F&D 2021 SuperBook

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uch has been made in the meetings media about how venues are faring in this challenging environment: the health and safety protocols they have implemented, the business they have lost, and more encouragingly, the business they are now booking for 2022. A prime example is the SAFE Credit Union Convention Center, the focus of our cover story. Sacramento’s renovated and expanded convention center awaits a robust calendar of events in 2022, and has achieved GBAC STAR certification in order to safely host those incoming groups. The venue perspective is important, as convention centers and hotels are integral to in-person meetings. But thanks to MPI, we now have the latest perspective from the meeting planner side. And it’s a very positive one. MPI members polled for the Meetings Outlook Summer 2021 Edition convey a bright future for the industry: 93 percent project favorable business conditions throughout 2022, compared to only 36 percent making that prediction in last summer’s study. In addition, 73 percent expect business to return to prepandemic levels by the end of 2022. And by “business” we mean in-person meetings: Survey participants are more bullish than ever on live event attendance, and more than 81 percent indicate that they anticipate holding their next fully in-person event this year. Katherine Frost, Founder and CEO of event-planning software ORO and a contributor in this issue, also predicts a ramp-up in face-to-face meetings this fall, coupled with a corresponding decline in hybrid and virtual meetings (page 63). But planners are not only positive about the future, they’re also well prepared for it — both from a personal safety standpoint and professionally. The MPI survey reveals that 84 percent of respondents indicate they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (7 percent partially). Professionally, many have taken the downtime during the pandemic to acquire new skills, including how to effectively run hybrid and virtual meetings. Even though these formats are becoming less prevalent than they were a year ago, it remains advantageous to have the ability to pivot to different event models without any learning curve. F&D is here to support the return to in-person meetings with the latest venue updates, including in-depth interviews with the executives behind major convention center projects. This data is essential for planners who are, at long last, getting back to one of their breadand-butter tasks: site searching. – George Seli Editorial Director, Facilities Media Group gseli@facilitiesonline.com

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


Volume 28 No. 2 Chief Operating Officer David Korn Editorial Director George Seli Contributing Editors Anthony Bilden Laura Janelle Downey Debi Lander Deborah Shapiro

Creative Direction & Design AR Design Business Operations David Mermelstein © Copyright 2021 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., PO Box 1807, New York, NY 10150-1807. Telephone: (212) 532-4150. Fax: (212) 213-6382. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to Facilities, PO Box 1807, New York, NY 10150-1807. Printed in U.S.A. Cover ad space is available by contacting a Facilities advertising account executive at (212) 532-4150.


In Brief......................................................................................................................................................................... 4 FORUM Joseph Marinelli, President, Visit Savannah.................................................................................... 15 Trisha Tatro, Director, Austin Convention Center Department........................................... 16


PERSPECTIVES Getting Your Sponsors Excited Again, by Katie Bell....................................................................62 The Meetings Industry’s Immediate Future, by Katherine Frost...........................................63


2021 Prime Site & Top Destination Awards....................................................................................... 18 DESTINATIONS Sacramento............................................................................................................................................................26 IMEX AMERICA SPECIAL SECTION............................................................... 30-39 Aruba......................................................................................................................................................................... 32 Orlando....................................................................................................................................................................34 Puerto Rico............................................................................................................................................................. 37 VENUE REVIEWS Chautauqua Harbor Hotel........................................................................................................................... 40 Four Seasons Resort Orlando..................................................................................................................... 41 The Hamilton Alpharetta, Curio Collection by Hilton............................................................... 42 W Punta de Mita................................................................................................................................................. 43 Site & City Profiles.................................................................................................................................... 47-60 Advertiser Index................................................................................................................................................ 64


ON THE COVER Debuting the renovated and expanded SAFE Credit Union Convention Center are Matt Voreyer (center), General Manager, and Mike Testa (right), President & CEO, and Sarah Atilano (left), Chief of Strategy & Market Growth, Visit Sacramento. Read the cover story to get their perspectives on this gamechanging development in Sacramento’s meetings industry. FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2021 SUPERBOOK




ATLANTA, GA — Charlene Lopez has been promoted to Vice President, Sales of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB). “As meetings and conventions return to Atlanta, Charlene’s leadership will continue

Charlene Lopez to play a key role in the city’s economic recovery,” said Mark Vaughan, Executive Vice President and Chief Sales Officer, ACVB. “Her dedication to the destination’s hospitality community is inspiring and through her efforts, we know our customers will learn

why Atlanta remains one of the top convention cities in the country.” An 18-year hospitality industry veteran, Lopez joined the ACVB in June 2012 as Sales Manager, National Accounts. She was promoted to Director, Citywide Sales in October 2019. Her career includes sales roles with the Omni and Hyatt Regency brands. CHICAGO, IL — On July 20, the 40th edition of IACC Americas Connect was held using IACC’s MultiPOD format, enabling the event to take place across three in-person meetings across the United States as well as virtually. IACC partnered with hybrid event specialist Encore to stage the one-day conference, which had in-person sessions in Chicago, Dallas

IACC Americas Connect 2021 took place using MultiPOD format

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and Delaware, and attracted 241 delegates globally — up 9 percent from IACC Americas Connect in 2019. IACC awarded the Mel Hosansky Award for 2020 and 2021, which recognizes outstanding service to the meetings industry, to Lotta Boman of Sigtunahojden Conference Centre and to Cindy Novotny of Master Connections Associates. In addition, Tim Luepke

Events Industry Council’s Social Impact Award. Additionally, Doug Bennett has assumed his new position of Executive Vice President of Louisville Tourism. He had served as the organization’s Senior Vice President of Convention Development since 2015. Finally, Elizabeth Berry, CASE, began in her new position as Director of Northeast Sales on Aug. 16. Berry brings nine

Cleo Battle and Doug Bennett and Mehdi Ahmadi from Sodexo Conferencing were presented with the IACC Americas Pyramid Award, and Murray Hall from Dolce BMO Conference Centre was acknowledged with the IACC Americas Award of Excellence. Attendees at all three locations participated in a “feed the city” community food preparation exercise and collectively prepared 2,350 meals that were delivered to local children in need across the cities.

years of experience with the Baltimore Convention Center, most recently as the Assistant Director of Sales.

LOUISVILLE, KY — Cleo Battle became Louisville Tourism’s President & CEO on July 1, following the June 30 retirement of Karen Williams. Prior to coming to Louisville, Battle spent 12 years as VP of Sales & Services of the Richmond Convention & Visitors Bureau in Richmond, VA. Last year, he won the

MIAMI, FL — David Whitaker has been appointed the President & CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) and formally assumed the role on Aug. 16, 2021. The appointment is a homecoming for Whitaker, who served as a member of the GMCVB

Elizabeth Berry

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Open and ready to welcome you! If you’re looking to host a corporate event, tradeshow, or even a volleyball tournament, the Connecticut Convention Center has more than 540,000 square feet of endlessly functional and customizable space for you. Overlooking the Connecticut River at the midway point between New York City and Boston, the Connecticut Convention Center is a prime location for whatever you’re planning.


www.ctconventions.com 100 Columbus Blvd. Hartford, CT 06103

1,600 hotel rooms available in Greater Hartford


20 minutes from the airport to downtown

23 million people within 2.5 hours

540,000 sq. ft. convention facility, including 140,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, divisible into two halls





10:02 AM


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Miami Beach to the next level.”

David Whitaker team for 17 years (1990-2007), most recently as the organization’s Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer. Five years prior to that, he served on the executive staff of the United Way of Miami-Dade. Whitaker left Miami initially in 2007 to assume the role of President & CEO of Tourism Toronto (now known as Destination Toronto). Upon conclusion of his tenure in Toronto and over the past five years, Whitaker has served as the President & CEO of Choose Chicago. “David brings back to us a rare and powerful combination — an immense wealth of experience and knowledge of our community, coupled with a significant world of experiences gained from promoting two of North America’s most diverse and global brands in Chicago and Toronto,” said GMCVB Chairman Bruce Orosz. “This combination, particularly with both cities he led excelling as major convention and event destinations, will help our hospitality industry and our partners take Greater Miami and

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WASHINGTON, DC — The Events Industry Council (EIC) has appointed Augustine (Gus) Chijioke as Director of Certification & Education. He will direct the CMP and CMP-HC credentialing programs. “Gus will play a key role for the EIC as we continue to deliver relevant, high-quality education








Augustine Chijioke

#WeAreBackSafely Our continuous goal is to instill the highest levels of security and consumer confidence, providing a safe environment for all visitors, business partners and employees. That’s why we have enhanced our safety and health protocols by implementing VenueShield.


and make it available and easily accessible to an increasingly global audience,” said Amy Calvert, Chief Executive Officer, EIC. Chijioke commented, “We have ambitious plans to extend the reach and scope of our Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) Examination program as part of the EIC’s wider strategy to extend its global footprint, and I’m looking forward to helping the team achieve its ambitious plans for growth.” Previously, Chijioke was Director, Membership & Certification at Capital Association Management.

We are ready! Start planning your event safely by contacting us at info@prconvention.com Follow us


prconvention antiguocasinopr


OPEN FOR MEETINGS The Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center expansion project is underway. And with Visit Lauderdale’s Safe + Clean Pledge you can be assured that hotels, restaurants, attractions and other businesses are going above and beyond to keep your attendees safe. Be among the first to reserve your meeting space and it could be free. Learn more about our $10 million in free meetings space offer at VisitLauderdale.com/Meetings




COLUMBIA, SC — The Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center (CMCC) has achieved Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR accreditation. “The GBAC Star accreditation publicly validates what we already knew — CMCC is a safe environment adhering to best practices to mitigate biohazard risks,” said Cheryl Swanson, CMCC Vice President and General Manager. “The process for accreditation included training sessions, reviews and documentation to demonstrate proficiency in the required 20 GBAC standard elements. The process also required intentional analysis of our processes, resulting in improved documentation and identification of systems to strengthen our program.” CMCC has safely hosted 140 events since reopening. “Our event staff educated clients and attendees on expected compliance as an integral part of successful events,” Swanson said. “All CDC, state health department and local ordinances were followed, including masks. With mandates and ordinances now lifted, CMCC still follows CDC recommendations and adherence to all GBAC standards.” FORT LAUDERDALE, FL — The expanded Greater Fort Lauderdale | Broward County Convention Center will offer a total of 1.2 million sq. ft. of space,

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including 350,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space. The first phase opens this fall, followed by a 65,000-sq.-ft. waterfront ballroom debuting in the second phase. The project will add advanced technology integrated throughout the facility, original dining concepts, enhanced water-taxi access and a new waterfront plaza with multiple function spaces. A new 800-room headquarters hotel will complete the project. LAS VEGAS, NV — CAESARS FORUM hosted MPI’s 2021 World Education Congress from June 14-

cent overall satisfaction, 97 percent overall satisfaction with Duty of Care protocol, and 97 percent satisfaction with networking. No elevated temperatures were reported at temperature check stations, and only two positive COVID-19 tests were self-reported after event; both individuals were vaccinated. Event highlights included a kickoff at Allegiant Stadium, a performance by Penn & Teller, the President’s Dinner (honoring Terry Breining) at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, and the Closing Night Celebration at the Venetian Resort pool deck. MEMPHIS, TN — Memphis Tourism, the official destination marketing organization for Memphis and Shelby County, welcomes the AutoZone National Sales Meeting back to the

place at the Renasant Convention Center following the facility’s $216 million renovation and modernization, completed late last year. Bringing approximately 3,000 attendees to Memphis from Sept. 27-30, the meeting will utilize all available spaces and new amenities at the GBAC STAR-accredited Renasant Convention Center. “We are very excited to recognize our amazing AutoZoners, support local partners and hold our National Sales Meeting in downtown Memphis at the newly renovated Renasant Convention Center,” commented David McKinney, Vice President, Government and Community Relations, Customer Satisfaction for AutoZone. OWENSBORO, KY — Spectra, which manages

MPI World Education Congress attendees gather in the Summit Ballroom at CAESARS FORUM 17. MPI reports 1,812 total attendees (1,238 in person, 574 digital). Post-event survey results for in-person attendees included 94 per-

city in September 2021. The annual meeting for the Memphis-based Fortune 250 company will be the first large-scale meeting to take

the Owensboro Convention Center, welcomes two new sales managers to their Owensboro team. Jacob Continued on page 10




These days, conventions and meetings need a little more room to roam - Omaha is ready to deliver. Currently, more than $4.6 billion is being spent developing, enhancing, and modernizing the city. Omaha’s downtown convention district, riverfront, airport and more are getting a makeover to provide new experiences to convention visitors. With more than 80 restaurants and bars, friendly pubs, and unique shops within walking distance from an ever-growing convention district, Omaha has the meeting space you need and the fun you want. So come and experience a fresh, new destination – designed with you in mind.




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Whitfill has previously been with Spectra in the Food and Beverage department. He graduated with a master’s degree in business administration from Brescia University in 2018. Megan Howard began her

Jacob Whitfill and Megan Howard

career in the event industry while studying integrated strategic communications at the University of Kentucky. She has worked for country clubs and wedding and event planning companies, as well as property management in Owensboro. “We are excited to welcome our new team members and look forward

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to their valuable contributions to continue our success here at the Owensboro Convention Center,” stated Spectra’s Dave DiSalvo, Director of Sales. SAVANNAH, GA — The Savannah Convention Center recently signed the National Beta Club to host its 2024 National Convention, making them the first group to sign for the expanded space. The citywide event will take place June 9-20, 2024, and will have an estimated total of 14,820 room nights. The National Beta Club is the largest independent, nonprofit, educational youth organization in America. “When we first learned

about the planned expansion of Savannah’s Convention Center,” says Bobby Hart, Executive Director of the National Beta Club, “we began planning then for our return in 2024. The city takes excellent care of us and our attendees, and the larger convention space allows us to keep growing in the future.” For details on the Savannah Convention Center expansion, see pages 15 and 58. SEATTLE, WA — Opening in mid-2022, the Washington State Convention Center’s (WSCC) Summit building was topped out in June. When open, the additional building will double the existing capacity of WSCC, adding approximately 255,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space, 120,000 sq. ft. of meeting rooms, 60,000 sq. ft. of ballroom space and a 14,000-sq.-ft. open-air Garden Terrace.

The WSCC will host its first large-scale convention in the existing building, Arch, when ReedPOP holds PAX West in Seattle, Sept. 3-6. Microsoft customers were the first clients to experience a hardhat tour of the new facility on July 1. After the tour, Denise Begley, Microsoft’s Director, External Events, said, “The thought of how beautiful the Summit building is, how functional the space is and how to move people through it in ways that create opportunities for connecting and learning and showcasing our beautiful city, I can’t help but imagine how the space can be used.” “We’re at an exciting stage of building construction,” added WSCC President/ CEO Jeff Blosser. “You can now see how the efficiency of the urban site, with its stacked configuration, effectively brings interior and exterior spaces together.”

Seattle welcomes Microsoft planners as the first customers to tour the Washington State Convention Center Summit Building. (Front row): PeiHua Yen-Roy, Senior National Sales Manager, WSCC; Anita Cerana, National Account Director, Visit Seattle; Vivian Eickhoff, Senior Director, Global Events, Microsoft; Kelly Saling, VP Convention Sales and Services, Visit Seattle; and Denise Begley, Director, External Events, Microsoft. (Back row): Jeff Blosser, CEO & President, WSCC, and Michael McQuade, Director of Sales, WSCC. FACILITIES FACILITIES & & DESTINATIONS DESTINATIONS 2021 2021 SUPERBOOK SUPERBOOK


ANAHEIM, CA — Marriott International recently introduced The Westin Anaheim Resort and the Element Anaheim Resort Convention Center. The newly built AAA Four-Diamond Westin

lion expansion that broke ground June 2018. The project includes a new 725-room hotel tower and 83,000-sq.ft. convention space, along with new food and beverage offerings.

The Westin Anaheim Resort Anaheim Resort features 618 guestrooms including 121 suites, a resort-style heated outdoor pool with five private cabanas, and seven restaurants and bars, including a rooftop bar overlooking Disneyland Resort. The hotel features 23 meeting rooms totaling 47,542 sq. ft. of customizable and high-tech space including a 16,120-sq.-ft. grand ballroom. The Element Anaheim Resort Convention Center’s 174 guestrooms feature the brand’s fully equipped kitchens and spa-inspired bathrooms, along with Heavenly Beds, high-speed Wi-Fi and streaming services. CHEROKEE, NC — Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort has completed a $250 mil-

The Cherokee, a 19-story tower, is located adjacent to the new Cherokee Convention Center, which more than triples the current available convention space at Harrah’s Cherokee. The three-level expansion affords mountain views and includes a 32,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, pre-function space, 26 meeting spaces and an exhibition hall. DENVER, CO — The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa recently completed the multimilliondollar renovation of its Top of The Brown Suites, including the eighth and ninth floors and the three Presidential Suites — The Eisenhower, The Reagan and The Roosevelt — as well as Palace Arms, various meeting spaces and the


Club Lounge. Of the 25,000 sq. ft. of meeting space at The Brown Palace, 10 meeting rooms were upgraded with new window treatments, unique carpeting as well as an updated lanternstyle pendant lighting. “Given the history of The Brown Palace, we knew the importance of preserving the building’s unique character,” said Nick Moschetti, General Manager of The Brown Palace Complex. “I am confident we were able to achieve this, upholding the historical elements while ensuring modern-day relevance.” FRISCO, TX — The 501room Omni PGA Frisco Resort is under construction and scheduled to open in spring 2023. Developed in partnership with PGA of America and the City of Frisco, the resort will become a leading golf destination with two 18-hole championship courses, a lounge by Topgolf and a PGA Frisco Coaching Center. Omni PGA Frisco Resort will also feature 12 culinary outlets and 127,000 sq. ft. of function space, including a ballroom, junior ballroom and dedicated meeting spaces each with exclusive event lawns and prefunction spaces overlooking the golf courses.

The Panther Creek Pavilion will stand apart from the resort for as an additional option for events. KISSIMMEE, FL — This summer, the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center completed the largest expansion in the hotel’s history. The $158 million project added more than 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and 306 guestrooms within the new Gulf Coast Tower. A glass bridge provides direct access from the rooms to the ballrooms. The new 30,000-sq.-ft. Coastal Ballroom is complemented by an additional 30,000 sq. ft. of breakout meeting rooms and 30,000 sq. ft. of prefunction space. In addition, the new 10,000-sq.-ft. Mangrove Lawn is available for outdoor events. Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center now offers 1,718 guestrooms and more than 500,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. LAS VEGAS, NV — Caesars Palace is embarking on a multimillion-dollar renovation of the original main entrance, main casino and porte-cochère. Most of the project is scheduled to be complete by New Year’s Eve. The renovated main entrance will feature a soaring dome and barreled Continued on page 12

Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center

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for 65 million sq. ft. of buildings across 13 properties, and more than 36,000 rooms on the Las Vegas Strip. The launch of the array accelerates progress toward the company’s 2025 goal to reduce its emissions by 45 percent per square foot. “This solar array is among the most significant steps our industry has taken in terms of tackling climate change and promoting renewable energy,” said Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak. “Powering so much of the Strip with clean, renewable energy sends a powerful message about Nevada’s role as a national leader in renewable energy and our commitment to fighting climate change.”


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Rendering of Caesars Palace’s renovated main entrance ceiling over a 15-ft.-tall statue of Augustus Caesar. The project also includes two new state-of-the-art gaming pits, which will flank the enhanced entrance and a new lobby bar. “Caesars Palace brought a sense of grandeur to the Las Vegas Strip when it was built in 1966, and we’re proud to continue that legacy with a full reimagining of our main entrance,” said Sean McBurney, Caesars Entertainment Regional President. “Completely rebuilding the front entrance of one of the world’s most iconic destinations is no small task, and we’re excited to get started and create a stunning new visual welcome for our guests.” LAS VEGAS, NV — On June 28, MGM Resorts International launched its 100-megawatt solar array, the hospitality industry’s largest directly sourced renewable electricity project

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worldwide. Located in the desert north of Las Vegas, the array features 323,000 panels arranged across 640 acres. MGM Resorts is the sole user of the array, which produces up to 90 percent of the daytime power needs

LAS VEGAS, NV — Resorts World Las Vegas, the first resort built on the Las Vegas Strip in more than a decade, opened on June 24. The property offers 3,500 guestrooms and suites from three premium Hilton

brands: the 1,774-room Las Vegas Hilton at Resorts World, the 1,496-room Conrad Las Vegas at Resorts World and the 236-room Crockfords Las Vegas, LXR Hotels & Resorts. Resorts World houses 250,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting and banquet space complete with 50 multi-functional meeting rooms. Other property highlights include a 5,000-capacity concert and entertainment venue, jointly developed with AEG Presents; The District, featuring approximately 70,000 sq. ft. of dedicated retail space; 117,000 sq. ft. of gaming space supported by the latest technology (Cashless Wagering, RFID bet tracking and Ticket-inTicket-out at the table). In addition, Resorts World Las Vegas will debut the first connector station to the Las Vegas Convention Center and Vegas Loop via an innovative underground transportation system later this summer.

Ribbon-cutting ceremony for Resorts World



DENVER, CO — The Colorado Tourism Office’s new Meeting and Events Incentive provides a 10 percent cash rebate against eligible hard costs for hosting meetings and events in Colorado that take place on or before Dec. 31, 2022. The minimum rebate is $3,500 and the maximum rebate is $100,000. For full details on eligibility and the application process, visit oedit.colorado.gov/ meeting-and-eventsincentive.

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL — Visit Lauderdale invites planners to be among the first to reserve space in the newly expanded Greater Fort Lauderdale | Broward County Convention Center with a $10 million incentive giveaway. Qualifying meetings held between December 2021 and December 2024 receive a maximum payout of $350,000. The promotion applies to new business only, and is discontinued once the entire $10 million is awarded. To qualify, the group must utilize two or more hotels in Broward County and contract for a minimum of 500 guestrooms on peak and 1,000 in total. For more information, visit www. sunny.org/meetings-andgroups/meeting-deals/ terms-conditions.

LAKE CHARLES, LA — Visit Lake Charles’ Meeting Incentive Program allows groups to qualify for a reward of up to $5,000 by receiving $3 per actualized room, or $5 per actualized room during need times. Needs times are Jan. 1-March 15 (Sunday to Thursday) and Oct. 15-Dec. 31 (Sunday to Thursday). Minimum of 20 rooms on peak. Must utilize a minimum of 40 total room nights. Meeting must be held prior to Dec. 31, 2022. For further details, visit www.visitlakecharles. org/meetings/meetingincentive-program.

SAN ANTONIO, TX — Visit San Antonio is launching the 2021 Sí San Antonio Meetings Incentive Promotion as the city remains open for business and committed to planners’ and visitors’ safety and satisfaction. Qualified groups are able to take advantage of these incentives: between 250500 total contracted room nights — $3 per actualized room night; between 501750 total contracted room nights — $4 per actualized room night; 751 or greater contracted room nights — $5


per actualized room night. Any group contracting the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center for the dates outlined in this promotion will receive a 50 percent discount on Convention Center rental rates. All qualifying groups are eligible for Visit San Antonio’s Fly-In On Us Promotion as well, offering a customized visit to experience San Antonio’s offerings. To qualify for the incentives, meetings and events must total 250 or more room nights during a need-time through 2024 and be booked through a Visit San Antonio sales representative with contracts executed by Dec. 31, 2021. For more information and to submit an RFP, visit https:// meetings.visitsanantonio. com/si-san-antoniomeetings-incentivepromotion/.

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA — The Virginia Beach Bundle is a new incentive program sponsored by the Virginia Beach CVB and Virginia Beach Convention Center. Planners who book a new Convention Center opportunity by the end of 2021 through the CVB can pick the bundle of savings best suited to their group, including: up to 75 percent discount on facility rental,

and free shuttle to F&B or entertainment sponsorships. For details, call Sally Noona, Director of Convention Sales & Marketing, at (800) 7007702.

WEST PALM BEACH, FL — Discover The Palm Beaches recently launched a meetings promotion that includes a complimentary option from within the following categories: technology upgrades, outdoor receptions, meeting space rental, and transportation perks. Technology: Complimentary WiFi at the Palm Beach County Convention Center (PBCCC); complimentary Wi-Fi in hotel guestrooms; up to $15,000 in credit for event technology provider. Open Spaces: Complimentary outdoor reception space; up to $25,000 for a hosted reception to offset F&B or décor. Complimentary Space: Complimentary rental at PBCCC; up to $15,000 in credit to enhance overall meeting space needs. Transportation: Attendees receive complimentary Palm Beach International Airport transfers; complimentary transportation to and from contract hotels to PBCCC; complimentary transfers to an evening event. Planners can also be eligible to earn up to a $5,000 event credit toward their next event in The Palm Beaches, when they refer a new meeting or event that books in the destination. For details, call Kelly Cavers, Senior Vice President of Group Sales and Destination Services, at (561) 2333026.

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Luminarium — a $101 million science center — will open on the Lewis and Clark Landing by spring 2023. Another new downtown venue opening in 2023 that planners can consider for group outings is Steelhouse Omaha. Accommodating audiences of up to 3,000, the venue is part of the planned expansion of Omaha Performing Arts’ campus near the Holland Performing Arts Center.


ebraska’s largest city is experiencing a boom in Overall, Omaha is undergoing more than $4.6 billion in development that will enhance the offsite experience development. Highlights beyond the Convention District for convention attendees. Investments totaling $1.7 billion include a new $553 million entertainment district at the will introduce new venues and bring improvements to the site of the former Crossroads shopping mall, scheduled to Riverfront and Capitol District, as well as a major airport debut in late 2024. A new hotel will be part of the projrenovation. Over the next five ect. Another major lodging years, a $500 million overhaul development is the $75 milof Omaha Eppley Airfield will lion renovation of the historic improve the concourse, airline Blackstone Hotel, rebranded gates, security checkpoints, as the Cottonwood Hotel. ticket counters and baggage More new entertainment claim areas. When incoming venues, restaurants and retail attendees reach the Downshops will eventually be availtown Convention District, able at The Row, a $500 million the favorable impression will town square inside the 40-acre continue. A 90-acre green Heartwood Preserve develspace is being constructed, Riverfront Expansion opment. Corporate meeting and the Riverfront is being groups will be among the clientele of an entertainment transformed with the addition of cascading waterfalls, a venue near Westroads Mall: Topgolf. The $23 million facilboardwalk, an urban beach, park-side cafés and more. ity opened in March. Omaha’s forward-thinking developers are also raising the city’s profile in the sciences. A case in point is the UniLooking to the distant future, the Omaha City Council versity of Nebraska Medical Center’s $45 million Saddle has approved plans for a $1.5 billion development on the Creek renovation. southwest and southeast corners of 192nd and West Dodge. The 50 new city blocks of villas, condos, restaurants, hotel rooms, businesses and trails would be called Avenue One. UNMC is transforming a historically industrial area into The project would take 15 years to complete, and promises a 140,000-sq.-ft. mixed-use innovation technology campus a compelling fresh experience for Omaha’s future residents that will include a food hall, market, event center and coland visitors. —G.S. laborative office space. In addition, the 83,000-sf Kiewit

IN BRIEF MENTIONS • Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau discoveratlanta.com/acvb • Brown Palace Hotel & Spa brownpalace.com • CAESARS FORUM caesarsforum.com • Caesars Palace caesars.com/caesars-palace • Colorado Tourism colorado.com • Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center columbiaconventioncenter.com • Discover The Palm Beaches thepalmbeaches.com • Events Industry Council eventscouncil.org • Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center marriott.com/en-us/hotels/mcogp-gaylordpalms-resort-and-convention-center/overview/

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• Greater Fort Lauderdale / Broward County Convention Center ftlauderdalecc.com • Greater Miami CVB miamiandbeaches.com • Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort caesars.com/harrahs-cherokee • IACC America iacconline.org • Louisville Tourism gotolouisville.com • MGM Resorts International mgmresorts.com • Omni PGA Frisco Resort omnihotels.com/hotels/pga-frisco • Owensboro Convention Center owensborocenter.com • Renasant Convention Center renasantconventioncenter.com

• Resorts World Las Vegas rwlasvegas.com • Savannah Convention Center savconventioncenter.com • Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau visitvirginiabeach.com • Visit Lake Charles visitlakecharles.org • Visit Lauderdale sunny.org • Visit San Antonio visitsanantonio.com • Washington State Convention Center wscc.com • The Westin Anaheim Resort marriott.com/hotels/travel/snawa-the-westinanaheim-resort





ith an expanded convention center debuting in 2023 and group business beginning to gather momentum, the team at Visit Savannah is preparing to reintroduce many attendees to the quintessential Southern city. In the following discussion, the CVB’s leader, Joseph Marinelli, overviews the recovery and enhancement of Savannah’s meetings industry, as well as its timeless cultural assets.


What is the outlook for Savannah’s meetings business?

Many of our annual convention and meetings groups that were originally booked in 2020 or the first part of 2021 have rescheduled for after Labor Day this year and into 2022. Because Georgia Governor Brian Kemp was one of the first governors to open the state, and now that City of Savannah Mayor Van Johnson has lifted the mask mandate, groups planned for the rest of the year are much more confident about attending meetings in Savannah. In fact, several groups are forecasting to have record-breaking attendance. What are the current COVID-related safety protocols in Savannah related to meetings?


of the expansion project. The new space will also include a large, covered outdoor patio overlooking the Savannah River that will be ideal for luncheons and receptions. Have you received any feedback on the project from your convention and tradeshow clients?


We are working hard to keep our current customers and business prospects informed of the expansion progress and answer their questions along the way. We have installed a live-cam video feed at the Savannah Convention Center so interested parties can stay up to date on construction. Also, VisitSavannah. com now features a downloadable Savannah Convention Center Expansion Tool Kit that details all the new features of the facility.



The Savannah Convention Center has been doing blended or hybrid meetings with groups since before the pandemic and is fully equipped to handle all requests and requirements of our customers.


“The Savannah Convention Center has been doing blended or hybrid meetings with groups since before the pandemic and is fully equipped to handle all requests and requirements of our customers.”


Of course, we all recognize that items like this are fluid and ever changing. As of this writing, the Savannah Convention Center and all of our hotels are open for business and not requiring masks. We are currently working with our customers to ensure that we are doing all that we can to meet the requirements set by their leadership to ensure the safety of their attendees. In your view, what are the standout features of the Savannah Convention Center expansion?



There are many answers to this question, but doubling the size of our exhibit hall to 200,000 sq. ft., adding a new 45,000-sq.-ft. ballroom and a 900-space parking garage are just a few of the highlights



What are the convention center’s capabilities to host hybrid meetings?


Which offsite venues or activities would you recommend to planners seeking to express Savannah’s culture through their event?

In addition to having a state-of-the-art, modernday convention center and a hotel package to meet every need and price point, Savannah is also one of America’s most beautiful cities. Our version of true “Southern hospitality” is apparent through the 25,000+ associates that support the local tourism and hospitality industry. As it relates to our culture, from our storied Black heritage to some of the South’s finest architecture, Savannah will always delight visitors to our city.


Continued on page 64






risha Tatro was appointed Director of the Austin Convention Center Department (ACCD) on June 30, 2021. Tatro, the first woman to serve in the Director position, brings more than 19 years of experience with the ACCD, including her most recent positions of Interim Director (since February 2020) and Assistant Director (appointed in 2018). Among her past achievements, Tatro directed the department’s pandemic relief efforts and managed the $74 million budget for its Capital Improvement Project.


Congratulations on your new position. What are some of your initial priorities as Director of the ACCD?

I am focused on providing exceptional services to our customers as we begin hosting events again while getting back to what we do best. We will continue with our vision to build upon the strengths that make Austin extremely attractive as a place to meet and convene. We also want to move forward with the redevelopment of the Austin Convention Center, adding more available rental space and position the center to compete for the next tier of convention business, and build the convention center of tomorrow.



As Interim Director, what do you consider to have been your major successes in helping to navigate the COVID-19 crisis?

I am proud to say that we were able to quickly begin cost-containment measures that allowed us to still employ, retain and care for all of our full-time staff during this crisis. We achieved the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR accreditation and our staff was trained to clean and sanitize our facilities so that we can provide the best services to our customers. We were also able to provide critical services to our community by serving as an Alternate Care Facility with medical beds and power, and supporting the EAT initiative that provided 500,000 meals for people experiencing homelessness. We



also provided space for the Dell Face Shield Project, which made 10,000 face coverings for healthcare providers.


What are some of the first conventions that have or will be held at the Austin Convention Center since the pandemic began?

Some of the first events that returned and were hosted at the Austin Convention Center and Palmer Events Center included a Junior Volleyball Regional Tournament, a bodybuilding qualifying event, a CrossFit fitness competition, a CBD Expo, Bridal Extravanganza, Alternative Energy Show, a General Dentistry Conference, a Cornhole League Tournament, a retro gaming festival, and a local and popular boutique sales event.


“Our outlook and confidence are extremely high for 2021 and beyond. Year-to-date for events, 2020 versus 2021, we have seen an increase of 210 percent.”


Have your bookings seen a significant increase this year with the vaccines becoming available?

Yes. Our outlook and confidence are extremely high for 2021 and beyond. Year-to-date for events, 2020 versus 2021, we have seen an increase of 210 percent. We held 22 events in 2020 and currently have 46 for 2021, including tentatives and contract requests. Our leads comparison between 2020 and 2021, year-to-date are up 133 percent based on the monthly average.



Please describe the Austin Convention Center’s hybrid event capabilities.

Our level of hybrid event capabilities includes Internet services provided at typically one-third the cost of competing centers. Our clients are equipped with 24/7 direct contact to an in-house event IT coordinator throughout their entire events process from planning to build-out to support. Our network is completely owned and operated by the Austin Convention Center Department; we’re able to provide flexible and customizable








Our innovative safety solutions are designed for the future and GBAC Star ™ -certified, giving you the peace of mind to plan your next event with confidence. DESIGNED FOR THE FUTURE


Learn more at PhoenixConventionCenter.com





More specifically, CVBs were nominated based on their efforts to help communicate COVID-19 information and promote safety measures, while venues were nominated based on their implementation of such measures. We applaud these suppliers for stepping up to the plate and facilitating the return of in-person meetings. Ballots for the Awards of Excellence are available in F&D’s quarterly print magazine and at Facilitiesonline. com. The Prime Site Award is given out to convention centers, and the Top Destination Award to CVBs and other DMOs. We look forward to recognizing more top performers on the supplier side of the meetings industry. Submit your nominees for the 2022 Awards of Excellence today.

ongratulations to this year’s Awards of Excellence winners, including 85 Prime Site Award-winning convention centers and 71 Top Destination Award-winning DMOs across the United States, Caribbean and Canada. Given the pandemic’s effect on our industry last year, F&D readers nominated CVBs and convention centers based on the following criteria: • their experiences working with these industry partners prior to March 2020; and/or • the supplier’s community service in these challenging times.



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 • COVID-19 safety measures and protocols

Fill Out Form & Mail or Email Your Vote: Facilities & Destinations PO Box 1807 New York, NY 10150 Email: ballots@facilitiesonline.com


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

Top Destination

Your Name & Title____________________________________________________ Organization_________________________________________________________ Phone________________________________________________________________ Email________________________________________________________________




Prime Site Award Winners

Albany Capital Center, Albany, NY Atlantic City Convention Center, NJ

Greater Hartford CVB, CT Meet AC, Atlantic City, NJ Providence/Warwick CVB, RI Visit Pittsburgh, PA

MID-ATLANTIC Prime Site Award Winners

Baltimore Convention Center, MD Greater Richmond Convention Center, VA Roland E. Powell Convention Center, Ocean City, MD Virginia Beach Convention Center, VA Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC Atlantic City Convention Center

Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh, PA Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center, NY The Javits Center, New York, NY Lancaster County Convention Center, PA Meadowlands Exposition Center, Secaucus, NJ Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia Rhode Island Convention Center, Providence Wildwoods Convention Center, Wildwood, NJ

Top Destination Award Winners

Events DC, Washington, DC Ocean City CVB, MD Visit Baltimore, MD Visit Norfolk, VA Virginia Beach CVB, VA

Top Destination Award Winners

Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau Discover Philadelphia, PA Greater Boston CVB, MA FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2021 SUPERBOOK

Meadowlands Exposition Center Continued on page 21



LEARN MORE AT SpectraExperiences.com/Conven�onCenters FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2021 SUPERBOOK


AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE Continued from page 19


Prime Site Award Winners

Birmingham-Jefferson County Convention Center, Birmingham, AL The Classic Center, Athens, GA Durham Convention Center, NC Jackson Convention Complex, MS Knoxville Convention Center, TN Miami Beach Convention Center, FL

Greensboro CVB, NC Little Rock CVB, AR Louisville CVB, KY Memphis Tourism, TN Myrtle Beach Area CVB, SC New Orleans & Company, LA Visit Jackson, MS Visit Jacksonville, FL Visit Knoxville, TN Visit Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale, FL Visit Orlando, FL Visit Savannah, GA Visit Tampa Bay, FL Wilmington and the Beaches CVB, NC

MIDWEST Miami Beach Convention Center

Mobile Convention Center, AL Music City Center, Nashville, TN New Orleans Morial Convention Center, LA Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, FL Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL Owensboro Convention Center, KY Palm Beach County Convention Center, West Palm Beach, FL Savannah International Trade & Convention Center, GA Shreveport Convention Center, LA

Prime Site Award Winners

Branson Convention Center, MO Bridge View Center, Ottumwa, IA Century Center, South Bend, IN DeVos Place, Grand Rapids, MI Duke Energy Convention Center, Cincinnati, OH Grand Wayne Convention Center, Fort Wayne, IN Greater Columbus Convention Center, OH Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland, OH/Global Center for Health Innovation, OH

Top Destination Award Winners

Birmingham CVB, AL Chattanooga Tourism Co., TN Explore Charleston, SC Greater Miami CVB, FL FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2021 SUPERBOOK

Greater Columbus Convention Center Continued on page 23





AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE Continued from page 21

Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis, IN Iowa Events Center, Des Moines, IA Kansas City Convention Center, MO McCormick Place, Chicago, IL Minneapolis Convention Center, MN Monona Terrace Convention Center, Madison, WI

Monona Terrace Convention Center

Overland Park Convention Center, KS Saint Charles Convention Center, MO SeaGate Convention Centre, Toledo, OH Sioux Falls Convention Center, SD tcf Center, Detroit, MI Wisconsin Center, Milwaukee, WI

Top Destination Award Winners

Akron/Summit CVB, OH Cincinnati CVB, OH Destination Cleveland, OH Experience Columbus, OH Explore St. Louis, MO Greater Des Moines CVB, IA Visit Detroit/Metro Detroit CVB, MI Visit Indy, Indianapolis, IN Visit Milwaukee, WI Visit Omaha, NE Visit Wichita, KS


Prime Site Award Winners

Albuquerque Convention Center, NM Anaheim Convention Center, CA Austin Convention Center, TX Boise Centre, ID Colorado Convention Center, Denver, CO Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz International Center, Corpus Christi, TX George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston, TX Hawaii Convention Center, Honolulu, HI Irving Convention Center, TX Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas, TX Las Cruces Convention Center, NM Las Vegas Convention Center, NV Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, CA Los Angeles Convention Center, CA Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA Oregon Convention Center, Portland, OR Palm Springs Convention Center, CA Phoenix Convention Center, AZ Pueblo Convention Center, CO Reno-Sparks Convention Center, Reno, NV

Austin Convention Center Continued on page 25





MEET THE ST. CHARLES CONVENTION CENTER Our award-winning facility boasts 85,000 sq ft of flexible space, customized in-house catering, and a dedicated staff that treats you like family. WHY ST. CHARLES? Conveniently located 15 minutes from the Lambert-St. Louis International airport, minutes from Historic Downtown St. Charles, and walking distance from the Streets of St. Charles dining and entertainment.






AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE Continued from page 23

SAFE Credit Union Convention Center, Sacramento, CA Salt Palace Convention Center, Salt Lake City, UT San Diego Convention Center, CA Sands Expo Center, Las Vegas, NV Santa Clara Convention Center, CA Spokane Convention Center, WA Tucson Convention Center, Tucson, AZ Utah Valley Convention Center, Provo, UT Yakima Convention Center, WA

Top Destination Award Winners Amarillo CVB, TX Arlington CVB, TX Austin CVB, TX

Pasadena CVB

Boise CVB, ID Colorado Springs CVB, CO Experience Scottsdale, AZ Greater Houston CVB, TX Greater Ontario CVB, CA Irving CVB, TX Las Vegas CVA, NV Long Beach CVB, CA Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, CA Marina del Rey CVB, CA Meet Hawaii, HI Monterey County CVB, CA Oklahoma City CVB, OK Pasadena CVB, CA


Reno Sparks CVA, NV Sacramento CVB, CA San Antonio CVB, TX Visit Anaheim, CA Visit Billings, MT Visit Denver, CO Visit Oakland, CA Visit Phoenix, AZ Visit San Jose, CA Visit Salt Lake, UT Visit Seattle, WA Visit Spokane, WA


Prime Site Award Winners

Montego Bay Convention Centre, St. James, Jamaica Puerto Rico Convention Center, San Juan, PR

Top Destination Award Winners Discover Puerto Rico


Prime Site Award Winners

Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Toronto, Ontario Palais des congres de Montreal, Quebec Quebec City Convention Centre, Quebec




Tower Bridge across the Sacramento River



By George Seli

California destination — great weather, fantastic food options, or many planners engaged in site selection, walkable streets, plenty to see and do — but we also offer the convention center size and quality is a make-orapproachability and accessibility that you’d expect from a break feature of a destination. They certainly want smaller town. It’s sort of the best of both worlds.” great hotels, recreation, dining and other elements that enhance the experience for delegates. But the Now, with the renovation and expansion of the focal point of meetings is business, and the stage for Sacramento Convention Center, Sacramento has a “big business is often the convention center. That facility must town” convention center that will allow larger groups to be able to comfortably accommodate the group in easy-totake advantage of all the attractive features Atilano cites. navigate surroundings, and provide optimum service in F&B, Rebranded the SAFE Credit Union Convention Center, the facility is complemented by the SAFE Credit Union technology and other areas. Prior to its convention center upgrade, Sacramento was already well positioned “Sacramento offers the best of what in the meetings market. The city offered diverse free-time options for attendees, you’d expect from a California along with an affordability that benefitted destination — great weather, fantastic both attendees and the host organization. food options, walkable streets, plenty “So many of our planners want to offer to see and do — but we also offer the their delegates a West Coast experience, approachability and accessibility that but the price point and crowded market can be deterrents,” says Sarah Atilano, you’d expect from a smaller town.” Chief of Strategy & Market Growth, —Sarah Atilano, Chief of Strategy & Visit Sacramento. “Sacramento offers Market Growth, Visit Sacramento the best of what you’d expect from a



Performing Arts Center (formerly Community Center Theater) and the Memorial Auditorium. The three venues make up the SAFE Credit Union Convention and Performing Arts District, which affords multiple options for group gatherings beyond the convention center. The debut of the completed convention center, which took place on June 2, 2021, comes at a time when the COVID-19 vaccines have prompted more groups to plan to meet again in person. But the project was in full swing throughout the worst of the pandemic, with no halt to construction since beginning in December 2018. “From a meetings standpoint, we were encouraged to see construction on the building going throughout the pandemic. That has allowed us to be prepared for recovery and to keep meetings safety top of mind when the industry makes its full return,” explains Mike Testa, President & CEO, Visit Sacramento. Part of that preparation was to achieve GBAC STAR certification for the convention center, along with the SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center and Memorial Auditorium. “We continued [throughout the pandemic] with the synergy among the team to accomplish the certification,” says Matt Voreyer, General Manager of the three venues. That team includes the service providers to the convention center — Centerplate, Smart City and Encore — as well as public officials. “We didn’t let our foot off the gas; we continued doing

first learned about the new SAFE Credit Union Convention Center coming in 2021,” Atilano relates. “So, 2022 has been a packed year for us on the calendar for quite some time, but now we are definitely hearing from more groups who had to cancel in 2020 and are looking to find space with us next year.” SacAnime, Sept. 3-5, 2021, is the first convention hosted in the new facility. The semiannual, three-day anime convention is the sister convention to the Sacramento Comic, Toy and Anime Show and Bak-Anime. “We’re excited to welcome back SacAnime over Labor Day Weekend, along with League of California Cities in September,” says Atilano. “The California Almond Board will also be back with us this fall, and then our largest event, the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium, will return in early 2022.” Thanks to the convention center’s expanded exhibit space, the Almond Conference was able to add more exhibits, while the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium was able to extend its program and keep the conference in Sacramento.

SAFE Credit Union Convention Center

Golden 1 Center


Since its inception, the convention center project has helped to bolster the city’s future meetings business. “Interest in Sacramento has been high really since 2019, when planners FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2021 SUPERBOOK


business as usual. And with the support of the mayor and City Council, we had tremendous support from our public officials to get us across the finish line, to where we are today,” says Voreyer about the largest building enhancement project during his 22 years with the facility. At a press conference on Aug. 8, 2019, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg discussed the value of the facilities’ new partnership with SAFE Credit Union: “We can be proud that one of our leading city cultural assets will be branded with the name of one of our leading Sacramento businesses. Our deal with SAFE Credit Union will also produce $23 million for us to use on the convention center and other projects that will make downtown Sacramento even more of a destination.”

2019 Farm-to-Fork Festival The Unified Wine and Grape Symposium is among the food and agricultural meetings that are increasingly finding a home in Sacramento. Testa explains the destination’s appeal for events in that space: “Meeting planners and organizations in the food and ag space are very interested in convening in Sacramento because of our proximity to the Capitol, our surrounding 1.5 million acres of active farmland, nearby UC Davis and Sacramento State, and the innovative and vibrant culture around food innovations here. We see that [sector of the city’s meetings business] growing more and more into the future.”

Continued on page 28


Continued from page 27


Similarly, a covered 7,100-sq.-ft. veranda features lounge furniture for guests to sit and chat with colleagues. Those Testa reports that the clients returning to the expanded SAFE Credit Union Convention Center are “excited to bring inside will also appreciate the sunny environment thanks to their guests to a new building that is in a city and state that floor-to-ceiling windows added throughout the facility. have taken COVID-19 seriously.” He explains In addition, “we listened to clients in terms that events in the State of California “must of adding signage and wayfinding throughout adhere to state public health mandates, which the building,” Voreyer says. “In the old building, currently pertain to ‘mega events,’ defined as people could get confused quite easily. So it those with indoor capacities of 5,000 or more really helps the attendee experience by having attendees, or outdoor events with 10,000 or clear, concise navigation aids.” Traffic flow is more attendees. For such events, attendees also improved with new North, West and East must confirm proof of vaccination or a lobby entrances that are color-coded blue, negative COVID-19 test in order to attend. green and gold to capture Sacramento’s rivers, Convention planners, together with the City agriculture and Gold Rush, respectively. The of Sacramento, continue to work together new layout’s division between exhibit space on to adhere to any evolving public health Level 1 and the ballroom and meeting space on guidelines for group gatherings.” In addition, Level 2 also assists the navigation of the facility. “We listened to many Sacramento hospitality businesses Great service is also integral to the attendee clients in terms of have taken the Sacramento S.A.F.E. Pledge experience, and clients of the SAFE Credit adding signage to implement best-in-class health, safety and Union Convention Center are assisted by a cleanliness practices. This program further highly attentive staff — including the general and wayfinding assures conventioneers that contagion manager. “I’m a very hands-on GM,” says throughout the prevention is top of mind throughout the city. Voreyer. “It’s not uncommon for me to be [convention The health and safety precautions continue walking the show floor, or to attend pre-con center]. … It really at the convention center. “We have signage meetings and many of the events through to helps the attendee throughout the exterior and interior of the the closing gala. I work with the client even building reminding folks to hand wash, along when they arrive on a site visit, and work very experience with touchless water features with hand soaps closely with Visit Sacramento on planning by having and towel dispensers,” says Voreyer. “We also those visits.” clear, concise have staff available to continue monitoring navigation aids.” and wiping down escalators, elevators and A FORWARD-THINKING HOTEL INDUSTRY meeting rooms, pre and post. We will not be The expanded convention center may soon —Matt Voreyer, setting up any buffets; [the F&B] will all be be complemented by an expanded guestroom General Manager, inventory. “We’re in discussions with a hotel that hand distributed by employees. I think with the SAFE Credit Union could be built behind the convention center that Delta Variant this will be a protocol in place Convention Center would add into the convention block,” Voreyer not only in Sacramento, but throughout the says. As it stands, however, Sacramento is well stocked with country until this virus is behind us.” guestrooms in proximity to the convention center: Directly INSIDE THE CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT across the street, groups will find the 505-room Hyatt Regency The $245 million renovation and expansion of the Sacramento, with 27,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, and the Sacramento Convention Center is sure to maximize ROI 503-room Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel, with 19,300 because it was guided by input from clients. “The City of sq. ft. of meeting space. Thousands more hotel rooms are in Sacramento and the architects, Populous, centered the walking distance. What is more, “all of our nearby convention expansion and renovation directly around clients’ feedback hotels have utilized the downtime in the pandemic to upgrade and changing needs,” says Atilano. “So it’s rewarding for guestrooms, facilities and amenities,” Atilano points out. our clients to see the “So beyond the new enhanced open exhibit SAFE Credit Union space, new secondConvention Center, floor ballroom, outdoor planners will find an activities plaza — all of upgraded hotel product the things they had on as well.” their wish lists.” Among the new hotels in Sacramento The 15,000-sq.are the 105-room Fort ft. outdoor plaza is Sutter Hotel, under especially appealing, as Hilton’s Tapestry it allows clients to take Sacramento’s convention center is now more Collection, and a 172advantage of Northern navigable for attendees room Hyatt Centric, California’s great weather.





located next to the Another “From a meetings standpoint, we were encouraged aspect of SacGolden 1 Center. to see construction on the [convention center] Both have space ramento’s hisfor small group tory can be going throughout the pandemic. That has allowed functions. The experienced at us to be prepared for recovery and to keep Fort Sutter Hotel the California meetings safety top of mind when the industry offers over 1,800 State Railroad makes its full return.” sq. ft. of indoor Museum, which and outdoor event —Mike Testa, President & CEO, Visit Sacramento offers several space, while the indoor and outHyatt Centric (scheduled to open Sept. 21) has more than 2,500 door rentable event venues, such as the 700-capacity Musesq. ft. of function space, including a sixth-floor terrace. um Roundhouse and two theaters. Private events can also be held at the famed Sacramento Zoo, with options including A TASTE OF SACRAMENTO everything from a full zoo rental to rentals of various lawns, While there are a variety of offsite attractions and activities courtyards and groves. A new offsite event option is the artfor conventioneers in the city, exploring the food culture in focused park with gallery and event space being developed “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital” is a must. “Sacramento’s at Crocker Park, located across from Crocker Art Museum. food scene has quietly become one of the hottest on the West Coast,” Atilano asserts. “Chefs from all over the country SUPPORTING SACRAMENTO TOURISM are still flocking to Sacramento, which has been in the Like many destinations, Sacramento had to make a special Michelin guide since 2019.” There are fantastic food options effort to support its hospitality businesses during the on almost every corner, and they really center on fresh pandemic, and Visit Sacramento played a major part in ingredients from our surrounding that effort. “We had to shift and 1.5 million acres of active farmland. encourage our own residents to Planners and delegates can even support our hospitality businesses,” shop alongside the chefs at some of says Testa. “The team leveraged our daily farmer’s markets.” Among our strong local following on social the many options for group dining, media to launch several campaigns she highlights Mulvaney’s B&L in aimed at locals: ‘Travel in Place’ Midtown; Ella Dining Room and encouraged staycations, while Bar, located just a few blocks from ‘Tower Bridge Dinner To Go’ spun the convention center; and Camden our most popular in-person event The Kitchen, Spit & Larder, “where Executive Chef into a takeout program with 100 a Michelin-starred restaurant Oliver Ridgeway mixes the flavors of percent of the proceeds going to his youth in London with California cuisine.” Testa adds that local restaurants. We also relaunched our podcast specifically “It’s a little-known fact that some of Northern California’s best to showcase the businesses doing good work throughout the wines are coming out of the Sacramento region. So a trip to pandemic. The result has been that we now have an even a spot like award-winning Bogle Vineyards — located just stronger and more engaged local base of support for our 15 minutes outside of downtown — is always a great way to hospitality businesses that we can continue to reach out to spend an afternoon.” even in recovery.” A scenic area for dining as well as shopping and Thanks to that local support, the city’s hospitality sightseeing is the Old Sacramento Waterfront, a 28-acre infrastructure is still strong and ready to welcome visitors in a new era of tourism. And with a major upgrade to the convention National Historic Landmark District and State Historic center, Sacramento’s hospitality businesses can look forward to Park that is located along the Sacramento River. Here, increasing support from incoming meeting groups. Planners delegates can explore dozens of recreated or restored do well to consider this classic California destination, which buildings from the Gold Rush era. Other period elements has emerged from unprecedented challenges with a major new include wooden sidewalks, horse-drawn carriages and living offering for the national meetings industry. history characters.

SAFE CREDIT UNION CONVENTION CENTER • 240,000 sq. ft. of programmable space • 160,000 sq.-ft. contiguous exhibit hall • 80,000 sq. ft. of meeting space • 37 breakout rooms • 22,000 sq. ft. of outdoor space (including new, programmable activities plaza)


• A refreshed and modern design with an abundance of natural light • LEED Silver certified • Centerplate – exclusive food/beverage provider • Smart City – exclusive telecommunications provider • Encore – exclusive rigging/preferred AV provider


Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino Las Vegas November 9-11, 2021

Without missing a beat, the preeminent meetings industry tradeshow returns with outstanding value for attendees


bsence makes the heart grow fonder, and perhaps no industry misses face time more than the meetings industry. The return of IMEX America, last held in September 2019, represents a “homecoming” for business event planners and suppliers. And for its 10th edition, the show has moved to a new home in Las Vegas:

Mandalay Bay. Tours of this top-tier Las Vegas meetings destination will be among the many special events at this year’s IMEX America. The essence of the program remains leading-edge education, commerce opportunities and, of course, networking with colleagues. “For many in the industry, the show plays a key part in their business recovery

Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas



and represents a unique opportunity to meet with negotiations, personal branding, sustainability and, colleagues and partners who they have not seen in particularly important in this era, business recovery. almost two years,” notes Carina Bauer, CEO of the On a lighter note, IMEX America will once IMEX Group. again offer a variety of social events that present However, the show is not merely picking up where conversation-starters for networking, including it left off. The design of IMEX America 2021 has been the Lip-Smacking Foodie Tour of the Las Vegas informed by the needs of planners and attendees Strip, SITE Nite North America, MPI Foundation in this new era of events. “We’ve carefully crafted Rendezvous and the Mystery Trip. As to the latter, a show that has business at its heart as well as ensuring we offer the market an event experience that’s fit for the times we’re all working in,” Bauer adds. “Attendees can be confident that we’ve created a safe show that meets the latest health and safety requirements, working closely with our host city and new venue Mandalay Bay.” In another example of sensitivity to the current circumstances, ASAE’s Association Leadership Forum will focus on the changed business climate in which associations now operate. According to IMEX Group, “The Forum will explore how to tackle the fundamental changes accelerated by the pandemic, namely higher member expectations, increased member diversity, differing generational values and accelerated advances in technology.” As a woman-owned company, Facilities Media Group would Carina Bauer, CEO, and Ray Bloom, Chairman and Founder, IMEX Group also like to highlight She Means Business, a joint event by IMEX and TW Magazine, supported by MPI. “it’s a case of destination unknown,” explains Chief The panel will address topics including “strategic Mysterious Officer Dave Green, founder of the goal-setting for women” and “diversity and gender innovative event-planning company. “People are kept equality.” Participants will include Juliet Tripp, in the dark until the very last moment — and that’s Deputy Head of Global Events, Chemical Watch; where the magic happens!” Michelle Mason, President and CEO, ASAE; and For most of the pandemic, the meeting industry’s Courtney Stanley, Courtney Stanley Consulting. destination was unknown. But now, thanks to both Both women and men can get new, actionable vaccine development and extensive health and ideas at The Inspiration Hub, covering topics safety measures, we know that in-person meetings such as creativity in communication, diversity and are en route to reclaiming their former glory. IMEX accessibility, innovation and tech, contract America’s milestone show is a celebration of that.




The Aruba Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino’s expansive beach



ere one asked to describe a place that is home to polar opposites and a convergence of cultures, the F&D Top Destination Award-winning city of Washington, DC might come to mind. The U.S. capital’s elected officials and embassies certainly “fit the bill,” with their political battles and foreign dignitaries. But the description may very well apply to Aruba as well. The island’s landscape is full of topographical differences — its rugged eastern shores contrast with tranquil beaches to the west. And its language, Papiamento, was created over the centuries by a mix of colonial powers and cultures. During a visit this summer, F&D staff visited the island, a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. While the island is an independent country, with a passport required for entry and return to the United States, Americans can avoid customs upon return with the Department of Homeland Security having checkpoints at Oranjestad’s Queen Beatrix Airport. Planners have a choice of properties at which to stage events. The luxury resorts on Palm Beach along the northwestern shore are best geared to hosting incentive groups and business functions. While all the hotels in the “Highrise” area are contiguous via the beachfront, the Aruba Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino and adjacent Ritz-Carlton Aruba are set apart from the hustle and bustle of crowds on J.E. Irausquin Boulevard. Resort hotels including the Barcelo, Hilton and Hyatt Regency Resort Spa and Casino are among those situated on the boulevard across the way from a broad selection of shopping and dining establishments.


In addition to a major upgrade to all its rooms in 2018, the Hyatt used the COVID-induced slowdown to update its pools, adding a new adults-only pool off the north side of the hotel, accompanied by 10 cabanas. The pool area is adjacent to three 900-sq.-ft. breakout rooms that open up to a lawn and covered patio. Indoors, across the hall, event planners will find the main ballroom, which has 5,200 sq. ft. of flexible event space. We were intrigued by the possibility of having a poolside event and combining the spaces, but learned that while it could be arranged, there simply had not been much interest in doing so. Ivonne Cardozo, a veteran sales manager at the property, explained that while the lawn area hosts a plethora of activities, most meeting and incentive groups prefer utilizing the beach instead of poolside. The aforementioned Marriott has 10,450 sq. ft. of function indoor space, with a separate entrance allowing meeting and convention guests coming from outside of the resort to be dropped off for their function. The space, while primary, can be seen as supplemental to the outdoor patios and spacious beachfront areas that can host a broad scope of gatherings. Dining options at the Marriott give guests little reason to leave the grounds. American guests can feel comfortable with familiar names from home, with Starbucks in the morning to Ruth’s Chris Steak House in the evening, atop the resort’s signature restaurants. Atardi, which specializes in seafood, is situated on the beach and makes for a unique “toes-in-the-sand” dining experience while watching the sun sink into the sea. Speaking of sinking into the sea, there are scores of FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2021 SUPERBOOK

nautical experiences for visitors to take in. Groups can off the Caribbean are said to have created the island’s go out in snorkeling and scuba parties aboard catamaran famed Divi Divi trees seen in abundance throughout the cruises to view a scuttled World War II-era German park, the crashing sea waves have carved natural bridges shipwreck that rests not too far off the coast in relatively and pools that attract and mesmerize onlookers. —D.K. tranquil seas. History buffs would find the sunken liner’s history of interest: The Dutch government on the island See the Aruba Tourism Authority and Aruba Marriott Resort attempted to commandeer the German vessel Antilla in & Stellaris Casino’s booth at IMEX America (D1022). response to Germany’s invasion of Holland. The ship’s captain sunk the vessel rather than allowing it to be captured, leaving it for future generations to view via scuba and submarine excursions. History — natural history — plays a role on the other side of the island as well, where excursions can include adventures into and around Arikok National Park. In addition to the mountainous area’s impressive vistas of the entire island, the rocky, cactusfilled desert reserve is home to miles of stunning shorelines. Hyatt Regency Resort Spa and Casino While constant breezes blowing

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Orange Country Convention Center and Convention District Bridge



s COVID-19 froze most of the events-related hospitality industry, venues throughout Florida took a leadership role in trying to get tourism restarted with stringent health and safety protocols. The Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) made one of the earliest efforts via its Recovery and Resiliency Plan. While other convention centers were shuttered or serving as vaccination centers, the F&D Prime Site Award-winning venue safely hosted multiple events. The American Kennel Club’s (AKC) National Championships and the Central Florida International Auto Show drew more than 6,000 attendees before Christmas in 2020, followed by Surf Expo a week after New Year’s. Concurrently, vaccinations were being administered in OCCC’s parking areas. OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester often spoke about the health and safety measures implemented at the facility to allow the resumption of events. Initially, masks, temperature-taking and hand-sanitizer stations were among the measures. Modifying how groups met was another. Whereas traditionally tradeshows have been


designed to maximize the number of participants on the tradeshow floor, events were now being spread out with wider aisles, allowing participants to feel more comfortable. The AKC event exemplified this practice, while admitting judges and participants to the event floor at specific times to maintain distancing. The convention center also obtained the Global Biorisk Advisory Council’s GBAC STAR accreditation, which is billed as the “cleaning industry’s only outbreak prevention, response and recovery accreditation for facilities.” Tester stated that “As soon as we heard about [the GBAC STAR certification], we jumped right on it” to ensure visitors and clients felt at ease within his facility. While the OCCC maintenance teams had ensured the facility already exceeded required standards, it was important for all to know that the OCCC was “doing everything … the right way, systematically and without overlooking any item.” Health and safety measures have continued to be front and center at the OCCC, beyond the basics. In addition to ensuring frequent-contact surfaces such as elevator buttons, door handles, ATMs, stair and escalator handrails FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2021 SUPERBOOK

were being disinfected regularly, industrial cleaning Creative design elements cleverly reflect the properties’ technology was brought in to increase effectiveness. summer-themed names, from the spacious lobby to the Orlando-based Violet Defense has implemented a solution dining areas to the guestrooms. While these hotels are not whereby ultraviolet germicidal light can be used to eliminate bacteria, germs and viruses “As soon as we heard about [the GBAC throughout the offices, meeting STAR certification], we jumped right on it” rooms and restrooms on the to ensure visitors and clients felt at ease OCCC campus. The facility also within the Orange County Convention uses ozonated water as a cleaning Center. … It was important for all to know agent. Reportedly, ozone acts a stronger and faster disinfectant that the OCCC was “doing everything … agent in destroying viruses and the right way, systematically and without bacteria, and its use via foggers in overlooking any item.” restrooms, offices and all meeting —Mark Tester, Executive Director, areas will further mitigate the Orange County Convention Center spread of infectious agents. While the OCCC has been playing a strong defense with regard to the pandemic, designed to stage events, shuttle buses can ferry guests it has a game plan for offense as well. Following a brief to event venues in Universal Orlando’s rich portfolio, pause due to the slowdown in global economic activity, including the theme parks, CityWalk and spacious hotelits $605 million Capital Improvement Plan has resumed. based facilities. The project will bring total space at the convention center SIGNIA BY HILTON ORLANDO BONNET CREEK campus to 2.3 million sq. ft., adding the 200,000-sq.-ft. In February 2019, Hilton Hotels hosted a breakfast Multipurpose Venue, 60,000 sq. ft. of new meeting space and an 80,000-sq.-ft. ballroom along with a new entry to the overlooking Manhattan from 3 World Trade Center to launch a new brand of hotel with the meetings and events North-South Building along Convention Way. industry in mind. Signia by Hilton would create “a portfolio of premier hotels in highly sought-after urban UNIVERSAL MEETINGS AND EVENTS and resort destinations offering sophisticated business and Universal Orlando has continued its expansion across I-4 leisure travelers an elevated hotel experience combined with a pair of “value” resort properties that deserve much with exceptional amenities and dynamic meeting and more than the limited fanfare they received due to the event spaces.” In describing the brand, Hilton CEO Chris pandemic. Opened in the last quarter of 2020, Universal’s Nasetta said that “No hotel will be the same” and that Endless Summer Resort, which includes Surfside Inn and each “will feel like a destination” unto itself, with “unique, Suites and Dockside Inn and Suites, is ideal for delegates innovative spaces that inspire groups.” However, all on a tighter budget who only need lodging space. Housing 2,800 guestrooms, the pair of hotels lies minutes away from properties would have a common feature: large convention spaces. Universal’s theme parks, whose attractions, like the new In July, Signia by Hilton’s inaugural property was VelociCoaster, continue to draw the masses to Orlando. officially announced, with the conversion of the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek to Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. The newly christened hotel and adjacent Waldorf Astoria Orlando will undergo expansion projects to create a complex that combined will house nearly 300,000 sq. ft. of meeting and event space, in addition to outdoor event facilities and a total of 12 restaurants and lounges.


Universal Orlando’s Endless Summer Resort FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2021 SUPERBOOK

Nearby, Walt Disney World is readying to celebrate its golden anniversary in Orlando, which will no doubt include quite a bit of fanfare for those in attendance at events in and around the theme parks in the months ahead. “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” will


The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin (above) and the new Swan Reserve (below)

333,000 sq. ft. of meeting space in the Swan and Dolphin, not to mention multiple outdoor spaces that can be used independently or to supplement the property’s event spaces. Clearly, the abundance of outdoor spaces is of additional value during periods of elevated concern about being indoors. During the height of the pandemic, Major League Soccer’s 28 teams took up residence for six weeks at the Swan and Dolphin as well as neighboring Disney hotels. Complex Director of Sales and Marketing Jim Curtis lauded the resort’s resourcefulness in creating and implementing safety and cleanliness protocols that allowed the property to function through the pandemic and beyond. The food and beverage teams were effectively “hosting 28 banquets at a time” for each of the sports clubs, explained Curtis. As a result, the resort has remained open following the departure of MLS with a new level of experience. As the country pushes ahead toward the light at the end of the tunnel following the tragic losses suffered and the economic slowdown that has impacted so many, it is encouraging to see the leadership role Orlando has taken to provide a spark of hope to the meetings and hospitality industries. By next fall, we hope to have moved forward, lessons learned, and find the sector fully recharged with Orlando once again leading the way. —D.K. See Visit Orlando’s booth at IMEX America, C0709.

begin Oct. 1, saluting the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort. Continuing for 18 months, the celebration will feature “new experiences at all four theme parks and beyond, with shimmering EARidescent décor,” according to the company. In addition, Disney Meetings and Events can create experiences across its properties for a broad range of groups. Just before the pandemic, F&D visited the 2,416-room Coronado Springs Resort, featuring the new Gran Destino Tower and 223,000 sq. ft. of convention center space — now with health and safety measures in place to accommodate groups. In March, our team visited the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort to take a look at a series of upgrades that were put in place pre-pandemic — the Dolphin Lobby in 2018, followed by the Swan’s in 2019. We also took a close-up look at the property’s new tower, the Walt Disney World Swan Reserve, that when completed will add two presidential suites and 149 spacious suites, all with floor-to-ceiling windows, to the resort’s existing inventory of 2,270 guestrooms. The Swan Reserve will also offer 22,000 sq. ft. of function space, adding to the


Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando’s The Wizarding World of Harry Potter


PUERTO RICO The Grand Opening of Distrito T-Mobile



By Debi Lander

uerto Rico has always been one of the top meeting destinations in the Caribbean. But in 2017, the destination suffered island-wide damage from Hurricane Maria. Later, an earthquake hit the southwestern region, and of course, the pandemic brought further problems. But the people of Puerto Rico have shown remarkable resiliency, and the island’s tourism industry is once again welcoming back business and leisure tourists. One of Puerto Rico’s familiar attractions is its convenience for American visitors, who don’t need a passport or change of currency to enjoy the Caribbean isle. What is more, Luis Muñoz International Airport (SJU) offers direct flights from many major American cities/ airports. These logistical advantages combine with a worldclass convention center and hotel portfolio, historical sites, natural beauty, a friendly culture, and Caribbean cuisine and weather to create a compelling destination for meeting groups. But Puerto Rico is certainly not resting on the laurels of its popularity. Considerable investment has been made FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2021 SUPERBOOK

into a new entertainment complex that gives planners even more reason to book the destination. Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto, enthusiastically says, “The opening of Distrito T-Mobile will propel Puerto Rico’s positioning as a top destination for entertainment and events that cater to a global audience.” He mentions other key investments: “Puerto Rico’s power grid has received a $2 billion investment since hurricane Maria. The Luis Muñoz International Airport, water, and sewer systems have been updated, and the private sector is building numerous hotels throughout the island. Puerto Rico is back!”


San Juan finally celebrated the grand opening of the Distrito T-Mobile multisensory entertainment complex on Aug. 14, 2021. After years of development, Federico Stubbe Jr., developer and principal investor, said, “We now share with the world our goal of revolutionizing the experience of how people enjoy and pursue new experiences in Puerto Rico.” At the same time, the complex maintains the flavor and local cultural traditions of the island.


“The opening of Distrito T-Mobile will propel Puerto Rico’s positioning as a top destination for entertainment and events that cater to a global audience.” —Brad Dean, CEO, Discover Puerto At the celebration, VIP guests mingled within the 50,000-sq.-ft. Popular Plaza, Distrito’s core, with digitized stage systems incorporating more than 14,000 sq. ft. of LED displays. Giant video screens run from the floor to the ceiling, and overhead as well. The sound, music and energy surround guests and pulse through their bodies. Art is present in all its mediums; even the bathrooms include installations by local artists. The five-acre center combines eight dining options, entertainment venues, technology, and lodging. Fronting the complex is the Aloft San Juan the brand’s first in the Caribbean. The property offers 177 minimalist loft-type rooms, some of them overlooking Popular Plaza. Hotel guests find themselves within steps of the Distrito as well as the Puerto Rico Convention Center. The Coca-Cola Music Hall is a mixed-use showroom for up to 5,500 spectators. The multilevel setting is ideal for concerts, banquets, fashion shows, festivals, award ceremonies and corporate events. It features murals by local artist Celso on the walls and floor. Each floor comes with a bar and moveable seats. Restaurants include a range of global flavors and atmospheres. Lupe Reyes presents a Latino fiesta with its traditional Mexican menu, while Barullo Taberna Española pays tribute to its Spanish roots from breakfast to late dinner. La Burgesía offers burgers and smoothies. Find the essence of modern Puerto Rican flavor at Sazon Cocina Criolla, which serves dishes like local favorite mofongo (featuring fried plantains), asopao (Puerto Rico’s national soup) and fried red snapper. A fusion of rum and sugarcane gets paired with grilled cuisine at Le Central, the most exclusive restaurant in Distrito. At Pudge’s Pizza, Baseball Hall of Famer Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez created a menu of pizzas and beer to enjoy among baseball memorabilia and items reminiscent of his hometown, Vega Baja. Arena offers a sports bar atmosphere, while Denko Asian Eatery uses a conveyor system that extends from the kitchen to deliver food to each diner. Dulcinea serves churros and ice cream. Guests can indulge in oversized reclining seats with access to the food and drink menu, along with eight movie screens, at the VIP Caribbean Cinema. One theater introduces the first in the world, Screen X format. The system uses multiple projectors and two-sided screens for a 270-degree panoramic visual experience that makes viewers feel like they are in the middle of the action. Toroverde Urban Park lets participants play on two


urban ziplines, a climbing wall, a maze game, and an arcade with video games and virtual reality experiences. The Bull Maze, the most extensive aerial rope course in America, challenges participants through 40 obstacles, including passages, bridges, climbs and rope games.


Puerto Rico’s 600,000-sq.-ft. convention center never closed during COVID-19; instead, the government coordinated healthcare from the facility. However, nearly the entire building received an overhaul during that time, including capital improvements such as 5-G wiring, new furniture and décor, new carpeting and touchless features. The stunning building is currently reworking its outdoor fountains for enhanced curb appeal.

Puerto Rico Convention Center The refreshed space includes the 152,500-sq.-ft. Exhibition Hall, divisible into three sections, and the 39,500-sq.-ft. Ballroom, divisible by two. Sixteen meeting rooms provide another 26,400 sq. ft. of space, divisible into 29 breakouts. Rest assured, meetings, conferences and shows are being held, maintaining the health and safety practices of ASM Global’s VenueShield. According to Margaret Colón, Director of Sales & Marketing for the convention center, the ideal group size runs from 2,500 to 6,000, but space allows for 20,000 standing. At the time of this writing, Colón was reviewing 500 active group leads in the pipeline — showing the convention center’s viability even in these challenging times for the meetings industry.


The Condado Vanderbilt Hotel boasts magnificent Spanish Revival architecture, opulent interiors and dramatic ocean views. Since its inception in 1919, the storied Vanderbilt Hotel has catered to sophisticated travelers with five-star luxury. The incentive travel opportunities are extraordinary. Restored to its original grandeur by a meticulous renovation, the Vanderbilt offers the 2,800-sq.-ft., 120-capacity Salon Dorado with Murano glass chandeliers; FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2021 SUPERBOOK

Condado Vanderbilt Hotel Salon Luchetti with floor-to-ceiling windows providing uninterrupted ocean views for 80 guests; and the regal Salon Azul for 50 guests. The patio/ballroom area accommodates up to 600 guests. There is also a cigar lounge, VIP executive lounge, and a roundtable boardroom that seats 12. Award-winning chef Juan Jose Cuevas has made a name for himself and 1919, the hotel’s acclaimed restaurant.


The Caribe Hilton is the largest hotel in San Juan that caters to both group and leisure travelers, and even includes its own convention center. In 2019, the resort hotel unveiled a $150 million restoration that put the iconic property at the forefront of Puerto Rico’s revitalization efforts. The top-to-bottom makeover included the property’s 652 guestrooms and suites, culinary outlets, fitness center, spa, tennis center and grounds. The 17-acre garden property contains 65,000 sq. ft. of versatile indoor and outdoor event space. Groups will find four ballrooms with flexible space and 24 meeting rooms, 11 restaurants and lounges, a world-class spa, Monica Puig Tennis Center, and on-property activities from snorkeling to piña colada tastings.


Puerto Rico’s natural beauty — exemplified in its beaches, rainforests, undersea life, and golf courses — is really what makes a meeting memorable outside the conference rooms. Outdoor activities range from the adventurous (e.g., spelunking, ziplining and rappelling) to exploring the historic, 500-year-old walls of the El Morro Fort, part of the U.S. National Park System. Based on a planner’s objectives, Meet Puerto Rico team members join forces with the waterfront hotels, golf resorts and tropical retreats to realize the ideal event for a group, including offsite excursions. Following are a few options: • Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Rainforest is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System. The display of colorful green foliage bursts with the sound of coqui, the resident tree frogs. Guides can FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2021 SUPERBOOK

lead a group on a variety of hiking trails, passing scenic waterfalls and wildlife. If participants are lucky, they might catch a glimpse of the Puerto Rican Parrot, an endangered species only found here. • Puerto Rico deserves the moniker of the “Golf Capital of the Caribbean.” It’s a golfer’s dream with around 30 courses, 15 of which are considered world-class. Planners can arrange a golf outing or a challenging tournament for their attendees. • One of the major draws of the island are the crystalclear Caribbean waters that shimmer in various hues of turquoise and the soft, white-sand beaches. All watersports are available, including surfing, sailing and snorkeling. • Puerto Rico’s flavorful food represents the heritage of Spain, native tribes of the island, and Western Africans. Mix those cuisines with the talents of renowned chefs, and attendees’ palates will be pleased. Classic highlights include island-grown coffee and the national drink, the piña colada, created at the Caribe Hilton. Sip and Savor Tours in Old San Juan combine multiple brief stops for snacks and cocktails in authentic bars. Culinary and cultural festivals are plentiful, too. • Shopping enthusiasts appreciate some time on the narrow cobblestone streets and colorfully painted buildings in Old San Juan. They find shops with wrought-iron balconies selling artisan handicrafts, antiques, collectible art and designer clothing. All of these activities and attractions await both attendees who are new to Puerto Rico as well as those revisiting the island. The reasons to do so are more compelling than ever. See Discover Puerto Rico’s booth at IMEX America, D0316.



Chautauqua Harbor Hotel Jamestown, NY, showcases comedy history and an upscale waterfront property

its halls display artifacts and memorabilia from Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s famed Desilu Studios. Entire I Love Lucy sets are also on display. One of those sets, Ricky Ricardo’s Tropicana Night Club, can be used to host events for groups of up to 160. The National Comedy Center can also host events in its theater, as well as in a comedy club-styled venue. The center hosts numerous exhibitions tracking modern-day comedic history, from comic strips and vaudeville to present-day Internet memes. While born in Jamestown, Ball also grew up in nearby Celeron, a resort town alongside Chautauqua Lake. Once home to an amusement park, the town is favored during summer months for its activities on the lake, including boating, fishing and watersports. The newly constructed, 135-room Chautauqua Harbor Hotel sits on the waterfront, providing an ideal destination for small to midsized groups. Its Pier Ballroom and Conference Center offers over 10,000 sq. ft. of function space with plenty of natural light. Outdoor function spaces include a private pier, poolside areas with fire pits, and an expansive lawn. Adjacent to the hotel, the Lucille Ball Memorial Park has a scenic lighthouse and boat launch, as well as a band shell among its event spaces. The Chautauqua Harbor Hotel’s size makes it ideal for buyouts. And its location — accessible to cities such as Pittsburgh, Rochester and Buffalo — makes it convenient for regional meetings. —D.K.


Chautauqua Harbor Hotel

hile New York City, home to the Javits Center and countless upscale hotels, naturally gets the lion’s share of attention in the New York meetings market, other cities throughout the state offer planners intriguing, less-traveled site options. One example is Jamestown, situated about six hours west of New York City, past the Finger Lakes region in the southwestern corner of the state. Once known as the furniture capital of the world, the city was home to exhibitions at the Furniture Mart Building, the tallest in the downtown. More recently, Jamestown’s resident and nearby cultural institutions have taken center stage. One of the region’s most famous residents of the last century was Lucille Ball. Ball’s accomplishments are celebrated in the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum and affiliated National Comedy Center. The former venue’s stated mission is to “enrich the world through the healing powers of love and laughter,” and




Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Four Seasons Resort Orlando is prepared to host both in-person and virtual attendees By Laura Janelle Downey


hen the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort opened seven years ago, it set a standard of excellence in hospitality. And to date, the Four-Star property continues to uphold its benchmark of distinction. With 443 rooms, an 18-hole Tom Fazio-designed golf course, adult pool, tennis facilities, savory culinary options and a spa, the resort, which sits on 26-plus acres, is poised to host conference attendees year round.

Capa steakhouse on the 17th floor FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2021 SUPERBOOK

Offering nearly 67,000 sq. ft. of event space from indoor ballrooms to outdoor patios (e.g., rooftop steakhouse Capa’s 17th floor terraces), there’s something for every group. If virtual attendees need a break from workshops, a wellness professional can lead them through stretching techniques before reconvening again. And if in-person groups want to include wellness into their meeting-filled days, group golf or tennis lessons can be provided. Other highlights to help remote attendees feel as if they are on property include optional Stay Connected boxes, which can be sent before a conference begins. The box can be customized with a unique blend of coffee from the resort’s Lickety Split lobby café, virtual reality eyeglasses and more. Meeting-goers can experience handson cooking or mixology classes while virtual attendees can participate without skipping a beat thanks to prepackaged ingredients shipped directly to their homes. Event spaces at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort come with state-of-the-art technology. Plus, audiovisual experts are on hand to ensure meetings go smoothly. After a long day, group attendees can unwind with a service at the spa. The Healing Honey Treatment or Sticks and Stones Massage is a perfect way to end the day before ordering in-room dining via the room’s iPad or the Four Seasons app.



The Hamilton Alpharetta, Curio Collection by Hilton

New boutique hotel welcomes groups to the heart of Georgia By Laura Janelle Downey


ituated in the heart of Downtown Alpharetta, the new Hamilton Hotel has brought an air of excitement to a town of nearly 70,000 residents. Featuring 119 rooms and suites, the boutique hotel, which opened in August, is part of Hilton’s Curio Collection. With 2,329 sq. ft. of indoor event space alongside a spacious outdoor terrace (3,200 sq. ft.), the hotel enables planners to host everything from corporate training sessions and board meetings to outdoor receptions. Recently, international shipping and container transportation company Hapag-Lloyd held an executive event at The Hamilton. “We chose The Hamilton’s indoor meeting space to host our event because of the comfortable feel and openness of the room,” says Kellie Jett, Executive Assistant at Hapag-Lloyd. “Meetings can be daunting, and having the large windows along with the courtyard right outside helps make the room feel larger and brighter and not feel so boardroom-like, all while still keeping the executive feel.” After the work is done, groups can discover Roaring Social (RoSo), a speakeasy featuring live music and an eight-lane bowling alley. Accessing the venue, which is designed as a clothier’s workshop, is easy for guests, as a quick Kellie Jett elevator ride takes them directly there. Innovative cocktails include the piper Sonoma brut rosé Bubbly Bath, which comes in a mini bathtub topped with raspberry foam. Another highlight is the 1927 Some Mores dessert, designed for guests to build-their-own gooey gra-


ham cracker, marshmallow and chocolate treat. Having entertainment on property made The Hamilton more enticing to the Hapag-Lloyd crew. “We found out about RoSo and the wonderful event space they have attached to the hotel, so we were able to plan a night out on the town without having to leave the hotel,” Jett says. Other hotel highlights include the French-inspired Carrie’s Conservatory, which is open for breakfast and lunch (standout dishes include the Beef Bourguignon with heirloom potatoes and carrots). And only a few steps away is Fulton’s Public House, where guests can feast on filet mignon before spoiling their sweet tooth with powdered sugar-covered beignets. “The onsite bars and restaurants were a great addition. It helps to have many options so close,” Jett says. She adds, “We utilized as much of the beautiful space as possible and set up on the courtyard for evening drinks as well as utilized the bar and restaurant for meals and happy hours. This is a top-notch hotel.”



W Punta de Mita

This seaside boutique resort doubles as a memorable event venue


W Punta de Mita beach


aradise awaits your meeting group in Mexico. Once attendees land at Puerto Vallarta International Airport, a short 40-minute ride will transport them to W Punta de Mita, a chic beachside resort in Riviera Nayarit. Featuring 119 guestrooms (including 13 suites), 2,583 sq. ft. of indoor function space and lots of outdoor options for breakout sessions and more, the property is well prepared to host events and exudes a playful surfside charm (e.g., surfboard headboards on guestroom beds). Amy Abbott, owner of Amy Abbott Events, chose to host her client’s 190-person event on the W’s 1,776-sq.-ft. lawn. “There are so many amazing outside spaces that it



By Laura Janelle Downey

was difficult to choose just one,” Abbott says. “We ended up with the W lawn because of the lush greenery and how it’s positioned right in the center of the resort.” This area provided the flexibility her team needed. “We’re able to use the space in any way that we wanted because of its private, intimate setting. We created a vintage ‘Motown’ feel with tall centerpieces, a red carpet, and a floral installation on the stage that left guests speechless,” Abbott says. “The acoustics are also perfect for a live performance, and the venue may also transition into a perfect place for a wedding reception or a corporate event.” This ideal location provides a seamless transition from event to teambuilding activity. Whether your guests are strolling the Camino Huichol walkway, which is comprised of more than 700,000 mosaic tiles, or moving around via scooter, their passport to pleasure is just steps away. They can try everything from a beginner’s surfing lesson or yoga on the beach to a hands-on ceviche-making class or guided tequila, mescal and raicilla tasting. Among many intriguing choices for offsite ventures, groups can take a tour of Sayulita to shop local wares. When back at W Punta de Mita, guests can head to the WET Deck for Bubbles and Beats. Here, they’ll vibe to live music led by DJs. For both work and play, the W is a one-stop beachfront shop. “The icing on the cake is the value guests receive from such a luxurious property,” Abbott says. “It really is an excellent venue space and spot-on for almost any occasion.”






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FEATURING: • The annual Mid-Market Review, profiling third-tier cities that are overachievers in the meetings industry • The PRISM Hotel Awards, recognizing the top meeting hotels and resorts based on reader nominations • Planner Roundtable: Veteran planners weigh in on a hot topic in the field • Post-event coverage of PCMA Convening Leaders • F&D Forums: In-depth Q&As with industry leaders on the move • The latest meeting news from Arizona, Florida and the Mid-Atlantic





The Atlantic County Utilities Authority (ACUA) also plays a vital role in Atlantic City’s energy efficiency efforts. Located at ACUA, the Jersey-Atlantic Wind Farms have saved ACUA more than $6.1 million in energy costs and have prevented more than 62,000 metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere since its opening. This permits for a continued clean, safe and healthy environment.



tlantic City is ready to create meaningful meetings together, as shown by the sustainability efforts throughout the seaside destination.

Atlantic City’s convenient location allows for visitors and meeting attendees to safely travel in the comfort of a car, an ecoconscious mode of transportation. However, air travel is available at the Atlantic City International Airport, located within 12 miles of Atlantic City, and the Philadelphia International Airport, located within 60 miles of Atlantic City. Situated in the heart of the Northeast and surrounded by many major cities, it’s the perfect destination to hold your next meeting or convention for easy accessibility. Leading the way with sustainable and energy efficient efforts, Atlantic City can give you the space you need to meet safely and comfortably. With more than 17,500 first-class hotel rooms, 2.2 million sq. ft. of meeting space citywide and 486,600 contiguous sq. ft. of exhibit space at the LEED Gold and GBAC STAR-certified Atlantic City Convention Center, the city has the wide-open space you need for your group to meet with the proper social distance specifications. Adding to the energy efficient efforts is the largest single roof-mounted solar array in the United States, which consists of 13,000 individual panels and covers over 290,000 sq. ft. In need of an affordable, safe and ecological mode of transportation for your attendees? The Atlantic City Jitney is the answer. Powered by compressed natural gas, this people mover runs throughout the city or can be tailored for a specific route for your event.

Focused on future citywide sustainability and clean beaches, Atlantic City continues to offer a variety of corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. Regular beach cleanups help save and protect the city’s important wildlife and ecosystem, while organizations such as the Atlantic City Boys & Girls Club, Atlantic City Rescue Mission, South Jersey Food Bank and the Humane Society of Atlantic County always welcome volunteers to complete your organization’s detailed CSR accreditations and help regenerate the destination. Beautification projects are necessary for every destination and its environment to thrive. Atlantic City is home to more than 50 murals, which can be found throughout the city on exterior building walls. The stories behind the artists’ work are as moving as the murals they create and continue to showcase the vibrancy of Atlantic City. In addition, after strolling the world-famous Boardwalk, you may find yourself resting in an Adirondack chair that has been constructed and remodeled by local artists. Atlantic City is focused on the future as the city continues to diversify itself and lead the way in regenerative tourism. Atlantic City looks forward to working with your group to establish meaningful meetings and conventions before, during and after your event. Experiences await here.


Larry Sieg, President and CEO (609) 318-5538 • lsieg@meetac.com

1 Convention Boulevard, Atlantic City, NJ 08401 • (844) 855-6338 meetac.com FACILITIES FACILITIES & & DESTINATIONS DESTINATIONS 2021 2021 SUPERBOOK SUPERBOOK

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Welcoming You Back to Austin


he Austin Convention Center team has been tirelessly working to prepare for your next event, prioritizing the health and safety of its guests. When you are ready, the facility is open and prepared to welcome you to Austin. The four-story, LEED Goldcertified Austin Convention Center is a Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR-accredited facility.


Spanning six city blocks, the facility is located in the heart of Austin’s downtown business district. There are five column-free exhibit halls, totaling 247,052 sq. ft., and two ballrooms that range up to 40,510 sq. ft. in size, along with 54 meeting rooms and show offices. Ample parking is provided in two garages with 1,700 spaces. No need to roam, looking for the full connectivity sweet spot. New video walls are available for additional wayfinding and client messaging to go along with 24/7 network support and event customization. The convention center’s complimentary Wi-Fi can accommodate 20,000 devices at one time. Rated as one of the most technologically advanced convention centers in the country, the gigabit-rated facility moves voice, video and data at over one billion bits per second. In-house services include complimentary Wi-Fi, redundant high-speed Internet II access, and plug-andplay capabilities.


There are 42,000 hotel rooms in Austin, and 12,000-plus of them are downtown within a two-mile radius of the facility. Adjacent hotels connected by walkways include the 800-room Hilton Austin, connected by the Hilton Overhead Walkway at 4th, and The Fairmont Austin, North America’s largest Fairmont property with 1,048 rooms, connected via the Fairmont Canopy Walk. Additional nearby hotels include Four Seasons Hotel Austin, JW Marriott, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn by Marriott, Hilton Garden Inn Austin Downtown, Radisson Hotel & Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown, Driskill Hotel, Omni Austin Hotel Downtown, Stephen F. Austin Royal Sonesta Hotel, W Austin, Hyatt Place Downtown Austin and Westin Austin Downtown. The all-new Austin Marriott Downtown, located adjacent to the Austin Convention Center, opened its doors this year with 600 guestrooms.


The Austin Convention Center is Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR accredited. This is the gold standard for prepared facilities. Under the guidance of GBAC, a Division of ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association, the Austin Convention Center and the Palmer Events Center are implementing the most stringent protocols for cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention

Fast Facts: FACILITY

Location: Downtown Austin Total Area: 881,400 gross sq. ft., covering six city blocks Meeting & Exhibit Space: 374,278 sq. ft. Fifty-four meeting rooms. Five contiguous exhibit halls with 247,052 sq. ft. of columnfree space. Technology: New video walls, plug-and-play capabilities and onsite technical staff Ballrooms: Seven, ranging in size from cozy and intimate to one of the largest in Texas at 40,510 sq. ft. Food & Beverage: The Austin Convention Center Catering team works with area vendors to procure local ingredients for catering menus. Among the most popular items — more than 90 percent of them are produced in-house — are mouthwatering local favorites like street-style tacos, smoked meats and Tex-Mex.


Getting Here Fast The meeting experience begins immediately when attendees arrive at one of the most modern airports in the country, the AustinBergstrom International Airport (AUS). Located just eight miles from downtown, the airport is listed among the top five airports in both North America and the world for excellence in customer service. Get here as fast as you can.


Trisha Tatro, Director of Austin Convention Center Department Paul Barnes, Deputy Director – Chief Operations Officer Amy Harris, CMP, Director of Sales

500 E. Cesar Chavez Street, Austin, TX 78701 • (512) 404-4200; Fax: (512) 404-4220 conventionsales@austintexas.gov • austinconventioncenter.com 48 48




Boise and Boise Centre Check All The Boxes

Open, Clean, Walkable, Friendly and Ready for Your Event BOISE

Easy-to-navigate Boise boasts a vibrant downtown just minutes from the airport, new hotels, a GBAC STAR-accredited convention center, and plenty of outdoor activities for your guests to enjoy. With nonstop service from 28 destinations, getting to Boise is easier than ever.


Situated in the heart of downtown is Boise Centre, Idaho’s premier convention center. Within the convention center, you will find 31 versatile meeting rooms and event spaces, and beautiful views of the Boise Foothills. Boise Centre proudly provides exceptional catering services with locally inspired menus, in-house audiovisual and the latest in wireless technology. The venue has achieved the GBAC STAR facility accreditation for its commitment to ensuring a clean, safe, healthy environment for its employees and guests. Within a few steps of Boise Centre are hotels, restaurants, breweries, unique shops and plentiful outdoor adventures.


Boise Centre has expanded its virtual meeting capabilities and has added a customizable event production studio equipped with multiple cameras, professional lighting, green screen and staging within the convention center. The venue’s network infrastructure has been increased to a robust 2 GB offering the reliability necessary to deliver a seamless meeting experience for both onsite and locations across the globe. Many meeting rooms have been updated with a modern contemporary design with new carpet, wall coverings and paint.


Boise’s energetic, walkable, friendly downtown offers numerous outdoor dining options. The city’s 8th Street, known as Restaurant Row, has expanded adding a pedestrian and patio district where groups may enjoy local fare at a safe distance. Here visitors will find one-of-a-kind eateries, breweries, wine-tasting rooms, over 100 shops, numerous art galleries and a weekly farmer’s market all centered in the city’s urban core. In Boise, the mountains, rivers, golf courses and bike paths are easily accessible. Just four blocks from downtown is the Boise Greenbelt, a 25-mile walking and biking path that follows the Boise River through the city. From hiking to stand-up paddle-boarding and whitewater rafting, Boise offers many outdoor activities guaranteed to please your group.


• 86,000 sq. ft. including 31 meeting rooms with virtual/hybrid capabilities • Free shared Wi-Fi throughout and dedicated bandwidth • Mountains, rivers, bike paths and hiking nearby • A short seven minutes from the airport • 1,300 hotel rooms within walking distance and many more nearby


Ali Ribordy, Director of Sales Phone: (208) 489-3608 • Email: aribordy@boisecentre.com Take A Virtual Tour at boisecentre.com

850 West Front Street, Boise, ID 83702 • (208) 336-8900 • boisecentre.com FACILITIES FACILITIES & & DESTINATIONS DESTINATIONS 2021 2021 SUPERBOOK SUPERBOOK

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Hartford, Connecticut

Open and Ready to Welcome You!


pend some time in Hartford and you’ll find a surprise around every corner: the expansive Connecticut Convention Center and connected Hartford Marriott, a vibrant redeveloped downtown, and an innovative food scene. With easy access from the airport and a free downtown circulator shuttle, Hartford is easy to get to and around, leaving you with more time to meet, explore and connect. Combining ample meeting space with visually stunning touches and unparalleled service, the Connecticut Convention Center is the premier meeting destination in the Northeast. Getting from work to play has never been easier when first-class entertainment and restaurants are just steps from your meeting. Enjoy tantalizing bites at over 40 independent res-taurants, and see a show at one of the nation’s leading resident theaters, the Hartford Stage. Sports fans can catch Hartford Yard Goats baseball at the 6,000-seat Dunkin’ Donuts Park, pulse-pounding action at a Hartford Wolf Pack hockey game, or UCONN basketball and hockey at the XL Center. Or better yet, do it all.

QUICK FACTS • Downtown Hotel Rooms: 1,600 • Attached Hotel: Hartford Marriott Downtown • Convention Center: 540,000 Sq. Ft. Facility • GBAC Star Facility • Nearest Airport: Bradley International (15 miles from downtown & 30 nonstop flights) • Downtown Transportation: Free Hartford Dash • Convention District: Front Street (directly across the street from the Center)

100 Columbus Boulevard, Hartford, CT 06103 • (860) 249-6000 • ctconventions.com 50 50




Winner of 11 Consecutive Facilities & Destinations Prime Site Awards Always a Prime Location for Your Next Meeting


Located in the heart of the Midwest’s most walkable city, Cincinnati, the Duke Energy Convention Center is within an eight-hour drive or one-hour flight of over half of the U.S. population.


Cincinnati has enjoyed a dramatic transformation in recent years that makes it a first-class convention and meeting destination. A blend of big-city sophistication and warm Midwestern charm, Cincinnati offers a mix of history, tradition, charm and energy that will connect with you personally, foster connections and create great experiences. When you come to Cincinnati and the Duke Energy Convention Center, plan for an attractive location including easy accessibility; a compact, walkable downtown; an affordable, world-class convention center; and hotel and meeting facilities. And, when the meeting concludes, plan to explore a city rich in character and entertainment including professional baseball and football, Broadway shows and world-class museums, including the Smithsonian-affiliated National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, plus a nationally recognized park system featuring the largest riverfront park in the nation.


Convention planners, show organizers and meeting professionals provided valuable input, and the result was a convention center designed by you and for you. The verticality of the design means that you save the soles of your feet! Featuring 200,000 sq. ft. of divisible ground-level exhibition halls, 30 modern meeting rooms on the second floor, and 57,500 sq. ft. of ballroom space immediately

above the meeting rooms, the Duke Energy Convention Center offers the largest and most spectacular 40,000-sq.-ft. Grand Ballroom in the Midwest.


Exhibitor Magazine’s readership of show organizers and exhibitors recently selected Duke Energy Convention Center as a 2021 “Center of Excellence” and a Top 20 Convention Center in North America. The Center’s professional and solution-driven staff is prepared to make your next meeting a success.


Spending nearly $1 million in health and safety improvements, the Center has successfully hosted sporting events, consumer shows, tradeshows and conventions live and in-person in 2021. Remaining solution-focused, the Duke Energy Convention Center also features a full broadcast studio with professional support capable of handling both live and virtual audiences, for those looking to continue to offer a virtual option to their attendees. With the health and safety of employees, partners, clients and guests top of mind, the DECC was the first convention center in Ohio to achieve GBAC STAR accreditation. As a GBAC STAR-accredited facility, the Center has implemented the most stringent protocols for cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention. The third-party validation by ISSA, the worldwide cleaning association, demonstrates the Center’s preparedness and commitment to operating safely. For more information about booking the Duke Energy Convention Center, call (513) 419-7304 or visit duke-energycenter.com.

525 Elm Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202 • (513) 419-7304 • duke-energycenter.com FACILITIES FACILITIES & & DESTINATIONS DESTINATIONS 2021 2021 SUPERBOOK SUPERBOOK

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Meeting Inspiration, Inside and Out


ith vast space inside a newly reimagined convention center and miles of beaches and waterways outdoors, Greater Fort Lauderdale is ready to delight your attendees, inside and



The Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center expansion is well underway with the first phase set to open in late 2021. The transformed venue will feature 350,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space, Water Taxi access, and ASM Global’s VenueShield to provide the highest levels of cleanliness and safety. Plus, Visit Lauderdale is giving away $10 million in meeting space for events booked during eligible 2021-2024 dates, so don’t miss out.


After the business side of the day is over, your attendees can enjoy 24 miles of coastline and 300 miles of scenic waterways here in the “Yachting Capital of the World.” A charter can be arranged for groups of any size for an inspiring luncheon, cocktail or dinner cruise through shimmering canals with stunning mansions and superyachts at every turn. Or plan a teambuilding adventure with a paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, diving or fishing excursion. And if you’re looking for the ultimate incentive trip, why not charter a yacht between Fort Lauderdale and Bermuda? Both destinations have wonderful offerings on land to enhance the private cruise experience.


The BB&T Center is Greater Fort Lauderdale’s home for NHL hockey and also features 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Gallery of Amazing

Things and C&I Studios also offer one-of-a-kind spaces inside. Excite larger groups’ imaginations with an event for up to 3,000 at the Museum of Discovery & Science.


Treat your group to an enchanting gathering at the Bamboo Gallery, with acres of tropical foliage, tiki huts and waterfalls. Or host a celebration under the stars at one of the area’s many rooftop bars, such as Sparrow, named one of the best rooftop bars in the United States. Give your attendees a fascinating look at wildlife on an airboat ride in the world-famous Everglades. Inside or out, a meeting here is one they’ll be raving about for years to come.


Greater Fort Lauderdale is excited to welcome every group under the sun — with service that’ll put you over the moon. The destination’s dedicated conventions team has the local insight and connections to help you create an extraordinary event. With affordable, easy access through Greater Fort LauderdaleHollywood International Airport, exceptional hotels in every price range and gorgeous beaches, Fort Lauderdale has everything to exceed expectations without exceeding your budget. The destination’s 14,000+ meeting hotel rooms include waterfront, luxury, boutique, all-suite and budget-friendly. Visit Lauderdale looks forward to helping you plan your next meeting. Visit the CVB online at VisitLauderdale.com/Meetings for a quick and easy RFP submission and to learn more.

101 Northeast Third Avenue, Suite 100, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 • (954) 765-4466 VisitLauderdale.com/Meetings 52 52




Imagine your meeting in the wide-open spaces of our Exhibition Hall and its adjacent Lakeside Commons — with immersive, engaging presentations experienced in-person or remotely. Yes, times have changed. But they’ve only fortified our attention to ever y last detail.

Let Monona Terrace Orchestrate Your Incredible, Safely

So go ahead, keep dreaming big.


t Monona Terrace, you have the freedom to imagine your dream event. Then, the convention center’s detail-obsessed staff will work with you to bring it to life safely. Book your next meeting or convention to experience Monona Terrace’s top-notch technology and imaginative, concierge-caliber service — all with a lakeside view. So go ahead and keep dreaming big. Monona Terrace looks forward to hosting your group. At Monona Terrace, a crown jewel of Madison’s isthmus, safety and sustainability are at the forefront of the facility’s operations. Monona Terrace has achieved the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR accreditation, the gold standard for infectious disease prevention. With Monona Terrace’s advanced cleaning protocols, upgraded air filtration system, and large, open spaces for distancing, your next event here is safe. And at this LEED Gold-certified green facility, your event is kinder to the planet too. Monona Terrace shows its commitment to the environment through sustainable practices such as purchasing 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources.

Achieving the global gold standard for prevention is one of the many ways we’re keeping you safe.

GBAC accredited cleaning protocol

Open spaces for distancing

Upgraded air filtration system


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.


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.-by10 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 FACILITIES FACILITIES & & DESTINATIONS DESTINATIONS 2021 2021 SUPERBOOK SUPERBOOK

Let us orchestrate your incredible. Connect with us at MononaTerrace.com Madison, WI

© 2021 Monona Terrace

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Overland Park Convention Center BEST







ith the charming hospitality of a Midwest town and the

cultural amenities of a big city, we have a feeling you'll quickly become a regular in Overland Park. Named Best Customer Service and Best Small Convention Center in North America by EXHIBITOR Magazine, the Overland Park Convention Center offers a high-quality, high-tech experience for corporate meetings, trade shows, conventions and more. An all-

encompassing event resource with an award-winning staff, everything you need to design a memorable event can be found under one roof. VENUE AMENITIES Parking, hard lock security and high speed Wi-Fi are all complimentary at the Overland Park Convention Center. With one of the fastest Wi-Fi systems in the industry, backed by a 10 GB infrastructure and redundant fiber internet services, attendees are only limited by the capacity of their devices. Accessibility is also a breeze, with almost 1,000 hotel rooms within walking distance (including a 412-room attached Sheraton) and easy access off the interstate for motorists. ACCOMPLISHED EMPLOYEES The convention center staff is high in achievement with five Certified Meeting Professionals, one nationally selected Connect Association 40 Under 40 recipient, one Certified Technology Specialist, one Certified Venue Executive and six Speciality Rigging Accredited team members. NEARBY ATTRACTIONS Topgolf, an entertainment and golf destination, and iFly, an indoor skydiving facility are less than a mile from the venue. Also located less than a mile from the convention center, Park Place offers restaurants, retail stores, and Barkley Square, a community green space featuring year-round activities. In the summer, guests can enjoy lively concerts and street fairs. And who could forget about Kansas City's greatest attraction, it's world-famous barbecue!

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ADDRESS: 6000 College Blvd. Overland Park, KS 66211

CONTACT Tracy Roberts, director of sales

PHONE 913-339-3055

EMAIL troberts@opconventioncenter. com

WEBSITE www.opconventioncenter.com

VENUE SIZE 262,000 sq. ft.

LARGEST EVENT SPACES Exhibition Hall AB/ Ballroom ABC 85,000 sq. ft. Exhibition Hall AB 60,000 sq. ft. Ballroom ABC 25,000 sq. ft.




PUERTO RICO CONVENTION CENTER The Caribbean’s Largest Convention Center Is Back, Safely Puerto Rico’s Convention District offering is a unique differentiating factor that positions the Puerto Rico Convention Center as the ideal destination for a wide array of meetings and events


s we continue to ease back into normalcy amidst more than a year of lockdowns, Puerto Rico is officially open for meetings and conventions once again.

The Puerto Rico Convention Center (PRCC) has taken advantage of mandated closings to make the necessary enhancements, and is ready to host inbound meetings and events. Visitors will find improved facilities and more entertainment options. The PRCC’s continuous goal is to instill the highest levels of security and consumer confidence, providing a safe environment for all visitors, business partners and employees. That’s why they’ve enhanced safety and health protocols by implementing VenueShield.

“As a meetings destination, Puerto Rico is a place like no other. We offer an unparalleled combination of the best meeting infrastructure, high-speed internet and 5G, worldclass gastronomy, natural attractions, great hotels and new state-of-the-art entertainment options like the Distrito T-Mobile, providing a complete experience for visitors,” stated Jorge Pérez, Regional Manager, ASM Global.


A best-in-class environmental hygiene protocol created to satisfy evolving guest expectations stemming from the pandemic. VenueShield was developed in partnership with leading medical professionals, industry experts and public health officials. It provides the most advanced hygienic safeguards and health and safety

protocols covering areas such as environmental hygiene, technology and equipment, communication and public awareness, food safety, customer experience, workforce safety and temperature screening. These extensive measures include the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), air quality control, surface cleaning, physical/social distancing, thermal cameras, hand sanitizers, reduced touch points, contactless transactions, daily monitoring systems and more.


GBAC STAR is a performance-based accreditation program that helps facilities demonstrate that they have the work practices, procedures and protocols to prepare, respond and recover from outbreaks and pandemics.


During the pandemic, the PRCC has invested in the replacement of carpets, improvements in its HVAC, air conditioning and air purification systems, and the installation of new sensor-activated touchless doors. The facility has also invested in improving its network connectivity with a new state-of-the-art wireless network, designed with robust and scalable 5G capable architecture. This upgrade ensures that the visitors attending conferences, meetings and other special events have reliable and seamless connectivity throughout the entire convention center.


Distrito T-Mobile, adjacent to the PRCC, was recently built at a cost of over $175 million. It features a new 177-room Aloft hotel, eight movie theaters with a total capacity for 800 people, the Coca-Cola Music Hall, a central plaza with a 4,000-ft. horizontal display — the largest in the Northern Hemisphere, an indoor zipline and restaurants, among other amenities. With more than 600,000 sq. ft. of total space, the PRCC itself features an Exhibition Hall that can seat nearly 17,000 people and a ballroom that can accommodate more than 4,000. Along with the waterfront, the PRCC is capable of hosting more than 25,000 guests simultaneously.

1000 Convention Boulevard, San Juan, PR 00907 • (787) 641-7722 • prconvention.com 56 56





any groups look forward to visiting the Phoenix Convention Center (PCC) in the near future, and with good reason. Not only is the facility itself top quality, but it’s also surrounded by the best of the Valley of the Sun. With over 800,000 sq. ft. of retail space, restaurants and bars, and professional sports franchises in the vicinity, attendees have an array of free-time options. In addition, planners can take advantage of the presence of three public universities as potential sources for local speakers. What is more, this meetings oasis in the Sonoran Desert is very accessible. The Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is a mere four miles away from the PCC, which is served by a dedicated METRO Light Rail stop. Thanks to these assets, Phoenix’s convention industry is proving resilient even in the face of the pandemic. The PCC offers a variety of event venues, both indoors and outdoors, that a planner can select from according to space requirements in the age of social distancing. The Phoenix Convention Center is the first public venue in Arizona to receive GBAC STAR™ accreditation. Recognized as the gold standard of safe venues, GBAC STAR™ provides third-party validation to ensure the implementation of rigorous protocols in response to biorisk situations. The GBAC accreditation program enables facilities to maximize product use and best practices for sanitization and train staff to implement them at the level needed to thoroughly sterilize and clean environments in the era of COVID-19. All spaces have been designed to evoke the local environment, and indoor spaces feature a layout that greatly facilitates event logistics. “There are two features that set us apart from many of our competitors: Our architecture and our stacked floor plan,” says Jacqueline Davis, Marketing and Communications Manager. “Throughout our campus, guests will find a variety of colors, textures and finishes designed to capture the warm hues of the Sonoran Desert and the cool tones of an Arizona desert sky. Even our outdoor space, Canyon on Third, is bordered by our two main buildings (North and West), giving it a cavernous appearance that pays homage to the many canyons in Arizona. Additionally,

our campus layout is a stacked floor plan designed to make it convenient for guests to move about the campus.” The North and West Buildings offer a total of 502,500 sq. ft. of exhibit space, 81 meeting rooms and two large ballrooms, each measuring over 45,000 sq. ft. The South Building houses 143,400 sq. ft. of exhibit space, 18 meeting rooms and a 28,000-sq.-ft. ballroom. Canyon on Third spans over 80,000 sq. ft., accommodating a variety of events under the Arizona sky. “We find that a lot of meeting and event planners are looking for outdoor space to enhance the experience for attendees by offering a chance to take full advantage of the weather,” says Davis. “Our outdoor event space — Canyon on Third — is ideal for events that want a flexible, blank canvas. The space can be customized based on meeting and event needs. The space has been used for evening receptions, carnivals, fan festivals, security screening and so much more.” Just as the PCC’s design is attuned to the Southwestern locale, so is the facility’s cuisine. “Aventura’s state-of-the-art food court, PHX Kitchens Downtown Food Hall, provides an array of dining options, such as locally roasted coffee and authentic Mexican cuisine,” Davis notes. Aventura Catering, part of Aramark Corporation, was created specifically for the PCC and has established partnerships with local farms and suppliers to ensure the F&B that attendees enjoy is fresh, innovative and locally inspired. Aventura also contributes to the PCC’s sustainable operations by using compostable packaging and purchasing products made from plant-based materials free of any GMOs, among other practices. Indeed, environmentally conscious groups have an ideal partner in the Phoenix Convention Center, which is LEED Silver certified. “There are over 700 solar panels that generate enough output to power 14 homes in a year, and we’ve purchased more than 31,000 chairs made from recycled car batteries and seatbelts to use in our meeting rooms,” Davis explains. “We also recycle more than 460 tons of material each year.” Just as the Phoenix Convention Center is devoted to conserving the environment, it is also fulfilling its due diligence when it comes to protecting attendees and staff.

100 North Third Street, Phoenix, AZ 85004 • (800) 282-4842• phoenixconventioncenter.com FACILITIES FACILITIES & & DESTINATIONS DESTINATIONS 2021 2021 SUPERBOOK SUPERBOOK

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SAVANNAH Make Savannah Your Next Meetings Destination


ith more than 45 cultural attractions, Savannah draws meeting attendees craving a diverse and safe experience. This one-of-a-kind destination will enthrall your attendees with its eclectic atmosphere and relaxed pace. Trolley, Segway and walking tours covering history, hauntings, architecture and food fill downtime with excitement and entertainment, and elegant accommodations within blocks of meeting venues make gatherings in Savannah a step above the rest. No matter where you come from or how you arrive, you and your guests will find it’s easy to get to Savannah. The Savannah/ Hilton Head International Airport is located only 15 miles from the city center and is served by many major airlines, including Delta, American, United, JetBlue, Allegiant, Frontier, Sun Country and new flights from the Southwest. The city is also easily accessible by major highways, like Interstate 95 and 16, and has direct Amtrak rail connections to New York and Miami. After arriving, you and your attendees will find that Savannah is easy to navigate on foot and with local transportation. Savannah is one of the most popular visitor destinations in the United States with increasing interest due to the expansion of the Savannah Convention Center. Opening late 2023, the building will double the size of its exhibit hall to 200,000 sq. ft., add a new 40,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, increase customizable breakout rooms to 32, and include a new 900-space parking garage. Additionally, the Savannah Convention Center was among the first wave to achieve the GBAC STAR facility accreditation for cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention. There are a variety of convention hotels throughout Savannah, the most recent being the new 419-room J.W. Marriott at Plant

Riverside. This museum-like hotel includes dozens of larger-thanlife geodes and historical displays from developer Richard Kessler’s private collection, over 18,000 sq. ft. of event space, and an entertainment district overlooking the Savannah River that boasts 14 different food and beverage outlets. Meeting attendees are also sure to enjoy Savannah’s palate-pleasing twist on Southern cuisine and farm-to-table fare served at many award-winning restaurants that are ready to host your networking breakfast events, executive lunches and reward dinners in style. This city is famous for its unique brand of coastal cuisines, with restaurants serving authentic shrimp and grits, extra-crispy fried chicken, mouthwatering barbecue and so much more. By its nature, Savannah loves to welcome guests. But it’s also about caring for fellow citizens, visitors and each other. The Savannah community has come together to create the Savannah Safe Initiative, a commitment to help stop the spread of COVID-19 with cleaning and disinfecting protocols to help ensure the health and safety of everyone in our places of business. Over 600 Savannah area businesses, including the Savannah Convention Center, have taken the pledge. From the moment you start planning your event to the closing-night festivities, you and your attendees will be the city’s honored guests. Count on Visit Savannah to make your next meeting, incentive trip, conference or event a huge success. Start planning your meeting today at VisitSavannah.com.


Jeff Hewitt, Senior Vice President (912) 644-616 • JHewitt@VisitSavannah.com

101 East Bay Street, Savannah, GA 31401 • (877) SAVANNAH; (912) 644-6424 savannahmeetings.com; visitsavannah.com 58 58





he Spokane Convention Center campus sits on the banks of the Spokane River located in the heart of downtown, providing spectacular views of the 100-acre Riverfront Park along with close access to numerous restaurants, hotels, entertainment opportunities and unique shopping. The campus, which includes the First Interstate Center for the Arts and the Spokane Convention Center, is attached to two major hotels and surrounded by many others. Built specifically to host events, the Spokane Convention Center is the region’s premier choice for conventions, consumer shows, banquets, meetings and social events. With the completion of the 2015 expansion, the Spokane Convention Center has more than 300,000 sq. ft. of user-friendly space, including a 120,000-sq.-ft. exhibit hall, three ballrooms and the flexibility to host 40 breakouts. Unique spaces include a 270-seat, intimate Conference Theater and a highly appointed Executive Boardroom; both feature cutting-edge technical capabilities. The design of the expanded space was inspired by the desire to create a well-appointed space that is functional and efficient, to make a connection between the facility and the natural beauty of the area, and to meet the current and future needs of facility users. The result is beautiful, modern space with a north-facing window wall that brings in natural light and provides amazing views of the river and Riverfront Park. Each event space is surrounded by lobbies and public areas that invite guests to relax and enjoy the ambiance or engage in spontaneous conversations.

Over half a million dollars in art projects created by local artists have been commissioned since 2010 and bolster an art collection that began in the early 1970s. Each work of art reflects a story about the local community and helps create a “sense of place” for both local residents and visitors. For warm weather events, there is the spectacular Roof Deck and new Riverside Terrace, each with a panoramic view of the river and Riverfront Park — perfect for up to 500 people for stand-up receptions. A floating stage with stairs that seat over 1,000 people sets a dramatic stage for large concerts or intimate weddings. An Event Lawn, outside patios and the Breezeway between the First Interstate Center for the Arts complete the list of outdoor spaces perfect for events from early Spring through mid-Fall. For more information, please visit spokanecenter.com.

334 West Spokane Falls Blvd., Spokane, WA 99201 • (509) 279-7007 spokanecenter.com FACILITIES FACILITIES & & DESTINATIONS DESTINATIONS 2021 2021 SUPERBOOK SUPERBOOK

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he Saint Charles Convention Center’s elegant atmosphere and upscale amenities, coupled with Saint Charles, Missouri’s warm hospitality and historical significance, make for an unprecedented event experience. The facility boasts a flexible 85,000 sq. ft., featuring a beautiful 16,200-sq.-ft. Grand Ballroom, and 27,600 sq. ft. of Exhibit Hall space expandable to 35,700 sq. ft. through the adjacent Junior Ballroom — all of which is carpeted and can be elegantly decorated. Additionally, the facility features multiple meeting rooms, an Executive Board Room, a Business & Guest Services Center and the Cyber Café. The available space at the building can accommodate events ranging from as small as 10 to as large as 3,700 attendees. An array of different types of events have been hosted at the convention center, including corporate conferences, dance competitions, proms, weddings, boat shows, trade shows and the list can go on. Since the building opened in 2005, nearly 5,000 events have been successfully hosted. From those events, long-term relationships have been built between staff and clients, making the event-planning process that much more enjoyable. As of September 2020, AtmosAir was installed into the building’s HVAC system. AtmosAir’s proven air purification technology acts as a continuous disinfectant, actively reducing airborne and surface contaminants such as viruses, odors, VOCs, smoke, bacteria and germs. It helps eliminate odors while reducing dust, mold, mildew and allergens. As a second layer of protection, the Saint Charles Convention Center installed Fresh-Aire UV, which neutralizes any remaining air contaminants after passing through the AtmosAir technology. This new technology helps keep all employees and

attendees safe and healthy while in the building. Managed by Spectra Venue Management, the Saint Charles Convention Center conveniently offers in-house services including customized catering and decorating selections, exceptional audiovisual capabilities, an attached full-service hotel, and a dedicated staff that treats you like family. Great meetings take thorough preparation. It’s the careful attention to every detail that makes the difference between a meeting that’s just a function and a meeting that functions purposefully. For this kind of meticulous groundwork, the professional staff at the Saint Charles Convention Center is ready to take your event to the next level. Why Saint Charles? The city offers meeting planners major market facilities with a small-town feel. The convention center is conveniently located 10 minutes from the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, minutes from Historic Downtown Saint Charles, and walking distance from Saint Charles’ dining and entertainment. This area of gaslights and brick streets is the perfect setting for your offsite events or pre- and post-convention activities. In addition to all that Saint Charles has to offer, Downtown St. Louis is just a short drive east of the convention center. There are numerous attractions including award-winning restaurants, hotels, museums, the zoo, major league sports and so much more! Simply ask a Saint Charles Convention Center employee to give you suggestions for your itinerary to assure your visit is all that you imagined. The central location of the convention center, near so many types of entertainment, makes it the perfect facility to host your next event!

1 Convention Center Plaze, St. Charles, MO 63303 • (877) 896-7222 stcharlesconventioncenter.com 60 60


Missed conversations, reconnecting with old friends and yearning to make trusted new connections. The journey back starts today. Registration is now open for IMEX America 2021, taking place at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas from November, 9-11 Join us on the road to Mandalay-YAY! It’s going to be a memorable trip! Visit imexamerica.com to register now. Some things are worth waiting for Stay in touch on social #WeWillMeetAgain



GETTING YOUR SPONSORS EXCITED AGAIN 3 advantages to offering digital branding opportunities By Katie Bell


radeshows and conventions are rapidly returning to in-person events. After a year of being limited to branded email blasts and virtual meetings, it’s more important than ever to bring sponsors back into the fold with dynamic messaging opportunities. Providing a flexible service that can cater to all sizes and levels of sponsorships is critical for reestablishing win-win partnerships. In the ever-changing events industry, you can’t always pick up where you left off, but rebuilding doesn’t need to be an impossible task. Here are three key advantages to digital branding as a way to re-engage potential sponsors for your conference:





There’s a real positive when an attendee looks at your brand or message and thinks “Hey! I remember you!” Familiar encounters with messaging from previous events and campaigns can have a huge impact. Clings and banners always make a sponsor smile, but think about how effective it would be for you to offer additional branding to a sponsor that makes them ready to re-sign for years to come. Digital signage also provides a seamless solution to capturing first-time sponsors who arrive onsite and want to increase their presence among their peers and competitors on the show floor.



The ability to deliver For your first in-person event in quite some time, you will not Getting a sponsor’s name “in information in a targeted always be on terra firma. Letting lights” is a quick and easy way manner based on realyour sponsors know their message can to provide a great launching pad to time event data insights move and evolve throughout the event reinvigorate those discussions that ensures the sponsor is is paramount. As ideas and content once seemed so commonplace. If you’re getting the most value for change, digital messaging is much more lucky, the folks you knew are back economical than print when it comes to as your closest sponsors and event their spend. changes and adjustments. advocates. If they’re no longer around, Never mind what you think you know, now is a good every conversation has a starting point, and demonstrating time to embrace what you don’t. You should be taking the value is always a great place to open negotiations. pulse of your event daily, maybe even more than once on Whether your event is right around the corner or you the important days, and sculpting your messages to make have extra time to plan, offering digital signage as part of sure your attendees are feeling positive and welcome. If a sponsorship package can help get those partners back your branding isn’t connecting the way you expected, you on board and generate excitement and revenue for your need the flexibility to adjust it in a timely fashion in order conference. to re-engage your audience. No matter how many content changes you may have, As a Digital Signage Sales Manager with Orlando, FLwith digital signage you can quickly establish a reliable based Xpodigital, Katie Bell partners with meeting hub of information throughout your event. For example, planners to create and execute digital branding with digital signage you can extend a timed offer or onsite campaigns for conventions and tradeshows. After call to action that doesn’t require you to print new signs and graduating from the University of Georgia, Bell moved spend the labor and time needed to strategically place them to Central Florida to pursue a career in hospitality. She throughout your event. The ability to deliver information in started in guest service and technology at The Walt a targeted manner based on real-time event data insights Disney Company before moving to Xpodigital, where ensures the sponsor is getting the most value for their for the past five years she has worked closely with local spend. hotels and the Orange County Convention Center.



THE MEETINGS INDUSTRY’S IMMEDIATE FUTURE Bracing for a possible new wave of COVID-19, but better prepared this time By Katherine Frost


he pandemic continues to affect all aspects of the events industry. However, hospitality and events professionals are more prepared than ever. When COVID cases first emerged, events were cancelled and later made virtual to abide by social distancing guidelines. As restrictions began to lift throughout the beginning of this summer, the industry saw a shift to hybrid models for events like conferences and meetings, allowing participants to decide whether they’d like to attend in-person or virtually. Now, medical experts are warning of new variants in the United States, bracing the country for the possibility of another surge. As these variants become more widespread, many are wondering how this possible second wave would affect in-person gatherings, and the events industry as a whole. The events industry was taken by surprise when the first wave of COVID hit, and now planners should be prepared with a backup plan in place, in the event of another surge, so that the industry won’t be forced to shut down altogether again. Some states have already made it clear that they will not shut down in the event of another surge, but planners are still preparing for any possible scenario.

The industry is optimistic and hopeful that there won’t be another shutdown, now that planners have a better grip on navigating COVID-19. While the state of the industry is still in flux, three predictions can safely be made regarding its immediate future.



Over the last year, planners have been forced to become experts in the virtual events space, as they had to rely solely on virtual planning platforms during the height of the pandemic. In an effort to get ahead of cancellations and postponements this time around, planners should use their newfound knowledge, developed over the last year, to help navigate planning during the pandemic. FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2021 SUPERBOOK

As planners work to brainstorm the possibilities of how events will run during this possible second wave, they are still focusing on the hybrid and in-person events that they currently have booked. Because of all the postponements and cancellations during 2020 and the beginning of this year, the 2021 fall season will be a busy one for meetings. With vaccine rollout continuing across the country, and mask mandates being lifted in some states, events will likely continue to be in-person into the fall season, depending on medical experts’ advice as they find out more on these new variants.



As planners work to organize their current events and prepare for what’s ahead, technology platforms will be a major help in managing as we shift through different event models and prepare for the unknown. These tech platforms will help to better streamline event management, while providing real-time updates for those involved in the planning process, keeping everyone on the same page. Digital platforms will be a vital tool for the events industry going forward, as planners are looking for ways to plan more efficiently and safely.



As information on virus is constantly changing, it’s better for companies to push events back a few months rather than cancelling them altogether. Being that many Americans have already gotten vaccinated, inperson gatherings are ramping up, but travel restrictions are still in place in some parts of the world. With new variants emerging, some may no longer feel comfortable attending these in-person events, relying on hybrid models once again. However, we’ve already experienced a lockdown and now have a better understanding of the virus, making hybrid and virtual events less popular than they were at the beginning of the pandemic. As we’ve seen over the past year and a half, many have voiced their opinions against hybrid and virtual events, leaving organizations to decide whether to plan these meetings. Hybrid models will likely be used until travel is fully Continued on page 64


FORUM JOSEPH MARINELLI Continued from page 15


What are some virtues of Savannah as a meeting destination that many planners may not be aware of, and which you are trying to promote?

Again, Southern hospitality is our trademark, but it goes far beyond that. From historic sites like Fort Jackson and Fort Pulaski to the W.W. Law Civil Rights Museum, we have it all. In 2020, we opened the impressive new JW Marriott Plant Riverside District. In addition to its 419 luxurious hotel rooms and suites, this new entertainment district includes a dozen food and beverage outlets overlooking the banks of the Savannah River, a variety of retail shops and an amazing collection of some of the largest natural geodes on display in the country. But if that doesn’t get your attention, the 135-ft. chrome dinosaur hanging from the ceiling of the Plant Riverside District lobby certainly will!


IMMEDIATE FUTURE Continued from page 63

open across the world, and until health officials have more information on these new variants. However, the industry is optimistic and hopeful that there won’t be another shutdown, now that planners have a better grip on navigating COVID-19. With so much unknown continuing to take place across the world, hybrid models will likely act as a safety net for planners that are trying to plan for in-person events. Planners now know all the in’s and out’s of running virtual, hybrid and in-person events under the circumstances of COVID-19. With their experience in organizing these events throughout 2020 and 2021, corporate and association meetings will hopefully continue throughout the rest of this year and beyond.


Katherine Frost is the founder and CEO of event planning software ORO, a tech platform for professional event planners to help streamline their workflow for speed and productivity by consolidating all of the spreadsheets, binders and contracts into one tool.


Austin Convention Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Boise Centre. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Connecticut Convention Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 IAEE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 IMEX America. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Meet AC. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Monona Terrace Convention Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Overland Park Convention Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Owensboro Convention Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Phoenix Convention Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

TRISHA TATRO Continued from page 16

options to meet the need for seamless networking between onsite and streaming services. Finally, our industry-leading bandwidth of 10 Gbps from core to edge and full network redundancy for power and Internet connectivity allows our clients to experience world-class service and enhanced peace of mind.


How has Austin Convention Center Department’s Capital Improvement Project enhanced the experience for clients?

We used the time to focus on safety and equipment upgrades, painting and installing new LED digital signage in the facility. We completed the design and started the construction for the offsite Marshalling Yard project. This will stage truck deliveries, relieving downtown traffic, and provide storage for other city departments. Palmer Events Center recertified as LEED Gold. In addition, we completed Austin Convention Center South Kitchen renovations, and 5th Street Garage tenant space, along with LED lighting upgrades for both the 2nd and 5th Street garages. Can you give an example of how the Austin Convention Center Department has partnered with a planner to conceptualize their group’s use of the Austin Convention Center, including both indoor and outdoor spaces?



In May, we partnered with a large corporate client with a high level of visibility to host their private outdoor livestreaming hybrid event. This client reimagined and rebranded all of our outdoor spaces and truly captured the essence and spirit of Austin as a destination with the park, lake and skyline as their backdrop. The client had an elevated level of expectation when it came to mitigating the risk of COVID-19 both for their guests and within their production teams and our staff. We were able to meet and exceed the client’s needs from all levels of planning to implementation onsite. With the use of some indoor and mostly outdoor space, coupled with the benefit of our 100 percent in-house IT capabilities and seamless network operations, the client was able to achieve a unique and literally out-of-the-box hybrid event that was still on brand and true to their company’s internal mission during the pandemic.


Puerto Rico Convention Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6, C3 Spectra. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Spokane Convention Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 St. Charles Convention Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Utah Valley Convention Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Visit Lauderdale. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Visit Omaha. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Visit Sacramento. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C2 Visit Savannah. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C4 FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2021 SUPERBOOK

#WeAreBackSafely Our continuous goal is to instill the highest levels of security and consumer confidence, providing a safe environment for all visitors, business partners and employees. That’s why we have enhanced our safety and health protocols by implementing VenueShield.

We are ready! Start planning your event safely by contacting us at info@prconvention.com Follow us


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