2017 Winter

In Brief


SAN FRANCISCO, CA — San Francisco Travel and 44 participating hotels present a “Pick Two” promotion that offers incentives to planners booking during select dates in 2017 and 2018: one complimentary room for every 35 rooms consumed; 20 percent discount on audiovisual services; complimentary welcome reception with a minimum of 10 rooms per night; and free Wi-Fi service in guestrooms and 50 percent off in meeting rooms. The list of participating hotels

SPOKANE, WA — Visit Spokane’s latest incentive for meeting planners offers free coffee and free WiFi for a group’s entire event when booked at the Spokane Convention Center. Qualifying groups must utilize 450+ room nights on peak, and the event must actualize by Dec. 31, 2019. For more information, contact VisitSpokane. com/freecoffee or call (800) 662-0084.

Facilities & destinations 2016-2017 Winter


KISSIMMEE, FL — The It Pays to Meet in Kissimmee incentive promotion offers groups meeting in the Central Florida city up to $4,100 for their organization. Total value earned is based on total number of paid room nights utilized for the specified meeting. Meetings must be booked by Dec. 31, 2017. For more information, call (800) 831-1844, email Meet@ MeetInKissimmee.com or visit www.experiencekissimmee.com/ meeting/itpaystomeet.

SOUTH WALTON, FL — Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa has introduced a new “Golden Days” promotion that gives meeting planners the chance to earn Hilton Honors Gold Status when they book a meeting at the resort. Available until May 31, 2017, the Golden Days promotion applies to meetings taking place between Oct. 1, 2017 and March 9, 2018. Requires minimum 400 nights and minimum $20,000 in food and beverage spend. Among the many hotel benefits unlocked by Gold Status are a discounted, changeable and refundable rate, digital check-in, complimentary internet access, quick reservations and checkins, late and express check-out, complimentary second guest and more. For more information, visit www.hiltonsandestinbeach.com/golden-days-2017 or call (877) 705-6641.

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and qualifying dates are available at www.sftravel.com/article/ pick-two-promotions. Qualifying dates are subject to change. To take advantage of the “Pick Two” promotion, planners can submit a Request for Proposal at www.sftravel.com/submit-rfp or contact Chris Deschenes at christopher@sftravel.com or (508) 269-8555.


JANESVILLE, WI — Meetings held in Janesville now through April 30, 2017 or between Nov. 1, 2017 and April 30, 2018 may qualify for a cash rebate of $200. Eligibility is based on new events that are arranged through the Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, bring in 50 attendees or more and take place over two consecutive days. Rebate recipients may choose either $200 cash or a Mastercard Gift Card as payment for their rebate. For more information, visit www. janesvillecvb.com/promotions/ meet_in_janesville.

Let the mome you away…ntum c and arr e n o v i h s t i i t ba y , you’ll W k ck so many gro now w hy ups ag ch Master fully craf t ai ed fo oose to od Robust,


blog.mononaterrace.com ©2017 Monona Terrace



Convening Leaders PCMA’s Convening Leaders was held Jan. 8-11, 2017 in Austin, TX


Brian Ivey, VP of Sales & Marketing, Music City Center

Al Hutchinson, President & CEO, Visit Baltimore

Misty Goff, Director Convention Marketing, Visit Orlando

Reina Herschdorfer (left) and Caitlin Batoon of Caesars Entertainment with John Rissi of PSAV

Tim Hemphill, VP Sales and Marketing, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

Angela Daniels, Assistant Director/DOS, and Tim Buckley, Sales Manager, Ocean Center

Julie Coker Graham, President & CEO of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, holds a copy of the F&D 2016 SuperBook

Chinyere Hubbard (left), VP, Communications, and Robin McClain, VP, Marketing & Communications, Destination DC

Dittie Guise (left), General Manager, and Mavoy Smith, Sales Manager, Montego Bay Convention Centre

Facilities & DESTINATIONS 2016-2017 WINTER

there’s teamwork happenIng here!

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

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

Follow us!

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


Expo! Expo!

IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition took place Dec. 6-8, 2016 in Anaheim, CA


Ellen Schwartz (left), Los Angeles Convention Center, and Margaret Colon, Puerto Rico Convention Center

Luther Villagomez (left), General Manager, and John Gonzalez, Vice President, George R. Brown Convention Center

Tom Meehan, General Manager, Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas

Tim Hemphill (fourth from left), Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, and Sallee Pavlovich (second from left), New Orleans CVB, welcome visitors to their booth, including Ryan Strowger (center) and Cliff Wallace (left)

Jason Rittenberry (left), President & CEO of the Kentucky State Fair Board, and Cleo Battle, Executive Vice President, Louisville CVB

(L-r): Sandra Daley-Francois, SMG Pembroke Pines City Center, and Dittie Guise and Mavoy Smith, Montego Bay Convention Centre

(L-r): Tom Albrecht, Detroit Metro CVB; Kathy DeCiantis, Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center; and Greg DeSandy, Cobo Center

Frank Dominici, General Manager, and Katie Merse, Sales Account Executive, Meadowlands Exposition Center

Kelli Donahoe (left), David L. Lawrence Convention Center, and Sue Graves, Greater Columbus Convention Center

Facilities & DESTINATIONS 2016-2017 WINTER


Accessible and affordable, California’s Capital is served by Sacramento International Airport which offers 130 flights per day. Once you’ve arrived, you’re just minutes from the downtown Sacramento Convention Center, which offers flexible meeting space, award-winning farm-to-fork catering from Classique Catering – a Centerplate Company – plus, an on-site Starbucks and APizza café. More than 1,000 first-class hotel guest rooms are located just steps from the Convention Center and another 1,000 guest rooms within walking distance. To experience Sacramento call us today at 916-808-5291. SACRAMENTOCONVENTIONCENTER.COM

FORUM Dean Dennis

General Manager, Atlantic City Convention Center

By Anthony Bilden


n November, Spectra by Comcast Spectacor named Dean Dennis General Manager of the Spectra-managed Atlantic City Convention Center, succeeding GM Karen Totaro. Dennis had served as GM of the Spectra-managed Owensboro Convention Center since 2012, where he was instrumental in booking more than 675 events and doubling the projected number of conventions. A 20-plus-year veteran of Spectra, Dennis served as Regional VP, Business Development from 2001-2014, and prior to that GM of Colorado’s Pueblo Convention Center. Dennis is a past Foundation Chair and Trustee of IAVM and a 1999 graduate of IAVM’s Venue Management School. He is also a Facilities & Destinations ELITE Award winner.


hat were some of your achievements and personal highlights during your four years at the Owensboro Convention Center?

all she has done for this venue. She developed and mentored a talented team here, and I am excited to begin carrying out the mission and objectives of CRDA, Meet AC and Spectra.


ave you established a relationship with the team at Meet AC at this point?

’ve had some great conversations with [Vice President of Sales] Gary Musich and other members of the Meet AC team. [CEO] Jim Wood and Gary lead a great organization, and I am looking forward to continuing the wonderful relationship that exists with Meet AC and our Spectra team.

“We sincerely hope industry planners


o you see any opportunities for improving the convention center’s operations or business development, or is it too soon for these considerations?

ell certainly, being involved in the pre-opening understand that we are an and opening of the new 170,000-sq.-ft. center is a highlight. After being handed the keys on a till on the learning curve extension of their team. Sunday, we opened with an Ag Expo on Wednesday at this point, but I will with a 2,000-guest plated dinner and a Sara Evans Together, we transform quickly be gathering input performance on Friday night. It was a great opening from CRDA, Meet AC and and I am very proud of what our entire Spectra events into experiences.” our clients to learn what team accomplished in introducing the venue to the opportunities there are to community and the region. The community had improve and enhance our been out of the meeting and convention business for a number of operation. It’s a very competitive environment and we intend to years, and I have a real sense of accomplishment in how we have be a progressive partner in continuing the growth of the Atlantic brought that business back to Owensboro. City market.



hat excites you about the transition to Atlantic City?

tlantic City is a fantastic meeting destination and I look forward to creating partnerships and enhancing the existing efforts of the CRDA [Casino Reinvestment Development Authority], Meet AC and our Spectra Team. I am also very excited about participating in the upcoming capital improvements planned for the Center to ensure it remains competitive and a top destination in the meetings industry. [Ed note: In October, the CRDA approved electrical and plumbing upgrades for the facility.]


ave you had helpful interactions with Karen Totaro on assuming the GM role and the nature of the Atlantic City convention market? aren is a true leader in the industry and I was fortunate to spend some time with her while with Spectra and appreciate



n general, what do you believe Spectra management means to a convention planner?

nnovative, proven and professional. We sincerely hope industry planners and promoters understand that we are an extension of their team. Together, we transform events into experiences. We bring a value of working with an organization that has decades of experience and a network of facilities around the country that focus every day on delivering quality events for our clients.


s a convention GM, what do you find most rewarding about customer service?

ur goal in the hospitality/event industry is to provide a fun, exciting and even “once in a lifetime” experience for our guests. After a great deal of planning, it’s always gratifying to see a guest leave with a smile on their face! Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter

Paul Loftland for PHLCVB

EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS IN PHILADELPHIA From hosting the historic 2016 Democratic National Convention to welcoming Pope Francis and visitors from across the globe to the World Meeting of Families, Philadelphia is having quite an impressive run of successful meetings and conventions. A big reason for Philadelphia’s success is the magnificent, state-of-the-art Pennsylvania Convention Center, managed by industry leader SMG. Offering progressive work rules and streamlined services, and complemented by the award-winning PHLCVB sales and services teams, we stand ready to meet your every need.

Discover how Philadelphia can help you exceed expectations for your next convention.

MeetPHL.com or 1-855-MEET-PHL

Scott Spitzer Photography for PHLCVB

Add to this the undeniable appeal and vibrancy of our city, including our walkable downtown, flourishing arts, culture and dining scenes, unparalleled history, tax-free shopping and full array of hotel options.

Planner Roundtable

ON THE AGENDA: SELLER’S MARKET What strategies are effective in obtaining value deals from hoteliers today? Leann Coppola, CMP, Customer Experience Specialist, GE Oil & Gas Terry Dougherty, CMP, Director, Benchmarc360°, Inc. Terri Woodin, CMP, Vice President, Marketing & Global Meeting Services, Meeting Sites Resource By George Seli


or the last several years, hotels have generally enjoyed a reversal of fortune from the weak demand period of the recession. And quite understandably, they have often taken the opportunity to maximize revenue from room rates as well as surcharges and fees, while curtailing their concessions to planners. In a sign of the times, Terry Dougherty, CMP, Director, Benchmarc360°, Inc., observes that the ratio for complimentary guestrooms has gone from 1:35 to only 1:50 in some cases. “But there is negotiating power out there if you have good history and good performance,” she assures, “and I believe the hotels still are willing to negotiate some good concessions.” In the discussion that follows, Dougherty and two industry peers take up the future of the seller’s market and how planners can navigate it in the meantime.

I don’t think the pendulum is going to swing back quickly, but I definitely feel the shift in some markets. Dougherty: I think we’re beginning to see the supply slowly increasing, and the buyers are actually using more upscale select service and limited service hotels, where we’re able to negotiate better contracts for them. So I do think we’re going to slowly begin to see a shift at the end of 2017 into ’18 toward more of a buyer’s market.


Woodin: We’ve seen much of the new hotel inventory coming on board in the past year and a half. The cities that have the new inventory are the ones that are more available. And you A SHIFT IN MARKET have cities like Houston that CONDITIONS have a high number of new Woodin: In general, if rooms but their you’re going to a first-tier he hotel is not trying to hotel demand has dropped severely city like New York, Boston, take advantage of planners because of the oil crash. or DC, they haven’t had Cities along that oil belt are many new builds and there because demand is up; where we’re seeing the most is very high demand. It is very difficult to find rather, demand is up so they flexibility with rates and concessions. And Houston availability, and of course need to drive their rates.” is an incredible destination; rates are high and concesit’s second only to New York sions are low. However, I —Terri Woodin City in number of corporate did have a lot of signing headquarters. Orlando is bonuses at the end of last also interesting because it’s year because 2016 was always in demand but they the worst performing year have so much supply that you can still find great values there. for the hotel industry since the crash of ‘08 and ‘09. So GMs are on their directors of sales, directors of sales are on their salespeople, and the owners want to know why are we behind. And FINDING VALUE IN SUBURBS AND it always takes a while for revenue management to catch up. So SECOND-TIER CITIES the salespeople are starting to feel the shift and we’re feeling the Woodin: There is a big push when clients first source to consider shift as planners, but revenue management is still driving rates. second-tier cities and the suburbs [of first-tier cities], though they



Facilities & destinations 2016-2017 Winter

haven’t considered them in the past. So in a city like Seattle that has very high demand/low inventory, you might go just across the water to Bellevue, where there are some great hotels that don’t have the same demand of those in Seattle. So you can get better rates and concessions that way. And in Denver there are tons of hotels in the north corridor in Broomfield and the south corridor in the Denver Tech Center, where you’re in easy access of a large airport and saving money because you’re not in the core of that city. [Similarly for] Schaumburg, IL, an incredible second-tier city that’s still close to O’Hare. Coppola: With budget being very front of mind these days we’ve started to go to some of those second-tier cities, such as the Fort Mill area of South Carolina. I’ve done a few events in Warwick, RI, and Quincy, MA outside Boston, where I’ve found the rates to be significantly lower. There is much more availability in those locations. But unfortunately, sometimes the feedback from attendees isn’t that great. The hotels are fine; they do a wonderful job with the meetings. But in the attendee experience the first thing they have to deal with is getting to a venue that’s not [conveniently located], and that can set the tone for the rest of the day.


Dougherty: Multi-meeting deals can definitely save time, effort and money if you like the operating style of a particular chain or hotel. Benchmarc has done these with chains and particular hotels. But I think in order to do that it’s best to work with your global sales manager, because they know your history and performance.

very loyal to their hotel brand, and if they can be getting points at more hotels that we’re using that will make them happier.


Dougherty: If you do have some flexibility, even if it’s one week, it can make a big difference to a property and your ability to negotiate. [The ideal meeting dates] depends on the property and where they’re getting their largest amount of transient business. Woodin: If we want to arrive on a Tuesday in downtown Chicago, the hotels are going to laugh at me, because Tuesday and Wednesday are peak business traveler days and they can sell it 10 times over. So have that conversation with your meeting requestor: Can you back up to Monday, or arrive on Thursday? The hotels would love it if you arrive on Sunday, but that might not be possible due to corporate meeting policies of not travelling on a weekend, for example.


Dougherty: If you have a history of ancillary revenue, it does help to get that information to the hotel, especially if you have it over a period of several years. We don’t believe in having any of that in a contract because that’s not something the hotel should count on, but when you’re negotiating it does help.

Coppola: We hold all the events onsite at the hotel. We also try to use the hotel for any pre and post or ad hoc meetings. And in promising to keep all F&B functions hen I attend onsite, we’ve been able to really negotiate down or conferences such as IMEX eliminate entirely the room America I make a point to rental fees.


Woodin: Your global sales rep will work on your behalf to reach the hotels that have connect with all my global availability after you source. DEALING WITH You can ask, “If I go to these hotel sales managers.” HIGHER SURCHARGES three destinations in these AND FEES —Terry Dougherty three years and stay within Woodin: Room rental fees your flag, can you find out skyrocketed during the what the hotels are willing seller’s market, as they call to do?” And there are the it. We try to get every fee obvious things like better and surcharge waived. It’s very difficult for clients to accept that rates than they would give you if it was a single meeting, and the they’re still paying for Internet separate from the room rate, and concessions definitely get increased quite a lot because they’d that’s the biggest complaint we get. rather see it stay in their brand than go out to another brand. Coppola: We try to negotiate complimentary Internet in the Coppola: Unfortunately [we haven’t negotiated multi-meeting rooms, and I feel that more and more hotels are willing to particideals] as of late because the future of the meetings industry is pate in that. We also have a conversation with them upfront about rather unstable. Without really knowing whether an event is going whether they have an exclusive AV vendor or a preferred vendor, to happen the following year we kind of avoid getting ourselves and if there is any benefit to bringing in their preferred vs. ours. into those contractual obligations. So we’re taking a shorter view, Sometimes the pricing is better by using their in-house vendor. acknowledging that we may be forgoing some cost savings. Dougherty: We’ve had some very good luck negotiating IMPACT OF MARRIOTT’S discounted rigging costs for our clients as well as being able to ACQUISITION OF STARWOOD bring in outside vendors at a more competitive rate without Woodin: It will be a positive thing once they figure out how to having additional fees charged. put these companies together. They’re starting with their point system, and then they’ll go to the next level and decide how many Woodin: When you get a good room rate as a planner you then brands they’re going keep, and [where to] consolidate and sell have to be really careful to ask what else is on top of that room some of them off. They’re still operating separately so [booking rate. Maybe your group is only 25 people and that particular hotel with either] is not yet seen as staying within the same brand. But is going to charge you $150 just to set the buffet out because that is coming and will give us more leverage because [we’ll have you’re under 50. So we require our hotels to disclose all of those more meetings] under one brand. fees up front or they can’t charge us. Coppola: I think both brands are great; they offer a lot of variety within all the different types of hotels, from boutiquey to more on the convention side. So I absolutely think that [the acquisition] will be beneficial. Also, from an attendee standpoint, people are Facilities & destinations 2016-2017 Winter


Coppola: We’re most successful when we put ourselves in the hotel’s shoes. If I have a meeting that’s very space intensive but doesn’t have a lot of room nights, I acknowledge that I don’t have 21

Dougherty: I believe that relationship is everything, and we make a point of getting to know our global n promising to keep all sales managers. We schedF&B functions onsite, we’ve ule appointments with and try to meet with been able to really negotiate them Woodin: When the hotel them face to face. When down or eliminate entirely declines your RFP, pick we find out we have a new up the phone and have the global sales manager, we the room rental fees.” conversation and ask them contact them, let them —Leann Coppola why. Many of them don’t know who their primary want to tell you the real contact is, and make sure reason for declining your they’ve been brought up meeting because they’re to date on our business. So afraid they’re going to when we start to work on a hurt your feelings, but you really have to have that conversation potential meeting, they have all the info they need to help us negoof “How do we make this work? What do I need to change about tiate the best possible rate. And when I attend conferences such as my program? What do we need to do with our rooms-to-space IMEX America I make a point to connect with all my global hotel ratio for you to consider my RFP?” Have the hotel figure that out sales managers. You may only have 20 minutes to talk with them, with their team and come back to you with what those options but that’s a great 20 minutes that you can spend to help you do are. Sometimes, all I had to do was use my general session as your job better and help them as well. one of my breakouts and use my office also as storage and I would have gotten a “yes.” It’s really about getting creative in UNDERSTANDING THE HOTEL’S BUSINESS working with the properties, especially for the larger meetings. Woodin: The hotel is not trying to take advantage of planners because demand is up; rather, demand is up so they need to drive their rates. When demand is down, they have to give the house RELYING ON RELATIONSHIPS away, like in ‘08 and ‘09. And the higher rates allow them to mainCoppola: Sometimes budget and contracting is a bit out of the planner’s control, and so having a relationship with those hoteliers tain staffing levels, and renovate and take care of the hotel that the planner is buying. and those sales teams can really help navigate that uncertainty. as much purchasing power and leverage. But when we’re using a lot of space along with a lot of sleeping rooms, I really try to go hard on the negotiations.




Facilities & destinations 2016-2017 Winter

Facilities & Destinations SuperBook Advertiser Index










Convention Center Executives


e are pleased to announce the convention center executives who received the Facilities & Destinations 2017 ELITE Award, an accolade that recognizes professionals making a difference in the meetings and events industry. Nominated by readers via a ballot appearing in F&D issues and on Facilitiesonline.com, these leaders have made their facilities into strong economic engines for their communities. They keep their buildings ahead of the curve, while maintaining fruitful relationships with local DMOs, hoteliers, civic organizations and businesses. They have a long track record of career successes, stay active in industry associations and, most importantly to F&D readers, ensure their staffs excel in customer service. We encourage our readers, who themselves are respected in the meetings industry, to continue select professionals deserving of this recognition. Nominations for next year’s ELITE Awards can be made via the ballot in this issue (page 54). Following are the 12 convention center executives who received the most nominations last year. We look forward to recognizing more ELITE professionals in this category and others in future issues. Ric Booth

General Manager, Duke Energy Convention Center

Gregg Caren

Mark Leahy

General Manager, Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland

Teri Orton

Executive Vice President Convention Centers & Business Development, SMG

General Manager, Hawai’i Convention Center

John Chan

Deputy Director, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority

Director, Phoenix Convention Center & Venues

Chris Connolly

General Manager, Iowa Events Center

Dean Dennis

General Manager, Atlantic City Convention Center

Matt Hollander

General Manager, Miami Beach Convention Center

Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter

Fred Peterson Matt Pizzuti

Interim Executive Director, Oregon Convention Center

Mark Tester

Director, Austin Convention Center

Luther Villagomez

Chief Operating Officer, George R. Brown Convention Center









Convention Center Executives




Ric Booth

Gregg Caren

John Chan

General Manager Duke Energy Convention Center Cincinnati, OH

Executive Vice President Convention Centers & Business Development, SMG

Director Phoenix Convention Center & Venues Phoenix, AZ

One of Spectra Venue Management’s most experienced managers, Ric Booth has worked for private management, an NBA team, and city and state governments. From convention centers to arenas, stadiums and amphitheaters, Booth has led his teams to greater accomplishments and improved results in every area. In Houston, TX at Reliant Park, during an extensive construction phase, Booth managed more than 350 events while keeping the construction plans on track. At the George R. Brown Convention Center, he facilitated the transition to a larger and more complex facility, built a relationship with a new headquarter hotel partner and helped his staff maintain high levels of productivity and service. In Cincinnati, he successfully directed the hiring of a new staff, helped create the new culture of service and worked with the CVB and local hotels to put Cincinnati back in the forefront to host national and regional conventions. In the past 10 years, the Duke Energy Convention Center has exceeded budget annually, built a strong base of repeat business and developed a team that is able to accommodate complex conventions and events with great success.


A graduate of Penn State’s Hotel & Restaurant Management program, Gregg Caren started his hospitality career with Marriott Hotels & Resorts, subsequently working with Hilton and Sheraton properties. He then developed a number of privately owned exhibition facilities in the New York metropolitan area prior to joining SMG in 1998. Caren moved to SMG’s corporate headquarters in Philadelphia in 2000, as the company experienced tremendous growth through new accounts and acquisitions. Today, he is responsible for oversight of the company’s Convention Center Division, which he has helped expand to over 75 properties, including premier venues such as McCormick Place, Cobo Center and the Pennsylvania Convention Center. He also leads global business development and sales efforts for the entire SMG network, including facilities in Fort Lauderdale, Long Beach and Cleveland, as well as San Francisco’s world-renowned Moscone Center. Caren has a unique perspective on the convention and tradeshow industry, instilling the best practices in the industry and managing the most recognized “brand” of convention centers, much in the same way as international hotel chains. In recent years, he has focused much of his energy exploring expansion opportunities in the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe and Asia.

John Chan was appointed Director of the Phoenix Convention Center in 2009 shortly after the completion of a $600 million expansion project that tripled its size. Under his leadership, Phoenix has hosted several of the largest and most high-profile conventions and tradeshows in the city’s history, including the NRA Annual Meeting & Exhibits, US Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, VFW National Convention, General Council of the Assemblies of God and Phoenix Comicon. In addition, Chan has been responsible for planning and coordinating major events for the city of Phoenix as a host to Major League Baseball’s 2011 All-Star Game, NFL Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship and the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four. Chan joined the city of Phoenix in 1992, and since that time he has held executive management positions in the city’s Downtown Development Office and Community & Economic Development Department. He currently serves on the City Tourism and Hospitality Advisory Board, and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Downtown Phoenix Hotel Corporation and the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter

Chris Connolly

Dean Dennis

Matt Hollander

General Manager Iowa Events Center Des Moines, IA

General Manager Atlantic City Convention Center Atlantic City, NJ

General Manager Miami Beach Convention Center Miami Beach, FL

Chris Connolly, a veteran arena management executive, was named General Manager of the Spectra-managed Iowa Events Center in March 2011. The three unique facilities (Wells Fargo Arena, Hy-Vee Hall, Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center) allow the Iowa Events Center to fit the specific needs for all types of events. As the General Manager, Connolly oversees the daily operation of the Iowa Events Center, the booking of events and the direction of the venue management staff. Under his leadership, the Iowa Events Center was able to turn a profit of over $1.9 million back to facility owner Polk County in fiscal years 2015 and 2016. FY2016 was a record-breaking year on the convention center side of the business. The Iowa Events Center was named large Spectra Venue of the Year for FY2016. Previously, Connolly served as the General Manager of the Roanoke Civic Center in Roanoke, VA, where he successfully transitioned 28 former employees of the City of Roanoke over to Global Spectrum and managed to lower the city subsidy by more than $500,000 in his first full year as General Manager.

Dean Dennis of Spectra by Comcast Spectacor is a 20-year industry veteran. In his new role at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Dennis is responsible for supervision and oversight of the facility to ensure seamless operations while creating memorable experiences for all clients. He works at the direction of the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which oversees the Center through Spectra’s contract. As General Manager of the Owensboro Convention Center, Dennis oversaw the pre-opening and opening of the 170,000-sq.-ft. Center for the City of Owensboro and Daviess County, KY. In its first two years under Dennis’ leadership, the Center recruited over $800,000 in corporate sponsorships and sub-naming rights for the facility and has aggressively booked more than 675 events. In the Owensboro Convention Center’s first year of operation, Dennis and his team doubled the projected number of conventions and events at the venue, resulting in more than 15,000 room nights with an economic impact of over $2.6 million. In addition, he and his team produced and promoted over 28 public events, generating $455,000 in additional gross revenue and attracting 40,000+ attendees to the community.

Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter

Matt Hollander, CFE, is Spectra Venue Management’s General Manager at the Miami Beach Convention Center, which is presently undergoing a $630 million expansion, renovation and modernization project. Hollander oversees all of the functional areas of the convention center, including sales and marketing, operations, public safety, finance, guest experience, and administration of relationships with third-party service providers. With almost 27 years of industry experience, Hollander has held leadership positions in various venue types or related industry organizations including a DMO, a sports commission, performing arts venue, arenas and convention centers. He has overseen major capital projects including new venue construction and major venue renovation projects. Hollander presently serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Board of Governors for the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce. He also serves as Vice Chair of the Convention Center and Exhibition Halls committee of IAVM, as well as the organization’s Certification Board. Hollander received his B.A. degree in Communications and master’s degree in Public Administration from Florida Atlantic University.









Convention Center Executives




Mark Leahy

Teri Orton

Fred Peterson

General Manager Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland Cleveland, OH

General Manager Hawai’i Convention Center Honolulu, HI

Deputy Director Massachusetts Convention Center Authority Boston, MA

Mark J. Leahy is in his fourth year as General Manager of the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland and the Global Center for Health Innovation. The Cleveland facility, which achieved a LEED Gold certification from the US Green Building Council, recently served as the media center for the 2016 Republican National Convention. In November 2013, Leahy came to Cleveland with more than three decades of experience in the hospitality industry. In Pittsburgh, he opened the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in 2002 and served as its General Manager until coming to Cleveland. Previously, Leahy served as General Manager of the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center, joining the project during development in 1998, opening the new facility in 2000, and implementing a successful cross-river ferry system to service the island-bound facility. Leahy also spent 10 years as Manager of the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center in Boston. The success of the Hynes Convention Center led to the demand for larger spaces, and Leahy assisted in getting legislation passed for the development of the Boston Convention and Exposition Center and the surrounding Seaport area of Boston.


Teri Orton is responsible for the overall management of the Hawai’i Convention Center, including sales and marketing, operations, finance, food and beverage, and customer service, while implementing the strategic positioning and marketing plans for the facility in conjunction with the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, Hawai’i Visitors & Convention Bureau, and the Meet Hawai’i team. Prior to joining AEG Facilities and the Hawai’i Convention Center in 2014, Orton was Vice President of Condominium Resort Marketing for Outrigger Enterprises Group, which consists of 16 properties across the Hawaiian Islands. She has nearly 20 years of hospitality experience, including posts as hotel general manager, director of sales and marketing and other management roles with Embassy Suites, The Ilikai, W Diamond Head, Sheraton Princess Kai’ulani and the Huntington Beach Hilton Resort. Orton majored in communications at the University of Hawai’i and advanced her training in hospitality management through various certifications with Starwood and Hilton. She is a board member for the Hawai’i Visitors & Convention Bureau Board and Aloha United Way.

As Deputy Director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA), Fred Peterson provides strategic leadership and guidance while working to manage and coordinate the goals and polices of the organization. Additionally, he manages facility operations across the MCCA’s venue portfolio — Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Hynes Convention Center, Lawn on D, Boston Common Garage and the MassMutual Center in Springfield. Throughout his 18-year career at the MCCA, Peterson has held a number of roles including Community Liaison, Director of Business Government & Community Relations, Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Director of Facilities Operations. Peterson is active within many industry associations including IAEE, PCMA and AIPC. He has also served on the Board of Directors and a variety of committees within IAVM and the Exhibition Services & Contractors Association. Locally, he serves as Chair of the Seaport Transportation Management Association and is a board member of A Better City, Back Bay Association, Greater Springfield Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, Western MA Sports Commission, South Boston Neighborhood House and the Friends of Fort Point Channel.

Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter

Matt Pizzuti

Mark Tester

Luther Villagomez

Interim Executive Director Oregon Convention Center Portland, OR

Director Austin Convention Center Austin, TX

Matt Pizzuti, CMP, has been in the hospitality industry since 1981 — the first 16 years in hotels and the last 20 at the Oregon Convention Center (OCC) in Portland. Moving into hotel sales in 1990, he became Director of Sales at the Red Lion Jantzen Beach/Columbia River Complex in November 1993. He joined the OCC in 1997 as the Director of Sales and Marketing, was promoted three years ago to Deputy Director and just recently was appointed the Interim Executive Director. Pizzuti joined the Association for Convention Marketing Executives (original name of CSPI) in 1997 and volunteered to assist with leadership in 2002. He was the President of ACME for two consecutive years and helped provide stability and solid footing to the organization. He was recently honored with the Shawn Corwin-Myland Award for leadership. At the OCC, Pizzuti’s charge is to create the greatest amount of revenue through events hosted at the center while maintaining the No. 1 focus, a positive customer experience for all. He focuses on developing partnerships that extend beyond business to friendships with staff and clients alike.

Mark Tester is currently the Director of the Austin Convention Center Department, an enterprise department of the City of Austin. He has been in his current position since January 2008, and oversees all aspects of the Austin Convention Center and Palmer Events Center. In addition, he serves on the Executive Committee of the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau and as President of Austin Convention Enterprises (the Board that oversees the City-financed 800-room Hilton Austin). He is President of the Austin Convention Condominium Association, and Board Advisor to the Austin Hotel and Lodging Association. Prior to joining the City of Austin, Tester spent 13 years working in the Chicago convention community, holding senior positions at both the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau (now Choose Chicago), and the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, the owner and manager at that time of McCormick Place, the Western hemisphere’s largest convention facility. He earned a B.A. in Communication from Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN.

Chief Operating Officer George R. Brown Convention Center Houston, TX

Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter

Luther Villagomez has been associated with the George R. Brown Convention Center since 1985, and has directed day-to-day operations at Houston’s premier meeting place since 1990. He has been involved in many major events at the George R. Brown, beginning with its construction in the mid-1980s and its official opening in 1987. He has seen many shows, such as the International Quilt Show and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, grow along with the facility. The George R. Brown hosts more than 40 major conventions and more than 200 other events annually. Among the high points during Villagomez’s tenure include the completion of a $165 million expansion project to virtually double the size of the convention center in 2003, hosting fan festivals associated with the 2004 Super Bowl, 2004 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, 2006 NBA All-Star Game and successfully converting the convention center into a humanitarian shelter after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. His career with the city began as an Event Manager at Albert Thomas Convention Center, Jones Hall, Music Hall and Sam Houston Coliseum.


Frankfurt 16–18 May 2017

We’ve all grown stronger through collaboration

What is IMEX? Each May, event planners from around the world come to IMEX in Frankfurt to meet with destinations, hotels, venues and suppliers. It’s an ideal opportunity to do business, make new contacts, and catch up with what’s new in the meetings industry. Working together for 15 years IMEX in Frankfurt is built in collaboration with our extensive family of partners. Be they strategic, industry, association, education, media or travel, our worldwide network means that when visitors come to our show, they can meet face to face with the best of the global meetings industry under one roof. Let’s shake hands Thousands of partnerships are born at IMEX each year. So if you’re looking to breathe new life into your events, come to IMEX to meet the right people and be inspired. Go online for IMEX in Frankfurt highlights and recommendations from our partners.

Registration is open and free. We look forward to seeing you there.

The worldwide exhibition for incentive travel, meetings and events.

imex-frankfurt.com #IMEX17

Collaborating With PCMA Austin embodies the theme of Convening Leaders 2017 By George Seli

PCMA’s Tech Central at the Austin Convention Center


he latest installment of the Professional Convention Management Association’s Convening Leaders, held Jan. 8-11 in Austin, TX, bore the theme “Designing ColLABoration.” That focus was carried out at the Austin Convention Center (ACC) through learning labs and session topics, but there was also an exemplary collaboration in the planning of the event itself. The City of Austin, Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau, ACC and PCMA organizers came together to design a meeting that had all the ingredients for an outstanding attendee experience: logistical convenience, tech savvy, innovative F&B service, local culture and vendors, and a few surprises on the entertainment side. The result was the bestattended Convening Leaders to date, with a total of 4,175 delegates, plus nearly 1,500 virtual participants. Attendees represented 45 countries, eclipsing the 36 represented at Convening Leaders 2016 in Vancouver, BC. Last year’s event provided an opportunity for the ACC staff to begin its Katherine Putnam, GM, Levy partnership with PCMA and Restaurants

Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter

obtain “an understanding of what the conference was about, what the expectation was from an F&B perspective and what our clientele demographic looked like,” says Katherine Putnam, General Manager of Levy Restaurants’ unit at the ACC, who attended Convening Leaders in Vancouver. Mark Tester, Director, But well before Convening Leaders Austin Convention Center 2016, “we knew what an important event it was, not only for the city of Austin but for the ACC and Levy Restaurants,” says Putnam. “So it was important at all levels from an operational perspective to execute it at 110 percent.” By doing so, the ACC would make the best impression on a key audience of decision makers in the convention industry. Among the attendees were “a tremendous amount of meeting planners who had never been to Austin before,” observes Mark Tester, Director of the ACC and nearby Palmer Events Center. “We had 60-70 people tour the building before the event started; there was a lot of interest in seeing all we had to offer. It gave us a great opportunity to really prepare for a group that was going to come in and look to experiment and do things differently.” The innovative planning at Convening Leaders 2017 was evidenced from the moment attendees arrived at the AustinBergstrom International Airport, where the City allowed for a full registration setup at baggage claim. “They had live music, beverages and Austin swag, and provided bus transportation downtown,” Tester describes. “And that was a huge 31

homerun, something no one had ever done before.” Also a bit unconventional was the group’s usage of the ACC’s lobby and prefunction space to host quick, 10-15 minute educational sessions in settings furnished by cutting-edge companies like Steelcase. In collaboration with the city and the CVB, the ACC provided another unique space for PCMA delegates to gather, dubbed the “Austin House.” Located in a freestanding building across the street from the ACC, the Austin House was a venue for informal meetings, networking and entertainment. “In the morning attendees could come in before everything started and get a breakfast taco have a quick conversation about some of the topics. During the day they would enjoy live music, beverages and food,” Tester explains. The Austin House doubled as a showcase for some of the city’s signature vendors, including “pop up” stores from Allens Boots, Kendra Scott Jewelry and Hatbox: A Modern Haberdashery. All were highly popular with participants, many of whom picked their own hat for the event at Hatbox. “By the end of the week there were a lot of cowboys around,” Tester quips.


Infusing a convention with indigenous elements — retail, F&B and cultural — is “an increasingly important trend,” Putnam adds. “You’ll see that with show managers who want their attendees to experience and taste the city that they’re in. Levy partners with 11 subcontractors, including local restaurateurs such as Burro Cheese Kitchen, Chi’lantro BBQ, Hat Creek Burger Company, Southside Flying Pizza and The Mighty Cone. Levy Restaurants’ team at the ACC, which last year won Unit of the Year out of 140 of the company’s units, also displayed its ability to customize cuisine. In serving plated lunches for thousands of PCMA delegates simultaneously, Executive Chef Brad Kelly wrote a menu that was free of the eight identified FDA allergens to help minimize the number of special-request meals. “With all the dietary requests it becomes a challenge for food service providers when they’re serving the masses,” says Putnam. “With this menu, instead of having 600 special menu requests, we had about 20-25. It really helped the operation and let us service more effectively. This was our first group [taking that approach] and now we are utilizing it moving forward.” In a personalized touch, Levy engaged with the attendees through its “talking table” concept, which features a variety of branded culinary items and messages to guests. “One example is the napkins that say ‘Glad you are here,’ ‘Right here, right now,’ or ‘We miss you already,’” says Putnam. “It created a lot of social media buzz, and we found that they were posting pictures of all of our F&B setups with the sayings.” Much of the best cuisine in Austin is served at its food trucks and festivals, and both were featured at Convening Leaders’ Sunday night opening reception at the Palmer Events Center, located about a mile and a half from the ACC on the other side of Lady Bird Lake. In another instance of remarkable collaboration, seven Austin DMCs that would normally be competing worked together with the ACC and CVB to plan the reception. Various food trucks served guests outside the Palmer Events Center, an especially popular item being Chef Kelly’s bacon on a stick with brown sugar and praline. The environment was designed to represent famed local festivals such as Trail of Lights, Austin City Limits and South by Southwest.


Greeting attendees on the morning of Monday the 9th were Mayor Steve Adler, Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau President Tom Noonan and Tester. Accompanying music was, unbeknownst to attendees, being played live; eventually local Austin musician Shakey Graves was revealed behind a screen. He finished the number, and that was the cue for Austin resident Matthew McConaughey to walk out on stage, causing “the biggest pop I’ve ever heard at an industry meeting,” Tester remarks. McConaughey went on to extol the virtues of the city and its people, stating, 32

TOP-TIER TECHNOLOGY AT THE AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER Debbie Gossett, IT Manager for the Austin Convention Center, discusses the facility’s technological services to PCMA Convening Leaders.

Which of the ACC’s tech features do you feel are ahead of the curve? It would be our Wi-Fi. It’s ahead of the curve relative to any convention center. We recently upgraded that infrastructure to the latest technology in high-density WiFi and then deployed over 250 additional access points throughout the facility. The solution was carefully engineered to provide our customers with the best possible experience. … It’s also safe to say that no other venue can touch us on the bandwidth we provide for free. Our entire network infrastructure is pretty phenomenal as well. It allows us to custom design any type of network over any distance within the Austin Convention Center for our clients. … Last but not least is our network team. We live here, we work here, and practically consider this building our home. We not only take great pride in the building’s capabilities, but we are dedicated to making every event here a success. Can you overview the tech needs of the PCMA group, and whether their requirements presented any challenges to your team? Network utilization is the ratio of current network traffic to the maximum traffic that the port can handle. It indicates the bandwidth use in the network. For the wireless network, we remained at around 1 percent of its capability with over 2,400 clients at peak times. … Air quality is a metric that indicates how good a channel is for Wi-Fi communication. The Air Quality Index is measured on a scale of 1-100, where 100 is excellent and 1 is poor. It was 98 out of 100 during the PCMA event. For any event at the Austin Convention Center where there is a high technical component, our team always reaches out to our customer to arrange conference or video calls in order for the two network teams to go over the event. We had the pleasure of working with PCMA’s network team prior to their conference in order to gather requirements and work through the best design for their needs. Their “Tech Central” was the only area where we identified a potential challenge. There was heavy Wi-Fi use in hands-on labs, drones, robotics and attendee interaction. We paid more attention to this room than any other by means of monitoring, providing hard lines when necessary and moving exhibitors off the 2.4GHz band when needed. These were small tweaks, but the end solution worked very well and our client was pleased with the result and quick response. Is the convention center planning any tech upgrades in the future? Yes. We are constantly looking at new technology and ways to improve performance and add services. … We are [currently] upgrading a few key core network components in order to enable us to provide 10Gbps of burstable bandwidth to our customers on demand. Other tech upgrades planned include: cable plant upgrades — additional single mode fiber throughout the building; larger, hi-def digital signs and marquees; streamlined online ordering for our exhibitors; augmented reality pilot; wayfinding improvements; security upgrades (cameras and access control); and network monitoring and reporting upgrades. Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter

complete without a headlining musician, and the AustiNite Closing Party featured none other than Willie Nelson. C3 Presents, which owns Austin City Limits, produced the concert at the former home of the Austin American Statesman, a little north of the Palmer Events Center. Complementing Nelson’s performance was an outdoor party where members of Asleep At the Wheel played and Franklin Barbecue served up classic Austin flavors. But the PCMA group didn’t just enjoy live music; they also helped it prosper. Together with the Austin CVB, the PCMA Education Foundation raised $25,000 benefiting Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, which facilitates access to affordable health care for the city’s low income, uninsured working musicians.

Austin’s renowned food trucks served attendees at the Palmer Events Center


“I can live where I want to live. And I live in Austin, TX.” PCMA President and CEO Deborah Sexton subsequently joined McConaughey on stage. Other local presenters throughout the program included Stephen Courter of The University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Management; Mike Shea, Chief Logistics Officer for South by Southwest; and Roy Spence, Chairman and Cofounder of Austin-based GSD&M advertising agency. From the Convening Leaders host team, Chef Brad Kelly and representatives from the local DMCs also gave insightful talks. No convention in the Live Music Capital of the World could be

Austin’s welcoming team, including the City, CVB, ACC and various DMCs, helped to deliver an event that made quite an impression on delegates. Overall, attendees noted that their high expectations were exceeded, according to Tester. From an F&B perspective, “the feedback was that this was the best PCMA conference thus far,” says Putnam. Technological services were also highly rated, adds Debbie Gossett, IT Manager, ACC. “Feedback from our client was extremely positive onsite, and in the after-event survey sent out by our Sales Division. We (IT) were given an ‘excellent’ in the ‘Network/Internet’ portion of the survey” (see sidebar for details). Following up on the music theme, next year’s Convening Leaders is set for Music City, Nashville, TN. But the Austin installment, a collaborative success on many levels, will certainly be a tough act to follow.

Facilities & Destinations


Please consider the following criteria when voting: • Attractiveness & Functionality of Meeting Venue • Size & Quality of Meeting Space • Technological Capabilities • Quality of Staff • Food & Beverage Options • Lighting, Acoustics, & Internet Access • Other Meeting/Event Support Services • Amenities • Recreational Activities • Dining & Entertainment Options • Lodging Quality • Accessibility to Airport • Ease of Travel within Destination Fill Out Form & Mail, Email or Fax Your Vote: Facilities & Destinations 152 Madison Avenue, Suite 802, New York, NY 10016 Fax: (212) 213-6382 Email: ballots@facilitiesonline.com Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter

Awards of Excellence Ballot

Name of Nominee_ ___________________________________________________ Check Award You want to nominate the above for: Prime Site

Top Destination

Your Name & Title_ ___________________________________________________ Organization_ ________________________________________________________ Phone________________________________________________________________ Email_ _______________________________________________________________ Name of Nominee_ ___________________________________________________ Check Award You want to nominate the above for: Prime Site

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

PRISM Prime Site Meeting H ot e l Awa r d 2017


ongratulations to our 2017 F&D Prime Site Meeting (PRISM) Hotel Award winners. Our readers selected 76 properties, both domestic and international, as exceptional lodging choices for corporate and association meetings. The U.S. hotel industry has been performing quite well, according to STR. The hotel data company indicated that all of the key metrics — including occupancy, average daily rate, RevPAR, etc. — exhibited growth at the end of 2016. Most recently, STR reported that in a year-over-year comparison with the week of March 6-12, occupancy rose 0.8 percent to 67.4 percent, ADR rose 3.9 percent to $128.61, and RevPAR rose 4.8 percent to $86.72. While there are some down markets, these figures are certainly signs of a healthy hotel industry. And few hotels achieve optimum performance without catering to meeting groups in addition to the business and leisure traveler. That requires numerous features and services, from the quality of the meeting space to the quality of the convention staff. Our PRISM Award winners excel in these key areas, as evidenced by the nominations they received from our readership of meetings industry professionals.


F&D readers nominated hotels and resorts based on numerous criteria:

and • Attractiveness functionality capabilities • Technological of staff • Quality and convention

• • • • • • • • • • • • •

services Food & beverage/catering Lighting Acoustics Climate control Proximity to airport and other transportation Guestroom amenities Front-desk operations Setups and breakdowns Room décor Quality/size of ballroom Special packages Spa Nearby attractions

Look for ballots for the 2018 F&D PRISM Hotel Awards in our Spring, Summer and Fall issues. Winners will be announced in the 2017-2018 Winter issue. Facilities & destinations 2016-2017 winter



All-New Walt Disney World Dolphin Lobby Concept - Scheduled for completion in September 2017

The Walt Disney World Dolphin lobby will undergo a $12 million re-design, the final stage of a $140 million renovation project, the largest makeover in the resort’s history. It will be completely transformed into a sleek, contemporary space featuring new food and beverage options and offer an inviting area for guests to relax or network. A recipient of the prestigious Meetings & Conventions Hall of Fame Award, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin is a nationally respected and recognized leader in the convention resort arena. The resort offers more than 329,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, 84 meeting rooms, and 2,267 guest rooms and suites which feature the Westin HeavenlyŽ Bed. Attendees can also relax in the luxurious Mandara Spa, indulge in one of our 17 world-class restaurants and lounges or enjoy our unique Disney Differences.

Award-Winning Dining

1500 Epcot Resorts Blvd. Lake Buena Vista, FL, 32830 800.524.4939 | 407.934.4290 swandolphinmeetings.com

All-New Guest Rooms And Suites

Impressive Meeting Venues

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

PRISM Prime Site Meeting H ot e l Awa r d W i n n e r s 2017

United States & Puerto Rico Aria Resort & Casino, Las Vegas Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, Reno, NV Beau Rivage, Biloxi, MS Bellagio, Las Vegas The Borgata, Atlantic City The Breakers, Palm Beach, FL The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs Caesars Atlantic City Caesars Palace Las Vegas Caribe Royale, Orlando Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa, Galena, IL Eden Roc Miami Beach El Conquistador, San Juan, Puerto Rico Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket, CT Galt Hotel & Suites, Louisville, KY Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Hotel, National Harbor, MD Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Convention Center, Nashville Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center, Kissimmee, FL Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center, Grapevine, TX Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, Lake Geneva, WI Grand Hyatt Denver Grand Hyatt San Antonio Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City Hilton Americas-Houston Hilton Anatole, Dallas Hilton Atlanta Hilton Austin Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hilton New York Hilton West Palm Beach Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, Los Angeles Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, Chicago Hyatt Regency Orlando 36

Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch JW Marriott Austin JW Marriott Indianapolis Keystone Resort & Conference Center, Keystone, CO The Langham, Boston Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas Marriott Marquis Houston MGM Grand Detroit MGM Grand Las Vegas Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, CT Moody Gardens Hotel Spa & Convention Center, Galveston, TX New York Marriott Marquis Omni Dallas Hotel Omni Nashville Hotel The Otesaga Resort Hotel, Cooperstown, NY Pheasant Run Resort, St. Charles, IL The Phoenician Resort, Scottsdale, AZ Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common Rosen Centre Hotel, Orlando Rosen Shingle Creek, Orlando Saddlebrook Resort & Spa, Tampa, FL Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center Sheraton Puerto Rico & Casino, San Juan Sheraton Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii The Venetian/The Palazzo, Las Vegas Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, Orlando Westin Beach Resort & Spa, Fort Lauderdale, FL Westin Copley Place, Boston Westin Kansas City at Crown Center Complex Westin Michigan Avenue, Chicago Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta Wynn + Encore Las Vegas INTERNATIONAL The Balmorral, Edinburgh, Scotland Camino Real Polanco Mexico, Mexico City Fairmont St. Andrews, Scotland Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, Vancouver Hyatt Regency Toronto Iberostar Cancun Intercontinental Montreal Marina Bay Sands, Singapore Sheraton Hacienda del Mar Golf & Spa Resort, Los Cabos Westin Resort & Spa, Los Cabos Facilities & destinations 2016-2017 winter


Anaheim The host of IAEE’s Expo! Expo! 2016 is poised to welcome more meetings business


ur last visit to Anaheim, featured in the 2014-2015 Winter issue, introduced readers to a meetings city on the upswing. We highlighted the Anaheim Convention Center’s (ACC) newly built, 100,000-sq.-ft. Grand Plaza, and the announcement of ACC North, an annex to the convention center. We were excited to return to Anaheim for the 2016 edition of IAEE’s Expo! Expo!, which showcased all the convention center’s assets. Walking the floors of the exhibition halls that housed the tradeshow put the vast space into perspective, and seeing the Grand Plaza in action was especially impressive. Opening night festivities showcased an array of cuisines from regionally celebrated food trucks under the night skies, accompanied by an Andy Grammer concert. We also were fortunate to have gotten an up-close look at the soon to be completed ACC North and its new parking facilities. Convention Center Executive Director Tom Morton explained that ACC North would immediately add value, increasing the city’s ability to attract larger conventions. Not only will the annex “allow larger groups like NAMM to host more of their activities onsite,” said Morton — the group’s annual event attracts over a hundred thousand people to Anaheim — but it will also be a boon for “hotels, enabling concurrent and overlapping events” to take place. Morton added that the 200,000 sq. ft. of flexible space, with 100,000 sq. ft. on each level, could be utilized for exhibitions, and will address a growing need for meeting space at the facility. Once completed, the project will also include a new onsite 1,300-space parking garage reachable via bridge from the convention center, the return of the outdoor plaza adjacent to the ACC’s arena space, an independent 12,000-sq.-ft. kitchen and a 10,000-sq.-ft. balcony overlooking West Katella Avenue. Aside from hosting outdoor events, the balcony space will provide unobstructed views of the nightly fireworks displays at Disneyland Resort.

Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter

The Anaheim Convention Center expansion, ACC North (above), and new Grand Plaza (top).

The new ACC North will “allow larger groups like NAMM to host more of their activities onsite” and “enable concurrent and overlapping events” to take place. —Tom Morton, Executive Director, Anaheim Convention Center 37


To accommodate the influx of attendees that the expanded convention center may attract, there is an initiative to have more hotel rooms, particularly those of four-star properties, built in Anaheim, according to Morton and other Visit Anaheim officials. Disney has committed to the construction of a new 1,000-room hotel to add to its existing hotels at the Disneyland Resort, which include the 970-room Disneyland Hotel. The original property houses 136,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space between three hotel towers onsite. The exhibition space and ballroom comprise 49,000 sq. ft. of contiguous flexible space with their own exclusive entrance. The almost 29,000-sq.-ft. exhibit hall can be subdivided into an array of breakout spaces, as can the ballroom, which is one of only two spaces in southern California with a sunken pit in front of a stage. In addition to smaller function spaces within the hotel’s other towers, including unique dining options at the property’s restaurants, there is also a selection of lawns and terraces that can accommodate outdoor events. Across the street from the Disneyland Hotel is the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, the newest of the three Disney properties near the theme parks. The 1,000-room hotel has an arts & crafts motif. Designed in wood to replicate architecture of California homes of the era, the lobby looks like a giant reading room with a fireplace. The property will be completing room renovations in sections through November of 2017. Groups can utilize a number of spaces within the hotel’s conference area, which includes its Sequoia ballroom (11,900 sq. ft. of flexible space), Trillium rooms (over 2,600 sq. ft.), terraces and nearby board and breakout rooms. Fine dining is available at the property’s acclaimed Napa Rose restaurant, known for its awardwinning chef and wide selection of wines. The restaurant has private areas for small groups that include a terrace with fire pits. We asked Laura Fitzgerald, Senior Sales Manager at Disneyland Resort, how to ensure meeting groups are not distracted by the parks and activities nearby, and she offered two surefire solutions: “ensure quality content to keep attendees engaged” and “start and end your sessions early to allow guests time to spend in the parks.” They can also opt to visit Downtown Disney, a recreational area on the Disneyland campus. Replete with restaurants and other venues, Downtown Disney hosted IAEE chapter events in its upper level event spaces overlooking the pedestrian streets below. Groups can also hold themed events at unique settings within Disneyland (e.g., New Orleans Riverboat) or the California Adventure parks (e.g., San Francisco).


While Disneyland is central to Anaheim, the city has a magic outside of the confines of the park. Some unique spaces that can host groups include the resurgent downtown area of the city, with its cultural, dining and entertainment options. Muzeo, a cultural center with roots as a local history museum and an adjacent library built via a grant from Andrew Carnegie, can host private events in its galleries as well as outdoor plazas. Nearby, the West Center Street Promenade, home to coffee shops and farmers markets, can be a site for events. In addition, the former Sunkist Packing House has been converted to a culinary mecca of sorts, with scores of eateries to satisfy any palate. Addressing attendees at the opening session of IAEE’s Expo! Expo!, Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait told the gathering that it is a “good day when a small business opens in Anaheim, but an even better day when that business is a brewery.” A bustling microbrewery scene has developed in the downtown area, with Anaheim Brewery and the Unsung Brewing Company quenching the city’s thirst for craft brews. Both breweries have outdoor space that can host groups, and food trucks can be brought in to create a relaxed setting. The city’s live music venues are also great choices for group functions. A new home for the House of Blues is set to open in March, expanding from its previous location. In addition, the City National Grove of Anaheim, a venue that hosts concerts and live entertainment events, is available for group rental. 38

(Top to bottom): Center Street, known for outdoor cafes, boutiques, art shows and street fairs; Disneyland’s Mark Twain Riverboat (reopening this summer); and City National Grove of Anaheim, a 1,700-seat concert venue. With near-term growth for the convention center and hotel room capacity, as well as multiple public transportation options being discussed in popular media, Anaheim is primed to welcome groups large and small. We look forward to returning soon to report on the city’s rapid progress. —D.K. Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter


Historic Palm Canyon Drive, a shopping and dining hub

PALM SPRINGS This desert city is an oasis for meetings and incentives By Laura Janelle Downey


alm Springs is a special place. Used back in the day as an exclusive hideaway for celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, and Ronald and Nancy Reagan, the desert hotspot is now frequented by more than 200,000 people each year. The palm-tree-lined oasis, which is comprised of nine cities (Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio and Coachella), is graced with more than 350 days of sunshine a year. “Palm Springs is really the best of all worlds,” asserts James Canfield, Executive Director of the Palm Springs Convention Center and Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism. “We have incredible outdoor adventure opportunities with beautiful hiking, biking and jeeping. Our downtown has become a vibrant, active place featuring chef-owned restaurants, boutique and specialty shopping, and a design district featuring fashion icons and midcentury modern design. And we have nearly 60 historic boutique hotels offering a specialty lodging experience, as well as major, branded resort properties.” With so much to offer, the masses are making their way to Palm Springs, and that includes meeting groups. According to Canfield, “Palm Springs is celebrating very strong results across all sectors of tourism and meetings and conventions.” He adds, “Rate and occupancy at the hotels have also grown annually. The convention center has seen an increase in the number of events, attendance, revenue and room-night generation each year as well. That growth has translated into strong positive economic impact, revenue to the city from transient occupancy tax and sales tax collection increases, and increased employment in the hospitality industry.”

Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 WINTER


In 2017, the chic Kimpton brand will make its way to downtown Palm Springs. Boasting the first rooftop pool in town, the six-story, 155-room boutique hotel will bring just the right mix of business and pleasure to the shop and restaurant filled North Palm Canyon Drive. Nearby, Andaz Palm Springs will offer visitors a cosmopolitan vibe along with views of the San Jacinto Mountains. The property, which opens in 2018, will come with 150 rooms and 13 luxury suites. Getting in on the action is Virgin Hotels. Designed by local architect Chris Pardo, Virgin Hotels Palm Springs will offer everything from meeting spaces and a rooftop terrace to the hotel’s signature lounge, The Commons Club. Virgin Hotels Palm Springs is expected to open in late 2018. “We are very excited by the new development in the city,” says Canfield. “The new brands reflect the change in the perception of Palm Springs from a sleepy retirement community to a cuttingedge destination with a broad appeal and really fit the vibe of what Palm Springs has become.” Apart from boutique hotels, the city is home to several “major, branded resort properties,” as Canfield notes. THE RITZ-CARLTON RANCHO MIRAGE Nestled alongside the San Jacinto mountain range, The RitzCarlton Rancho Mirage sits 650 feet above the Palm Springs valley. The 244-room property houses 16 suites and about 30,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor meeting space. Gathering spaces range from the 8,400-sq.-ft. Ritz-Carlton ballroom to the 7,500-sq.ft. Vista Lawn, which overlooks the San Jacinto Mountains. Planners can’t go wrong with the help of a conference concierge (download The Ritz-Carlton Meeting Services App on your smartphone or tablet for help with room setup, temperature control, billing, etc.), floral services and the best in onsite audiovisual technology. “The Ritz-Carlton ballroom offers flexible, elegant event space that comfortably accommodates 300 guests in a desert39

“Palm Springs is celebrating very strong results across all sectors of tourism and meetings and conventions. The convention center has seen an increase in the number of events, attendance, revenue and room-night generation.”

Fast Facts: Palm Springs Convention Center

—James Canfield, Executive Director, Palm Springs Convention Center and Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism

chic banquet setting,” says Brandon Lindley, Senior Manager of Meetings and Special Events. “And the outdoor Banquet Terrace and Vista Lawn are the perfect locations for guests to enjoy an intimate evening under the stars.” Add in the brand’s legendary service along with its world-class culinary offerings and your group will be set. When it’s time for group activities, planners can take things to new heights on the Palm Springs Aerial Tram. Offering sweet views of the Coachella Valley, the cable car guides the group to about 8,500 feet in the air. Those that would prefer a ground adventure can head to the BMW Performance Driving School West and take a couple of high-speed laps around a 1.4-mile road course. The facility offers a customizable corporate program where participants will quickly learn to trust their counterpart as he or she puts the pedal to the metal when racing a brand-new BMW. HARD ROCK HOTEL PALM SPRINGS From the minute meeting attendees step into the lobby of the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, they’re immersed in a pretty cool atmosphere. Previously worn dresses from superstars like Shakira and Lady Gaga line the walls. In other areas they’ll find photos of Sammy Davis Jr. and Sinatra as well as memorabilia from Rihanna and Justin Timberlake. The 3-year-old property, located just a few blocks from the Palm Springs Convention Center, has 163 guestrooms and more than 27,000 sq. ft. of event space. The staff’s event services are also noteworthy. “We chose the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs as the location was suited to our academy, Sky Fall,” says Carol Cassano, CMP, CMM of Cleveland Event Solutions, LLC. “I asked the Hard Rock Hotel to cater our offsite events at our Sky Fall Academy [lunches and evening activities]. From the chef to the event staff, they were professional, doing a site inspection at our offsite location to understand our space and the best scenario for food setup and prep. They worked out all the details from table rentals to place settings and the logistics of when their team would arrive and clean up. This took a large portion of responsibility off my plate. They were experts, and it showed in every detail,” Cassano says, adding, “This is why we will be back again in January 2017.” Other options for offsite activities include taking attendees on The Modern Tour, a two-and-a-half-hour architecture and design excursion that brings participants inside the homes of stars such as Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor. The tour guide gives the scoop on why Sinatra’s bathroom sink has a crack in it and why the best room in Taylor’s home is the master bathroom. (Hint: it comes with a gigantic octagon-shaped marble bathtub.) 40

Exhibit Space: 120,000 sq. ft. (carpeted) Meeting and Event Spaces: 21 breakouts, 20,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, 20,000-sq.-ft. Event Lawn, adjacent Jackie Lee Houston Plaza Lobby: 18,000 sq. ft., with panoramic mountain views Connectivity: Facility-wide, state-of-the art high-speed wireless Internet access Services: Savoury’s Full Service Catering, Event Services Team Headquarters Hotel: Attached to the 410-room Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel, with 30,000 sq. ft. of meeting space Location: 1.5 miles from the Palm Springs International Airport; walking distance to 1,600 hotel rooms; blocks away from the heart of Downtown and historic Palm Canyon Drive JW MARRIOTT DESERT SPRINGS RESORT & SPA Gorgeous palm trees greet planners when entering the driveway of this sprawling 450-acre property, located less than 15 miles from Palm Springs International Airport. An excellent choice for large groups, the JW Marriott offers 884 rooms and 51 suites, complemented by 232,660 sq. ft. of event space, which includes 33 meeting rooms. The 24,816-sq.-ft. Desert Ballroom, which holds up to 2,000 attendees, can be divided into 14 sections. Groups can also utilize the resort’s 37,000-sq.-ft. Tennis Lawn to play badminton, lawn bowling, croquet, horseshoes, half-court basketball and more. And even though the JW Marriott Desert Springs offers lots of Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 WINTER

The JW Marriott Desert Springs “meeting and events staff suggested and helped us create unique room setups and transformed the meeting space to our theme perfectly.” —Nicole Mazza, Chief Marketing Officer, TRAVELSAVERS, NEST and Affluent Traveler Collection space, a level of intimacy can still be obtained while on property. “At first we were concerned about the size, but once we started planning, we saw the possibilities to carve out unique spaces for our show,” says Nicole Mazza, Chief Marketing Officer for TRAVELSAVERS, NEST and Affluent Traveler Collection. “The hotel’s luxury venue space included well-designed meeting rooms that were perfect for our corporate gathering. The general session room and breakout rooms were all located within a few steps of each other with large networking space in the same area. One of the evening receptions was held in the multilevel main bar lobby that has floor-to-ceiling windows and a breathtaking view of the pool and grounds. We also hosted smaller events in some of their suites, which were perfect for an intimate VIP setting. In addition, their meeting and events staff suggested and helped us create unique room setups and transformed the meeting space to our theme perfectly.” To get attendees revved up, planners can book the two-hour QUAD SQUAD ATV journey. Here, a guide leads guests up the Orocopia Mountains to see geological formations, rugged canyons and more. Another excursion, suited to motorcycle aficionados, is available through EagleRider. The trip includes a visit to Joshua Tree National Park to explore the Mojave Desert at about 4,300 feet in elevation all while riding a classic Harley Davidson.

A dining area at The Living Desert Zoo

Oct. 2, 2016, American Airlines began offering nonstop flights from Chicago O’Hare International Airport to Palm Springs International Airport. Other carriers, such as Air Canada Rouge, began providing seasonal service between Toronto Pearson International Airport and Palm Springs International Airport on Dec. 14, 2016. To date, major airlines such as Delta and United have flights to and from this international transportation hub, which also happens to be one of California’s most compelling meeting destinations.


Situated on 1,200 acres and showcasing over 450 animals and 10,000 species of plants, The Living Desert makes for a great location to host a private event. The facility’s five-acre Tennity Village WaTuTu, which accommodates 1,000 seated and 1,500 standing guests, looks like a northern Kenyan village with its mud-walled huts and thatched rooftops. Guests can enjoy the ficus trees drumming station or listen to a master storyteller share African tales. “The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is the perfect place to escape the ordinary. There is simply nothing else like it in the valley,” says Dawn Petrick, Director of Park Services and Guest Relations. “Transport yourself to an authentic African Village where you can dine amongst a rare Amur leopard or dance the night away under the twinkling stars.” Companies such as Bank of America, Heimark Distributing, Integrated Wealth Management and Desert Aids Project have all held events at The Living Desert Zoo, where guests can get up close and personal with the animals. For example, they can hop in a golf cart and zip over to the giraffe-feeding station to give carrots to Twigga, a 9-ft.-tall, 6-month-old mammal. It’s an unusual experience that makes a meeting all the more memorable.

GETTING TO PALM SPRINGS IS GETTING EASIER In February, Virgin America expanded its nonstop service between San Francisco and Palm Springs — the Californiabased airline now allows travelers to fly year-round. And on Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 WINTER



Sacramento Convention Center


he discovery of gold near Sacramento in 1848 started California’s famous “Gold Rush,” bringing thousands of fortune seekers and entrepreneurs to the area almost overnight. Today, meeting planners discover their own type of gold when they select Sacramento as a meeting destination.

Convention Center Complex

This capital city has a convention center with 134,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space and 31 meeting rooms.

Located in the State Capital of California, the Sacramento Convention Center is just 20 minutes from the Sacramento International Airport, and located in the heart of downtown. The Sacramento Convention Center offers over 134,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit hall space on one floor, and another 61,000 sq. ft. of additional meeting space with 31 meeting rooms on three levels. A 2,400-seat Community Center Theater and 4,000-seat Memorial Auditorium are close by. All three facilities are within walking distance to major downtown hotels, shops and restaurants. For those driving into town, a Convention Center parking garage is located just two short blocks to the main entrance of the Center.

Hotel Inventory

Within walking distance of the Convention Center (or a short shuttle ride away) are more than 2,000 rooms and a dozen hotel properties. Only a pedestrian walkway separates the Sheraton Grand and the Hyatt Regency from the entrance to the Center. Several other proper42

ties can be found within a few blocks of the Center, including the Marriott Residence Inn at Capitol Park, Holiday Inn at Capitol Park, Best Western Sutter House, Holiday Inn Express, Clarion and Embassy Suites Waterfront.


With over 600 events and approximately one million visitors annually, Sacramento offers something for everyone. The city is strategically located in Northern California — 90 minutes northeast of San Francisco. It offers a wealth of cultural activities, professional sports and a wide range of family attractions. Take time to walk in the city and stroll through Capitol Park. Visit the many shops, relax on a riverboat or water taxi, and don’t forget to experience Old Sacramento where wooden boardwalks, cobblestone streets and horse-drawn carriages will transport you back in time.

Food & Beverage

Award-winning Classique Catering is the celebrated caterer at the Convention Center and manages onsite Wolfgang Puck’s Express and Starbucks coffeehouse. Classique Catering is a division of Centerplate and pride themselves on excellent service and quality product. The center is located at 1030 15th Street, Ste. 100, Sacramento, CA 95814. For more information, call (916) 808-5291 or visit sacramentoconventioncenter.com. Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter


San Jose McEnery Convention Center

Danny Dong

The Mountain Winery in nearby Saratoga, CA, offers a scenic outdoor function space complementing the convention center’s indoor spaces (right). connected to the convention mbedded in the heart of Silicon Valley, the San Jose center and another 2,000+ are McEnery Convention Center provides groups over within a block. Groups will 365,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space in a modern venue find familiar brands such as with outstanding technological capabilities. As a bonus, Fairmont, Marriott, Hilton, Team San Jose’s all-inclusive service assists with housing, event Westin, Hyatt, Holiday Inn and La Quinta Inn & Suites. services, customized F&B, permits and special events.



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


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


San Jose has 8,000 hotel rooms available citywide, ranging from contemporary to historic boutiques; 850 of those rooms are

Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter

Airport and Transportation

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

Sustainable Meeting Services

Last year, Team San Jose’s Director of Food & Beverage and Facilities and Property Operations identified an opportunity (through the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act) to donate unused food to local nonprofit organizations. Hotel partners from Hilton, Marriott, The Fairmont and DoubleTree, plus Levi’s Stadium, the SAP Center and Shoreline Amphitheater, have signed on to the initiative, called Hunger at Home. This year, in appropriate Silicon Valley-style, Team San Jose partnered with the City of San Jose and Waste No Food to continue this work. Waste No Food provides a web and mobile marketplace to reduce food waste by matching potential donors with charities via mobile app for IOS and Android. In total, Hunger at Home and the Waste No Food app have provided nearly one million meals. The center is located at 150 West San Carlos Street, San Jose, CA 95113. For more information, call (800) SAN-JOSE or visit sanjose.org. 43


FLORIDA Building toward a bright future for meetings By F&D Staff


lorida’s balmy weather and laidback atmosphere belie the energetic, forward-thinking convention industry found in its first-tier cities. Miami and Orlando are both working to ensure their respective convention centers remain state of the art and able to accommodate the ongoing influx of large meeting groups. Whether the draw for attendees is Orlando’s renowned theme parks or Miami’s vibrant culture and nightlife, planners have compelling reasons to book either city, including convention center quality. The Miami Beach Convention Center, built in 1957 and currently spanning 1.2 million sq. ft., is undergoing a $615 million renovation and expansion. Scheduled for completion in 2018, the project will bring the facility to over 1.4 million sq. ft., including a new 60,000-sq.-ft. grand ballroom; 20,000-sq.-ft. rooftop junior ballroom; additional meeting, lobby and prefunction space; and expanded rooftop parking. Highly flexible function spaces and the latest technology will also be part of the new Miami Beach Convention Center, as GM Matt Hollander recently told F&D (see “The Spectra Difference” in the F&D Fall issue). Meanwhile, Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center has been undergoing a five-year, $187 million capital improvement project since 2013. Completed elements include the Hall C Food Court renovation, new West Building carpeting, a new 7,000-sq.-ft. Destination Lounge in the South Building, the Center-to-Table Gardens cultivating herbs and vegetables for meals prepared at the OCCC, and the renovation of the 62,182-sq.-ft. Valencia Ballroom. Further expansions and renovations are being considered for the longer term, including a new, 130,000-sq.-ft. multipurpose hall in the North/South building. It’s not only Florida’s first-tier cities that have meeting facility news to share. Throughout the state, planners can find promising hotel developments. Last year, for example, Palm Beach County welcomed the Hilton West Palm Beach, connected to the Palm Beach County Convention Center (PBCC). The new property has certainly garnered West Palm more interest from planners, and deservedly so. 44



Served by the Palm Beach International Airport, West Palm Beach is home to many points of interest beyond a scenic seaside. CityPlace, an upscale shopping and dining hub, and the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts are both in walking distance to the PBCC. The Norton Museum of Art, Henry Morrison Flagler Museum and downtown Clematis Street are all a short trip away, effectively making the PBCC a great vantage point for group excursions. The convention center houses a 100,000-sq.-ft. exhibit hall, a 25,000-sq.-ft. ballroom and 21,000 sq. ft. of breakout space divisible into 19 rooms. Groups lodging at the 400-room Hilton West Palm Beach have convenient access to these facilities, but some planners have found the hotel itself ideal for a contained event.

Hilton West Palm Beach

Groups have 24,000-plus sq. ft. of indoor meeting space available at the Hilton West Palm Beach, in addition to several outdoor function spaces, including a 6,000-sq.-ft. area at the front of the property and two large event lawns of about 2,400 sq. ft. each at the pool deck. Manor, the hotel’s signature restaurant showcasing locally sourced ingredients, is another option for a group gathering, seating approximately 150 patrons indoors and 60 more outdoors. TaylorMade Golf, a Carlsbad, CA-based manufacturer of golf clubs, bags and accessories, recently held a global product launch at the hotel, bringing in 300 attendees including sales reps, invited media and customers. “West Palm Beach is a wonderful city for commerce and tradeshows that has rapidly gained popularity for a variety of reasons,” notes Kim Johnson, Program Manager of Events/Marketing for the company. “The city has a small town, San Diego-like feel, yet it still is just over an hour away from a major city such as Miami. For our international travelers, that offered a very accessible airport to schedule travel in and out Facilities & destinations 2016-2017 Winter

“The Hilton West Palm Beach is a beautifully constructed new hotel with both modern and contemporary finishes. The overall look and feel of this location matched very well with the TaylorMade Golf brand.”

walks. Groups who prioritize sustainability will note that the convention center is the first in Florida to earn LEED certification and the third nationwide to achieve LEED Gold for an Existing Building. Complementing the convention center is one of Florida’s most vibrant hotel infrastructures. Among the many developments that will favor meeting groups is the expected winter 2017 opening of the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort. The property will offer 290 expansive studio and suite accommodations, 20,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, an ocean-view spa and fitness center, and an elevated deck oasis with an ocean-facing pool. By spring 2018, a dual-branded Starwood property will open with 12,000 sq. ft. of function space. It will be comprised of The Dalmar, from the Starwood Tribute Portfolio (209 rooms), and The Element by Westin (114 rooms). Major renovations include the recent $95 million transformation of The Diplomat Beach Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton; a $30 Hilton West Palm Beach million renovation and conversion of the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Airport & Cruise Port Hotel to Le Meridien Dania Beach at Fort Lauderdale Airport (245 guestrooms, 20,000 sq. ft. of meeting space) by fall 2017; and the W Fort Lauderdale’s recent $55 million renovation of all 430 guestrooms and public spaces. By the end of the first quarter of 2017, the W Fort Lauderdale will add a new 4,000-sq.-ft. ballroom to its 26,000-plus sq. ft. of meeting space.

—Kim Johnson, Program Manager of Events/Marketing, TaylorMade Golf

of — even for the number of people we were managing.” The style of the property itself was also a nice fit for the event, Johnson says. “The Hilton West Palm Beach is a beautifully constructed new hotel with both modern and contemporary finishes. The overall look and feel of this location matched very well with the TaylorMade Golf brand.” “From both an execution and ROI standpoint, the event went very well,” she relates. “Some of the challenges lay within the moving parts of having simultaneous events at both the Hilton West Palm Beach and the Club at Ibis golf course, which was just over 30 minutes away. However, everything ran on schedule, nothing went awry and everyone had a great time, which as an event manager, is my overarching goal for every event I oversee.”

Pelican Grand Beach Resort

Nestled in the heart of Fort Lauderdale and located seven miles from the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, the family owned and operated Pelican Grand Beach Resort is an award-winning luxury retreat perfect for a meeting/incentive trip combined with a little relaxation. The resort has the only lazy river in Fort Lauderdale, a world-class spa, beach, zero-entry pool and multiple restaurants. Apart from its robust recreational offerings, the hotel has a variety of both lodging and meeting space. Its 156 guestrooms include 111 suites and 132 rooms with beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean. Meeting groups have at their disposal more than 4,000 sq. ft. of indoor space, including the 2,055-sq.-ft. Oceanview Ballroom and 1,400-sq.-ft. Atlantic Ballroom, as well as 4,000 sq. ft. of outdoor space, including terraces, a verandah and pool deck. While staying in paradise one naturally expects delicious food, and the Pelican Grand Resort delivers with two full dining restaurants and an ice cream parlor. OCEAN2000 is an upscale sophisticated waterfront dining experience that focuses on new


The centerpiece of Fort Lauderdale’s meetings industry is the SMG-managed Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center, which offers four exhibit halls totaling 230,000 sq. ft., two ballrooms and 31 meeting rooms. The facility is located just five minutes from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and is connected to a 2,500-space parking garage via two enclosed, air-conditioned skyFacilities & destinations 2016-2017 Winter

Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center 45

American fare. Available for meetings and group dining, it includes a lounge that features small plates with bold flavors accompanied by a mixology program of “Classic Reinvented Cocktails.” For casual fare, meeting attendees can take advantage of the resort’s various poolside and beachside dining options. For offsite group dining, F&D staff recommends 15th Street Fisheries, which has been one of South Florida’s most popular waterfront eateries for over 35 years, and La Dolce Vita, which serves authentic Italian food. Fort Lauderdale is a place to relax, and at the Pelican Grand meeting attendees can enjoy spa services overlooking the ocean. The resort’s PURE Spa opened as part of a recently completed renovation. The luxury spa features an extensive array of services including customized facials, massage, make-up application and more. (The famous organic Swedish line Maria Akerberg is used in a majority of the spa services.) Rooftop yoga, snorkeling and various watersports round out the options for group wellness activities. —Rachel Kapur


Be it cuisine or music, architecture or arts, Miami marches to its own unique beat. It is a melting pot of sorts, with a rich culture influenced both by immigrants and migrants alike. Yet another selling point is its great weather. “Miami is the only major [U.S.] city with a tropical climate,” noted Barry Moskowitz, Vice President of Convention Sales at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, during a conversation at PCMA’s Convening Leaders 2017, at which he provided updates on the city’s offerings. For planners interested in a “green” Miami meeting, many of the city’s upscale properties are great partners. One example is the Four Diamond Palms Hotel & Spa. A member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts, the 251-room property is situated on a city block on Collins Avenue, about one mile from the Miami Beach Convention Center. The beachfront resort is a member in the Florida Green Lodging program and boasts 5 Green Keys — a rank achieved by fewer than 4 percent of hotels participating in the global eco-rating program. Representative of the green focus, new chef Julie Frans has introduced both wellness and ecological awareness into the resort’s menus. A “Slow Food” movement advocate, Chef Frans stands opposed to what she calls the “rise of fast food and fast life.” Her menus emphasize farm-to-table products straight from the hotel’s own garden, as well as foods sourced from local farms and fishermen that practice sustainable methods. Aside from the food being fresher, by cutting out the middleman, there is an environmental benefit in reducing the transportation of commercially farmed foods from a distance. When arranged in advance, guests can join the chef on an excursion to some of the local farming communities. Groups can also take advantage of canoeing and kayaking at Oleta River State Park, a half hour north of the hotel. There, a wide variety of local and migratory birds can be spotted, creating an experience whereby attendees will forget they are in a major metropolitan area. The hotel offers its own way for attendees to remain in touch with the outdoors: its terraces, poolside areas and South Lawn can all be used to stage events under the stars. Those spaces complement the Palms Hotel & Spa’s 8,000 sq. ft. of indoor meeting space, including its largest ballroom, the Royal Palm, which accommodates up to 350 guests. —Rosa Laufer


One of Florida’s hidden gems, Sarasota County is an ideal place to host a company retreat. Located about 60 miles south of Tampa on the Gulf Coast of Southwest Florida, the county is complemented by six keys: Longboat Key, Lido Key, Siesta Key, Casey Key, Manasota Key and Venice. In 2016, the area welcomed more than 2.4 million visitors, and the number continues to grow. If you build it, they will come. In an effort to accommodate 46

Lido Beach Resort

“Sarasota’s mix of smalltown charm and big-city amenities, combined with unparalleled natural beauty, provides an intimate setting for corporate retreat groups.” —Shelby Connett, Meetings and Group Sales Manager, Visit Sarasota County

visitors, hotels are popping up everywhere. “New hotels opening in the heart of downtown, and centers for art and festivals have made Sarasota their home in recent years,” says Lynn Hobeck, Communications Manager at Visit Sarasota County. “This explosion of new offerings in Sarasota is not expected to slow in the coming years. There is more on the horizon.” In 2016, Aloft Sarasota opened downtown with 139 guest rooms, and in April 2017, the Westin Sarasota will open its doors. Just four miles from Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, The Westin will offer 255 guestrooms, a rooftop pool and more than 26,000 sq. ft. of functional meeting space. By 2018, other hotels, such as the Hampton Inn & Suites, Hotel Sarasota and a boutique Embassy Suites, will be up and running too.

Lido Beach Resort

This property, which is on Lido Key, recently completed renovations to all 223 rooms and suites. Attendees will relish time in their guestrooms before going to all-day conferences. Each room comes with a private balcony, king-size bed and full kitchen (including stainless steel appliances), and displays warm tones of seaside blues, light grays and browns. Smaller groups will love the 6,000 sq. ft. of indoor/outdoor meeting space. Each year, the Groundwater Protection Council utilizes the property’s 1,742-sq.-ft. Sunset Terrace and a portion of the Royal Palm Ballroom. “We’ve been having meetings here for nine years. The dedication and warmth of the Lido Beach Resort staff keeps us coming back,” says Paul Jehn, Technical Director. The city is exceptional too. After the day’s meetings, attendees can head downtown to Shore Diner in St. Armand’s Circle (a chic shopping destination conceived by circus mogul John Ringling in 1926) for dinner. If the group gets in an UberXL, it’s about a fourminute drive from the hotel, or the crew can take the daily shuttle service offered to and from St. Armand’s Circle (it runs from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.). One of Shore’s highlights is its enclosed patio with retractable awning, a perfect ambiance to enjoy Key West shrimp Continued on page 48

Facilities & destinations 2016-2017 Winter

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

PRISM Prime Site Meeting H ot e l Awa r d W i n n e r s 2018

2018 Prime Site Meeting Hotel Awards Ballot VOTE for the top hotels, resorts and conference centers your group has used for its meetings in the last three years. Please base your vote(s) on the following criteria: • Attractiveness and functionality • Technological capabilities • Quality of staff and conference planner • Teambuilding • Food & beverage/catering • Lighting • Acoustics • Climate control • Proximity to airport & other transportation • Onsite or offsite lodging • Other support services • Front-desk operations • Setups and breakdowns • Room décor • Quality/size of ballroom • Special packages • Spa • Nearby attractions Facilities & destinations 2016-2017 Winter

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

Conference Center

Your name and title______________________________________ Organization____________________________________________ Phone__________________________________________________ Email___________________________________________________ Additional comments____________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ May we contact you? Yes___ No___ Fill Out Form & Mail, Email or Fax Your Vote: Facilities & Destinations 152 Madison Avenue, Suite 802, New York, NY 10016 Fax: (212) 213-6382 Email: ballots@facilitiesonline.com 47

The Resort At Longboat Key Club

“When it comes to exceeding expectations, The Resort at Longboat Key Club hits the mark every time.” —Diane Davis, Associate Director, National Association of Flavors and Food Ingredient Systems

Continued from page 46

and scallop with lemon risotto, or perhaps the oak-grilled aged skirt steak with vegetables. St. Armand’s Circle is also home to boutiques such as Soap Stories, where craftspeople sell handmade soaps made from locally sourced organic ingredients. Big Olaf Creamery, known for its Amish homemade ice cream, was voted “The Best” by residents. —Laura Janelle Downey

The Resort At Longboat Key Club

Situated on 410 lush acres on Longboat Key, this 35-year-old property is known for its world-class tennis facility (sign up for lessons with Sammy Aviles), golf courses (the 18-hole Harbourside and the 18-hole Links on Longboat), dining (especially Portofino), and more. It’s a one-stop shop for groups. The Resort At Longboat Key Club houses 12,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. Throughout the years, the National Association of Flavors and Food Ingredient Systems (NAFFS) has used everything from the John Ringling rooms, which total 5,896 sq. ft. of space, to the 2,250-sq.-ft. Island House. “When it comes to exceeding expectations, The Resort At Longboat Key Club hits the mark every time,” says Diane Davis, Associate Director of NAFFS. “From the moment you arrive, you know you have chosen the right resort because you are immediately greeted by attentive staff who are clearly devoted to making your stay enjoyable.” She adds that “Our annual conference has been held here for more than 20 years and it’s no surprise that they vote to keep coming back.” For teambuilding, groups can opt for a 90-minute stand-up paddleboarding lesson with John Kurz, the owner of What’SUP. A kayaking tour through the mangrove tunnels of Ted Sterling Park is also available. Orlando Cano and Josh Taylor, owners of Paradise Adventures, will get first-timers acclimated to Sarasota Bay in no time. Groups that prefer sightseeing on dry land can take a trip to The Ringling. Left to the public by Ringling and his wife, Mable, the State Art Museum of Florida showcases the famed Circus Museum (try squeezing into a tiny clown’s car!) and The Museum of Art, where Ringling’s personal collection of paintings, art objects, antiques and more take center stage. And if your group desires more culture, a new modern art museum is scheduled to open within the next few years, according to Hobeck. Other attendees might want to get some R&R at Opal Spa. Options include the 50-minute traditional classic massage and the 80-minute Tranquility Ritual, which consists of a scrub with essential oil blend. After the treatment, a walk along the marina at sunset can be quite therapeutic. “Sarasota’s mix of small-town charm and big-city amenities, combined with unparalleled natural beauty, provides an intimate setting for corporate retreat groups,” says Shelby Connett, 48

Meetings and Group Sales Manager at Visit Sarasota County. “Attendees can experience the personal attention that is often harder to find in larger meeting destinations, but still have ample options for activities and things to do — all while enjoying the relaxing benefits of an oceanfront setting.” —Laura Janelle Downey


Located about 18 miles south of Naples, Marco Island is home to the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa, which held its grand reopening in January following a $40 million transformation. When guests enter the redesigned lobby, they are greeted by a dramatic floor-to-ceiling window on the Gulf of Mexico. The project upgraded the hotel’s 310 guestrooms and added 16 brand-new one- and twobedroom suites. The property’s 25,000 sq. ft. of meeting space has been revamped as well; a new beachfront event lawn will open in the fall. In addition, the resort has introduced The Deck at 560 Bar & Restaurant, an expansive space featuring a rare Brazilian hardwood deck. The venue offers 174 indoor dining seats and 102 outdoor seats.


One of the country’s meetings hotbeds, Orlando always has new attractions coming online that can spark the interest of attendees who have visited the city numerous times. This June will see the debut of Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando Resort, a tropical island-themed water park. Also this summer, Walt Disney World Resort will introduce Pandora – The World of AVATAR. The largest expansion in the history of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Pandora will feature elements such as floating mountains, bioluminescent rainforests and a Banshee flying attraction. Disney Springs, the resort’s shopping, dining and entertainment hub, welcomed the reimagined Planet Hollywood Observatory last fall. “The five completely different spaces have been expertly designed to accommodate groups of all sizes, and our amazing event staff has been trained to deliver the most memorable experiences groups can have,” said Robert Earl, Founder and Chairman, Planet Hollywood International, in a statement. Groups can use a state-of-the art, 4,500-sq.ft. immersive video wall Rendering of Volcano Bay at for corporate messaging, Universal Orlando Resort, debuting and enjoy the interactive this summer in Orlando DJ spinning nightly on the main floor. On the hotel front, Orlando will see the debut Facilities & destinations 2016-2017 Winter

of the 187-room Margaritaville Resort late this year, a completed renovation at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in the fall, and the one-year anniversary of the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort in July.

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort

From spring to fall 2017, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort’s Dolphin lobby will undergo a $12 million redesign. The project is the final stage of the resort’s $140 million makeover, which also includes the transformation of all 2,267 guestrooms, along with upgrades to the hotel’s meeting space. “This lobby will mark the final piece of an exciting transformation for the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort,” said General Manager Fred Sawyers. “The space is designed specifically to cater to today’s guests and offer an inviting place where they can come together to relax, network and grab something to eat or drink.” The centerpiece of the new lobby will be a custom crystal chandelier that will sparkle above the fountain and use the latest in color-changing lighting technology. Two new food and beverage options will be incorporated into the lobby, including a bar and lounge space seating up to 150. The Dolphin Resort lobby will remain open throughout the renovation with minimal impact to resort guests.

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort

Last summer’s opening of Loews Sapphire Falls Resort directly adjacent to Loews Royal Pacific Resort has created The Loews Meeting Complex at Universal Orlando, which offers a total of 2,000 guestrooms and more than 247,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. That wealth of meeting possibilities ensures that “We are always ‘right sized’,” remarks Barb Bowden, Managing Director for the Complex. Individually, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort offers 1,000 guestrooms and 115,000 sq. ft. of total meeting space, including the 41,000-sq.-ft. Grand Caribbean Ballroom (divisible into 12 sections), 30,000-sq.-ft. Kingston Hall and 16,000 sq. ft. of outdoor space. The indoor meeting space utilizes three methods of transit — escalator, elevator and stairs — to shuttle meeting participants between sessions without crowding. Jennifer Hodges, Director of Public Relations for Loews Resorts, explains that a common complaint among meeting attendees is that in some resorts it can take up to 10 minutes to get from the guestrooms to the meeting space, but at Loews Sapphire Falls attendees can walk from their Facilities & destinations 2016-2017 Winter

Daytona International Speedway (left) and the picturesque Ocean Walk Shoppes (right), in proximity to the city’s Ocean Center

guestroom to any location within the resort in under five minutes. Loews Sapphire Falls Resort was built to take advantage of its proximity to Universal Studios. A river taxi continuously pulls up to the resort, shuttling meeting attendees to Universal CityWalk, which contains multiple dining, shopping and nightlife activities. Meeting planners can coordinate offsite events at CityWalk venues without having to arrange any transportation. CityWalk also harbors the entrance to Universal Studios, including the popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, and Islands of Adventure. One of the most attractive onsite locations at Loews Sapphire Falls is Cayman Court Pavilion. Its “forever lawn” is an outdoor event area where staff from the Caribbean can bring their homeland to life through music, dancing and authentic food. Cayman Court is situated directly between the convention center and hotel and has its own drive-up access so even offsite event attendees can have ease of arrival and departure. The convention center itself can also serve as a dining area where proper lighting can be programmed and chandeliers can be brought in to turn any part of the available 115,000 sq. ft. into an intimate space. —Deborah Shapiro


Known as the home of motorsports, Daytona Beach is the headquarters of NASCAR, the International Motor Sports Association and the International Speedway Corporation. Part of the nearly $2 billion in renovation and construction taking place in the area is the $400 million renovation of the Daytona International Speedway, completed in January 2016. Speedway tours now include a visit to the 10,000-sq.-ft. Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. The city also has its fine arts side, represented by the 26,000-sq.-ft. Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art, which opened in February 2015 on the campus of the Smithsonian-affiliated Museum of Arts and Sciences. Visitors can view more than 2,700 Florida oil and watercolor paintings. According to the Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, an exclusive Marriott Autograph Collection hotel called The DAYTONA and an upscale Westin are in the planning stage. Approximately 12,000 guestrooms surround the 49

The Jacksonville skyline and St. Johns River. (Below): The Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center in Jacksonville. (Bottom): The Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast.

aptly named Ocean Center, located just 400 feet from the Atlantic Ocean and 10 minutes from Daytona International Airport. The Ocean Center offers a 93,028-sq.-ft. exhibit hall, an 11,904-sq.-ft. ballroom, 32,000 sq. ft. of meeting space with 32 breakout rooms, and a 9,300-seat arena. The Ocean Walk Shoppes and Daytona Lagoon waterpark are in walking distance, affording convenient free-time options for attendees. Getting to Daytona Beach from New York has been facilitated with JetBlue Airways’ daily, nonstop service from JFK International Airport, launched in January 2016.



Jacksonville’s SMG-managed Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center is one of the state’s most distinctive facilities of its kind, housed in a historic railroad station building with impressive architecture. The Center’s 78,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space is divisible into two halls with 33-ft. ceilings; the ornate Grand Lobby boasts 75-ft. ceilings. Groups have 22 meeting rooms at their disposal. Major investments are being made to upgrade the city’s hotels. They include a $7 million property-wide renovation of the 159room Sheraton Jacksonville (6,000 sq. ft. of meeting space); a recent redesign of the 963-room Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront (110,000 sq. ft.); a $9 million renovation of the 354room Omni Jacksonville (14,000 sq. ft.); a $13 million renovation of the 277-room Embassy Suites Jacksonville–Baymeadows (7,000 sq. ft.); and ongoing meeting space renovations at the 323-room Lexington Hotel & Conference Center (35,000 sq. ft.), scheduled for completion by the end of March. Planners looking for a unique offsite venue in the city can consider The Barge Jax, which affords panoramic skyline views from the St. Johns River. The Barge offers about 6,000 sq. ft. of function space. Air travel to Jacksonville is ramping up with new American Airlines’ twice-daily nonstop service from LaGuardia Airport; Allegiant Travel Co.’s direct flights to and from New Orleans, Memphis and Richmond, VA, beginning mid April; and Air Canada’s nonstop flights between JAX and Toronto beginning May 7.


Lying 25 miles south of St. Augustine and 30 miles north of Daytona Beach, Palm Coast is Flagler County’s most populous city 50

and home to quality golf resorts and lush nature preserves. A fine option for meeting and incentive groups here is the 300room Hammock Beach Resort, a Salamander Hotels & Resorts property. The AAA Four Diamond-rated resort recently renovated its grand lobby, 75 of its spacious one-bedroom suites and all 15,000 sq. ft. of its indoor function space. A must-play for golfers is the resort’s Ocean Course. The Jack Nicklaus Signature Design is famed for its six Atlantic Oceanhugging holes and thrilling closing stretch named “The Bear Claw.” In addition to its golf experience, the resort offers a spa and fitness center, multiple restaurants and bars, a multilevel pool complex with adult and children areas, and one of the most pristine beaches in the Sunshine State. Facilities & destinations 2016-2017 Winter

The Basilica Cathedral of Lima


Peru’s capital offers modern meeting facilities ensconced in history

ima is the natural starting point for a meeting or incentive group venturing into Peru. One third of the country’s population lives in city, which represents a convergence of past and present. Among its modern features is the fully renovated Jorge Chavez International Airport, where more than 100 flights on a weekly basis connect to 10 gateway cities in the United States and Canada. That logistical advantage complements Lima’s new convention center. Opened in October 2015, the Centro de Convenciones de Lima puts the destination at the forefront of the global meetings market. Housing more than 160,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and accommodating nearly 10,000 attendees, the facility has already hosted international meetings including the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forums that brought in world leaders such as former U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin. The Centro de Convenciones offers 18 conference rooms that can be divided into 22, two onsite restaurants and the capacity for 10,000 simultaneous Wi-Fi connections. Even small groups, however, can find superb facilities in Lima that support their event objectives. Last August, the Silver Spring, MD-based International Leadership Association (ILA) brought about 120 delegates to Lima for a conference themed “Exploring Leadership in Latin America.” One of the organization’s associate members, who is affiliated with Universidad del Pacifico in Lima, facilitated the ILA’s partnering with the university to host the event. The group convened in the 277-capacity theater and used several breakout rooms. Peruvian tradition was well represented in both the meals, catered by the university, and in the entertainment. Folkloric dance groups from the Universidad del Pacifico performed at the conference’s opening and closing events, which was “the highlight for all of our attendees,” remarks Bridget Chisholm, Director of Conferences, ILA. “We will continue to hold

Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter

our topical event in Latin America every other year as we continue to grow our membership.” Based on the positive experience last year, the ILA has opted to return to Lima for its 2018 conference.


The historic center of Lima dates to the times of the conquistadors, and at its core is the Plaza de Armas — the central square — which branches out to create the modern city that Peru has become. The district recently earned UNESCO World Heritage status and is in the midst of a revitalization as a result. Among the notable structures surrounding the plaza are the Government Palace, which is the official residence of the President; the Cathedral of Lima, where Pizarro’s remains were laid to rest; and the Palace of the Archbishop. Honor guard soldiers on horses can be seen regularly trotting around the square, which also contains homes of some of the original settlers of the city. Plaza de Armas History, architecture and culture are present throughout the entire district, which is home to museums and national ministries. Hotels in the area near San Martin square — which honors a general who played a key role helping Peru gaining its independence from Spain — include the 431-room Sheraton Hotel and Convention Center (www.sheratonlima.com). 51


Folkloric dance performances at the Universidad del Pacifico were “the highlight for all of our attendees.” —Bridget Chisholm, Director of Conferences, International Leadership Association The Starwood-affiliated property, built in 1978 and refurbished in 2012, contains extensive meeting and event facilities, its largest space spanning over 15,800 sq. ft.


A short drive from Lima’s convention center district, delegates will find the more modern district of San Isidro, which has developed into a business center and is home to international companies as well as embassies. Modern parks such as San Isidro’s Parque el Olivar (Olive Grove Park) contain rows of olive trees that date back hundreds of years to Spanish colonial times. Within the park are stone presses used to produce olive oil, a staple of the Spanish diet. Area hotels with meeting facilities include an offering from Spanish hotelier Melia and Swissotel, as well as the Country Club Hotel located directly across from Lima’s golf course. Affiliated with Luxury Hotels of the World, the Country Club Hotel, built in 1927, is considered a cultural heritage site landmark as a result of its architecture, design and historical significance. 52

Situated south of the San Isidro district along the Pacific coast, Miraflores once served as a resort area. Its beaches are still an attraction, but today the district is better known as an upscale neighborhood with hotels, dining and shopping. Steps away from the beaches that rest below the nearby cliffs is the 300-room JW Marriott Lima (www. marriott.com/hotels/travel/limdt-jw-marriott-hotel-lima). The hotel’s 14,000 sq. ft. of event space includes its San Martin ballroom (5,921 sq. ft.) and six breakout rooms. Smaller groups can consider the 89-suite Belmond Miraflores Park (www.belmond.com/miraflores-park-lima), a luxury property with views of the Pacific coast. Among its meeting spaces are the Observatory, which faces a terrace with a view of the ocean. Its larger Sala Copacabana ballroom can accommodate up to 400 guests. Nearby, the 149-room Courtyard Lima Miraflores (www. expedia.com/Lima-Hotels-Courtyard-Lima-Miraflores.h9866569. Hotel-Information) has limited function space that could be ideal for classroom-style meetings at a lower price point. While much of Peru’s history is popularly associated with the Incas and the Machu Picchu fortress, visitors may be surprised to find that Lima is rich in history that predates not only the Spanish but the Incas as well. Huacas — pyramid-like ramps and adobe structures — are located throughout the city. The Huaca Pucllana, in the Miraflores District, is estimated to date as far back as 200 AD. The site is believed to have been important for communal and religious life and has yielded a wealth of information about the culture of the early inhabitants. At the site, groups can dine at the eponymous Huaca Pucllana restaurant, whose award-winning cuisine is known for its use of the finest local products. Experiences in Lima range from the indigenous meal to the wellknown amenities of an global upscale hotel brand. Toward assisting planners to design their program, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism and PROMPERÚ offer a multitude of resource at www. peru.travel/en-us/. —D.K. Look for a sequel on Peru with a feature on Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu in the F&D 2017 SuperBook. Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter


Austin Convention Center

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


winner of the Prime Site Award every year since 1995, the Austin Convention Center has emerged as a leader in the convention and meeting industry. The Center offers 369,132 sq. ft. of exhibit and meeting space, including five column-free exhibit halls accommodating 1,289 10 ft.-by-10 ft. exhibit booths. Seven ballrooms ranging from 3,896 to 40,510 sq. ft. and 54 meeting rooms and show offices totaling over 58,000 sq. ft. complete the four-story convention center. Ample parking is provided in two parking garages with a total of 1,700 spaces. In January 2017, the Austin Convention Center hosted what is arguably the premier event in the meetings industry, PCMA’s Convening Leaders.

Technological Features

One of the most technologically advanced convention centers in the country, this gigabit-rated facility moves voice, video and data at over one billion bits per second. It offers a variety of in-house services including complimentary wireless Internet access, redundant high-speed Internet II access, plug-and-play capabilities, and an onsite technical staff to help with networking needs.


Austin offers more than 33,000 hotel rooms, with 9,000 located downtown, including the 800-room Hilton Austin adjacent to the convention center. Additional nearby hotels

include: Four Seasons Hotel Austin, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn by Marriott, Hilton Garden Inn Austin Downtown, Radisson Hotel & Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown, Driskill Hotel, Omni Austin Hotel Downtown, Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel, the new W Austin, Hyatt Place Downtown Austin, the 1,012-room JW Marriott and the Westin Austin Downtown. The Fairmont Austin is scheduled to open in 2017.

Austin by Night

After conventions and meetings wrap-up each night, attendees can enjoy Austin’s entertainment districts — Second Street, the Warehouse District and famous Sixth Street. The Austin Convention Center is just down the street from the city’s vibrant nightlife, where visitors can also enjoy everything from fine dining in four-star restaurants, to down-home barbecue and authentic Tex-Mex. As the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin is home to nearly 250 venues that echo with the sound of country, rock ‘n’ roll, blues, jazz and Tejano.

Austin by Day

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

Fast Facts: Facility

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


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

Contact Information

Mark Tester, Director of Austin Convention Center Department Paul Barnes, ACCD Assistant Director – Sales, Marketing and Events Amy Harris, Director of Sales

500 E. Cesar Chavez Street, Austin, TX 78701 • (512) 404-4200; Fax: (512) 404-4220 conventionsales@austintexas.gov • austinconventioncenter.com Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter



Boise Centre


f you haven’t been to Boise lately, you are missing out on one of the most vibrant cities in the western United States. In fact, USA Today recently ranked Boise among the “Best Travel-Worthy State Capitals.” With nonstop air service from 20 major U.S. cities, getting to Boise is a breeze, and the airport is just seven minutes from downtown.

Convention Center Expansion Opened

Located in downtown is Boise Centre, Idaho’s largest convention and event venue. A much anticipated convention center expansion opened this past September and includes eight new meeting rooms with natural daylight, a new ballroom and spacious glass-enclosed lobby overlooking a civic plaza and fountain. All spaces are fully carpeted and customizable with a modern, contemporary design. Boise Centre now features nearly 86,000 sq. ft. of event space to better accommodate larger conventions, tradeshows and events. A connectivity concourse will be completed in March 2017. A new, 4,200-sq.-ft. junior ballroom will open in late summer 2017. Boise Centre’s professional event team is highly experienced in hosting a variety of events, from conventions and tradeshows to corporate meetings and special events. The convention center has built a reputation for providing exceptional culinary services and the highest levels of guest service. Boise Centre features full-service catering, audiovisual and technical services, high-speed Internet, Wi-Fi connections throughout, extensive recycling and sustainability programs.


As for accommodations, the city has a wide variety of lovely hotels ranging from luxury to modern and boutique. Several properties are within walking distance to Boise Centre, and most offer complimentary airport shuttle service. A number of new hotels are opening near the convention center to accommodate the increasing amount of

visitors. Already this year, a 113-room hotel, The Inn at 500, opened in downtown and two additional hotel properties will open later this year, a 152-room Hyatt Place and the 180-room Residence Inn by Marriott.

Compact Walkable Downtown

Boise offers the culture, entertainment and amenities of a large urban area, in a place that is inviting to visitors. You will be pleasantly surprised by all that Boise has to offer: a walkable, compact downtown filled with shops, dining, breweries, nightlife and culture all with a fun and hip vibe. With adventurous recreation nearby, including white-water rafting, skiing, golfing and a 25-mile Greenbelt bicycle and pedestrian path along the Boise River, which runs through the city, Boise has an activity for everyone to enjoy. To learn more about Boise Centre or to submit an RFP visit www. boisecentre.com or contact Cliff Clinger, Director of Marketing and Sales, at (208) 489-3680 or cclinger@boisecentre.com.



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Cox Convention Center


klahoma City is investing $250 million in a new downtown convention center of approximately 470,000 sq. ft. (with about 235,000 sq. ft. of sellable space), replacing the Cox Convention Center by the end of the decade. The new facility is a continuation of the city’s resurgence that includes the nearby Bricktown entertainment district, home to canalside restaurants, clubs and attractions. In addition, the expanding Boathouse District along the Oklahoma River provides exciting activities for attendees and their families. Since 1993, Oklahoma City has seen more than $5 billion of public and private investment in quality-of-life projects and improvements throughout the city. The Cox Convention Center houses 100,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, a 25,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, 21 meeting rooms, a 15,000-seat arena and a 6,500-seat theater, all connected by a skybridge to the 258-room Renaissance Oklahoma City Convention Center Hotel (66,000 sq. ft. of meeting space). The downtown area is only about 20 minutes from Will Rogers Airport, a streamlined facility that is easy to get in and out of. Oklahoma City offers 1,600 convention center district hotel rooms (16,000 overall), affordable rates, a hospitable atmosphere and cultural highlights such as the Exhibit C art gallery, displaying the works of Chickasaw artists. Other cultural highlights include the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, Oklahoma City Museum of Art and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter

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

1 Myriad Gardens, Oklahoma City, OK 73102 (405) 602-8500; Fax: (405) 602-8505 coxconventioncenter.com 55


Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center


ochester is the northern gateway to the magnificent Finger Lakes region, with its rolling hills, lush valleys and 11 namesake lakes. It is also a region becoming famous for its more than 100 vineyards, excellent wines and numerous “wine trails.” With the New York Wine and Culinary Center in nearby Canandaigua, the wineries and farmer’s markets of the Finger Lakes region offer delegates meeting in Rochester wonderful day-trip options for pre- or post-conference enjoyment. Several entertainment districts surround the Rochester Riverside with restaurants, cafes, coffee houses, pubs, dance clubs, music halls, theaters and more. Rochester boasts numerous museums, including the George Eastman Museum, the Susan B. Anthony House and the acclaimed Strong National Museum of Play. Rochester is also proud to be home to the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, a nine-day event featuring 300+ concerts with 1,500+ artists, as well as the Fringe Festival, a unique 10-day event celebrating the arts with 500+ performances all over downtown Rochester. Conveniently located in the heart of the city is the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center, with a scenic setting on the Genesee River, featuring outdoor patios and balconies. The Greater Rochester International Airport — 54+ flights daily — is just a 10-minute drive from the Convention Center’s front door. Complimentary airport transportation is provided by all major hotels. Rochester is a community known around the world for its high-tech expertise, which has led to the city being selected as the location for the Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Integrated Photonics. The Rochester Riverside also gets high marks for handling all types of technology needs. The Riverside has upgraded to a dedicated Internet connection over fiber optics to meet all of the growing number of technical requirements its customers have. This service, 56

which is self-operated, is available wireless throughout the facility and is boost-able from 200 MB to 400 MB. The Center features an in-house food and beverage operation, which includes an Executive Pastry Chef. In addition, the Riverside Productions and Riverside Catering divisions can even provide services to groups utilizing offsite locations throughout the region. Basically, the Floreano Riverside Convention Center is New York State’s only one-stop convention facility. More than 1,100 rooms in a quartet of major hotels connect with the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center to create a compact convention district in the center of the city. There is a 217-room Holiday Inn, 460-room Radisson, 338-room Hyatt Regency and a 106room Hilton Garden Inn. Delegates also enjoy the convenience of walking between hotels and the Convention Center in minutes using the enclosed skywalk system or the scenic riverside walkway.

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

Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter


Ocean Center Convention Center


he Ocean Center Convention Center is at the forefront of today’s meeting locations. With sweeping architecture, dramatic pre-event areas, captivating permanent and rotating art galleries, the Ocean Center is sure to be a planner’s perfect venue. A dynamite location situated in the core area of Daytona Beach, the Ocean Center promises spectacular sunrises, beautiful beaches and plentiful dining and entertainment options. Steps away from the Atlantic Ocean, the Ocean Center is also just 10 minutes from Daytona International Airport. Planners can count on the Ocean Center’s 200,000 sq. ft. of space providing flexibility and adjustability. The center offers an exhibit hall, 9,050-seat arena, 12,000-sq.-ft. ballroom and 32 meeting rooms. The main exhibit hall is 93,028 sq. ft. and total exhibit space is 160,000 sq. ft. The facility is known for its experienced staff with many years of hospitality experience. An outstanding catering staff delivers delectable menus, themed events and eye-appealing presentations. And when the meeting breaks, the ocean awaits. The Ocean Center Convention Center is surrounded by first-class accommodations, an abundance of entertainment and dining options, and attractions galore. The Center is only 400 feet from the beautiful beaches of Volusia County. Ocean Walk Shoppes directly across the street offers dining and entertainment featuring Sloppy Joes’, Johnny Rockets, Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company and other establishments. The Ocean Center is adjacent to Daytona Lagoon Waterpark and Entertainment Complex and to Peabody Auditorium, offering concerts, Broadway shows and other entertainment throughout the year. Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter

The “World Center of Racing” is home to the Daytona International Speedway, Richard Petty Driving Experience and annual events such as Speedweeks, Bike Week and Bikertoberfest. During their free time, meeting attendees can explore numerous points of interest such as the Daytona Beach Boardwalk, Sugarmill Botanical Gardens, Sugarmill Ruins and the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse and Museum.

101 North Atlantic Avenue Daytona Beach, FL 32118 (386) 254-4524 (386) 254-4512 oceancenter.com



Orange County Convention Center

Experience the New Orange


he award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC), located in the heart of the Convention Center District and only 15 minutes from the Orlando International Airport, provides a multitude of event options in two beautiful buildings — the West and North/South. The OCCC is finding new ways to showcase the leadership and quality of service that has made the destination one of the most popular in the world, not only for tourism but also for meetings and conventions. Exhibitors, attendees and meeting planners alike acclaim the attention to detail provided by the OCCC, with a variety of facilities and services including over seven million sq. ft. of combined meeting space, sophisticated amenities and world-class onsite providers. The OCCC is consistently rated a top-tier convention center with incredible spaces, including the multipurpose Tangerine Ballroom, the newly remodeled Valencia Ballroom, the Sunburst signature meeting room with outdoor terrace along with the Honeybell and Hamlin boardrooms.

Destination Lounge

The Orange County Convention Center wants you to experience the Destination Lounge, an all-new, state-of-the-art networking venue, complete with video walls, LED display systems and lighting to support corporate branding and displays. This area is designed for a high-tech, contemporary and sophisticated meeting headquarters. With the need to stay connected, the Destination Lounge offers a space where attendees and exhibitors can sit comfortably and continue to do business. Targeted for small groups, individuals and

West Concourse – 9800 International Drive; South Concourse – 9899 International Drive; North Concourse – 9400 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, FL 32819 (407) 685-9800, (800) 345-9845 • occc.net 58

private events, this area will allow for spaces that are technology friendly with comfortable seating and open views, perfect for your next reception or presentation. • Conveniently located in the South Concourse • Over 7,000 sq. ft. of multi-functional networking space - Meetings - Private functions - Receptions - Sponsorship opportunities

Facility Features

The OCCC’s West Concourse boasts 1.1 million sq. ft. of exhibition space, all on one level, supported by 97 covered loading docks. This beautiful facility includes a total of 49 meeting rooms/141 breakouts, the 2,643-seat Chapin Theater, 160-seat lecture hall, 62,182-sq.-ft. multipurpose Valencia Room, a full-service restaurant, four food courts, one business center and 1,450 onsite parking spaces. The North/South concourses are connected by the Oversight Bridge and provide 950,282 sq. ft. of exhibition space, including two 92,000-sq.-ft., acoustically engineered general assembly areas. With its distinctive architecture and tropical ambiance, this facility includes 25 meeting rooms/94 breakout rooms, two full-service restaurants, four food courts, two business centers and 76 covered loading docks.

Onsite Service Partners

The OCCC offers first-rate assistance through our partnerships with the following providers: Centerplate – Catering and specialty services Smart City – Internet, telecommunications and digital advertising FedEx Office – Business centers and mobility solutions LMG – Audiovisual services Bags – Remote Skycap, valet, bag and coat check SeaWorld® Orlando – Unique and innovative opportunity for offsite meetings and entertainment Universal Orlando® Resort – Unique and innovative opportunity for offsite meetings and entertainment Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter


Pennsylvania Convention Center

Exceeding Expectations in Philadelphia

Having successfully hosted the 2016 Democratic National Convention, and Pope Francis and the World Meeting of Families Congress in 2015, it’s safe to say that Philadelphia is one of the most sought-after meeting destinations in the world.

Convention Facilities

Located in the heart of downtown Philadelphia is the grand Pennsylvania Convention Center, an architectural beauty and LEED-certified facility. The SMG-managed center is the 14th-largest freestanding facility in the nation and has the capacity to host larger tradeshows or two conventions simultaneously. The property features one million sq. ft. of saleable space and the largest contiguous exhibit space in the Northeast — 528,000 sq. ft. The center also boasts the largest ballroom on the East Coast — 55,408 sq. ft. — and 82 meeting rooms.


One of the most compact housing packages in the country can also be found in Philadelphia. With more than 10,000 hotel rooms within a 15-minute walk of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, your attendees will love that their only transportation costs might just be a comfortable pair of shoes. Currently under construction is a 755-room, 780,000-sq.-ft. W and Element Hotel by Westin. The property will offer 41,000 sq. ft. of meeting and banquet space, an 8,600-sq.-ft. restaurant, and a 185-space parking garage. Plans are also underway for a 47-story SLS International mixeduse luxury boutique hotel located along the city’s Avenue of the Arts and an Aloft Hotel by Starwood, situated adjacent to and with direct access to the main entrance lobby of the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Attendee Experience

The attendee experience in Philadelphia is second to none. The city’s eclectic and impressive dining scene has garnered global attention from Iron Chefs, Top Chefs and James Beard Award

winners. Convention attendees looking to sample Philadelphia’s local flavors can explore the Reading Terminal Market, a gastrohub attached to the Convention Center with dozens of local merchants. Philadelphia is also known for its intimate, chef-driven BYOB (bring your own bottle) restaurants featuring innovative cuisine, as well as many restaurants that offer private dining rooms. A short stroll from the Convention Center is Museum Mile, home to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and its world-renowned collection, the Barnes Foundation, with the largest private collection of impressionist, post-impressionist works and early modern art, as well as the Franklin Institute Science Museum and its hands-on permanent exhibit dedicated to the workings of the brain. Named one of the “Best Places to Travel in 2017” by Travel + Leisure and recently designated as the United States’ first World Heritage City, Philadelphia is sure to enthrall convention attendees.

Getting Here

Getting to Philadelphia is just as easy as getting around in the city. A sophisticated regional rail and subway network links the Philadelphia International Airport — with 30 airlines and nearly 550 daily departures to 126 cities, including 39 international destinations — to Amtrak’s 30th Street Station, the Convention Center and downtown Philadelphia. Blending historic appeal with modern sophistication, Philadelphia’s walkable streets are here to be explored!

1101 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103 • (855) MEET-PHL • meetPHL.com Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter



Phoenix Convention Center & Venues


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

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

100 North Third Street, Phoenix, AZ 85004 • (602) 262-6225; (800) 282-4842; Fax: (602) 744-2987 phoenixconventioncenter.com 60

Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter


Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort


he Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort is a nationally respected and recognized leader in the convention resort arena. The resort offers more than 329,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, 84 breakout rooms and 2,267 guestrooms and suites, which feature the Westin Heavenly® Bed. In mid-2017 the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort’s Dolphin lobby will undergo a $12 million redesign as the final stage of the largest makeover in the resort’s history. When finished in the fall of 2017, the new lobby will be completely transformed into a sleek contemporary space, and feature new dining and beverage options. “This lobby will mark the final piece of an exciting transformation for the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort,” said General Manager Fred Sawyers. “This space is designed specifically to cater to today’s guests and offer an inviting place where they can come together to relax, network and grab something to eat or drink.” The centerpiece of the new lobby will be a dazzling custom crystal chandelier that will sparkle above the fountain. Other new features will include a geometric ceiling, increased lighting, all-new contemporary décor and furnishings and more than double the amount of seating. The lobby redesign is the final stage of a total $140 million project that also includes the transformation of all 2,267 guestrooms, along with upgrades to the hotel’s meeting space. The renovated guestrooms feature all of the latest technology, including large HD TVs and all-new upgraded furniture centered on the famous Westin Heavenly Bed®. The design continues into a completely new bathroom, featuring residential style vanities and a backlit mirror on iridescent glass tiles. When it comes to the business of meetings, the team is highly regarded for their ability to exceed expectations. Meetings are supported by an award-winning banquet, catering and culinary team that delivers customized solutions with a passion for each

customer. Whether your event is in the ballroom, on the beach, on the causeway or in one of the resort’s signature restaurants, creative opportunities abound. For the adventurous, nothing beats a private event in the theme parks to add that magical touch while supporting the meeting theme. The resort is recognized as a top “Foodie” destination in Orlando featuring 16 world-class restaurants and lounges, including the famed celebrity Chef Todd English’s bluezoo, Il Mulino New York Trattoria and Shula’s Steak House, which serves the best beef money can buy. The resort is situated in the heart of the Walt Disney World Resort, within footsteps of both Epcot®, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Boardwalk. Complimentary transportation is provided throughout the resort, and guests enjoy the Extra Magic Hours Benefit and FASTPASS+ access. On property, guests can enjoy one of the resort’s five pools, two health clubs and tennis courts, or indulge at the luxurious Balinese-inspired Mandara Spa. Contact Gino Marasco, Director of Sales and Marketing, at (800) 524-4939, (407) 934-4290 or meetings@swandolphin.com.

1500 Epcot Resorts Boulevard, Lake Buena Vista, FL, 32830 • (800) 524-4939 or (407) 934-4290 SwanDolphinMeetings.com Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter



monona terrace Convention Center Madison, Wisconsin: An Inspiring Place for Smart Meetings.


adison combines exceptional facilities with the intellectual and emotional capital needed for meeting success. Home to the renowned University of Wisconsin–Madison, the vision of Frank Lloyd Wright, the insight of Aldo Leopold and a majestic Capitol built upon an isthmus alive with cultural arts, engaging intellectual pursuits and a wealth of recreational opportunities, Madison is the place for smart meetings. Monona Terrace®, a crown jewel of Madison’s isthmus, earned the prestigious Gold Level LEED status. In 2007, Monona Terrace became the first convention center in the nation to be LEED-EBcertified at the Silver Level by the U.S. Green Building Council. The additional certification at the Gold Level affirms the facility’s commitment to the environment. The facility actively uses sustainable practices such as purchasing 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. Monona Terrace is a symbol of sustainability for the community and an inspiration to all those who choose to visit the city.


More than 8,000 hotel rooms are available to groups in Madison, with 1,000 rooms within walking distance of Monona Terrace. Accommodation styles run the gamut from first-class convention hotels, such as the 240-room Hilton Madison (the headquarters hotel for the convention center), to limited-service hotels and budget-conscious lodging. Bed and breakfasts are another attractive choice in Madison, and several provide services and amenities appropriate for executive attendees.

New Jersey

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


Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau

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

Austin Convention Center

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


Boise Centre

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

Convention Facilities

The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Monona Terrace Convention Center is a touchstone for both the Madison community and groups coming to the city. Sweeping lines and vast, arched windows typify the structure, which offers dramatic surroundings for groups. In total, Monona Terrace Convention Center offers 85,000 sq. ft. of meeting and exhibition space. Highlights of the center include: • 37,200-sq.-ft. Exhibition Hall that accommodates 212, 10 ft.-by-10 ft. booths • 13,524-sq.-ft. Madison Ballroom, divisible by four • 7,000-sq.-ft. Grand Terrace • 68,000 sq. ft. of rooftop gardens that may also be reserved for events

One John Nolen Drive, Madison, WI 53703 (608) 261-4000 • mononaterrace.com A year-round destination with all the amenities you expect from a premier resort: 20,000 first-class hotel rooms (8,000 committable), top entertainment, golf, shopping, worldclass dining and 11 casinos. The Atlantic City Convention Center is a bright, modern facility accommodating meetings and expos of all sizes, four contiguous exhibit halls (486,600 sq. ft.); 32,000 sq. ft. of pre-function space; 109,100 total sq. ft. meeting space; 45 meeting rooms including a 29,400-sq.-ft. ballroom; free WiFi; voice/data communications; green facility – single-roof solar systems, and aggressive recycling and energysavings programs. Greater Akron – set among the rolling hills of the Old Connecticut Western Reserve and along the shores of the Ohio and Erie Canalway. The John S. Knight Center is downtown Akron’s showcase for great events. State-of-the-art video conferencing and streaming systems, onsite skilled support/service staff, full-service catering; 16 meeting rooms; 12,000-sq.-ft. ballroom; 30,000-sq.-ft. exhibition hall (41,000 sq. ft. total exhibit space); 12,000 sq. ft. of banquet space; an additional 12,600 sq. ft. of meeting space; 22,000-sq.-ft. lobby, highlighted by distinctive glass rotunda and spiral staircase. PAGE 5,400+ hotel rooms county-wide. 5 A LEED® Gold certified, technologically advanced convention center located near downtown’s famous entertainment districts. Multi-level facility spans six city blocks; features 369,132 sq. ft. of meeting/exhibit space, including five column-free, contiguous exhibit halls (247,052 sq. ft. of total exhibit space), seven ballrooms (40,510 sq. ft. is largest) and 54 meeting rooms. Complimentary high-speed, high-density wireless services throughout; onsite engineers; proven ability PAGE to handle 7,000 simultaneous connections. Pre-function spaces offer downtown views. C2 Pedestrian walkway connects 3rd and 4th levels. Close to 7,500 downtown hotel rooms. Boise Centre, Idaho’s largest convention, meeting and tradeshow facility, offers 86,000 sq. ft. of customizable event space. Surrounding Boise Centre is a compact, walkable downtown with over 100 restaurants, microbreweries, shops and art galleries. Boise Centre offers full service catering, audiovisual and technical services. Several hotels are within walking distance, and with over 20 direct flights from most major hubs, getting to Boise is easy. PAGE 4


Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter


Cox Convention Center

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


Hilton West Palm Beach

600 Okeechobee Boulevard, West Palm Beach, FL 33401 (561) 231-6010 HiltonWestPalmBeach.com Director of Sales and Marketing: Edd Karlan

Ontario, canada

The International Centre

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

Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center 123 East Main Street, Rochester, NY 14604 (585) 232-7200; Fax: (585) 232-1510 www.rrcc.com You and your event are always the center of our attention at the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center!” Wisconsin

Monona Terrace Convention Center

One John Nolen Drive, Madison, WI 53703 (608) 261-4000; Fax: (608) 261-4049 mononaterrace.com Sales/Event Services Manager: Laura MacIsaac, CMP Where Business and Inspiration Meet New Orleans

New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

900 Convention Center Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70130 (504) 582-3000; Fax: (504) 582-3032 mccno.com Director of Sales: Elaine Williams, ewilliams@mccno.com Any meeting, any size. Florida

Ocean Center Convention Center

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

Orange County Convention Center West Concourse – 9800 International Drive, South Concourse – 9899 International Drive, North Concourse – 9400 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, FL 32819 (407) 685-9800, (800) 345-9845; Fax: (407) 685-9876 www.occc.net Director of Sales: Rodney Gutierrez, CMP

Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter

Spanning more than one million sq. ft. and four city blocks, this complex is located at the heart of downtown Oklahoma City, a city both accommodating and affordable. Multipurpose venue hosts everything from intimate meetings to major conventions, tradeshows, concerts and sporting events. 27 meeting rooms; 25,000-sq.-ft. ballroom; 100,000-sq.-ft. exhibit hall; 15,000-seat arena. Free WiFi available; Internet access speeds up to one Gb; 1,400 of Oklahoma City’s 15,000+ hotel rooms are across the street. From arts and adventure to cowboy culture and family fun, Oklahoma City PAGE offers an eclectic mix of heritage and hotspots. 3 The new Hilton West Palm Beach is connected to the Palm Beach County Convention Center by an enclosed walkway. The 400-room property houses 24,000 sq. ft. of flexible function space including the Coral and Oceana Ballrooms. Approximately 11,000 sq. ft. of event lawns surrounding the property are also available. Amenities include a lush, outdoor pool area, outdoor dining at Galley, and Manor, the hotel’s signature restaurant showcasing seasonal, farm-fresh ingredients. Among the nearby cultural attractions are the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts and the Norton Museum of Art. CityPlace shops and restaurants are in PAGE walking distance. Palm Beach International Airport is about three miles away. 47 Located three minutes from Toronto Pearson International Airport, The International Centre offers 548,000 sq. ft. of expansive and versatile function space, an exceptional culinary experience and a team of dedicated and knowledgeable professionals, many with CEM and CMP designations. Thirty-three meeting rooms, 125,500-sq.-ft. main exhibit hall, 48,000 sq. ft. of conference center space. State-of-the-industry AV equipment built in, ultra high-speed Internet, complimentary WiFi in the Grand Lobby. Forty brand-name hotels nearby, providing over 10,000 rooms. Recently completed Phase 1 of a $7 million improvement project PAGE that renovated Hall 1, added a new Connector building to Hall 5 and more. 15 Convenient upstate New York location, situated on the Genesee River. 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting/exhibition space; 22 meeting rooms; 10,208-sq.-ft. ballroom; 49,275-sq.-ft. main exhibit hall with 266 exhibit booth capacity or 5,000 seating capacity; dedicated Internet connection over fiber optics with wireless access throughout facility. 1,100+ hotel rooms in a quartet of major hotels connect to the venue, surrounded by entertainment districts with restaurants, cafes, pubs, dance clubs, music halls and theaters. Rochester offers planners a compact convention district and New York State’s only one-stop PAGE convention facility. 7 Located in the heart of Madison’s vibrant downtown on the shore of Lake Monona, this Frank Lloyd Wright-designed, spectacular five-level structure features public promenades, meeting rooms with striking lake views, extensive rooftop gardens and the attached 240-room Hilton Madison (1,000+ rooms within walking distance); 250,000 sq. ft., including 85,000 sq. ft. of meeting/exhibit space; 23 meeting rooms; 40,000-sq.-ft. main exhibit hall; 5,540-sq.-ft., 315seat lecture hall; 14,000-sq.-ft. ballroom; 68,000 sq. ft. of rooftop gardens available for events. Wireless access throughout – Internet 2 access; business center, gift shop, art/exhibit PAGE area and expansive areas for registration/information needs. 13 The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is located in the Warehouse/Arts District, in walking distance to 20,000 hotel rooms and the historic French Quarter. Among many local highlights are Harrah’s Casino, the Audubon Zoo, Aquarium and IMAX theater and Mardi Gras World. New at the Center is The Great Hall, a 60,300-sq.-ft. divisible, column-free ballroom. The Center houses 1.1 million sq. ft. of exhibit space, 140 meeting rooms and 4,000 theater seats; 1 gigabyte fiber optic Internet backbone that is 100% redundant. The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is embarking on an ambitious new venture that will revitalize the City’s riverfront: the 47-acre Convention Center District Development Project. Located at the core of Daytona Beach, the Ocean Center Convention Center is just steps away from the Atlantic Ocean and 10 minutes from Daytona International Airport. The center houses 160,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, a 9,050-seat arena, 12,000-sq.-ft. ballroom and 32 meeting rooms. Ocean Walk Shoppes directly across the street offers dining and entertainment featuring Sloppy Joes’, Johnny Rockets, Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company and other establishments. The Ocean Center is adjacent to Daytona Lagoon Waterpark and Entertainment Complex and to Peabody Auditorium offering concerts, Broadway PAGE shows and other entertainment throughout the year. 1 The second-largest convention center in the nation, the award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) is known as “The Center of Hospitality, where it’s all about your experience.” The facility offers seven million total sq. ft. of meeting space, including 2.1 million sq. ft. of total exhibition space, 74 meeting rooms/235 breakout meeting rooms and the 62,182-sq.-ft. Valencia Room (largest ballroom). Additionally, the OCCC boasts a 2,643seat theater, a 160-seat lecture hall and state-of-the-art technology. Directly connected by pedestrian bridge to 5,000 luxury guestrooms. PAGE C3


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


Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau

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

The LEED-certified Pennsylvania Convention Center features one million sq. ft. of saleable space, the ability to host two major tradeshows simultaneously, 82 meeting rooms, 528,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space, two ballrooms (including the 55,408-sq.-ft. Terrace Ballroom) and a Grand Hall housed in the historic Reading Railroad train shed. More than 9,000 hotel rooms are within a 15-minute walk of the center, whose North Broad Street entrance connects to the Avenue of the Arts and Museum Mile. Nearby are the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rodin PAGE Museum, Franklin Institute and other major cultural institutions. 19


Pennsylvania Convention Center 1101 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107 (215) 418-4700 www.meetphl.com President and CEO: Julie Coker Graham The Complete Package

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


Phoenix Convention Center & Venues

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

Small-town friendly with big-city amenities, Sacramento hosts 6+ million visitors annually. Located in the heart of downtown, the Sacramento Convention Center features 31 meeting rooms; two 10,000-sq.-ft. registration/pre-function areas; Exhibit Hall – 134,000 sq. ft. contiguous space/divisible into five separate areas; 25,000-sq.-ft. ballroom (1,500 banquet-style/2,500 theater style), divisible into 10 meeting rooms. Activity Building is a fully carpeted, 11,200-sq.-ft. facility with 12 meeting rooms, connected by concourse to the exhibit hall. 4,000-seat Memorial Auditorium; 2,452-seat Community Center Theater. 2,000 hotels within walking distance; PAGE 10,000 citywide. Classique Catering; Wolfgang Pucks Express. 17


Sacramento Convention Center 1030 15th Street, Suite 100 Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 808-5291; Fax: (916) 808-7687 www.sacramentoconventioncenter.com

San Jose, The Capital of Silicon Valley, weaves its rich history, vast cultural diversity and stunning natural beauty with a wealth of technology. The 300 days of sunshine are a great excuse to access magnificent redwood groves and breathtaking views at Castle Rock State Park, Big Basin Redwoods State Park and Henry W. Coe State Park. Enjoy boutique shops and tasty bites in Saratoga, Los Gatos or Campbell, or sip your way through one of California’s oldest wine producing regions in the Santa Cruz PAGE Mountains and Santa Clara Valley.


Team San Jose/Visit San Jose

408 Almaden Boulevard, San Jose, CA 95110 (800) SAN-JOSE sanjose.org

Director of Sales and Destination Services: Cheryl Little


Situated in the heart of the Walt Disney World Resort, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin houses 2,267 guestrooms and suites with the finest amenities in comfort and convenience. Recently the hotel finished a redesign of all 758 guestrooms in the Walt Disney World Swan, part of a complete guestroom renovation project. Groups have over 329,000 sq. ft. of meeting space at their disposal, including 84 meeting rooms, 110,500 sq. ft. of contiguous convention/exhibit space, outdoor function areas and two business centers. Seventeen world-class restaurants and lounges are onsite, including the famed Todd PAGE English’s bluezoo, Il Mulino New York Trattoria and Shula’s Steak House. 35


Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin

1500 Epcot Resorts Boulevard, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830 (800) 524-4939; (407) 934-4290 www.SwanDolphinMeetings.com Director of Sales and Marketing: Gino Marasco

advertiser index Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau.....................................5 Austin Convention Center.......................................................................C2 Boise Centre.................................................................................................... 4 Cox Convention Center.............................................................................. 3 Hilton West Palm Beach............................................................................ 47 IMEX................................................................................................................. 30 The International Centre............................................................................ 15 Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center.........................................................................................7 Monona Terrace Convention Center.................................................... 13 64

Ocean Center....................................................................................................1 Orange County Convention Center....................................................C3 Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau........................................19 Phoenix Convention Center & Venues............................................... 10 Sacramento Convention Center............................................................. 17 Spectra..............................................................................................................24 SMG..................................................................................................................... 9 Team San Jose..............................................................................................C4 Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort............................................................................................... 35 Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter

Vetting For-Hire Ground Transportation Providers By Bill Knepper


hen it comes to ground transportation for meetings and events, traveler safety is of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, the specifics of duty of care are not consistent across all transportation modes. While third parties generally handle ground transportation for meetings and events, they mainly focus on managing the traveler’s itinerary and billing needs. Most ground transportation suppliers guarantee a seamless network of cars and services, but many of them subcontract the business to smaller ground transportation companies in locations where they do not have a presence. Those local suppliers may or may not be adequately vetted and screened. While you can hold your primary ground transportation supplier accountable and responsible, the level of accountability and financial terms must be ironclad in your primary supplier agreement. This means your service level agreement (SLA) must be very explicit with regards to terms, conditions and compensation. You should also build in language that allows for periodic audits and makes the travel management company responsible for those audits by providing them with your corporate guidelines. The vetting process for for-hire providers can be broken down into the following areas: Drivers, Vehicles, and Insurance/Indemnification. Let’s take a look at each area and discuss the pertinent questions that allow you to make informed decisions.

servicing. This protocol should be available for review at your request. While the Lincoln Town Car was the mainstay for the Black Car/Limo segment for many years, when they were phased out in 2011 the industry saw an array of different vehicles, particularly SUVs, taking their place. It is important to ask which years, makes and models will be utilized for your attendees. If you are not comfortable with the vendor’s offerings, select a different vendor and negotiate which vehicles are to be utilized, as many vendors offer different levels of service. A significant number of for-hire vehicles are equipped with cameras and real-time tracking. This allows for valuable information to be made available to determine the responsible party, should an accident occur.

While drivers

may have top-notch appearances and very professional demeanors, their driving histories may not match.


While the drivers may have top-notch appearances, great personalities and very professional demeanors, their driving histories may not match. For the highly regulated segments of Taxi and Black Car/Limo, most jurisdictions require an initial background check as well as periodic ongoing checks. The most revealing background checks are done with name and fingerprints. Fingerprints allow law enforcement to check across a much wider geographic area and include comprehensive driving and criminal record checks. Periodic driving checks are key, as there are many reasons why a driver’s habits may change. A change in financial circumstances, relationship failure or any number of reasons may create driver stress and a situation where a driver should be removed from service. Whether the drivers are employees or contractors is an important question to ask. Obviously, providers have much greater control over employees than contractors. Also inquire about the minimum age of drivers, the driving education programs they required to take and pass, as well as the number of years of experience a driver must have.


Not all vehicles are equal. While the age and mileage of vehicles in service is a general indicator of condition, who owns the vehicle is also important, as is their maintenance program. For-hire providers should have a written vehicle protocol whereby vehicles go through an initial extensive inspection and periodic re-inspections and Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter


In the for-hire segment, many drivers own their own vehicles and then contract out to larger providers. In this case, the owner/operator may only have their personal auto liability policy, which could be severely inadequate and have gaps in the coverage. The company they contract to should have a policy that covers all vehicles and drivers. Check with your risk department to determine the minimum level of coverage. While many providers offer $1 million in coverage, $2 million to $5 million are not uncommon levels today. It is important that whichever for-hire providers and third parties you select provide indemnification to your company should an accident occur. In this way, they will be required to provide the legal defense for your corporation should something happen and a legal claim ensue. It is also imperative that your legal department provide the specific verbiage to be included in your contacts. Often one or two words can make a significant difference in the meaning of an indemnification clause. In summary, it is best to ask probing questions and be comfortable with the written answers prior to signing a contract for service. While ground transportation may not be at the forefront of meeting and event planners’ minds, it is critical to provide the appropriate level of duty of care. While cost is always a factor, safety should trump cost when considering for-hire providers. Bill Knepper, Senior Consultant with GoldSpring Consulting, has over 20 years of experience in the travel industry. He joined the company in May 2014. Prior to joining GoldSpring, Knepper was the ground transportation consultant at Advito, the consultancy division of BCD Travel. In that role, he had responsibility for the analysis and delivery of all ground transportation engagements. 65

Top 5 Incentive Travel Trends for 2017 By Mike May



ika, Brexit, terrorism attacks, the economy, mega-mergers — every quarter brings a newsflash du jour. Are you like me, do you wish for a genie to highlight the big news and suggest your action steps? As President of a mid-tier events and incentive company, I strive to be that genie for our employees and clients, but digesting today’s 24/7 newsfeeds is a tough task. Industry trade journals like this one help. Conferences are valuable — if one can escape the office. And informal chats with industry colleagues offer insights on what is truly happening on Main Street. Here is a little secret. I have a favorite source for deciphering the latest macro trends — the Incentive Research Foundation. The IRF publishes insightful, actionable research on motivational meetings and incentive travel. For full disclosure, I am the Vice-Chairman of this nonprofit foundation, so I see all its research up close and in detail. Like a CNN Headline News reporter, I bring you quick summaries of five megatrends for 2017 — along with a little punditry.

The Momentum of Mobile Event Apps: Benchmark Study from the Event Marketing Institute reported 75 percent of meeting planners used an event app in 2015, and 86 percent used one for 2016. Out in the audience, 44 percent of attendees used an event app in 2015 and 56 percent in 2016. The meeting industry has reached the tipping point where an event app has shifted from nice-tohave to must-have. Technology costs are declining as the number of apps increases, and apps are getting easier to launch. With adoption increasing, ask your hotel partners if they already have mobile-ready content. They likely had the same request from another planner last week. Start with maps. Imagine an attendee zooming in from a Google satellite. Then, add hotel layouts of sleeping rooms, restaurants and pools. Use JPG format images of at least 1024 x 1024 pixels, not a PDF. Other valuable content could include onsite restaurants with menus and nearby attractions, especially those in walking distance.



This first trend makes every list. Perhaps it is driven by Millennials. However, every new generation pushes cultural exploration, so maybe these whippersnappers get too much attention. Fifty-year-olds, like me, desire new experiences too. The recent IRF Trends Paper observed, “Experiences are the ‘new luxury.’ Participants want authenticity, singularity, and social value. Like consumers, employees judge the value of an award by the seamlessness and exceptionality of the experience.” Incentive planners are brainstorming new, one-of-a-kind themed events, moving beyond typical banquet menus, and adding local dishes with unrecognizable names. Pull the chef and his big hat out of the kitchen and into your reception, or take your groups back-of-house for receptions with cooking demonstrations led by the culinary team. For activities, bypass those that are common to many different destinations, like the zip line. Instead, find activities only available in the incentive trip locale — kayaking in La Jolla, swimming the cenote caves in Riviera Maya, mountain biking backwoods trails in the Rockies, waterfall rappelling in Costa Rica, or boating through the Panama Canal locks.


Five years after graduating from B-school, the average professional attending an awards dinner realizes: “this ballroom looks like the four-star-hotel ballrooms I saw in Dallas, Denver and Des Moines. Boring indoor space with no windows.” Fortunately, hotel architects are updating meeting spaces with natural light, upscale construction materials and nonstandard room configurations. Creative planners are looking for unique spaces to gather inside existing venues. Inquire about interesting pockets of the resort. Ask your convention services manager, “What are your unique spaces?” Also find out if they have unusual chairs, benches, tables or décor. 66

Zika continues to cause cancellations in the Caribbean. Each act of terrorism on the nightly news taints that entire country as a hotbed. New regulations affect the financial industry. In my opinion, the business world tends to overreact because we mistakenly perceive an isolated event on CNN or Twitter as pervasive. Upcoming IRF research will report that almost 60 percent of planners have experienced some form of disruption. Trusted event and tourism partnerships are emerging as an important risk control tactic. Planners should elevate contingency plans and increase their expected planning time to allow for surprise disruptions.


Unfortunately for planners, it is a seller’s market. Occupancy and group rates are up. A troubling trend faces incentive travel planners. Their CFO’s mindset is stuck back in 2010, thinking that hotel rates are still low and availability is plentiful. He or she is not giving planners adequate budget or lead-time. Meeting planners need 10 percent to 20 percent more budget after back-to-back years of 5 percent increases in hotel room rates. Planners must be flexible. Consider alternate dates or patterns. Maybe shoulder season? Look at different hotels or destinations, maybe a second-tier alternative. It’s also important to watch attrition and cancellations clauses closely, as Corporate America continues its frequent reorganizations, schedule changes and lastminute cancellations. Mike May, CMP, IP, is President and owner of Spear One (www.spearone.com), an events and incentives agency in Dallas, TX. A frequent industry presenter, May recently published 12.5 Steps to a Perfect Incentive Program. Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter

Using Technology to Measure Attendee Behavior By Neal Thompson


activities. Because this technology requires a much more sophisticated user, at this time, I recommend that it be used for “surprise and delight” moments and not for mission critical, or sponsored activities.

n recent years, an influx of new attendee-facing technologies has made new instruments available for measuring attendee behavior at events. These include RFID (radio-frequency identification) name badges and iBeacon technologies, as well as event apps. Each of these provides insight into how attendees interact with the event environment and content, and into their overall participation. I will start off with a brief explanation of how these technologies work and then discuss the types of data each collects and the value they offer.


Most event apps themselves are now treasure troves of data, with the platform recording every attendee interaction with the app. And when this information is combined with the scanning data above, attendee engagement becomes even more measurable, especially in regards to content. By combining attendance data, survey data, comments and likes on sessions, etc., event content managers can now get a RFID 360-degree view of the event’s RFID technology is a chip placed on the name impact on their audience. badge that can broadcast a unique identifier As these technologies of the attendee. Readers can be “near field,” where they Beacon can help continue to gain wider are positioned to provide “tap and go” access to session adoption at events and are rooms, or “far field,” where they read badges from up to organizers determine combined with more robust 40 feet away. New in the marketplace are reader mats reporting engines, they that attendees simply walk over. The scan data can be the level of activity in will also enable proactive combined with registration data to show what types of different areas of the approaches to event sessions delegates are attending, as well as their “dwell time” (how long are they in a room or area). The data exhibit hall. This data can management. For example, recording attendees’ entry can help monetize sponsored sessions by providing inform show floor design times prior to session start attendee lists, as well as show the value of exhibit times at each room allows the halls by quantifying the attendee traffic generated for and pricing structures for organizer to identify locations exhibitors. The aggregate of this data across the entire that may have a load-in event can be analyzed in a number of ways. Examples exhibit space. problem or sessions that are include participation by hour of the day, by attendee starting late. Another example type or by firm. These measurements, when used year is searching for keywords such as “cold” in the app comments and over year, are an effective way to determine ROI on the event. posts, in order to identify environmental adjustments that may be needed. iBEACON While all of these technologies hold amazing promise to continue iBeacon technology, which can be implemented via an iBeacon fob to expand event data collection beyond the typical post-event placed on the badge, is relatively new. While the range of iBeacon survey, they do require significant coordination with the host facility. extends beyond RFID, there are some limitations in providing Equipment placement, power requirements, Internet for real-time “tap and go” session access. However, the cost of iBeacon is reporting and wireless access for attendees’ mobile access must all substantially less than RFID. This scanning technology allows for be carefully considered. Fortunately, most vendors providing these measuring attendee traffic flow over a large area of an exhibit hall. services have, by necessity, become experts on how to manage the Not only can iBeacon provide information on attendees’ dwell time unique infrastructure requirements and work with facilities to create in the exhibit hall, but it can also help organizers determine the an effective plan based on each event’s needs. level of activity in different areas of the hall. This data can inform show floor design and pricing structures for exhibit space. Neal Thompson is the Director of Strategic Technology at A second way that iBeacon can be used is to communicate to Maritz Travel. He joined Maritz in 1993 and was the business attendees via their smartphone. Most mobile apps now support architect for all client-facing technologies. Today, he provides iBeacon technology. Simply stated, a beacon is placed in a certain a strategic leadership role at Maritz Travel, responsible for location, and any attendee with the mobile app running and the bringing emerging technologies to market. Thompson has an appropriate Bluetooth settings turned on can receive an alert when undergraduate degree in Communications and a master’s entering the area. Uses for this technology can be as simple as degree in Human Computer Communication, the study of the welcoming people to the event in a hotel lobby, providing coupons, interaction between people and technology. or gamification via points conferred on the mobile app for certain


Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter


Deb Archer

President & CEO Greater Madison CVB Madison, WI s President & CEO of both the Greater Madison CVB and Madison Sports Commission, Deb Archer, CDME, is focused on growing the area’s leisure, sports, convention and business tourism. She has held the position since 1995; previously, she was a sales executive for the CVB of Greater Kansas City. She is active in DMAI, the WI Society of Association Executives and National Association of Sports Commissions.


Tammy Blount

President & CEO Monterey County CVB Monterey, CA ith over 25 years of experience in sales and marketing, Tammy Blount focuses on bringing more business and tourists to Monterey County. A Fellow Certified Destination Marketing Executive, Blount has served as CEO of the Tacoma Regional CVB and on the leadership team of Tourism Vancouver. She is a member of the DMAI Executive Committee and co-chairs DMAI’s Destination Next Task Force.



Bonnie Carlson


President & CEO Bloomington CVB Bloomington, MN uring her 24 years with the Bloomington CVB, Bonnie Carlson has promoted the hospitality industry at local, state, national and international levels. In 2009, Explore Minnesota Tourism recognized her as the Outstanding Individual in Tourism. She has been active in the Explore Minnesota Tourism Council, the U.S. Travel Association, DMAI and the Minnesota Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus.


Maura Allen Gast

Executive Director Irving CVB Irving, TX ppointed to her current role in October 2003, Maura Allen Gast oversaw the opening of the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas. She has served as Chair of DMAI and is a Fellow Certified Destination Management Executive. In addition, Gast has been named to the Board of Directors for the Texas Society of Association Executives, and to the Ethics Committee for the ASAE.


Casandra Matej

President & CEO Visit San Antonio San Antonio, TX ince 2011, Casandra Matej, CDMA, CTA, has overseen the sales and marketing of San Antonio’s hospitality industry. She launched the Top 100 Sales Strategy that targets key local industries to bring their meetings to the city, and introduced San Antonio’s Certified Tourism Ambassador program to promote the certification locally. Matej is a recipient of the ESPA Executive Excellence Award.


Facilities & Destinations 2016-2017 Winter

Women CVB Executives Julie Coker Graham

President & CEO Philadelphia CVB Philadelphia, PA ormerly Executive Vice President, Julie Coker Graham was appointed President and CEO of the PHLCVB following the retirement of President and CEO Jack Ferguson. A 21-year Hyatt Hotel Corporation veteran, she serves on the board of Center City District and has been appointed to the 2016 board of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia.


Renee McKenney

Senior Vice President / Chief Experience Officer Dallas CVB Dallas, TX ast October, Renee McKenney, CMP, was named Senior Vice President / Chief Experience Officer, reportedly the first C-level role of its kind created at a CVB. McKenney most recently served as National Sales Director for Disney Destinations – the Walt Disney Company. She has served as PCMA Host Committee Chair in 2010 and ASAE Host Committee Chair in 2012.


Amy Calvert

SVP of Convention Sales & Services Visit Baltimore Baltimore, MD my Calvert has been instrumental in establishing Visit Baltimore’s strategic sales partnerships with ASAE, PCMA, IAEE and MPI. She also helped to create Synchronicities, a meetings-focused sales and marketing partnership that joins Baltimore with San Antonio, TX, and Anaheim, CA. Calvert was recently appointed to PCMA’s Education Foundation Board of Trustees.


Madonna Carr

Vice President of Destination Services Meet Minneapolis Minneapolis, MN adonna Carr, CMP, oversees the Destination Services department at Meet Minneapolis, as well as Housing Services and Meeting Services Plus. She has been with Meet Minneapolis since 1991. A Past President of the Event Service Professionals Association, Carr holds memberships in PCMA, ASAE and the Midwest Society of Association Executives.


Cheryl Kilday

President & CEO Visit Spokane Spokane, WA 25-year tourism industry veteran, Cheryl Kilday, CDME, CTA, leads Visit Spokane while serving as Board Chair of the Washington Tourism Alliance. She has received the 2010 Judy Patterson Tourism Award from Visit Loudoun, as well as awards from U.S. Travel Association and DMAI. Kilday has also been an association executive for over 20 years.


Karen Williams

President & CEO Louisville CVB Louisville, KY aren Williams served 23 years at the Louisville CVB, retiring as Executive Vice President in 2012. That year, she received the Dan Mangeot Memorial Award, given to an individual who has greatly contributed to Louisville’s tourism initiatives. Williams returned to the Louisville CVB to serve as Interim following the departure of Jim Wood, subsequently becoming President and CEO.




Orlando ‘s

Orange County Convention Center



EXPERIENCE THE NEW ORANGE! Since opening our doors, we have exceeded expectations at The Center of Hospitality. From the notable guest experience, to satisfying event planners and producing economic impact, we are a world-class, top-rated facility. Now more than ever, we understand the need for unique, versatile meeting spaces for our clients and guests. Our strategic vision has paved the way for incredible spaces, including the multipurpose Tangerine Ballroom, the Valencia Ballroom, our all-new Destination Lounge, Sunburst signature meeting room with outdoor terrace, along with the Honeybell and Hamlin board rooms.


sales@occc.net occc.net

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