2020 Facilities & Destinations SuperBook

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CaesarsMeansBusiness.com | 855-633-8238







Our Team has remained actively engaged behind the scenes, preparing daily to host your next event. We understand the current state of affairs has likely affected your event plans, but rest assured that we’ll be ready when the time is right. The Austin Convention Center staff is continuing to make improvements to our facility, working diligently to make sure we remain the most well-prepared event space in the country. We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on!




he return of face-to-face meetings is inevitable given our natural inclinations to travel and gather. Many meetings can’t be satisfactorily replaced with virtual events, and organizations will thus be keen on bringing back the in-person versions. Here, meeting venues play a key role in encouraging their clients to “test the waters.” That means implementing new health and safety protocols, and in some cases offering booking deals that reduce risk associated with attrition and cancellation. We’re glad to see one major supplier, the Prime Site Award-winning Orange County Convention Center, going the extra mile to facilitate the return of face-to-face meetings by hosting the Together Again Expo, set for July 24. Held in collaboration with Alliance Nationwide Exposition, the event will focus on best practices for conducting live events while the pandemic persists. Both event professionals and suppliers will benefit from educational sessions as well as a product showcase. Considering the Orange County Convention Center’s ongoing expansion (see page 41 for details), significant capital has been invested into securing future business. The same is true for the Javits Center and the Las Vegas Convention Center; the expansions of both facilities are covered in this issue (pages 38 and 34, respectively). Another major investment within the Las Vegas meetings industry is the recently opened CAESARS FORUM, the subject of our cover story (page 21). Thanks to Caesars Entertainment’s new Health and Safety Protocols, the first groups that will “test the waters” at CAESARS FORUM, ConferenceDirect and Experient, can do so without trepidation. Not only facilities, but also client organizations, have much invested in the return of faceto-face meetings. Such events are often sources of revenue for the host organization, and foster camaraderie between attendees that cannot be achieved virtually. In a recent webinar hosted by Dubai Tourism, Magdalena Mook, CEO and Executive Director, International Coach Federation, discussed the transition of a recent ICF meeting to a virtual platform, which was quite successful. However, Mook also noted that the face-to-face version has a “huge energy” that the virtual event can’t capture. “We have members in 142 countries, and that global community coming together is something spectacular and very hard to replace,” she said, adding that “Zoom fatigue” is setting in for many participants. The optimum level of attendee engagement is thus at stake in today’s challenging environment. Undoubtedly, there will be trial and error in testing the new protocols for group gatherings. But the proven ROI of face-to-face meetings justifies that effort. – George Seli Editorial Director, Facilities Media Group gseli@facilitiesonline.com

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


Volume 27 No. 2

Chief Operating Officer David Korn Associate Publisher Michael Caffin Editorial Director George Seli Contributing Editors Anthony Bilden Laura Janelle Downey Debi Lander Deborah Shapiro Creative Direction & Design AR Design Business Operations David Mermelstein © Copyright 2020 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., 55 East 59th Street, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10022. Telephone: (212) 532-4150. Fax: (212) 213-6382. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to Facilities, 55 East 59th Street, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10022. 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 Alan Steel, President and CEO, New York Convention Center Operating Corporation........16 John R. Page, General Manager, Greater Columbus Convention Center..............................18 Pat Rice, Executive Director, Boise Centre.............................................................................19 PERSPECTIVES A Smooth Transition to Digital, by Leslie Bailey.....................................................................57 Engaged Education — At a Safe Social Distance, by Molly Marsh........................................58 Building Toward a Better Tomorrow, by Katie Smith..............................................................59 A Shared Responsibility of Suppliers and Planners, by Tracy Stuckrath.................................60


CAESARS FORUM: Building the Future of Las Vegas Meetings................................................21 2020 Prime Site & Top Destination Awards................................................................................25 Destinations Las Vegas.................................................................................................................................34 New York.................................................................................................................................38 Orlando...................................................................................................................................41 Venue Revue Hutton Hotel, Nashville...........................................................................................................45 Site & City Profiles................................................................................................................. 46-56 Advertiser Index..........................................................................................................................14


ON THE COVER During one of the most challenging years on record for the meetings industry, a beacon of hope for the future is the opening of a state-of-theart convention facility in the heart of Las Vegas. CAESARS FORUM is exemplary for many reasons, not the least of which is its dynamic staff. Executives from sales, convention services and catering discuss what makes CAESARS FORUM a unique offering in the context of Las Vegas.



Rove Media / LRK

Memphis’ Renasant Convention Center Rendering


odernization m r te n e c n o ti nv e n O ur $200M co cols full safety proto h it w 0 2 0 2 ll a debuts in F in a of mind . . . all e c a e p s’ te a g for your dele estination. d , le b a rd o ff a t boutique, ye




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DALLAS, TX — Freeman recently joined live events leaders from across the United States to form Go LIVE Together, a coalition of 80 founding partners — representing over 4,000 companies with U.S. operations — supporting legislative action to aid the industry’s recovery from COVID-19. “While our concern is first and foremost supporting the suppression and mitigation efforts around COVID-19, live events will be an integral part of accelerating the U.S. and global economic recovery,” says Bob PriestHeck, CEO of Freeman. “A fundamental aspect of the industry are that trade shows and events enable companies to grow, educate and innovate. Protecting the industry means protecting key economic and social drivers that not only impact jobs today, but also the development of the next generation of businesses. As the largest live events producer, Freeman is proud to unite with other industry leaders to form a coalition to make this possible.” The group will advocate for funds both to offset the added costs of hosting an event post COVID-19 and to incentivize people to attend live events when it is safe to do so. For more information, visit golivetogether.com. KANSAS CITY, MO — In late April, MMGY Travel Intelligence, in partnership with Destinations International Foundation, 4

released the findings from the fourth wave of a series of biweekly tracking surveys of North American destination professionals. The survey, which assesses how organizations in this sector are impacted by and reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic, revealed that respondents’ outlook on their local tourism economies has started to improve. The percentage of destination professionals who expect their local economy to worsen fell sharply from 72 percent in Wave III of the survey to 41 percent in Wave IV, indicating expectations are starting to stabilize. A small but growing percentage of respondents (14 percent) even expect their local tourism economy to show improvement in the next 30 days. This is up from just 2 percent of respondents in Wave III. “Many organizations are now starting to proactively plan their shift from informational communications campaigns to promotional ones in the next 60 days,” said Chris Davidson, Executive Vice President, Insights & Strategy at MMGY Global. “But, there won’t be one moment where it all turns back on for everyone. Cities, even within the same state, may be on totally different time tables and with differing restrictions and protocols.” The survey was conducted among employees of destination organizations

representing U.S. cities, regions and states. LAS VEGAS, NV — GES Executive Vice President of Industry Development John “Jack” Patronski retired from the company on June 30. “Jack has been a major contributor to GES including early acquisitions in the U.S. and Canada, leading the National Sales group, major

John Patronski

labor negotiations, service initiatives and training,” commented GES Executive Vice President of Exhibitions Jeff Quade. Among Patronski’s distinctions include serving as Chairman of the PCMA Foundation in 2006, receiving the PCMA Foundation’s Visionary Award, and being inducted into the EIC’s Hall of Leaders in 2016. Patronski began his events career in 1976 as Director of Operations for the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. In 1978, he joined Andrews Bartlett, which GES acquired in 1993. NASHVILLE, TN — The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp (CVC) recently appointed Jennifer Sullivan to the sales team as Director, Mid-Atlantic Regional Office. She will serve as an in-market rep for Washington, DC-based clients interested in booking

Jennifer Sullivan

Nashville as a convention destination. Sullivan previously worked for Destination Cleveland in the Washington, DC market. Her DMO and onproperty hotel experience includes positions with Visit Baltimore and Kimpton Hotels Baltimore. “Jennifer will be a great fit with our Nashville team, and her experience in the Washington, DC market is exactly what’s needed as we look toward Nashville’s future in the meetings industry,” said Adrienne Siemers, Senior Vice President of Sales at the CVC. PHILADELPHIA, PA — Last month, the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) Board of Directors unanimously voted to appoint Gregg Caren as

Gregg Caren

President and CEO. Caren most recently served as the Continued on page 6




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IN BRIEF INDUSTRY PULSE Continued from page 4

Executive Vice President, Sales and Strategic Business Development for ASM Global. He joined the PHLCVB on June 8. “As we turn our attention towards recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are confident that Gregg will guide the PHLCVB towards future success on behalf of Philadelphia,” said Nick DeBenedictis, PHLCVB Chairman. “I’d also like to thank Julie Coker for extending her time as President and CEO, and for the spectacular job she’s done with the PHLCVB over the last 10 years.” Caren commented: “After two decades working with dozens of convention centers and destinations around the globe, I am genuinely excited and honored to represent my hometown of 25 years to the rest of the world. … I’m truly looking forward to contributing to Philadelphia’s recovery efforts by leading the extremely talented team at the PHLCVB, and working closely with the partners and stakeholders that help drive our tourism industry forward.” SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Allseated, a provider of digital planning tools for the events industry, recently launched a product that enables the creation of floorplans that comply with social distancing. The Allseated Physical Distancing Tool includes on-the-fly seating distance measurements, 6

dynamic airwalls, nullzones and unique objects such as sanitary stations. Measurements can also be adjusted based on country, state or local government and regulatory guidelines. For further details, visit allseated.com. SCHILLER PARK, IL — Last month, PSAV introduced MeetSAFE, a set of guidelines developed with four key areas in mind: event design, room layout/ traffic flow, technology enhancements and cleaning guidelines. “Our industry has more to consider when planning live events in the future,” said Ben Erwin, President of PSAV. “While there has been an explosion

at the same time.” Amy Calvert, CEO of the EIC, commented, “The Events Industry Council applauds PSAV for its leadership through this effort to provide relevant guidance and tools to industry professionals. We are encouraged and inspired by the work we are seeing in all segments and regions to address today’s challenge and adapt for the future.” Visit psav.com/ what-we-do/industryadvocacy/meetSAFE for more information. SINGAPORE/CHICAGO, IL — Last month, PCMA appointed global business events industry leader Karen Bolinger as Managing Director, Asia Pacific. “As stakeholders in the global business events industry look towards a post-COVID-19 recovery, we believe that the Asia Pacific region will recover first and that the industry will be substantially changed,” said PCMA President and CEO


Karen Bolinger

Sherrif Karamat. “Karen will support PCMA’s APAC growth through her track record of business event industry leadership success and ability to introduce new strategic initiatives in the face of industry and marketplace challenges.” Bolinger is a former CEO of the Melbourne Convention Bureau and Chair of the BestCities Global Alliance. She will be based in Melbourne, Australia, and will lead PCMA’s Asia Pacific operations team through its office in Singapore.



Ben Erwin

of virtual events due to today’s environment, we know there will be a time when both hybrid and fully live meetings will return. People feel a strong desire for face-to-face interactions, so we wanted to be proactive and offer guidance on how they can ensure important live meetings and events are productive, but also safe

•P lanner Roundtable: Veteran planners discuss adjusting to the new normal and the outlook for 2021 conventions • F&D Forums: In-depth Q&As with industry leaders on the move • The latest meeting news from Hawaii, Arizona and Atlantic City • Tips from the pros on F&B planning and convention marketing

To subscribe, visit facilitiesonline.com/subscribe








Kentucky International Convention Center

LOS ANGELES, CA —The Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC), managed by ASM Global, is pursuing Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR accreditation. GBAC STAR provides third-party validation to ensure the implementation of rigorous protocols in response to biorisk situations. “As we look ahead toward the ‘new normal,’ we plan to make our venue safe for all our employees, our clients and attendees,” said Ellen Schwartz, LACC General Manager. “Committing to the GBAC STAR program clearly underscores the measures we are taking to provide the cleanliness and infection control needed at this time.” LOUISVILLE, KY — The Kentucky International Convention Center became 8

LEED Silver certified in April. Sustainable features and practices include lowflow plumbing fixtures, LED lighting throughout the building, diversion of 85 percent of construction

waste from landfills to be recycled, 25 water filling stations throughout the facility, and lighting controllable via occupancy sensors in all indoor spaces. In addition, the convention center partners with Levy Restaurants to reduce food waste through food donations to The Healing Place and composting. “We are committed to providing a high-tech, efficient and green facility for our clients,” said Blake Henry, General Manager of the Kentucky International Convention Center. “I am proud of our partners and the Kentucky Venues team for achieving this certification.” MILWAUKEE, WI — Last month, the Wisconsin Center District Board voted to move forward with the $420 million expansion of the Wisconsin Center. The expansion will double the square footage of the convention center, adding 112,000 sq. ft. to the exhibition hall. The expanded facility

is expected to attract an additional 100,000 visitors to Milwaukee annually, and generate an estimated $12.6 billion in spending over a 30-year period. The timeline for the project is undetermined, given that the pandemic has induced a drastic cut in the hotel F&B taxes that fund the convention center’s governing body. PHOENIX, AZ — The Phoenix Convention Center is pursuing GBAC STAR accreditation. “Safety and cleanliness have always been a priority for meeting professionals, and the Phoenix Convention Center has done an excellent job of maintaining its facility over the years to meet these expectations,” said Visit Phoenix President and CEO Steve Moore. “Pursuing the GBAC STAR … further demonstrates our commitment to maintain best-in-class safety standards that ensure confidence within the minds of our clients and their attendees.”

Rendering of the Wisconsin Center expansion, elevated view to north on Vel R. Phillips Avenue FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2020 SUPERBOOK

NEW NAME. NEW HEIGHTS. Ours is a story of a city and a center coming together to transform a destination. It is about the success of a public-private partnership. From the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority Board who graciously gave their time for 10 years — to the management company, ASM Global, who invested in our infrastructure to make it stand proud. It’s about you the customer and those who served on our committees sharing what was needed and standing by us when we were on the right track. It’s about battling back to become one of the Top 10 convention centers in the country. Today, we are excited to start a whole new story, and take us to new heights. This is as much a thank you as it is an appeal. We hope you will take a look at our city and our center and reach for your own new heights with us.

With Our Thanks, TCF Center Detroit Formerly Cobo Center


ATLANTA, GA — CIG Capital, an alternative investment firm, is continuing to fund the hospitality industry during the pandemic. The company has announced a $95 million lending project for the new Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center by Marriott, located beside the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, GA. The 300room property will include a 40,000-sq.-ft. conference center and 200-seat upscale restaurant. “Since projects in the hospitality industry often take years to complete, we are eager to continue supporting this key industry sector amidst [the pandemic] and anticipate a promising future as the economy returns to normalcy,” said Charles D. Carey, Managing Partner of CIG Capital. ATLANTIC CITY, NJ — Caesars Entertainment Corp. and VICI Properties Inc. is selling Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel & Casino to Lincoln, RI-based Twin River Worldwide Holdings Inc. for $25 million in cash. The acquisition is expected to close in late 2020 or early 2021. Twin River will also acquire a license to build out a sports book at the 1,251-room property as part of the deal. BETHESDA, MD — Marriott International recently announced that it will be rolling out a series of new hospitality practices to manage the health risk posed by the pandemic. 10

“We want our guests to understand what we are doing today and planning for in the near future in the areas of cleanliness, hygiene and social distancing so that when they walk through the doors of one of our hotels, they know our commitment to their health and safety is our priority,” said Arne Sorenson, President and CEO, Marriott International. As part of the initiative, the company established the Marriott Global Cleanliness Council, which will develop the next level of global hospitality cleanliness standards, norms and behaviors. Marriott is also (1) implementing electrostatic sprayers with hospital-grade disinfectant to sanitize surfaces throughout the hotel; (2) using signage in its lobbies to remind guests to maintain social

distancing protocols and removing or rearranging furniture to allow more space for distancing; (3) installing more hand-sanitizing stations at the entrances to its hotels, near the front desk, elevator banks and fitness and meeting spaces; and (4) enhancing sanitation guidelines and training videos for all food service associates. CHICAGO, IL — Hyatt’s new Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment includes several components. The company recently introduced a GBAC STAR accreditation through a performancebased cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention program. The accreditation will include training at more than 900 Hyatt hotels worldwide, and the company says it intends to complement this program with regular internal and third-party auditing. By September 2020, every Hyatt hotel will have a Hygiene Manager, overseeing the property’s adherence to

new operational guidance and protocols. Hyatt is also continuing to engage and expand its council of infectious disease and occupational health experts (formed at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis) in order to provide guidance on areas including health and hygiene, colleague safety, food and beverage safety, travel journey, space design, contactless technology and well-being. FRISCO, TX — Hyatt Regency Frisco opened on June 1. The 18-story, 303-room hotel is located within Frisco’s Stonebriar Centre, a shopping mall. The property features a 27,500-sq.-ft. conference center that includes two ballrooms and breakout space. Two restaurants are onsite. Nearby attractions include Toyota Stadium and Frisco Discovery Center. MIAMI BEACH, FL — Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Terra Continued on page 12

The Hyatt Regency Frisco opened on June 1 FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2020 SUPERBOOK


Continued from page 10

Rendering of the 800-room Grand Hyatt Miami Beach, which will connect to the Miami Beach Convention Center

Group and Turnberry recently announced plans to open the Grand Hyatt Miami Beach in 2023. The property will connect via skybridge to the Miami Beach Convention Center, which completed a $600 million renovation last year. The hotel’s two floors of meeting spaces and ballrooms will be complemented by amenities such as a resort-style pool. “The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau [GMCVB] joins Terra, Turnberry and The City of Miami Beach in welcoming Grand Hyatt Miami Beach as the new 800-room headquarter hotel connected to the Miami Beach Convention Center,” said William D. Talbert, III, CDME, President of the GMCVB. “Grand Hyatt Miami Beach will make it possible to better compete for 12

citywide conventions which fuel jobs in our community and generates business for all of Greater Miami’s hotels and merchants. We look forward to the hotel groundbreaking, which once completed will finalize the Miami Beach Convention Center District.” MIAMI BEACH, FL — Steven Hiblum has been appointed General Manager of Shelborne South Beach.

Steven Hiblum

His nearly two decades of hospitality experience includes executive roles at several properties within Morgans Hotel Group. Most recently, Hiblum served as Vice President of Operations at Highgate Hotels, where he was responsible for managing hotel experiences and programming for three Miami properties. ORLANDO, FL — Last month, Rosen Hotels & Resorts announced its COVID-19 Response Plan. Experts from the company’s RosenCare healthcare program partnered with a specially appointed task force to develop the plan, which applies specifically to the company’s eight Orlando hotels. “RosenCare’s success has been achieved through an intense focus on prevention,” said owner and operator Harris Rosen.

Components of the plan include social distancing protocols, use of hospitalgrade disinfectants, viruseliminating laundering processes, performing temperature checks on employees before each shift, and various other practices. WASHINGTON, DC — The American Hotel & Lodging Association recently launched Safe Stay, described as “an initiative focused on enhanced hotel cleaning practices, social interactions, and workplace

Chip Rogers

Harris Rosen

“Prevention also will be our focus as we elevate our hygiene standards at our eight Orlando hotels in response to the new pandemic. We have always maintained an impeccable level of cleanliness on behalf of our valued guests. However, now with our medical team’s involvement, we will ensure the highest levels of disinfection related to today’s new standards are unquestionably maintained.”

protocols to meet the new health and safety challenges and expectations presented by COVID-19.” “Every hotel guest and employee should know that their health and safety are our top priority,” said Chip Rogers, President and CEO of AHLA. “Safe Stay represents a new level of focus for an industry already built on cleanliness. Hotels have always had rigorous standards for cleaning and safety. With Safe Stay we are enhancing these standards to help create peace of mind. When travel resumes, hotels will be ready to safely welcome back the traveling public.” The Safe Stay Advisory Council includes representatives from the world’s largest hotel companies. For details, visit www.ahla.com/safestay.



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ARLINGTON, TX — The Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau has instituted a special No Attrition Into 2021 offer for meeting and event planners. “At the Arlington CVB, we are doing all we can do to help ease concerns for our group planners, and a no-attrition offer just made sense,” said Chad Enloe, Vice President of Sales. “We want you to feel confident about booking with us now more than ever, and we hope this offer gives planners a little extra security in these uncertain times. We are here to help.” For further information, email chad@ arlington.org or sales@ arlington.org.

ATLANTA, GA — IHG’s new Meet with Confidence offer allows planners to book with zero cancellation fees or attrition fees at participating hotels. Meetings of 10 to 50 rooms on peak receive: no cancellation fees, no attrition fees for rooms that are not booked, up to a 5 percent rebate toward the master bill, short-form contract and IHG Business Rewards 14

points for planners and bookers. Offer applies to meetings booked by Aug. 31, 2020 and actualized by Dec. 31, 2020. For more information, visit ihg.com/ content/us/en/deals/b2b/ meet-with-confidence.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN — Visit Indy’s Zero Attrition campaign enables new groups that book and hold events in the city for the remainder of 2020 to automatically receive no attrition for room blocks at all of the major downtown convention hotels. For more information, email sales@ visitindy.com.

JANESVILLE, WI — Organizations that hold a meeting in Janesville between Nov. 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021 could qualify for a cash rebate of $200. Eligibility is based on new events that are arranged through the Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau and bring in at least 50 attendees over at least two consecutive days. Offer is limited to the first 20 qualifying events. For more

information, contact Lori Johnson, Director of Sales, at (608) 757-3171.

LITTLE ROCK, AR — Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau (LRCVB) has partnered with the city’s hotels to guarantee zero attrition and zero cancellation fees. Offer applies to groups with up to 75 peak rooms that book by Sept. 30, 2020 and actualize by Jan. 30, 2021. For more information, contact Gina Gemberling, LRCVB Vice President of Sales and Services, at (501) 3703251 or ggemberling@ littlerock.com.

THE WOODLANDS, TX — Benchmark Resorts and Hotels has introduced the Zero Risk Meetings Clause. New meetings contracted by Dec. 31, 2020 for arrival by March 31, 2021 qualify for no attrition or cancellation fees applied until 60 days in advance of arrival. New meetings contracted by Dec. 31, 2020 for arrival between April 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2021 qualify for a 100 percent one-time rebooking credit. For details, visit benchmarkresortsand hotels.com/meeting_ event_spaces/meetings_ accelerator_program/.

ADVERTISER INDEX Akron/Summit CVB . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Austin Convention Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Boise Centre. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Caesars Entertainment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C2 Greater Columbus Convention Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Huntington Convention Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Javits Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Meadowlands Exposition Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Meet AC. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Memphis CVB. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Monona Terrace Convention Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. . . . 11 Ocean Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Orange County Convention Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Pasadena CVB. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Phoenix Convention Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C4 Puerto Rico Convention Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7, 17 TCF Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9


The Javits Center’s blockbuster expansion will add over 1 million square feet of dynamic space, including the creation of 500,000 square feet of contiguous event


space, more than 200,000 square feet of meeting and pre-function space, a column-free 53,000 square-foot special event space and a rooftop pavilion with sweeping Hudson River views. A new 4-level marshaling facility with 27 additional loading docks also will be constructed, accelerating operations while improving area traffic flow. Get ready to explore the unprecedented transformation of a New York icon.

Sales and Marketing | 212.216.2335 | sales@javitscenter.com





what we’re building is essentially a logistics support center. And because we’re adding another 27 loading docks, we can actually get them in and out faster. It will be a huge advantage to our customers. The new ballroom and meeting spaces are directly above the garage, so it’s combined into the design.

ew York has been one of the most embattled U.S. cities during the pandemic, and the Javits Center has certainly done its part to help residents as the number of cases peaked. Last month, the facility concluded its stint as a hospital, and President and CEO Alan Steel now looks forward to reestablishing group business in a more hygienic environment. Q. In general, what are today’s clients looking for in the But like the ongoing Javits Center expansion, the convention design of convention centers? center’s new protocols in the wake of COVID-19 are still a work A. Event producers have been looking for flexibility, and we’re in progress. What venues and groups perceive as necessary trying to give them the maximum amount of flexibility measures is in flux, Steel observes. so they can hold their events in “There is the reaction today, the whatever fashion they want: indoor reaction in three months’ time, the or outdoor, or a combination of both. reaction in 12 months’ time and so Our new ballroom/event space can on. We’re going to do some things accommodate about 6,000 people, now, but it may well be that the things and you can also have 1,500 people we do today we won’t need to do outdoors. So it’s going to be a very tomorrow or we’ll do differently,” he large space in terms of Manhattan’s says. In the following discussion, Steel current availability. addresses the risk-mitigating protocols being considered, the progress of the Q. How will the expansion benefit expansion as well as the outlook for some new and existing clients? “Having spent as much time in Javits Center meetings. A. In terms of existing clients, groups like the National Retail Federation isolation as we have, we know that Q. What is the current timeline for are very much in need of people really want to be together, completing the expansion? additional space, and particularly even if they don’t want to be A. It is due to be completed in March additional meeting space because together closer than six feet.” of 2021. We actually suspended they have very large keynote work on the expansion after the sessions. And we’ve not been able outbreak of COVID-19, and restarted it [last month]. The to give them that space without challenges in the past. In west end is substantially completed from an exterior terms of new customers, for many years a lot of medical perspective; the east end still has to be closed off. We’re conventions have avoided coming to New York, even starting work on interior finishes. though the market is appealing to them because of the density of their customers [in the area]. And that’s Q. What do you consider some of the standout features primarily because we didn’t have the meeting space that of the project? they needed, but now we’ll be able to accommodate them. A. We are going to be LEED Platinum certified. We’ve also So we’re already beginning to see business domestically focused a lot on outdoor spaces, so we have an outdoor and internationally from medical groups and legal groups, pavilion that can also accommodate 1,500 people. Given those who didn’t need a large exhibit space, which is what what we’ve just gone through, outdoor spaces for groups Javits primarily was, but needed a large amount of meeting to congregate may become more popular because they are rooms. less restrictive spaces. And we’re building a one-acre farm up on the roof that will grow herbs and vegetables for use Q. What kinds of measures to prevent contagion are in our kitchens. But one of the most significant elements currently being developed in the convention center of what we’re building is a four-story parking garage that industry, and at Javits in particular? is designed to accommodate not cars, but trucks. One of A. I think the industry will come out with guidelines, but one the challenges in Manhattan is [limited parking] space, so of the challenges will be that different municipalities and



states may have different requirements and regulations. It may end up being more of a patchwork than a standard across the industry. What we’re going to do is work with our customers to see what kind of requirements they think they need for their customers, because ultimately none of us will be successful if what we do doesn’t meet the end user’s sense of being safe and comfortable. So we’re looking at our cleaning systems, temperature monitoring systems and so on. We’re going through all of the various options and we’re developing a full decontamination plan. And then we’ll sit down with our customers and say, ‘Do you want these things? Do you want, for example, temperature sensors at the door?” Because these things are not without complication. If we were to have a temperature sensor at the door and suddenly someone who flew in from California was told, “Sorry, you can’t come in because you have a high temperature,” I’m not sure that’s what our event organizers want to do. So I think we want to have them be part of the conversation. And [the solutions have] to be affordable too. Q. How do you see social distancing impacting the convention center meetings from logistical and business perspectives? A. In the beginning, I think we’re going to limit the size of meetings in our space. We have, in any case, a restriction on the number of people we can host as mandated by the government, which is 500 people at this point. How that plays out with [clients] I have yet to work out, because it changes the financial model for most convention centers.

Most charge rent on the basis of net square footage. And if you need twice as much space because of social distancing, that changes the economic model. Even though you have more space, you may not be able to do more events and get more people into the building. These are early discussions that we’re beginning to have in the industry. I think that as venues, we need to be sensitive to and conscious of our clients. At the same time, hopefully they’ll be conscious of our financial models and how we can solve them. Q. How is future business looking at this point? Are you getting positive signs from clients? A. I would say there is interest and appreciation of face-to-face meetings, which everyone is pleased about. And having spent as much time in isolation as we have, we know that people really want to be together, even if they don’t want to be together closer than six feet. From my perspective in Javits, I’d like to think that we could begin to see some business in late August or early September. Q. It seems the local and regional groups will likely come back first. Would you agree? A. Yes, it’s one of the reasons I’m kind of positive about New York, because we have a very strong regional economy. And I think that’s potentially something we can look to carry us through the early stages, because people may not wish to travel as far. And they may be willing to come to New York and kind of support the city as they did after 9/11.









he Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC), located in Columbus, OH, is owned and developed by the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority (FCCFA) and managed by ASM Global. In the following Q&A, John R. Page discusses the facility’s response to COVID-19. Q. How has your facility assisted the local community during the pandemic?

A. The GCCC is currently serving the community as an alternative care site for three local hospitals, with the ability to accommodate about 1,000 patients if a surge in COVID-19 patients occurred locally. The alternative care site has not been activated. With financial support from the FCCFA, staff from the GCCC, GCCC food-service provider Levy and the FCCFA-owned Hilton Columbus Downtown distributed more than 14,000 meals over six weeks prepared by the Hilton culinary team to their staff members, the majority of which are on furlough status. Q. What are your current reopening plans and preparations?

“ASM Global is unveiling VenueSheld … which will serve as a template providing assurance for guests regarding cleanliness, guest seating, catering practices, etc., when visiting any ASM Global venue.”

cleanliness, guest seating, catering practices, etc., when visiting any ASM Global venue. Virtual components for events will be even more popular. Our production partner, Mills James, has established streaming packages to assist clients and presented seminars to guide them with best practices.

A. Several of our South Café & Marketplace merchants are already open. The facility itself reopened on June 1. We are accommodating Franklin County Municipal Court traffic arraignments and eviction hearings through August. The GCCC remains subject to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s ban on mass gatherings greater than 10 people. We, along with our destination marketing organization and corporate office, are planning an overall strategy to share with clients and alleviate any concerns. We have multiple committees working to establish best opening and operating practices.

Q. What overall message do you wish to send to planners who will be booking your facility for late 2020 or 2021?

Q. What new practices or technology will you implement to help prevent contagion when meetings resume?

We also can assist events that have been displaced from other venues because of greater needs for physical distancing than those facilities can accommodate. As a venue with 1.8 million sq. ft., when it comes to space, we can go the distance to assist clients in successfully reshaping their events.

A. ASM Global is unveiling VenueSheld, a best-in-class program for its venues on five continents, which will serve as a template providing assurance for guests regarding


A. We will soon be providing the assurance of VenueShield, ASM Global’s new corporate program established to address current concerns, offer client comfort and a template of services designed for their health and safety during events at the GCCC. In the meantime, sales managers are rebooking events whose original event dates were affected by COVID-19 and booking multiple new events as well.






Employees or guests confirmed to have a temperature at or above 100.3 will not be allowed entry to Boise Centre.

Q. How has your facility assisted the local community during the pandemic?

Hand sanitizer dispensers, touch-less whenever possible, and sanitation stations will be placed at all guest and employee entrances, and high-traffic locations such as elevators, escalators and at all catered functions.

he recently expanded Boise Centre, located in Boise, ID, is the state’s largest convention center. In the following Q&A, Pat Rice discusses the facility’s response to COVID-19.

A. In the wake of COVID-19, Boise Centre has partnered with The Idaho Foodbank to help address food insecurity at this difficult time. Following the cancellation of many events and Idaho’s stay-at-home order, Boise Centre donated its largest ballroom to the Idaho Foodbank for use in April and May. The venue was quickly converted into a storehouse of food pallets and packing materials to build special food boxes destined for school children and senior citizens. This feat of engineering could not be possible without the space and storage donated by Boise Centre. The massive square footage allows volunteers to work safely and adhere to social distancing measures. Boise Centre also offered refrigerators and freezers to store perishable food. Q. What are your current reopening plans and preparations? A. Boise Centre has developed a comprehensive reopening plan that closely follows guidelines of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local health authorities. The reopening plan has been submitted to local health authorities for approval. Boise Centre anticipates reopening in mid to late June. More details are available at boisecentre.com. Currently, Boise Centre’s management team is working diligently to ensure the cleanliness of the convention center and to develop new policies and procedures to protect the health and safety of our guests and employees. Q. What new practices or technology will you implement to help prevent contagion when meetings resume? A. Prior to entering Boise Centre, all employees, vendors and guests will be screened for temperatures utilizing thermal cameras or touch-less infrared technology. Anyone displaying a temperature at or above 100.3 will be taken to a private area for a secondary temperature screening.


Heightened cleaning and disinfecting protocols have been established based on CDC recommendations to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Wherever possible, contact-less technology is being incorporated within Boise Centre. Along with in-person meetings, Boise Centre is offering hybrid events with video conferencing and streaming to accommodate remote participants and physical-distancing requirements.

“Along with in-person meetings, Boise Centre is offering hybrid events with video conferencing and streaming to accommodate remote participants and physical-distancing requirements.” Q. What overall message do you wish to send to planners who will be booking your facility for late 2020 or 2021? A. Boise Centre is eager to welcome guests and visitors when the time is right. We will continue to follow the COVID-19 public health situation closely and will adjust our policies and procedures as needed. Along with our partners at the Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau and the lodging community, we look forward to welcoming you to Idaho’s capital city.



CAESARS FORUM Skybridge entrance



By George Seli

n the midst of the challenge our industry is facing, let’s not forget the positive developments that will also be part of the new normal. Game-changing new meeting facilities are among them, and CAESARS FORUM is a standout example. Although the venue will not host clients until later this summer, it has already established itself as a unique offering within Las Vegas’ meetings landscape. That’s quite an achievement, considering the breadth and variety of meeting facilities in the city. CAESARS FORUM’s two pillar-less ballrooms — the largest in the world — comprise a highly configurable space with a sophisticated airwall system, boardrooms and even an adjoining, 100,000-sq.-ft. outdoor event plaza. Far from being a “big box” convention center, the interior of the FORUM has a thoughtful design that both evokes nature and brings attendees closer to it via extensive use of natural light and plant life. Supporting the venue are four Caesars Entertainment hotels that are part of the CAESARS FORUM campus: Caesars Palace, Harrah’s Las Vegas, The LINQ Hotel + Experience and the Flamingo Las Vegas. All have recently reopened, and in time will be welcoming groups that have booked CAESARS FORUM. Prior to the travel restrictions brought on by the pandemic, those bookings had been robust, representing over $450 million. Since March, the sales team has been working to reschedule groups that have needed to cancel, when possible. However, all the discussions and negotiations have been smooth and collaborative, observes Lisa Messina, Vice President of Sales. “Everybody has come to the table in a sensitive, cooperative way to say, ‘We were all dealt this 21

terrible card, so how do we get through this together and take care of our respective organizations?’” she relates. Both suppliers and planners have handled the situation “in a way that is productive and positive, instead of creating any more angst,” Messina adds. With Caesars Entertainment’s new health and safety protocols in place (see sidebar, page 23), guests can feel at ease when gathering at CAESARS FORUM and in any of the hotels. “We have had the mindset that as long as we could open safely and securely and the demand from our customers is there, we would

“You can do events on the Forum Plaza with the backdrop of the Strip. It affords you more diversity in terms of what you accomplish with your event.” —Lisa Messina, Vice President of Sales, Caesars Entertainment open the properties sooner rather than later,” says Messina. “We’ve been pleasantly surprised with the number of people who are ready to come back to Las Vegas. We started opening back up in early June and the demand is strong. And for 2021 meetings will be back in a big way so we’re feeling very optimistic.” As a result of the re-openings, Caesars Entertainment is now able to host planners who want a walk-through of the CAESARS FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2020 SUPERBOOK

FORUM campus, a more compelling experience than the virtual tours Messina’s team has been offering.


Even more significantly, two major meeting-planning companies will be the first groups to actually utilize the venue. ConferenceDirect and Experient will hold their respective annual conferences at CAESARS FORUM in the first week of September. These conferences will surely open doors to even more future business for the venue. “Holding our conference in CAESARS FORUM gives us the opportunity to experience the new facility firsthand, and so that we can share our experience with our customers for their consideration in booking future meetings,” explains J.J. Wills, Senior Vice President, Marketing Programs & Business Development with ConferenceDirect. She highlights the venue’s adaptability to the needs of the annual conference: “We are using one ballroom, and dividing it into multiple rooms to accommodate our tradeshow, general session, meals and breakouts. As we are designing the event, it has been really beneficial to have the flexibility to reconfigure the space in a variety of ways that meets our needs and can adapt to any changes we make to the agenda.” Wills adds that “We plan to hold a reception one evening on the adjacent Plaza,” taking advantage of the space’s scenic backdrop, which includes the 550-ft. High Roller observation wheel. The combination of indoor and outdoor space is one of the three features of CAESARS FORUM that have most intrigued clients, Messina notes. “Many customers enjoy having that natural light and fresh air. You can do events on the Plaza with the backdrop of the Strip. It affords you more diversity in terms of what you accomplish with your event,” she explains. The second feature is logistical: “The fact that it’s one story and has great access, for those that have large production load-ins for exhibits. You’re not competing with the hotel loading docks, so load in/out is much more manageable and will save you time and money.” And third, clients such as ConferenceDirect have been drawn to the venue’s flexibility: “The fact that it is so large and pillar-less gives the customer a blank canvas to create the experience that meets their needs,” Messina says.

Prefunction space


Don Ross, Caesars Entertainment’s Vice President of Catering, Conventions and Events, explains the value of having that “blank canvas.” “I’ve learned over the years that if I have 10 customers and I give them a diagram of a ballroom, I’d have 11 different ways to set it up. They all want flexibility.” Ross points to CAESARS FORUM’s high number of rig points and the large roll-up door that allows the two ballrooms to be opened up to create an exhibit hall experience. “You can drive an 18-wheeler right into the “We built facility, into both ballrooms and CAESARS even into the smaller ballrooms,” FORUM for he adds.


everybody, from associations and nonprofits to corporate groups, union groups and tradeshows.”

Groups will also benefit from CAESARS FORUM’s biophilic design, an approach that increases occupants’ connection to nature in various ways, from actual exposure to the natural environment to the visible use —Don Ross, of natural building materials Vice President to motifs that represent nature. of Catering, The interior designer for the Conventions and facility, Chelsea Lavell, Partner, Events, Caesars Director of Interior Design at Entertainment KGA Architecture, explains that biophilic design is especially suited for a conference venue: “Studies have shown that by introducing natural lighting and plants, people are more comfortable, and they learn and retain information better, which is perfect for the building we were designing and its size.” Plants adorn the exterior video screen where groups can display their messaging and branding. Even the interior lighting system is biophilic, featuring tunable lights that can mimic sunlight in the morning and create a lounge-like atmosphere in the evening. The design of the light fixtures themselves evokes rainfall. Lavell’s team also took innovative measures to maximize the natural light. “There are six boardrooms, four of them with direct access to the Plaza. We introduced some glazing materials that separate the prefunction corridor from the boardrooms. When the rooms are not in use, [the glass] is clear so that we can get as much of that natural light to the core of the building as possible,” she explains. “But when the rooms are occupied, users can flip the light switch and the glass becomes frosted to allow privacy for their meeting.” Ross says that designing and opening CAESARS FORUM is a milestone in his over 30-year career with Caesars Entertainment, comparable to the opening of Paris Las Vegas in 1999 (the resort reopened last month). “We’ve had the good fortune now twice in my career to be able to work from the onset as operators in designing and offering our


“Studies have shown that by introducing natural lighting and plants, people are more comfortable, and they learn and retain information better, which is perfect for the building we were designing and its size.”

ideas on how to use the space, set up diagrams, and insight on the technology capabilities,” she relates.


Wills looks forward to collaborating with Caesars Entertainment on the meal functions for ConferenceDirect’s annual meeting. “I trust the Caesars Entertainment team to be creative and innovative, while adhering to safety guidelines,” she says. “We typically have breakfasts, lunches, dinners, receptions and breaks. I imagine we will scale back some, avoid buffet —Chelsea Lavell, Partner, Director of services, and set rooms to allow for social distancing while Interior Design, KGA Architecture eating. We will remain focused on why we are meeting — the productive business conversations and education sessions input,” he notes. “What’s unique about the FORUM is that it’s that take place — while serving healthy, high-quality F&B.” standalone. We look at it as a complex because it’s connected Leading the food operation is Eric Vaughn, Director of to the hotels, but we are operating it as a standalone facility.” Culinary Operations for CAESARS FORUM and Las Vegas Region. Vaughn has become intimately familiar with Caesars FROM EVENT CONSULTATION TO EXECUTION Entertainment’s conference clientele over his more than 19 Yet CAESARS FORUM is similar to all other Caesars years with the company. Most recently, he served as Director of Culinary Entertainment properties in one important respect: quality Operations at Paris Las Vegas, Bally’s experiences. Ross’ team prides itself on going beyond the Las Vegas and Planet Hollywood. “We execution of a client’s meeting to offering a consultative want to give participants coming to approach. “Our Convention Services Managers [CSM] dine with us a restaurant-quality dining and sales team partner with the customers to understand experience,” he says. “The quality of their needs and provide them creative ideas based on our Spinach & red oak salad, what’s prepared, beginning with the experience and the utilization of the space,” says Ross. “We one of the dinner items on the prep all the way to somebody’s plate, is want our team to collaborate and make recommendations CAESARS FORUM menu meticulously thought about and carried and not to be order-takers. We are fortunate to have such a out with recipes that benchmark us as the place that has the tenured and experienced team.” Wills confirms that approach to customer service. “Now that most flavorful food with the best presentation.” Menus have also been thoughtfully designed to include special dietary the building is complete, both Sales and Convention Services needs, such as vegan and gluten free. have been very supportive and responsive, providing us with Beyond quality and selection, Vaughn’s team brings creativity to the table. “When we get to dinnertime, CAESARS HEALTH AND SAFETY PROTOCOLS we find that clients want to have a different, interesting and interactive experience that they s Caesars Entertainment welcomes groups back to Caesars don’t have anywhere else. That’s our opportunity to Palace, CAESARS FORUM and its other Las Vegas properties, be really creative and shine,” he explains. “We put a the company’s staff is well aware of the due diligence that lot of effort into thinking what [the dinner function] is required while the pandemic persists. Accordingly, Caesars could look like and spend a great deal of time Entertainment has implemented new Health and Safety Protocols. poring over exactly what the client’s needs are.” For “We’ve been very open with our clients that we’re going to do example, last year his team created a “futuristic” first and foremost what the federal and state governments say we reception for a major high-tech client. “A lot of need to do,” says Lisa Messina, Vice President of Sales, Caesars thought went into that event in order to make it Entertainment. “We’ve then been studying what the general industry is doing, whether it’s being driven by APEX, the USDA, etc. We also look to our customers and ask, ‘What are you trying “We want to give to achieve? How can we partner with you?’” people coming Like all responsible hospitality organizations, Caesars to dine with us a Entertainment is also intensifying its sanitation measures. “Our restaurant-quality industry has always been focused on cleanliness and sanitation, and dining experience.” we’ve been good at doing this behind the scenes. Now the world has changed and customers want to see what we’re doing, and we are —Eric Vaughn, Director happy to share this with them,” says Don Ross, Vice President of Culinary Operations, of Catering, Conventions and Events, Caesars Entertainment. CAESARS FORUM For details on the protocols, visit caesarsmeansbusiness.com. and Las Vegas Region





The FORUM Ballroom

into something that wasn’t just spaceship props on cables,” he says. Innovative items included crudités within small gardens encapsulated in clear plastic to look like bio-domes. An onsite kitchen with the latest food-preparation equipment supports Vaughn’s staff at CAESARS FORUM. The technological assistance will enable staff to both deliver faster service and devote more time to “making that recipe and presentation really awesome,” says Vaughn. Efficiency is especially important when hosting large-scale banquets (CAESARS FORUM has a capacity of about 10,000). “Equipment is a big part of it, but nothing can beat good planning,” Vaughn stresses. “That really is the core of it, and I think that’s where a lot of people miss the mark, either by not planning, not planning enough or not thinking through the fine details that need to be planned. Just because you have an event for10,000, this doesn’t mean you’re not going to have a very special garnish, and you’ve got to put the plan in place to make sure every detail happens.”


Concurrently with the $375 million investment into CAESARS FORUM, Caesars Entertainment has upgraded the hotel product on the campus, including guestrooms at The LINQ Hotel, Harrah’s and the Flamingo. “We knew we were going to have a new type of customer [at these hotels], the convention customers,” says Ross. “We invested a lot of capital with newly designed rooms, redesigning the lobby and reception areas, brand-new carpeting and marble — a whole facelift as these hotels are connected to CAESARS FORUM.” But even with these enhancements, planners and show organizers still have a variety in price points among the hotels on the campus, which is so important. “With Harrah’s, The LINQ Hotel and the Flamingo you have three different experiences and price points,” Messina notes. “And then within those resorts you have multiple types of rooms, from standard rooms larger than typical city hotel rooms to hundreds of suites. That helps planners make sure that they’re offering choices [in room product], so that more customers book inside the room block.” In addition to the room and lobby renovations, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse at Harrah’s was also completely renovated last year, and a new steakhouse, Bugsy & Meyer’s, opens this summer at the Flamingo. Another renovation of note is Caesars Palace’s $250 million upgrade of the Colosseum, completed last September. The comprehensive projected updated the 24

•A ccommodates more than 10,000 participants within 300,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space, including two 110,000-sq.-ft. pillar-less ballrooms, two 40,000-sq.-ft. ballrooms and six state-of-the-art boardrooms • More than 100 breakout rooms • Six boardrooms • Divisible into limitless configurations, utilizing over two miles of airwalls • Built on one floor for convenient move-in, along with nine easily accessible loading docks • Forum Plaza, a 100,000-sq.-ft. outdoor event space • LEED Silver rating • Direct access via skybridge to Harrah’s Las Vegas and The LINQ Hotel + Experience • Adjacent to the High Roller observation wheel and LINQ Promenade, restaurant and entertainment complex seating and technology. Most interestingly, a new platform was added that can raise guests near the front of the stage so that they are closer to the performers. “We do have a lot of planners and show organizers that utilize the Colosseum,” says Ross. “If they want to have a general session, they can make an extension to the stage for a production company to take over. This gives us more flexibility.”


Flexibility is also a guiding principle in CAESARS FORUM’s development. The ancient forum in Rome was one of the original places for gatherings. Similarly, CAESARS FORUM is flexible and can be used for a great variety of events, held by many different kinds of organizations. As Ross puts it, “We built CAESARS FORUM for everybody, from associations and nonprofits to corporate groups, union groups and tradeshows.” So while the building is customer-centric in terms of having the design, technology and food service that will optimize a client’s event, it is not focused on any particular type of customer or event. Striking that balance is an impressive feat. The design team’s ingenuity will ensure CAESARS FORUM plays a major role in the future of Las Vegas meetings.




Each year, F&D readers make nominations for the Awards of Excellence based on numerous key criteria, including convenient air accessibility, a state-of-theart convention center, a diverse and convenient hotel package, and a CVB versed in group service. 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 2021 Awards of Excellence today.

ongratulations to this year’s Awards of Excellence winners, including 85 Prime Site Awardwinning convention centers and 51 Top Destination Awardwinning DMOs across the United States, Caribbean and Canada. The recognition means that, from a client perspective, these venues and organizations are standouts in the highly competitive meetings market. While all of these suppliers are currently challenged by the global health crisis, the same commitment to the meetings industry that made them award winners will help them reestablish their group business in the near future.



Please consider the following criteria when voting:

•A ttractiveness & Functionality of Meeting Venue • Size & Quality of Meeting Space • Technological Capabilities • Quality of Staff • Food & Beverage Options •L ighting, Acoustics, & Internet Access •O ther Meeting/Event Support Services • Amenities • Recreational Activities • Dining & Entertainment Options • Lodging Quality • Accessibility to Airport • Ease of Travel within Destination

Fill Out Form & Mail or Email Your Vote: Facilities & Destinations 55 East 59th Street, 20th Floor New York, NY 10022 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 Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, MA Conference & Events Center Niagara Falls, NY Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford, CT David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh, PA

Philadelphia CVB, PA 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

Top Destination Award Winners Events DC, Washington, DC Ocean City CVB, MD Virginia Beach CVB, VA Visit Baltimore, MD Visit Norfolk, VA Connecticut Convention Center

Javits Center, New York, NY Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center, NY Meadowlands Exposition Center, Secaucus, NJ Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, PA Rhode Island Convention Center, Providence, RI Wildwoods Convention Center, Wildwood, NJ

Top Destination Award Winners

Greater Boston CVB, MA Greater Hartford CVB, CT Meet AC/Atlantic City CVA, NJ 26


Prime Site Award Winners

Birmingham-Jefferson County Convention Center, Birmingham, AL Durham Convention Center, NC Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA Jackson Convention Complex, MS Knoxville Convention Center, TN Miami Beach Convention Center, FL Mobile Convention Center, AL Music City Center, Nashville, TN New Orleans Morial Convention Center, LA

Continued on page 28


 Prime Site Award recipient annually since 1998  90-minute flight or one day’s drive from nearly half of U.S. population  Connected by enclosed walkway to 4 hotels and 4,700 parking spaces & new Ohio Center Garage  Walk to nearby Arena District and Short North Arts District  373,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space  75 meeting rooms  3 ballrooms with 114,000 sq. ft. combined  Catering by Levy with indoor Smartfarm producing 2½ tons of vegetables and herbs annually  Largest contemporary collection of central Ohio art featuring “As We Are” 14-foot interactive sculpture  15 casual food & beverage outlets from coffee shops to a tap room, plus service providers including barber & beauty boutique, nail bar and Segway tours  City’s largest contingent of Certified Tourism Ambassadors 400 North High Street I Columbus, OH I 43215 614.827.2500 I www.columbusconventlons.com




AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE Continued from page 26

Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, FL Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL Owensboro Convention Center, KY Palm Beach County Convention Center,

New Orleans Morial Convention Center

West Palm Beach, FL Savannah International Trade & Convention Center, GA Shreveport Convention Center, LA The Classic Center, Athens, GA


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 Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis, IN Iowa Events Center, Des Moines, IA Kansas City Convention Center, MO McCormick Place, Chicago, IL Monona Terrace Convention Center, Madison, WI Continued on page 30

Top Destination Award Winners Birmingham CVB, AL Greater Miami CVB, FL Greensboro CVB, NC Little Rock CVB, AR Louisville CVB, KY New Orleans CVB, LA Visit Jackson, MS Visit Knoxville, TN Visit Orlando, FL Visit Savannah, GA

Monona Terrace Convention Center



Greater Akron, Ohio, is home to the region’s most convenient and affordable facilities for conventions, banquets and special events. Easily

Defiantly Different Greater Akron Ohio

accessible from the interstate, turnpike and two airports, Summit County features 13 full-service hotels with more than 5,500 guest rooms, plus a remarkable range of impressive gathering spaces, including the John S. Knight

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/ S U M M I T

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800.245.4254 / akron.travel playeatshop.org / summitbrewpath.com




AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE Continued from page 28

Overland Park Convention Center, Overland Park, 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 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

Phoenix Convention Center


Boise Centre

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 Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio, TX Irving Convention Center, 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 NRG Center, Houston, TX Oregon Convention Center, Portland, OR Palm Springs Convention Center, CA Phoenix Convention Center, AZ Continued on page 32





AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE Continued from page 30

Visit Denver, CO Visit Phoenix, AZ Visit Salt Lake, UT Visit Seattle, WA Visit Spokane, WA

CARIBBEAN Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau

Pueblo Convention Center, Pueblo, CO Reno-Sparks Convention Center, Reno, NV Salt Palace Convention Center, Salt Lake City, UT San Diego Convention Center, CA Sands Expo Center, Las Vegas, NV Santa Clara Convention Center, CA Tucson Convention Center, Tucson, AZ Utah Valley Convention Center, Provo, UT

Prime Site Award Winners

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

Top Destination Award Winners

Austin CVB, TX Boise CVB, ID Colorado Springs CVB, CO Greater Houston CVB, TX Irving CVB, TX Las Vegas CVA, NV Long Beach CVB, CA Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, CA Meet Hawaii, HI Oklahoma City CVB, OK Pasadena CVB, CA Sacramento CVB, CA San Antonio CVB, TX Visit Anaheim/Anaheim/Orange County VCB, CA 32

Montego Bay Convention Centre

Top Destination Award Winners

Meet Puerto Rico/Puerto Rico Convention Bureau, San Juan, PR


Prime Site Award Winners

Enercare Centre, Toronto, Ontario Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Toronto, Ontario Palais des congres de Montreal, Quebec Quebec City Convention Centre, Quebec FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2020 SUPERBOOK




MGM Resorts’ ARIA and Vdara hotels in the foreground, with Caesars Entertainment’s High Roller observation wheel visible to the left




s a city whose economic lifeblood is the live entertainment and tourism industries, Las Vegas has been hit especially hard by the pandemic. Plans to reopen are gradually taking shape across the city’s iconic entertainment venues and hotels. But even when the hospitality sector opens its doors, social distancing restrictions and lingering trepidation among consumers will likely translate to less occupancy and less revenue, at least until a full recovery is achieved.


Not only are Las Vegas’ hospitality leaders keeping their eye on that goal, but so is the national travel industry. The U.S. Travel Association certainly looks forward to a fully revitalized Las Vegas. Recently, the organization announced that its annual trade show, IPW, will be held in Las Vegas next May, after this year’s installment in the city was cancelled. Chicago, previously scheduled to host IPW 2021, will has been rescheduled for 2025. “As we look to recover from this health emergency and the resulting economic crisis, it is fitting that we will be able to hold IPW in Las Vegas, a city that epitomizes the economic power of travel and tourism,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow in a statement. He added that “We are deeply grateful to Chicago, which had one of the most successful IPWs in recent memory as a first-time host in 2014, for their flexibility, generosity and collaborative spirit.” For the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), collaboration with health officials, government agencies and local hospitality partners will be crucial to safely hosting IPW 2021, as well as all other new and returning conventions. “As both the Las Vegas Convention Center and the destination overall reopens for business, we’ll continue to work with health officials and follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control to determine appropriate programs to keep all visitors and locals safe,” affirms Brian Yost, Chief Operating Officer for the LVCVA. “The entire destination, including event producers, the LVCVA, the resort partners and local and state public safety agencies are FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2020 SUPERBOOK

campus. “The system will serve as an innovative and quick solution to move thousands of convention attendees throughout the campus, free of charge, in all-electric Tesla vehicles,” Yost explains. “Excavation of the second of two vehicular tunnels comprising the system —Brian Yost, Chief Operating Officer, was completed in mid-May, and there is Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority potential for eventual expansion to ease congestion throughout the destination.” working together to create a safe and healthy environment.” Congestion is especially a factor when the Las Vegas With regard to the convention center specifically, “we’ll Convention Center hosts mammoth shows like CES or implement enhanced cleaning and we are working with CONEXPO-CON/AGG, which use all of the existing space. industry leaders, cutting-edge technology providers and The expansion “will give those shows the opportunity to health officials to understand the most effective means bring in more exhibitors and more attendees, which is a to disinfect and sanitize our spaces,” says Yost. “We are win-win situation for the shows and for Las Vegas,” says also proud to be a part of the leading wave of adopters Yost. “Additionally, we often have more than one show in of the GBAC STAR accreditation program, which is the the building at one time, and those shows will also benefit industry’s only outbreak prevention, response and recovery from the opportunity to grow. There are also shows that accreditation program.” would love to make the move to Las Vegas, but they fall during popular booking windows. They may now have the opportunity to rotate into Las Vegas thanks to the space CONVENTION CENTER EXPANSION ON TRACK we’re adding, as well as the space our resort partners are The postponement of IPW’s Las Vegas edition will have adding.” one fortuitous consequence: Attendees will be able to experience the convention center’s newly constructed West Continued on page 36 Hall. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, both the West Hall expansion and the new underground people-

“The entire destination, including event producers, the LVCVA, the resort partners and local and state public safety agencies are working together to create a safe and healthy environment.”

The Las Vegas Convention Center’s ongoing expansion

mover are “on track for completion at the end of this year in order to welcome CES 2021,” according to Yost. “The Las Vegas Convention Center District’s new 1.4 millionsq.-ft. West Hall expansion and the visionary underground transportation system will be a game-changer for Las Vegas.” The West Hall will add 600,000 sq. ft. of flexible exhibit space and 150,000 sq. ft. of new meeting space, complemented by additional digital signage and wayfinding technology. Highlights include a natural light-filled grand atrium and a new outdoor plaza. The transportation system will serve the entire 200-acre Las Vegas Convention Center FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2020 SUPERBOOK

Fremont Street Experience recently renovated its Viva Vision canopy 35

Continued from page 35

Las Vegas’s exhibition space inventory will actually be growing as soon as this July, when the Expo at World Market Center is scheduled to debut. The facility’s 315,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space is divisible into North and South halls. Additional features include an expansive lobby area, registration area, onsite shuttle bus depot and a 3,000-space attached parking garage.


Groups can expect other hotel brands to implement similar practices in a reopened Las Vegas. They can also expect an even broader selection of properties. Last summer saw debuts by hotels of various sizes, from the 150-room Hyatt Place Las Vegas at Silverton Village to the 1,615room SAHARA Las Vegas. The latter is the result of a $150 million property-wide renovation and rebranding of SLS Las Vegas. SAHARA Las Vegas offers more than 95,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space, the luxurious Amina Spa and

There will likely never again be a time in Las Vegas when so many re-openings make the news. On the long list of hotels planning to welcome back guests are MGM Resorts’ collection of properties, and they will exemplify the industry’s intensified hygiene protocols. Across the United States, MGM hotels will implement the new Seven-Point Safety Plan, created in collaboration with MGM Resorts Lead Health and Safety Advisor Dr. Shannon Magari, who also serves as Vice President of

Among Las Vegas’s major new hotel projects are (counter-clockwise from top) Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, the brand’s first property in the city; Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino’s new tower, scheduled to be completed this fall; and SAHARA Las Vegas, which debuted last year.

Health Sciences for Colden Corporation. In brief, the elements of the plan are as follows: 1. Screening, temperature checks and employee training 2. Mandatory masks and personal protective equipment for all employees 3. Six-ft. physical distancing policy and plexiglass barriers or eye protection for employees as needed 4. Hand-washing and enhanced sanitization, including custom-built hand-washing stations, signage to remind employees and guests of hand-washing protocols, and electrostatic sprayers 5. HVAC systems that help mitigate the risk of virus transmission 6. Incident response protocols to reduce the chance the virus will spread in the unfortunate event a guest or employee tests positive 7. Digital innovations to provide contactless options, such as check-in process entirely through the MGM Resorts mobile app and digital menus and queues to avoid lines at restaurants 36

a portfolio of restaurants including BAZAAR Meat by José Andrés. This September, Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino plans to open its new, 495-room hotel tower. The existing property has 629 guestrooms and 35,000 sq. ft. of function space. Also this fall, Richard Branson’s company will enter the market with Virgin Hotels Las Vegas Curio Collection by Hilton. The 1,504-room property is a rebrand and renovation of the Hard Rock Las Vegas. Groups will have 130,000 sq. ft. of function space at their disposal. Other features include live FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2020 SUPERBOOK

Rendering of the various dynamic event spaces available at the new AREA15

entertainment at The Joint, accommodating over 4,500 guests; and 12 dining venues, including Nobu, MB Steak and a Todd English establishment that is being developed. Next year and the following will see two expansive mixedbrand properties open: the 3,500-room Resorts World Las Vegas in mid 2021 and the 3,719-room Drew Las Vegas in the spring of 2022. Resorts World fuses three Hilton brands: Hilton Hotels & Resorts, LXR Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts. The property will house a 100,000-sq.-ft. Event Center; a 222,000-sq.-ft. pool complex including an infinity pool with views of the Strip; and a 5,000-capacity theater that will be available for group events. Located adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center, the 67-floor Drew Las Vegas will also comprise three brands: JW Marriott, Edition and the Reserve by Drew. The Drew’s 550,000 sq. ft. of function space will include what is being billed as North America’s largest pillar-free ballroom at 106,000 sq. ft. Spring 2022 will also bring Las Vegas’s first Delta Hotels by Marriott. The off-Strip property will house 284 guestrooms and 10,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

32,000-sq.-ft. Reed Whipple Cultural Center, which will double the size of the museum’s presence on Las Vegas Boulevard.


Traffic will eventually resume among Las Vegas’s lodging, cultural and entertainment venues, and the city has an ongoing plan to keep its pedestrians safe by minimizing the need to cross busy streets. Last December, the city’s 17th pedestrian overpass opened, linking the Park MGM and T-Mobile Arena area to the Showcase Mall. The next pedestrian bridge is being developed between areas proximate to Bellagio and Planet Hollywood Resort, and bridges will link all four corners of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue. Work is expected to begin in 2022. Given the current circumstances, it may be hard to conceive of Las Vegas’s streets teeming with pedestrians, but in time that will be a heartwarming reality. A bustling, expanded Las Vegas Convention Center will also be part of the city’s future.


Las Vegas has always been a virtual think tank for the development of cutting-edge event venues, and a notable newcomer is AREA15. Opened in March near the Strip, AREA15 offers 40,000 sq. ft. across four indoor and outdoor function spaces, the largest being the 4,500-capacity A-Lot. Distinctive centerpieces for some of the event spaces include a 34-ft.-high bamboo volcano and a 23-ft.-high Japanese Maple Tree. A classic venue for groups to capture the spirit of Las Vegas is the Neon Museum, dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of iconic Las Vegas signs. The Neon Boneyard has rentable spaces for special events against memorable backdrops. Neon2020, the museum’s expansion plan, involves the expansion of the Boneyard as well as the acquisition of the FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2020 SUPERBOOK

The Neon Museum, one of the city’s most distinctive choices for offsite events 37



The iconic Empire State Building with Freedom Tower in the background




By George Seli

re-pandemic, New York City’s tourism industry was on a definite upswing. Last year saw the city’s 10th year-over-year increase in business and leisure visitation. According to NYC & Company, room demand across the city topped 38.9 million room nights, a 2.5 percent increase over 2018. And while COVID-19 essentially eliminated tourism during most of 2020’s first and second quarters, it did not eliminate plans to enhance New York City’s hospitality infrastructure. Most significantly for meeting groups, a major expansion of the Javits Center is set to debut next spring. The $1.5 billion project will add 93,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, 107,000 sq. ft. of meeting room space, 113,000 sq. ft. of pre-function space and a 53,000-sq.-ft. special event space. Alan Steel, President and CEO, New York Convention Center Operating Corporation, cites other new features that answer to groups’ needs, such as an outdoor pavilion and four-story parking garage (see our in-depth interview with Steel, page 16). In addition, the project is enhancing the Javits’ sustainability with the city’s largest rooftop solar array, estimated to offset more than 1.3 mil38

lion pounds of carbon emissions annually. Given the current travel restrictions, NYC & Company is making it convenient for planners to familiarize themselves with the Javits expansion as well as hotels and offsite event venues. Virtual NYC Site Tours (nycgo.com/ virtualnycsitetours), launched at the end of April, includes a video tours of the new Javits facilities; major hotels such as the InterContinental New York Times Square and New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge; the American Museum of Natural History, Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and other museums; Bateaux New York and Hornblower Cruises & Events; special event centers such as Manhattan Center and The Times Center; and other venues and experiences. More planning resources are available at nycgo.com/makeitnyc.


On the lodging front, the Big Apple will be ready to accommodate a post-pandemic surge in business and leisure travel. Twenty-four new hotels, totaling 4,000 rooms, opened FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2020 SUPERBOOK


last year. Hotel projects in the works represent an estimated 20,000 rooms in 118 new developments. Approximately half of the new properties are located outside Manhattan in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island. Among the larger hotel projects are the following: the 399-room Courtyard by Marriott Midtown West (opened November 2019), 520-room Hyatt Place Times Square (opened November 2019), 320-room Radisson Hotel New York City - Manhattan/Times Square (opened December 2019), 531-room TownePlace Suites/SpringHill Suites (opening this year), 445-room Hard Rock Hotel New York (opening spring 2021) and the 350-room Waldorf Astoria New York (projected to open in 2021). Groups who favor airport hotels have some exciting new options in New York City. In May of last year, TWA Hotel opened in JFK Airport. The property features 512 guestrooms and 50,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including 45 meeting rooms and the 15,000-sq.-ft. Starstream Ballroom. Other highlights include Connie, a 1958 Lockheed Constellation airplane that doubles as a cocktail lounge, and a 10,000-sq.-ft. rooftop deck and infinity pool overlooking a runway. The New York LaGuardia Airport Marriott completed a $30 million transformation in October 2018. The project refreshed the hotel’s 443 guestrooms, 15,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and 19,000 sq. ft. of public spaces. Queens is known as “the world’s borough,” and the property pays homage to that multiculturalism with a collection of artworks representing Egyptian, Irish and South American cultures, among many others. For intense corporate training sessions, planners may consider the 40,000-sq.-ft. Verizon Executive Education Center at Cornell Tech, which opened this summer on Roosevelt Island. The venue accommodates 300 guests

The new TWA Hotel at JFK Airport

theater style or 150 guests at 10-person rounds, surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows and a state-of-the-art AV technology. The new 224-room Graduate Roosevelt Island provides accommodations. A fine choice for executive education in Manhattan is Convene, which currently offers 14 conference center locations. Lower Manhattan will be home to the brand’s newest location, a 73,000-sq.-ft. facility. The Brookfield Place venue will accommodate up to 1,000 attendees between two main spaces, supported by all the meeting technology the brand is known for.



Groups taking advantage of the expanded Javits Center are well positioned to explore Hudson Yards, the city’s newest neighborhood. Constructed over an active rail yard, Hudson Yards is home to a slew of shops and restaurants, including celebrity chef standouts Mercado Little Spain by José Andrés and the Adrià Brothers, and the TAK Room by Thomas Keller. Two new midtown west venues of note are The Glasshouse, opening this fall, and Imperial Riverside Events at Pier 79 Atrium. Both are located on 12th Avenue and accessible to the Javits Center. At 75,000 sq. ft., The Glasshouse accommodates more than 1,800 attendees. The venue includes outdoor terraces, floorto-ceiling windows with Hudson River views, a VIP Lounge and green rooms, a built-in production infrastructure and two full-service commercial kitchens. Imperial Riverside Events also offers views of the Hudson, as well as 30-ft. ceilings admitting natural light. The venue accommodates up to 350 guests seated or 500 standing. Down in the East Village, Webster Hall offers delegates a renowned New York City Vessel, an interactive artwork and the centerpiece of Hudson Yards nightclub experience. Groups can



rent three distinct spaces — Ritz Lounge, Ballroom Floor and Balcony Level; the entire 1,400-capacity venue can also be rented. Built in 1886 and renovated last year, Webster Hall is a part of the city’s entertainment history. One of the city’s most historically engaging areas is the Seaport District, featuring restored wharfside buildings dating from the early 1800s. Next year, a 50,000-sq.-ft. food hall by Jean-Georges Vongerichten opens in the historic Tin Building. Attendees can choose from dining experiences including a vegetarian restaurant, Chinese and JULIENNE SCHAER Italian eateries, and multiple seafood concepts.


New York City’s hospitality industry survived and thrived in the years since 9/11, and it plans to do the same following the pandemic. Toward that end, the recently established Coalition for NYC Hospitality & Tourism Recovery will focus on “messaging, marketing and promotion to restore New York City’s brand locally and beyond, and to safely engage, mobilize and champion all sectors of NYC’s tourism economy,” according to NYC & Company.

“Together, when the time is right, we will help our businesses reopen and inspire New Yorkers and visitors alike to safely explore and interact with the five boroughs once more.”

will coordinate and execute Coalition plans. “NYC & Company’s mission has always been to maximize travel and tourism throughout the City, build economic prosperity and share the dynamism of New York City with the world,” said Fred Dixon, NYC & Company President and CEO. “The Coalition will do this with new energy and vision for a changed world. Together, when the time is right, we will help our businesses reopen and inspire New Yorkers and visitors alike to safely explore and interact with the five

The Javits Center expansion project (left) will include a one-acre rooftop farm as part of the existing 6.75-acre green roof (above)

boroughs once more.” Apart from Ward, several other local hotel industry leaders are participating in the Coalition. The Chairman’s Circle of Advisors includes Jonathan Tisch, Chairman and CEO, Loews Hotels & Co., and Chairman Emeritus, U.S. Travel Association. Among the 24 leaders comprising the Steering Committee are Vijay Dandapani, President & CEO, Hotel Association of New York City; and Sam Ibrahim, General Manager, New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. Steel is also on the Committee. The input from these individuals will be invaluable in providing the right messaging to the national meetings industry, as well as partnering with local hotels and meeting facilities on reopening strategies. When meetings resume, some of the protocols will be new, but the quality and distinctive character of events in the Big Apple will remain the same.

—Fred Dixon, President and CEO, NYC & Company Leading the Coalition will be five co-chairs: Ellen Futter, President of American Museum of Natural History; Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem; Danny Meyer, Chief Executive of the Union Square Hospitality Group; Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer, lyricist and actor; and Peter Ward, President of the New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council, AFL-CIO. NYC & Company 40

The Glasshouse Chelsea event venue, featuring Hudson River views FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2020 SUPERBOOK


Downtown Orlando




By Anthony Bilden

ike Waterman, Chief Sales Officer with Visit Orlando, reports a mood of “cautious optimism” regarding the near future of the city’s meetings industry. “Based on the amount of business on the books for 2021, we’re actually right at the levels we were for 2020 pre-pandemic,” he notes. “And 2020 was on track to be a record year.” Given the vitality of meetings and tourism to Orlando’s economy, the CVB is doing everything it takes to realize that recovery next year, if not sooner. President & CEO of Visit Orlando George Aguel is serving as Co-chair for Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force. “The goal is to develop recommendations for a phased approach to reopening that prioritizes the safety of the employees and the public,” Waterman explains. “And it’s been a great step for us to have the business leaders and the politicians all working together to figure out how to open Orlando as safely and responsibly as possible.”


In the meantime, Visit Orlando has been very proactive in maintaining its ties with meeting groups throughout the pandemic. “It’s been a daily, hourly communication with planners and our partners over at the OCCC,” Waterman says. “We’ve spent the last six weeks working on rebooking shows, and as of May 7 we’ve rescheduled 21 conventions, primarily for the back half of 2020, with an economic impact of $425 million.” Business development typically includes site visits and fam trips, but these days the initiative has been exclusively virtual. “We’ve got really robust virtual tours,” he notes. “Our salespeople have been doing virtual happy hours, coffee [meetings], anything we can do to engage our customers on a more personal level. We’ve also been doing meeting and convention webinars twice a month, bringing in industry veterans like Sherrif Karamat of PCMA.” Naturally, a major focus of Visit Orlando’s marketing work is the future expansion of what is already the secondlargest convention center in the country. The Orange 41

networking events with Orlando theme parks and attractions as the backdrop,” he adds. Like many convention centers, the facility is implementing new practices to host groups in a post-COVID-19 world, and recently committed to earning the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR accreditation on outbreak prevention, response and —Mike Waterman, Chief Sales Officer, recovery. “In collaboration with GBAC, Visit Orlando we are incorporating some of the most stringent protocols into our recovery County Convention Center’s $605 million expansion of its and resiliency plan to safeguard our guests, employees and North/South Building will bring total exhibit space to 2.3 community to instill a sense of confidence and trust when million sq. ft. Additions include 60,000 sq. ft. of meeting they return to the OCCC,” states OCCC Executive Director space, an 80,000-sq.-ft. ballroom and a 200,000-sq.-ft. Mark Tester (see F&D’s interview with Tester in the Spring Multipurpose Venue. “As of right now, they’re still planning 2020 issue, page 14). a groundbreaking sometime late fall of this year, with an “Safety and sanitation have always been a top priority,” Waterman affirms. “We’re going to work together expected opening date of fall of 2023,” Waterman relates. with planners and the convention center to follow any The rationale for the new space was to “balance out the North/South Building, offering more flexibility to planners,” CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] recommendations moving forward around social he explains. “The expansion will connect the North and distancing, how you set up meeting space, [conduct onsite] South sides of the building, and the meeting space is what registration and so on. Orlando is home to the most our planners have been asking us to add.” respected tourism companies in the world, and they take According to OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester, safety very seriously. We’re also partnering with Orlando “The unique meeting rooms are built to feature natural Health [a private, not-for-profit network of community light with improved technology features.” For groups and specialty hospitals] to establish recommendations for that want to gather in the fresh air, “covered outdoor all the groups that are planning to attend and hold their terraces will accommodate a range of exciting options for meeting at the OCCC for the remainder of 2020, and they’ve even agreed to work with some of our groups in 2021 if needed.” The partnership with Orlando Health and the pursuit of GBAC accreditation are two prongs in the OCCC’s three-pronged Recovery and Resiliency Plan, presented to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force on June 3. The other initiative is the implementation of the OCCC’s Recovery and Resiliency Guidelines. Developed in consultation with Orange County’s Health Services Department, the data-driven guidelines aim to protect clients, guests and attendees Renderings of the expanded Orange County Convention Center’s Multipurpose Venue (above) and West Building lobby (below) upon the OCCC’s reopening. Helping to accommodate the increased group business due to the OCCC expansion is the new Tru Hotel by Hilton Orlando Convention Center, scheduled to open this fall. The property will feature 259 guestrooms, a variety of onsite amenities and a walkway leading to the OCCC’s West Concourse.

“We’re partnering with Orlando Health to establish recommendations for all the groups that are planning to attend and hold their meeting at the OCCC for the remainder of 2020, and they’ve even agreed to work with some of our groups in 2021 if needed.”


The Tru Hotel is just the tip of the new wave of hotels in Orlando. This spring, Universal Orlando Resort completed its Endless Summer Resort with the opening of the 2,050room Dockside Inn and Suites. The 750-room Surfside Inn Continued on page 44



Orlando ‘s

Orange County Convention Center





EXPERIENCE THE CENTER OF HOSPITALITY The award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) located in the heart of the Convention District and only fifteen minutes from the Orlando International Airport provides a multitude of event options in two beautiful buildings – the West Building and North-South Building. Connectivity is enhanced by five covered pedestrian bridges to nearby hotels and provides easy walkability to events. The OCCC is consistently rated a top-tier convention center with incredible flex spaces, hosting nearly 200 meetings, conferences, banquets, conventions and tradeshows that attract more than 1.5 million attendees to the region annually. The OCCC is the second-largest convention facility in North America and provides approximately $3 billion in economic impact to Central Florida annually. For more information, visit www.occc.net.


sales@occc.net occc.net

world’s tallest slingshot ride, reaching a height of 450 ft.; and the 400-ft. Orlando Gyro Drop Tower, the world’s tallest freestanding drop tower. While Orlando is known for its theme parks, it also Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Orlando Museum of Art has a fine arts tradition that Continued from page 42 may be more appealing to some delegates. Founded in and Suites, also part of Endless Summer Resort, opened in 1924, the Orlando Museum of Art has American, African, June 2019. While family oriented, Endless Summer Resort Ancient Americas and Contemporary collections. Meeting is located near the Convention District and is a convenient groups can rent the full museum or individual spaces such as the 250-seat Suntrust Auditorium and the Council of lodging choice for delegates. 101 Grand Gallery Hall, which features natural light from Scheduled to open this year is the 516-room JW a domed skylight and Dale Chihuly’s signature glass Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa. The property will offer more than 50,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, sculpture, Citron & Cobalt Tower. The Dr. Phillips Center including 18 rooms and a 22,000-sq.-ft. ballroom. A property for the Performing Arts also offers numerous rentable spaces, including the 2,700-capacity Walt Disney Theater, highlight is a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of a 300-capacity nearby theme park fireworks. rooftop terrace and The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort the new Steinmetz will introduce the 349-room Cove next year. The property Hall, opening later will offer 22,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and 16,700 sq. ft. this year. The hall’s of flexible outdoor space, including two new ballrooms, 12 design is highly meeting and breakout rooms and a rooftop function space. configurable: its stage, walls THEME PARK REOPENINGS and floor can Given the current state of the theme park industry due to be lengthened, the pandemic, the prospect of a group event at a Disney shortened or or Universal park may seem like “a galaxy, far, far away.” lowered. However, Universal Orlando reopened June 4, SeaWorld Orlando’s Orlando on June 11, and Walt Disney World plans a dining scene is also phased reopening beginning July 11. Eventually, group flourishing. New events will resume at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort establishments these parks, and Walt include James Beard Award semifinalist John Tesar’s Disney World’s new Knife & Spoon at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes; Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride and Ole Red, a concept by country superstar Blake Shelton will certainly be a opening this summer. draw for enthusiasts of the media EXPANDED AIRPORT TO WELCOME DELEGATES NEXT YEAR franchise. Opened While Orlando’s hospitality industry has been at a in December, the virtual standstill, the visitation numbers later this year attraction is located and in 2021 may well be quite robust, given the pentThe new Orlando Starflyer within the Star Wars: up demand for one of the country’s tourism hotbeds. Galaxy’s Edge land The city’s airport will be ready to handle the surge with at Disney’s Hollywood the new South Terminal Complex, expected to open in Studios. One of Universal’s 2021. The facility includes 19 new gates to accommodate latest entertainment more than 10 million passengers. Also scheduled to offerings is The Bourne debut next year is the 106-room Cambria Hotel Orlando Stuntacular, a liveInternational Airport, located less than two miles from action stunt show based the airport. on Universal Pictures’ While the Cambria hotel will be useful to small groups blockbuster Bourne films. needing an expedient meeting in the city, most groups This year will also bring will want to lodge in a property central to Orlando’s two new attractions for world-famous attractions. Temporary measures such as Universal Orlando Resort lights thrill-seekers to ICON Park social distancing and facemasks will not compromise up Volcano Bay to honor on International Drive: the unique and memorable experiences those attractions healthcare and essential workers The Orlando Slingshot, the promise. 44







Mane & Rye Dinerant

Writers Studio

Just steps from Music Row, this reimagined Nashville property tunes into what groups want


By Laura Janelle Downey

n 2019, Nashville, aka Music City, welcomed more than 16 million visitors. The popular Southern Tennessee capital is filled with history, honky-tonks and hotels. One special gem is the Hutton Hotel, located in the bustling West End neighborhood just 13 minutes (less than 10 miles) from Nashville International Airport. Renovated in 2017, the 11-year-old hotel offers groups more than 20,000 sq. ft. of function space and 250 guestrooms (including 52 suites and three signature suites). Healthcare management company eviCore recently hosted its Annual Physicians Meeting at the Hutton Hotel. “After touring several properties, we decided on the Hutton Hotel for several reasons,” says Kimberly Stanke, Executive Assistant at eviCore. “The location and size of hotel, the Analog entertainment venue, which absolutely sealed the deal, and the staff was amazing to work with — Sales Manager Natalia Beaubouef saw to every detail and made every event run smoothly.” Stanke secured the 7,000-sq.-ft. Vista Ballroom for eviCore’s needs. “We chose the Vista Ballroom due to the size of our group and meeting space required. The ballroom offered a comfortable space for a half-day meeting, and the audiovisual team was amazing. Everything went off without a


hitch,” Stanke says. She adds that “We chose Analog for our holiday party because it has the cool factor. The décor gives the space a speakeasy feel. And the Hutton team positioned food stations around Analog, providing a comfortable space to mingle. I cannot say enough about Analog and the Hutton staff. All of our guests commented on what a wonderful party it was.” Other hotel highlights include the Fender Play® In-Room Experience, where attendees can call the front desk and have a Fender Stratocaster, Telecaster or Jazzmaster brought to their room with an iPad, amplifier, headphones and a three-month prepaid Fender Play subscription card (labeled Everything You Need To Learn Guitar Bass & Ukulele). Attendees can brush up on their skills or learn the basics, but if things start to get too loud, they shouldn’t abandon their soloist dreams. Hutton Hotel offers its state-of-the-art Writers Studios (our favorite is the East Studio) for them to rock out, pen and record songs, and much more. Once a hit is recorded, attendees can stop by Mane & Rye Dinerant before going back to their room or suite. Menu options include The Vlad, which comes with malted vanilla ice cream infused with Stolichnaya and Kahlúa. This will be one of the sweetest stays a group has ever had. 45



AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER Texas, LBJ Presidential Library, Umlauf Sculpture Gardens, Zilker Botanical Gardens and more than 20 museums including the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Plus there are dozens of art galleries, including The Blanton Museum of Art, Lake Austin, Lake Travis, Barton Springs, and hike and bike trails along Lady Bird Lake.

Fast Facts:

Located in the heart of the capital city’s downtown, the Leed® Gold-certified convention center spans six city blocks


he four-story Austin Convention Center, a LEED® Gold-certified building, is a leader in the convention and meeting industry. The facility is located in the heart of the capital city’s downtown business district and spans six city blocks. With five column-free exhibit halls, totaling 247,052 sq. ft., the exhibit space can accommodate 1,289 booths that are 10 ft.-by-10 ft. The flexible building space has 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 parking garages with 1,700 spaces. TECHNOLOGICAL FEATURES Rated 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. The Center’s high-tech capabilities help to create the perfect Technology Partner for the annual SXSW international multimedia festival. The facility offers a variety of inhouse services including complimentary wireless Internet access, redundant highspeed Internet II access, plug-and-play capabilities, and onsite technical staff to help with networking needs. HOTELS Downtown offers 11,000 hotel rooms within a two-mile radius of the facility, including the 800-room Hilton Austin adjacent to the Austin Convention Center

and connected by the Hilton Overhead Walkway at 4th. North America’s largest Fairmont property with 1,048 rooms, the Fairmont Austin is connected directly to the Austin Convention Center 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, Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel, W Austin, Hyatt Place Downtown Austin and Westin Austin Downtown. Located adjacent to the Center, the all-new Austin Marriott Downtown is scheduled to open in 2020, and will feature over 600 guestrooms. AUSTIN BY NIGHT After conventions and meetings wrap up each night, attendees may choose to enjoy Austin’s entertainment districts. Austin is a city where the music never stops, as the “Live Music Capital of the World.” The largest concentration of venues is found downtown in the Warehouse District, Rainey Street and Sixth Street, a six-block stretch of bars and restaurants. AUSTIN BY DAY During the day, visitors and families can enjoy the Texas State Capitol Complex, Texas Governor’s Mansion, University of


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 that can accommodate 1,289, 10 ft.-by-10 ft. exhibit booths Ballrooms: Seven, ranging in size from cozy and intimate to one of the largest in Texas at 40,510 sq. ft. Technology: Gigabit-rated facility with complimentary Wi-Fi to accommodate over 20,000 wireless devices connecting simultaneously. No need to roam, looking for full connectivity sweet spot. New video walls for additional wayfinding and client messaging to go along with 24/7 network support and event customization.


Hotels: 11,000 downtown hotel rooms. Convention Center connected to Hilton Austin and Fairmont Austin via Hilton Overhead Walkway and Fairmont Canopy Walk Airport: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), eight miles from the Convention Center Nearby Attractions: State Capitol, Sixth Street Entertainment District, Warehouse Entertainment District, University of Texas, LBJ Presidential Library, more than 20 museums including the Texas State History Museum, dozens of art galleries and historical attractions, and Lady Bird Lake

Contact Information

Trisha Tatro, Interim Director of Austin Convention Center Department Paul Barnes, ACCD Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer Amy Harris, CMP, Director of Sales

500 E. Cesar Chavez Street, Austin, TX 78701 • (512) 404-4200; Fax: (512) 404-4220 conventionsales@austintexas.gov • austinconventioncenter.com 46





his energetic city offers meeting planners the perfect combination of urban lifestyle and outdoor adventure. A vibrant, walkable downtown awaits visitors with plentiful dining, breweries, wine-tasting rooms, shops and entertainment. Getting to Boise is easier than ever with nonstop service to 20 destinations.


Situated in the heart of downtown is Boise Centre, Idaho’s premier convention center. Following a $47.5 million expansion, Boise Centre boasts 86,000 sq. ft. of fully carpeted, versatile event space that accommodates groups of up to 2,000 people. Within the convention center, you will find 31 flexible meeting rooms, the latest in wireless technology and beautiful views of the Boise Foothills. Boise Centre proudly provides in-house catering, audiovisual, technology and event production services. Boise Centre’s team of event professionals will attend to every detail to ensure an unforgettable experience.


In the past two years, several new hotels have opened near Boise Centre and another property is expected to open in late 2020. Groups and conventions have over 1,100 sleeping rooms near the convention center with convenient access to dining, nightlife, shopping and entertainment.


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

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

Fast Facts: Facility

Location: Downtown Boise Total Square Feet: 86,000 Meeting Space: 31 meeting rooms including an Executive Boardroom with videoconferencing Largest Room: 24,426 sq. ft., seats 2,400 Technology: Complimentary shared Wi-Fi throughout with dedicated Internet bandwidth up to 500 mbps available to purchase and plug-and-play capabilities


Hotels: 1,100 downtown hotel rooms and thousands more within a short shuttle ride Airport: Boise Airport, seven minutes from facility Nearby Attractions: State Capitol, Historic Basque Block, Boise State University, over 100 shops, 80 restaurants and 20 breweries, live music venues, 25-mile Boise Greenbelt walking and biking path along the Boise River, many museums, whitewater rafting, nearby hiking and golf


Pat Rice, Executive Director (208) 336-8900 or pat_rice@boisecentre.com Ali Ribordy, Director of Sales (208) 489-3608 or aribordy@boisecentre.com

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


Boise’s Best. At its Centre. Centrally located in the heart of vibrant downtown Boise, the newly expanded Boise Centre has a variety of customizable meeting spaces, modern amenities, exceptional culinary services and a friendly and dedicated staff ready to make your next event an unforgettable experience. Explore Idaho’s premier convention center for yourself. • Centralized, downtown location • Only seven minutes from Boise airport • Over 20 direct flights to and from Boise

• Closely surrounded by more than 100 restaurants • Over 1,200 hotel rooms within walking distance • Close to outdoor recreation, including The Boise Greenbelt

LEARN MORE: boisecentre.com



Battelle Grand Ballroom


ollowing the supremely successful 2019 ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition in Columbus, the local hospitality community was excited to receive another significant booking, the PCMA Convening Leaders 2023 event, whose delegates are ready to discover all Columbus has to offer. The Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC), managed by ASM Global, is strategically located within a one-day drive or 90-minute flight of nearly half of the nation’s population and 10 minutes from John Glenn Columbus International Airport. Located within a vibrant entertainment area featuring the Arena District and Short North Arts District, the GCCC is connected to multiple hotels by an enclosed walkway. Construction continues with the second tower of the connected Hilton Columbus Downtown, which upon completion in 2022 will become the largest hotel in Ohio. The GCCC is owned and developed by the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority (FCCFA). One of the busiest convention centers in North America, the GCCC measures 1.8 million sq. ft. and features 373,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space, 447,000 sq. ft. in total. The venue offers 75 meeting rooms, including nine with outsidefacing windows. Three ballrooms totaling 114,000 sq. ft. — including the 74,000-sq.-ft. Battelle Grand, the largest multipurpose ballroom in Ohio — offer colorful LED ceiling fin lights that project a variety of color combinations and customized effects. All three ballrooms, including the 15,000-sq.-ft. Short North Ballroom and the 25,000-sq.-ft. Union Station Ballroom, feature upscale carpeting, wall coverings and finishes, plus retractable walls to divide the ballrooms into sections. Upper-level show offices enable show managers to have a bird’seye view of the exhibition floor below while enjoying a private space for exclusive meetings and entertaining. Node walls in the main

Entertainment districts across the street from the GCCC concourse can be programmed to display colorful lighting of the event planner’s choice. Levy, the facility’s exclusive food-service provider, creates customized menus based on client specifications and operates Discovery Café, composed of the Homegrown Market, Columbus Grille, Crimson Cup and CBUS Tap Room. The nearby Smartfarm provides 2.5 tons of herbs and vegetables annually, including accommodating requests for produce to be grown in advance to meet specific event needs. The GCCC offers more than 4,700 total parking spaces across six locations, with the Ohio Center Garage adding 650 spaces earlier in 2020. The GCCC is the first convention center to display real-time parking availability on its mobile-friendly website. The parking garages and convention center feature the largest contemporary collection of central Ohio art, including the popular, interactive sculpture As We Are by Matthew Mohr. Guests step into the photo booth within the sculpture and emerge to see their 14-ft. portrait displayed in LED ribbon lights, equaling the size of the head of a person 94 ft. tall. The GCCC is the first convention center in the world to become KultureCity Certified Sensory Inclusive and offers a freestanding room dedicated to nursing mothers and reserved parking for them and for veterans. Two Guest Services Centers provide a variety of services and assistance by the city’s largest contingent of Certified Tourism Ambassadors. A survey platform enables GCCC staff to respond to guest feedback as it is received. Arnold Plaza accommodates a tent for outdoor gatherings and includes a statue of actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, co-founder of the GCCC’s largest annual event, the Arnold Sports Festival. Event planners welcome the flexible, linear space the GCCC offers and the South Café & Marketplace on level 1. The GCCC staff is ready for your visit!

400 North High Street, Columbus, OH 43215 • (614) 827-2500 • columbusconventions.com FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2020 SUPERBOOK





he SMG-managed Meadowlands Exposition Center at Harmon Meadow is proud to be the premier New Jersey convention center that meeting planners and tradeshow producers prefer. Since opening its doors in 1990, the MEC has consistently exceeded the expectations of planners, exhibitors and attendees. The MEC is • Five miles from Manhattan; • Accessible to all major interstate arteries, including the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway; • Minutes from Newark Liberty International Airport and Teterboro Jetport; and • Serviced by New York/New Jersey Transit, with bus stops located at the front entrance of the facility. Groups have at their disposal 61,000 sq. ft. of obstruction-free, dedicated convention space with 20-ft.-high ceilings; fully carpeted seminar rooms with airwalls that can be utilized individually or opened to one large room; and two drive-in doors (14 ft. by 16 ft.) with four loading docks at street level. Full and half-hall rates are available. Meadowlands Exposition Center staff will work with each group to address their individual needs and budget in relation to calendar and availability of dates and space. Professional event coordinators will guide the show manager through the entire event. The in-house decorator has its office in the

Convention Center and maintains a full warehouse on the premises, guaranteeing exhibitors a full range of decorating services. In addition, the in-house caterer provides world-class food service for 50 to 5,000 attendees. The Meadowlands Exposition Center operates three concession stands that offer a wide variety of options. Located only minutes to Manhattan and Newark Liberty International Airport in Northern New Jersey, the Meadowlands Exposition Center at Harmon Meadow establishes a spacious campuslike environment for visitors with the best amenities: hotels, dining, shopping and entertainment — all within walking distance of each other. There are six national hotel chains within walking distance, with rates that average 30 percent lower than New York City. Major retailers and a variety of restaurants provide an ideal location to relax or conduct business. Take in a movie at Kerasotes ShowPlace 14 Theatres and dinner at a nearby restaurant or work out in LA Fitness Signature Club (Full Service Fitness Club). Incoming groups will enjoy easy access from the New Jersey Turnpike and Route 3, plus multiple transportation options and free parking right outside the Center’s door. So come on in and look around and find out more about the MEC’s upcoming events. And when you’re ready to book your next event, call (201) 330-7773 and the staff will be happy to assist you in planning your most successful event ever.

355 Plaza Drive, Secaucus, NJ 07094 • (201) 330-7773; Fax: (201) 330-1172 • mecexpo.com 50




MEET SPACE, MEET STYLE, MEET AC City is a hidden gem along the New Jersey shoreline, offering visitors much more than a seaside destination. Atlantic ACitytlantic offers ‘round-the-clock fun and excitement after the work

and meetings are through. Year-round, day or night, whatever you are looking for in a destination, Atlantic City’s got it. Atlantic City features miles of scenic beach and Boardwalk that your group can enjoy at any time of the year. They can take a stroll on the famous historic Boardwalk, bask in the glowing sun or take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean. Millions of visitors stroll, ride a bicycle or tour the Boardwalk on the famous rolling chairs. While in town, delegates can try their luck on the table games or slot machines at any of the city’s nine casinos. Atlantic City is made up of over 16,000 first-class hotel rooms that will provide the perfect accommodations for your attendees’ complete comfort and relaxation. The city also offers casino resorts with full resort amenities that range from an adult to a family-friendly atmosphere. The hotel and casino properties consist of meeting facilities and a surplus of unique event venues. The Atlantic City Convention Center provides over 600,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, as well as 45 meeting rooms, ample pre-function space and all the amenities you would expect. Convention delegates can unwind and dine with plentiful dining options, all customized to fit their taste buds, from brand-name eateries to celebrity chef restaurants. The Entertainment Capital of the Jersey Shore will have them laughing and singing all night long. Shopaholics can shop ‘til they drop at the city’s tax-free outlet shopping, Tanger Outlets The Walk, with over 100 retail stores that won’t disappoint with incredible deals, just steps from the convention center. Historic Boardwalk Hall, formerly known as Atlantic City Convention Hall, is Atlantic City’s first convention center and an iconic landmark to Atlantic City that was built in 1929. Home of the Miss America Pageant, it played host to the city’s growing convention industry. Boardwalk Hall has hosted an amazing list of dazzling entertainers and knockout sporting events throughout its 85-year history. When in town for a convention, make it a point to tour the pipe organ in historic Boardwalk Hall that is a national landmark built in the late 1920s.

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

1 Convention Boulevard, Atlantic City, NJ 08401 • (844) 855-6338 • meetinac.com FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2020 SUPERBOOK



MEMPHIS’ RENASANT CONVENTION CENTER In the Home of Blues, Soul and Rock ‘n’ Roll, a $200 million convention center modernization remains on track for an October 2020 opening and responsive to the new normal


When Memphis’ Renasant Convention Center debuts in October 2020, an open-air concourse will connect the facility to Main Street.


hen a global pandemic coincides with the final phase of your facility’s two-year, $200 million modernization plan, what do you do? “First and foremost, we made the decision to prioritize This outdoor terrace will overlook Front Street flows through Memphis’ the safety of our team, and of every group that will gather the Mississippi River and the nightly Renasant Convention Center. in this building moving forward,” says Dean Dennis, Mighty Lights show, a synchronized Planners can work with the facility to General Manager of Memphis’ Renasant Convention illumination featuring the iconic close the street, creating additional Center. “With this lodestar in place,” Dennis explains, bridge in the background. outdoor exhibit space. “we took a step back and identified key opportunities.” These opportunities include integrating safety protocols could look in Memphis’ Renasant Convention Center, considering into the construction process. Says Dennis: “We began by creating current directives from local leadership. We are preparing to create an internal COVID-19 Safety Committee to oversee and monitor viable, customized plans for each group, consulting with our internal protocols, review new systems and products . . . and our entire COVID-19 Safety Committee on pre- and post-event evaluation.” team is taking advantage of learning opportunities to stay on top Dennis believes the facility’s planned opportunities for of best practices as they emerge.” customization will resonate with planners now more than ever. Ongoing education, in fact, inspired what Dennis sees as his The modernization of Memphis’ Renasant Convention Center facility’s most substantial decision to date: participation in the was designed to create flexible meeting space and embrace the Global BioRisk Advisory Council’s Accreditation Program, GBAC outdoors, with glass and open-air spaces showcasing natural light STARTM. Memphis’ Renasant Convention Center will be one of and Mississippi River views. While groups can take advantage of an outdoor terrace overlooking the river or an open-air concourse the first facilities to utilize the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) template to achieve accreditation, which Dennis connecting the facility to Main Street, they can also work with describes as “the gold standard” for planners assessing the cleaning Dennis’ team to close and transform Front Street into an outdoor exhibit hall. Protected from the elements and brightly illuminated, and disinfection of facilities. Already, sanitizing stations, thermal imaging, fogging machines the streetscape flows between the main convention facility and five riverfront meeting rooms. and other critical safety equipment are part of the facility’s routine: In addition to dividing construction crews into two shifts to enable For those who know Memphis, the modernized Renasant social distancing, thermal imaging and disinfection of the facilities Convention Center will complement its unique surroundings. “Memphis is a boutique, yet affordable, destination. We’re a six- to occur daily. “We’ve been very fortunate that our project remains on track eight-hour drive from 85 percent of the U.S.,” says Dennis. “Despite COVID-19, our facility modernization and other investments — for October 2020, and we continue to be involved with the Project including Loews’ development of a second convention center Manager (MFA) in keeping it so by prioritizing safety,” Dennis says. But his team is equally focused on developing event protocols to hotel in our city, supplementing 4,000 existing rooms and 2,000 more in the works downtown — continue to move forward. As the align with safety initiatives. “We have contributed to — and are using pandemic has shifted the priorities of our industry as a whole — and as a template for our facility debut — the Event Safety Alliance Reopening Guide,” Dennis says, adding, “but that’s just the start. We of planners and delegates individually — we believe Memphis is uniquely positioned to serve groups in the new normal.” are preparing to meet with planners to discuss how their events

255 N. Main Street, Memphis TN 38103 • (901) 576-1200 • renasantconventioncenter.com 52




The annual business dinner was billed as “The Next Big Thing.” And the organizer wanted us to make it a can’t-miss experience. Inspired by our panoramic views of the lake and state capitol, our AV team created an all-new 180° of amazing.

Let Us Orchestrate Your Incredible at Monona Terrace

Cue the surround sound.

Monona Terrace®, you have the freedom to imagine your dream Then, our detail-obsessed staff will work with you to Abringtevent. it to life. Book your next meeting or convention to experience our top-notch technology and concierge-caliber service, all with a lakeside view. So go ahead and dream big. We’ll see you at Monona Terrace. Monona Terrace, a crown jewel of Madison’s isthmus, earned the prestigious Gold Level LEED status. In 2007, Monona Terrace became the first convention center in the nation to be LEED-EBcertified at the Silver Level by the U.S. Green Building Council. The additional certification at the Gold Level affirms the facility’s commitment to the environment. The facility actively uses sustainable practices such as purchasing 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. Monona Terrace is a symbol of sustainability for the community and an inspiration to all those who choose to visit the city.


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

Convention Facilities

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

One John Nolen Drive, Madison, WI 53703 (608) 261-4000 • mononaterrace.com

Let us orchestrate your incredible. Connect with us at MononaTerrace.com

Madison, WI

© 2020 Monona Terrace


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ew Orleans is an award-winning city steeped in culture, culinary excellence and centuries-old architecture, and its meeting facilities are no exception. Events held at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center are unlike any other, and the facility’s exquisite and unique venues as well as unmatched Southern hospitality are just a few of the reasons. The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is the sixth largest and one of the most technologically advanced convention facilities in the country. With over 1.1 million sq. ft. of prime contiguous exhibit space, 140 meetings rooms, two multipurpose ballrooms and a 4,000-seat divisible performing arts theater, the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center has been tested by the most demanding clients from all event segments. The Great Hall boasts 60,000 column-free sq. ft. with 25,000 sq. ft. of prefunction space, interior and exterior balconies, a large outdoor pedestrian plaza and a grand entrance. The grand entrance is overlooked by a high-definition video display board promoting the event. The impressive three million-sq.-ft. New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, which so perfectly complements the city’s walkable hotel packages, has embarked on a $557 million improvement plan including interior modernizations, renovations to its 140 meeting rooms, restroom renovations, and a complete makeover of its exterior experience. In the spring of 2019, new digital signs were installed for each meeting room. In the fall of 2019, the Center debuted a brandnew, centrally located Transportation Center to allow shuttles, taxis and ride-shares to more efficiently move attendees to and from the Center. The Shuttle Hub is equipped with digital signage to help attendees easily identify their shuttles. Later this year, wayfinding kiosks will be implemented throughout the lobbies. Plans for the exciting transformation of Convention Center Boulevard in New Orleans, which will connect the bustling Warehouse/Arts District with the historic French Quarter and dramatically transform the guest experience at the New Orleans

Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, are becoming a reality. Set to open in late 2020, a new $65 million linear park will update the urban environment with a lushly landscaped, 7.5-acre, tree-lined pedestrian plaza spanning the length of the facility, with covered porches, outdoor event spaces, water features, green walls, water walls, public art and shaded communal areas. A 1,200-room hotel attached to the Center and an adjacent 40-acre mixed-use development will begin to take shape on the upriver end in the coming years. One of New Orleans’ most enticing attributes is its unique dining experiences, and the Center lives up to that expectation through its food and beverage partner, Centerplate. Centerplate serves the essence of the New Orleans culinary experience through three onsite restaurants featuring live local music, and menus of iconic Louisiana dishes. In addition to the customary service on the exhibit floor, several exclusive dining options are available, including the elegant Ma Maison VIP dining suite. As a consistent Top 10 host of the largest number of conventions and tradeshows annually, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is an expert in hosting groups of all sizes and industries. The Crescent City, The Big Easy, a sportsman’s paradise — whatever you call New Orleans, call it your next meeting destination.

900 Convention Center Boulevard, New Orleans, LA 19107 • (504) 582-3023 • mccno.com 54





here’s a reason Pasadena is the perfect choice for meetings. The weather is idyllic. Mountain views and blue skies abound. Intimate neighborhood allure is infused with modern energy and metropolitan offerings that make it a destination in itself. Pasadena is located just 10 miles from downtown Los Angeles, and is conveniently accessible from all L.A.-area airports and freeways. The Gold Line light rail transports passengers from Pasadena to downtown Los Angeles and points in between. The state-of-the-art Pasadena Convention Center features 130,000 sq. ft. of space for meetings of all sizes, with spacious exhibit halls, an expansive ballroom and 29 meeting rooms. Over 2,500 hotel rooms are available within the city to fit all budgets, 1,200 within walking distance of the Convention Center. Recent changes in Pasadena include a $20 million renovation of guestrooms, lobby and meeting spaces at Sheraton Pasadena; a $25 million renovation of guestrooms, lobby, bar and meeting spaces at Hilton Pasadena; an $11 million guestroom beautification at Westin Pasadena; construction of a rooftop pool, meeting space, fitness center and 25 new rooms at dusitD2 Hotel Constance Pasadena; and a new 186-room upscale Hyatt Place hotel in Pasadena’s most popular retail and entertainment center, The Paseo. The downtown six-story hotel opened in December 2018. Pasadena provides the rare opportunity to host more personalized meetings, with all the benefits of the big city. Unique social breakout experiences run the gamut from

local teambuilding activities like hiking Eaton Canyon, to popular wine bars, shopping excursions and cultural events with special group rates. The city’s convenient layout, in conjunction with an array of world-class business and entertainment venues, makes Pasadena the perfect destination. An eclectic mix of shopping, theaters, golf, museums and gardens is conveniently just steps away from Pasadena’s Civic Center. There’s literally something significant around every corner, whether you’re into architecture, music, theater, museums or galleries. Pasadena is the heartbeat of SoCal’s cultural side. Art connoisseurs can explore a myriad of landmark museums and galleries, housing everything from European masters to early California Impressionists to modern art. Literary lovers can peruse rare books and manuscripts. Explore mile upon mile of stunning botanical gardens, top-notch arts performances and live concert venues. A tour of the town will lead to a beautiful tree-lined shopping district along South Lake Avenue, galleries and specialty shops in the Playhouse District, 19th century structures and quaint alleyways in Old Pasadena, and an open-air urban village in Paseo Colorado. Pasadena could easily be called “Foodie City,” with more than 650 restaurants — more per capita than New York City. Some of the world’s greatest minds have chosen to live and work in Pasadena. Plan your next meeting here and imagine the possibilities. The destination experts at the Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) offer a variety of personalized services to meeting planners. For more information, visit www.PasadenaMeetings.com or call (800) 307-7977.

300 East Green Street, Pasadena, CA 91101 • (800) 307-7977 • pasadenameetings.com FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2020 SUPERBOOK




Music Hall, and more than 80,000 sq. ft. of other entertainment spaces, as well as a 175-room Aloft hotel, which is already in operation. The hotel integrates perfectly with the entertainment spaces and offers guests a unique urban hotel experience, adjacent to the bustling Time Square-esque atmosphere of the complex. With its fresh design, the Aloft hotel offers quiet relaxation spaces and a rooftop swimming pool overlooking the Convention Center building and district grounds.

Fast Facts: Facility Managed by ASM Global


he Puerto Rico Convention Center Pedro Rosselló is an internationally renowned, award-winning convention center, located in San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital city. The 14-time Prime Site Award winner offers 600,000 sq. ft. of beautiful and flexible event space, which makes it the ideal meeting place for entrepreneurs and business and public organizations from around the world. The state-of-the-art facility includes a 152,700-sq.-ft. exhibit hall, divisible into three sections, the largest one being 72,000 sq. ft.; a total of 39,551 sq. ft. of ballroom area; 29 meeting rooms; and an outdoor terrace that can service small meetings or large conventions with modern technology, accommodations and transportation.

TECHNOLOGICAL FEATURES PSAV is the in-house provider of audiovisual and event technology support for the Puerto Rico Convention Center. It serves as the preferred AV provider and exclusive Internet and Telecommunications Provider (including high-speed wireless Internet access to thousands of devices and dedicated bandwidth), multiple display screens, sophisticated lighting services, audio system and digital recording system. HOTELS Puerto Rico offers more than 150 hotels. Over 700 hotel rooms are within the Convention District. The Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino with 503 rooms is just steps away from the Center and is one of the many hotels in the Metropolitan San Juan area that offers high-end services to delegates. The Hyatt Place, San Juan offers 149 rooms and the Hyatt House, San Juan offers 126 rooms, all within the Convention District. And the newly inaugurated Aloft at Distrito T-Mobile affords an additional 177 rooms right across the street from the convention center. SAN JUAN DISTRICT’S CURRENT EXPERIENCES The Puerto Rico Convention Center is just steps away from a rich array of cultural attractions, historic treasures and architectural masterpieces, some of which date back centuries to when the city was a Spanish military stronghold. But it’s not just the city’s rich history that attracts visitors. San Juan is also home to numerous fine dining and casual restaurants offering a variety of cuisine from around the globe, lively nightlife, shops and attractions. SAN JUAN DISTRICT’S UPCOMING EXPERIENCES In the coming months, the Puerto Rico Convention Center and Convention Center District will have a new attraction to offer, Distrito T-Mobile, where business meets fun. The project consists of a performance venue for 6,000 patrons known as the Coca-Cola

Location: Convention Center District, Puerto Rico Total Area: 600,000 sq. ft. of exhibit and meeting space Exhibit Space: 153,000 sq. ft. Ballrooms: Ballroom AB, 39,551 sq. ft.; Ballroom A-25, 563 sq. ft.; Ballroom B, 14,000 sq. ft. Meeting Space: 20 meeting rooms totaling over 23,000 sq. ft. Exhibit Hall Theater Seating Capacity: 16,000+ Technology: In-house PSAV team, high-speed Internet access, multiple display screens, lighting services, audio system and digital recording system

San Juan

Airport: The city of San Juan has two airports, Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci Domestic Airport, which is four minutes away from the Convention Center, and Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU), which is 15 minutes away from the District. Transportation: Getting around the island is a breeze. Rental car agencies can be found near the airport and hotels. Taxi service and Uber are also efficient ways to see the island’s numerous districts. Entry Requirements/Currency/Language: Puerto Rico is a U.S. Commonwealth, and thus no passports or visas are required for U.S. citizens. Foreign visitors should have valid passports and visas as required. Puerto Rico uses U.S. currency, phone and mail services, and both English and Spanish are official languages. RECENT RENOVATIONS AT THE CONVENTION CENTER Major carpet renovation project and changes in the building’s color palette highlight the Caribbean atmosphere. Recent investments in these and other renovations total $5.7 million and include repairs to the emblematic outdoor terrace and the acquisition of modern furniture. RECENT MAJOR EVENTS AT THE CONVENTION CENTER ICANN 2018 with an international delegation of 2,000; Running USA; Physiatry ’19 – Association of Academic Physiatrists Annual Meeting; Annual Meeting of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography with participants from over 50 countries; T-Mobile Winners Circle event with over 1,500 attendees; Caribbean Hotel Tourism Association Marketplace with 800 delegates; Florida Caribbean Cruise Association Conference & Tradeshow with attendees from all over the world; the Council of State Governments – 2019 National Conference; Insulet; International Society for the Advancement in Spine Surgery with attendees from all over the world; and the National Council of University Research Administrators Conference with over 1,200 delegates. Contact: Jorge L. Pérez, General Manager Margaret Colón, Sales & Marketing Director info@prconvention.com

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


A SMOOTH TRANSITION TO DIGITAL 3 steps to launching events that will be valuable even when face-to-face returns By Leslie Bailey


hen planning for annual events, planners and coordinators know what to expect: venue contracts, session topics, attendance sizes, sponsor activations and other year-after-year items on our to-do lists. But what about the afterthoughts, the nice-to-have, maybe-we-can-fitthem-in-the-budget components that are discussed but lack a follow-up conversation? Digital and hybrid events have often fit into the latter category, but they have catapulted to the top priority for every organization as COVID-19 forces cancellations and postponements of inperson gatherings. What can you do to shift your mindset and prepare for a digital-first engagement strategy? There are many best practices to help lead you on a digital path that’s right for you, your organization and most importantly, your audience. As you get started, consider these three key steps.

Consider the interactions that are most likely to engage your audience. Would a chat suffice for interaction during a session, or will they engage with polls as well? 1. GET READY TO GET FAST

The planning and production timeline for a digital event is much shorter than a physical event. While knowing that you have less time to plan may make you hesitant to include a digital event, it shouldn’t. Put simply, digital elements are quicker to create and build, especially with assistance from a digital event provider. In addition, a digital event’s tasks and elements, such as speaker rehearsals, vitual expo halls and sponsor activations, can be more flexible with scheduling and keeping to said schedule.


While it may not be obvious in the beginning phases of implementing a digital event, many of the members who are already on your staff can be utilized. For example, an education coordinator could be tasked with gathering speaker and session content, while scheduling rehearsal and live day times. A client services manager could be tasked with collecting sponsor content for booths or activations, while at the same time, coaching sponsor representatives on how best FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2020 SUPERBOOK

to leverage the networking opportunities within their space on the live event day(s). Right now, all the staff members at any organization are looking for ways to stay relevant and do what they can to ensure that their organizations survive and come out ahead. Think adaptively and keep everyone involved, and you’ll uncover more skillsets than were noticeable or acknowledged before.


Gathering insights into the technology-knowledge level of your audience can be very useful when designing your digital event environment. Consider the interactions and session formats that are most likely to engage them. Would a chat suffice for interaction during a session, or will they engage with polls as well? Are they likely to stick around for an endof-day happy hour in order to chat and share ideas? Will they want multiple resources available for download? These are some questions to ask during your planning phase so that you can execute on them seamlessly in the production phase. A smooth experience for participants is a key factor for all digital events, but it’s especially vital in the initial stages as it sets the tone and expectations for them. All things must come to an end, and this challenging time will not be around forever. But do not expect business as usual. The next chapter of business relies on your organization’s ability to engage an audience online. When business does start to pick up and the world begins to move again, digital events should be incorporated into your overall event strategy. So many of us have learned that sharpening our understanding of digital events and our skillsets can arm organizations against further unforeseeable circumstances that could arise. There’s a global community of digital event strategists eager to share ideas, learn from others and further innovation within numerous industries. Don’t you want to join them? PCMA Education Manager Leslie Bailey is a part of the strategic planning and production team that live streams the PCMA Convening Leaders face-to-face event. She is also responsible for the content creation of the DEI webinars, as well as being the facilitator of the Digital Event Strategist online course. Bailey has over 10 years of digital event experience from both the planner and producer sides, giving her insights into all aspects of planning and producing a digital event.


ENGAGED EDUCATION – AT A SAFE SOCIAL DISTANCE Adapting to the “new abnormal” with simple techniques based on adult learning theory By Molly Marsh


erhaps the best way to anticipate what is next for the meetings industry as we emerge from COVID-19 isolation is what I heard recently described as the new abnormal. From new cleaning and sanitation protocols for event spaces to social distancing recommendations, from food service to the way we greet one another, it seems like almost everything about the meeting environment is going to have to change. Although the environment in which we are gathering is changing, the way our brains process new information remains the same. Using what we know about the adult brain to guide development of education sessions for meetings is critical to building dynamic and engaging conferences in the new abnormal.

knowledge to advance learning — and they can be used at a distance. They also support participants in relating to one another at a human level, triggering those parts of our brains that make us feel safe, connected and open to new ideas.


It would be easy to fall back into the habit of relying on lecture presentations in the post-pandemic environment. After all, one speaker, one microphone and spaced audience seating is the path of least resistance, right? However, since sitting and listening to a lecture is easy, it means participants probably aren’t getting much out of it. In Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, Peter C. Brown and his co-authors describe CONNECTION IS KEY how the brain learns new information: It may seem counterintuitive to go back Encoding (taking in information), to 1908 to address a challenge in the 2020 Consolidation (making sense of the meetings industry, but it’s worth it. Malcolm information) and Retrieval (calling on Knowles was a pioneer of adult learning in information when needed). the early 20th century, and one of his core Hearing a lecture is only encoding; some information is kept in short-term principles is that for adults to learn new It would be easy to memory, but most is simply lost. Written information, they must be able to connect to fall back into the reflection is a technique for consolidation their own experiences and context. Polling habit of relying on technology is a great tool to ensure content that checks all the boxes for us right being delivered is relevant to the audience, now — low cost, low tech and low touch. lecture presentations Speakers inviting participants to take and it can be used in a hybrid environment in the post-pandemic out a piece of paper and reflect on a to engage both in-person and virtual environment. … key question or takeaways from the participants. Incorporating polls that assess However, since sitting presentation provides the space needed the knowledge participants bring with them, and listening to a for the brain to begin making sense of the and how they are building on it throughout lecture is easy, it information received. Quizzes or games the session, helps attendees make the can play a role here too in facilitating connections between new information and means participants their learned experience. retrieval. By asking participants to test probably aren’t Social connection and peer-to-peer their knowledge of what was presented, getting much out of it. learning is another one of Knowles’ principles speakers are helping participants practice of adult learning — something that is recall. The more a learner goes through likely to be increasingly difficult with social distancing in these cycles in learning new information, the more likely it is place. Gaming and play were already emerging as trends to stick and have a lasting impact. in experiential learning, and they are even more critical to The tactics are not new — adapting to the new abnormal effective education now. Trivia competitions and choosedoesn’t need to be about investing in all-new technology your-own-ending scenarios are great ways to use collective Continued on inside back cover 58


BUILDING TOWARD A BETTER TOMORROW Minneapolis Convention Center maintains and strengthens relationships with its staff and clients during the pandemic By Katie Smith


employees with opportunities to use their skills in other areas t the Minneapolis Convention Center (MCC), we’re in the of city government. This initiative resulted in approximately 15 business of building relationships. We’re about connecting one person with another. One local business with a meeting percent of staff working outside of our walls. planner. One staff member with a visitor. Consider employee safety first Navigating this crisis has acutely highlighted that we crave As we look to reopen, we have established a set of new personal connections. We thrive on the energy of meeting procedures that consider the well-being of our employees. and collaborating. And although the COVID-19 pandemic While much has been said and has put much of the meetings written about the health and and events industry on hold, we safety guidelines that event continue to work on our goal of We will work with the attendees will adhere to as connecting people. client to help execute people begin to meet again, we Specifically, we have their plans, knowing that first must ensure that our staff’s focused on strengthening our both parties must be physical and mental health relationships with two distinct flexible because both the is of utmost priority. To put it groups: our staff and our clients. virus’s behavior and the frankly, you can’t begin to think Following are a handful of ways about holding an event if your we are working to maintain government’s guidance staff isn’t safe, engaged and these connections. may change over time comfortable. For the MCC, that means that STAFF our team members will be returning in phases over several Communicate regularly and provide resources weeks. We will provide face masks for every employee to wear Communication is key. Frequent messages, including several when working around others. All offices will be set up with videos from Executive Director Jeff Johnson, have been sent social distancing in mind, and staff may work in adjusted shifts to employees, keeping them updated on local coronavirus to minimize non-essential contact with others. developments, as well as plans outlining our way forward. Essential is leading these conversations with a message of care and concern. CLIENTS It’s important to recognize that this crisis has affected Communicate often people in very different ways. For some of our employees, As with our staff, regular communication with our clients is the change in work status has been quite difficult. One of the essential. Our first priority with meeting and event planners is things we’ve done to show our support is reach out to staff with to express an understanding of the challenges they are facing. links to our Employee Assistance Plan, which helps with mental We willingly provide a sympathetic ear to listen — all while and physical health needs. working with them to address their needs and reschedule events when necessary and possible. In return, we’ve been Keep them engaged upfront in asking for patience as every week of the pandemic While our building remained mostly empty during the height brings new developments that force us to continually adjust. of Minnesota’s stay-at-home order, it was imperative to keep as With our industry so severely impacted by this crisis, we need many of our employees engaged as possible — especially staff to ensure that our clients understand that we’ll navigate these members with roles that do not allow them to work from home. uncharted waters together. First, we ramped up several capital improvement projects, putting the time without visitors to a productive use. Next, as Collaborate on plans to keep attendees safe our venue is owned by the City of Minneapolis, we worked Under the guidance of health experts, the MCC is slowly closely with other city departments to connect a number of our Continued on inside back cover FACILITIES & DESTINATIONS 2020 SUPERBOOK


A SHARED RESPONSIBILITY OF SUPPLIERS AND PLANNERS 7 principles to assess and manage food safety By Tracy Stuckrath


n all my 29 years of being a meeting professional, I do not remember food safety being talked about more than it has been discussed these few months with COVID-19 front and center of our lives and businesses. As also a Certified Food Protection Manager, I cannot tell you how happy that makes me. The thing is, food safety has always been a priority for culinary teams at the thousands of facilities and catering companies meeting COVID-19 has organizers contract every day. knocked the kitchen Their policies and procedures door down and have just been kept behind the put food safety kitchen door. COVID-19 has knocked the conspicuously in the kitchen door down and put front of the house food safety conspicuously in the front of the house. No longer a matter appointed to just food service providers, food safety must now be a top priority for meeting and tradeshow planners. So what do you need to know to create a safe food experience that eases worry and exhibits professionalism and social responsibility? Before we get to the steps, let’s define food safety and understand foodborne diseases. An estimated 600 million (1 in 10) people in the world fall ill and 420,000 die every year after eating contaminated food. The top five most common foodborne germs that cause illnesses from food eaten in the United States are: • Norovirus • Salmonella • Clostridium perfringens • Campylobacter • Staphylococcus aureus (Staph) There are more than 200 diseases that are spread through food (www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/food-safety), but COVID-19 is not one of them. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), is primarily spread from person to person when


someone who has COVID-19 comes within six feet of another person who has it and they pass on respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing or talking. And, while first thought to also be contracted by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then by touching your mouth, nose or eyes, the CDC recently said, “It is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.” There are many opportunities for food contamination to take place within the food supply system — on-farm production, slaughtering, harvesting, processing, storage, transporting, distribution, preparation, serving — before it reaches the diner, which makes food safety multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary, and requires deliberate collaboration among a multitude of different professionals, including food service providers and event planners.


Any great event meal begins with good ingredients. The food and beverage purchased should come from producers and suppliers who already have food safety certification processes in place. Verify with food service providers on their purchasing policies and how they vet their suppliers.


When it comes to storing, preparing and cooking menu items, all culinary employees must adhere to state and local food safety and sanitation procedures — regular handwashing, using gloves, wearing hair coverings — to avoid cross-contamination. Confirm who on the culinary team has been certified, who maintains oversight, and their latest health inspection score.


Catering for groups requires that food service providers store hot and cold foods at proper temperatures (below 40° F for cold and above 145° F for hot) and within specific time frames for use throughout the event. All food and beverage must be kept in food-safe containers and stored correctly within refrigerators, storage areas and hot boxes.


Time and temperature controls must be maintained throughout the entire event. Chafing dishes can keep hot foods at the right temperature. All temperatures should be checked with Continued on inside back cover




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“turning the dial” toward hosting events again, and we’re doing that in constant collaboration with our clients. Specifically, we are working with meeting planners to come up with a set of plans to keep both their attendees and our staff safe and healthy. These plans will include items that address social distancing, health screenings and face masks. We will work with the client to help execute their plans, knowing that both parties must be flexible because both the virus’s behavior and the government’s guidance may change over time.

a probe thermometer at regular intervals. Also, all serving dishes must have their own utensils. Depending on local laws, a sneeze guard might need to be employed.

WORKING WITH PARTNERS AND “COMPETITORS” The MCC isn’t successful by itself. We can’t fulfill our mission of being a “relationship building” without our partners, namely Meet Minneapolis and the city’s hotels. Meet Minneapolis helps bring hundreds of events to our venue, while our downtown’s 9,000-plus hotel rooms provide a home away from home for our visitors. Together, we all work to speak with one voice to clients, especially as we look to reschedule events that need to move to future dates. In this collaborative spirit, we are embracing other local convention centers and event venues and turning them into partners. Why? To think through these challenges together and treat all clients in much the same way. It is through a united front that we will most successfully emerge on the other side of this pandemic.


Katie Smith is the Director of Sales and Marketing at the Minneapolis Convention Center, overseeing the Minneapolis Convention Center Sales and Marketing team. Smith and her team collaborate with the Meet Minneapolis sales team to bring great conventions, events and meetings to the city of Minneapolis. Her favorite part of her job is building relationships with clients, staff and the local community.


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Both front and back of house staff — culinary and banquet — ought to be thoroughly trained on time and temperature, safe preparation, safe transportation and service methods. Inquire on when the last training was done and how often they do it. Food allergies are part of standard food safety training. Have food service providers disclose at least the top eight allergens (wheat, soy, egg, tree nuts, peanuts, milk, fish, shellfish) for each menu item on the BEO and on buffets. Captains and servers also need to be able to address any question about ingredients or know who to ask in case an attendee asks.


All food safety policies and procedures, as well as menus, recipes and temperature checks, should be documented and available for employees and volunteers and health inspectors. Ask for policy documentation that can be shared with the attendees to provide clear communication. Asking questions about these seven pillars of food safety for the catering industry can lead to fewer complaints and less worries. Just doing it right and sticking to food safety procedures can make for a much smoother event. Food safety must be included as an element of an event’s overall risk-management strategy. Assessment and management requires ongoing communication between all parties and must be a shared responsibility between food service providers and planners.


ServSafe (servsafe.com) — a food and beverage safety training and certificate program administered by the U.S. National Restaurant Association.

(although some is certainly needed) or solutions. What is required is a new way of looking at how we design and develop education for our meetings. Using the science of learning to drive adaptation to the new abnormal will ensure education sessions remain engaging and meaningful #whenwemeetagain.

HACCP (https://bit.ly/FDAHACCP) — a management | system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product.

Molly C. Marsh, CMP, has over 13 years of experience in association management, conferences, education and program development. In her current capacity as Director of Education and Engagement Design at AMR Management Services, she is responsible for innovating new approaches to conference education through design principles, adult learning, new technologies and engagement strategies.

Tracy Stuckrath, CFPM, CMM, CSEP, is Founder of thrive! meetings & events (thrivemeetings.com). A dietary needs expert and Certified Food Protection Manager, Stuckrath has had a 29-year career as an event professional. After being diagnosed with a food allergy, she changed the trajectory of her career in 2009. She works with organizations to understand how to create F&B events that deliver experiences where everyone feels valued.



D E S I G N E D FO R TOMO R R OW Containing nearly 900,000 sq.ft. of meeting space, a stunning combination of beauty, practicality and sustainability adorns downtown Phoenix. From every brick, beam and architectural wonder to our expert event staff and world-class caterers, the Phoenix Convention Center is built to host the meetings and events of the future. Experience that future for yourself. PhoenixConventionCenter.com | 800.282.4842

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