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Courtesy Visit South Bend Mishawaka

Volume 18

Issue 6

June 2017

Seeing South Bend


The home of Notre Dame will host the 2017 Small Market Meetings Conference.

Meetings on a Budget CVB experts offer creative tips for cost savings.


The Power of Parks State and national parks can make inspiring settings for creative meetings.


Courtesy Arkansas Dept. of Parks


Iowa’s Cultural Capital Des Moines brings full-service amenities to middle America.


Explore some of the great meeting destinations on the Eastern Seaboard.

Courtesy MoonLoop Photography

On the cover: Red “jammer” buses are the signature vehicles that take visitors up Going to the Sun Road in Montana’s Glacier National Park.

SMALL MARKET MEETINGS is published monthly by Pioneer Publishing, Inc., 301 E. High St., Lexington, KY 40507, and is distributed free of charge to qualified meeting planners who plan meetings in small and medium size towns and cities. All other meeting industry suppliers, including hotels, conference centers, convention centers, destinations, transportation companies, restaurants and other meeting industry-related companies may subscribe by sending a check for $39 for one year to: Small Market Meetings, Circulation Department, 301 East High St., Lexington, KY 40507. Phone (866) 356-5128 (toll-free) or (859) 225-1452. Fax: (859) 253-0499. Copyright SMALL MARKET MEETINGS, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of editorial or graphic content in any manner without the written consent of the publisher is prohibited.

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Historic Boone Tavern This Kentucky inn is a charming spot for a small meeting.









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b 26 28 2017 September 26-28, By Dan Dickson


hen you think of South Bend and Mishawaka, Indiana, you can’t help but also think of the University of Notre Dame, the highly respected 12,000-student private college with a loyal alumni network and sports fan base. Notre Dame is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year and is a fascinating place to visit. Delegates will discover that school spirit and more when South Bend hosts the 2017 Small Market Meetings Conference, September 26-28. If meeting planners and travel industry representatives are debating whether to attend this year’s meeting, the South Bend Mishawaka Convention and Visitors Bureau urges them to register. “It is definitely the year to go,” said Lindsay Ference, the CVB’s director of sales. “We have a lot of fun things planned for them, like sightseeing tours one afternoon so everyone can see the city. We can also provide additional information for anyone with extra downtime to explore before or after the conference.” South Bend is on the St. Joseph River in north central Indiana, a few miles south of the Michigan state line. South Bend and its partner city, Mishawaka, are convenient to large nearby cities such as Indianapolis, Chicago and Detroit. The Indiana Toll Road (I-80-90), which runs east and west, and U.S. 31, which runs north and south, make that possible. The main airfield is South Bend International Airport.

Conference Venue The Small Market Meetings Conference will be staged inside the Century Center, now in its 40th year, though you’d hardly know it. “Many people can’t believe it’s been that long,” said Julie Nowak, the center’s senior sales manager. “But we’re constantly improving and redoing things. We host everything from conferences to church groups to proms and weddings and anything else in between.” The Century Center, located in the heart of downtown, has a total of 75,000 square feet of


Conference Report

Head North to South Bend This Indiana college town is set to impress at Small Market Meetings Conference flexible and distinct event space. The main spaces are the 25,000-square-foot Exhibit Hall; the 12,000-square-foot Discovery Ballroom, which is divisible by two; and two theaters, the 700-seat Bendix Theatre and the 166-seat Recital Hall. But the most eye-catching feature of the Century Center is the 17,000-square-foot Great Hall. “You can’t find a better spot to gather than in the Great Hall, which overlooks the St. Joseph River through a 38-foot floor-to-ceiling wall of glass,” said Nowak. Man-made rapids were created right outside the center, and the sight is breathtaking, especially in the evening when the rapids are splashed with color from tall, interactive light sculptures on both sides of the river. To get even closer to the ever-churning water, many people use Island Park Pavilion, a popular multipurpose park and concert venue just outside the Century Center’s big windows.

Parking is easy at the Century Center. The facility has 350 on-site parking spaces, and there are 2,000 additional spaces within two blocks. The Century Center strives to keep visitors happy. “The best thing we offer is our customer service,” said Nowak. “We’re graded on every event that comes here by the people who have used it, and we always get grades from an eight to a 10. We have a sales team, event managers, catering and A/V on-site, all to assist any meeting planner. We’re a onestop shop.”

Convenient Conference Hotel The official Small Market Meetings Conference hotel is the 291-room DoubleTree by Hilton. The hotel is connected directly to the Century Center by the climate-controlled Green Sky Bridge, which has a community herb garden growing along its walkway.

Inn, with 150 guest rooms and suites. It has a ballroom with a capacity of 300. Across the street from Notre Dame is the campus of St. Mary’s College, and both a Hilton Garden Inn and the Inn at St. Mary’s are solid meeting and sleeping venues. “The Hilton is connected to the Gillespie Conference Center and can offer large spaces there, or we can section it off into smaller meeting rooms,” said Hannah Marti, corporate sales manager for both properties. The Inn at St. Mary’s has a small meeting room available for use. “You can get everything from us. We’re like a big package deal. We coordinate it all for you and take it off your hands so you can have a successful meeting.” Planners can also arrange meetings and accommodations at the suburban Holiday Inn Mishawaka Conference Center. “We are the newest and only full-service hotel in Mishawaka,” said Kristina Palmer, who does sales and marketing for the property. “We have 10,000 square feet of meeting space with 115 suites attached to it. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Free-Time Entertainment

All photos courtesy Visit South Bend Mishawaka

South Bend sits on the St. Joseph River near the Michigan border. “What is potentially important to meeting planners is that 200 of our rooms are doubles,” said hotel sales director Julie Egan. “So, we can accommodate a good mixture of delegates. We have a ballroom that will accommodate up to 350 people and four breakout rooms that will handle up to 30 each. Our covered atrium is a great space for meals or for breakout time.” Egan said the Hilton Corporation is introducing new smartphone apps and technology at her hotel. Guests can check in on their phones and use them to open the gates to the hotel parking garage. They can also go straight to their room and open the door, all on the app. Meanwhile, downtown South Bend is getting its first new hotels in decades, part of a hotel boom across the county. A 183-room Aloft Hotel is under construction and will be part of the major renovations underway at

June 2017

the former Chase Tower, the tallest building in town. The hotel will open this August. In early 2018, a new five-story Courtyard by Marriott will be completed across the street from the Century Center. The hotel will have 140 guest rooms. Both hotels will be convenient for meeting attendees. “Downtown is very walkable, safe and easy to get around in,” said the Century Center’s Nowak. “I think meeting planners and their folks will also love all the restaurants we have downtown.”

Neighboring Hotels Shine Several other hotels and conference centers will help meeting and event planners have successful gatherings. The University of Notre Dame has the Notre Dame Conference Center, which offers 40,000 square feet of space, 12 seminar rooms of varying sizes and a 375seat auditorium. Also on campus is Morris

Notre Dame enjoys a strong sports heritage, and game days are legendary, with so much going on across the tree-lined campus. But whether there’s a sporting event or not, groups can get to know the school on guided campus tours. “It’s a very beautiful campus,” said Dick Tucker, a Notre Dame tour guide. “There’s a lot of history and interesting buildings, like the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the Grotto and the Main Building, better known as the Golden Dome building. We take you through them and explain their significance. Also, Notre Dame Sports are big with alumni and fans nationwide, and most of the sports venues, like Notre Dame Stadium and the Joyce Center, are open for tours.” Speaking of sports, the world champion Chicago Cubs have a Class A minor league baseball affiliate in South Bend, which plays at the recently renovated Four Winds Field. “We love to host groups when they come see us,” said Joe Hart, the team’s president. “Groups are always looking for things to do, and there’s nothing better in the summer than a night at the ballpark.” South Bend is blessed with some impressive museums. The Studebaker National Museum pays tribute to the wagon- and automobilemanufacturing companies that date back to the mid-1800s in South Bend. Automobile



Conference Report

South Bend visitor favorites include the Golden Dome at Notre Dame (left) and the Studebaker National Museum (right). enthusiasts and other visitors will love the classic Studebaker cars on display and the historic wagons and carriages, too. The History Museum contains interesting regional history, including exhibits on the founding and emergence of the University of Notre Dame, and is also the national depository for the All-American Girls Professional League, which inspired the movie “A League of Their Own.” The museum is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the release of the popular film. “In the evening, guests could have a reception in the lobby area,” said Marilyn Thompson, who handles marketing and community relations for the site. “We can set up a bar, and people can mill around and visit with each other and enjoy the changing museum exhibits.” Groups can also visit the 38-room Oliver Mansion next door, which was built by a local industrialist in 1896. “If you bring a group of 100 people, for example, every 20 minutes, a group of 12 could walk over to the mansion and tour all of it or just the first floor, which takes just 15 to 20 minutes,” said Thompson.

June 2017


MeetMax Games Launches New Category of Corporate Entertainment

Courtesy MeetMax

MeetMax Games offer technology-based games to facilitate cooperation at meetings. NEW YORK — MeetMax Games has launched Smart Group Games, a new concept in corporate entertainment that uses an innovative technology platform to bring interactive face-to-face fun to any venue. MeetMax runs a variety of unique games that create challenging, lighthearted competition and get people interacting at events, conferences, team meetings or parties. The games, which simultaneously accommodate large groups of players, encourage participants to collaborate, negotiate and strategize with each other. “As a huge fan of modern board games, my

primary goal was to make games that were fun and challenging while keeping them accessible for a large group,” said MeetMax Games founder Rikki Tahta. “The development challenge was to create real games with uncertain outcomes where people made interesting decisions, but that could handle 20 or more simultaneous players who had to learn how to play in under two minutes.” “We pulled three different departments together to engage and recharge,” said Dow Jones chief innovation officer Edward Roussel, one of the early beta clients. “Everyone had a blast. Within minutes, the teams had loos-

ened up and were having fun with an experience that was entirely original.” MeetMax provides the platform and leads all the games. Clients just need to provide the location and players. A typical event will be one to two hours, with four or five different games. All games are played face to face, while shared screens across a playing area provide a common view to allow players to collaborate and keep track of their progress. A patented ID card action system allows up to 50 players to participate simultaneously in a single game. Examples of MeetMax’s initial line of games are Treasure, a puzzle-solving game where players use their communications skills to locate their teammates and the treasure; Potions, a negotiation game where players are in partnerships and strategically trade information to create the strongest potion; and Settlement, a collaborative game where players develop their characters by trading resources, learning new skills and working together to build towns.




10 Industry News

View our Planning Guide online at or call 800.433.8226

Wylie Inn and Conference Center at Endicott College Completes Meeting Space Renovation BEVERLY, Massachusetts — Wylie Inn and Conference Center at Endicott College, which sits along a picturesque stretch of Boston’s North Shore oceanfront, has unveiled multimillion-dollar upgrades to its conference center and 91 guest rooms. Just 20 miles north of Boston in the historic town of Beverly, Massachusetts, the Wylie Inn and Conference Center is set up for meetings, conferences, weddings and weekend getaways. Dating back to 1901, the historic Georgian Revival property is on a picturesque stretch of the Atlantic Coast and offers well-appointed rooms with an on-site cafe restaurant and bar. The rooms have been refreshed with a sophisticated design that frames views of the lush 10-acre estate. The 17,500-square-foot waterside conference center, certified by the International Association of Conference Centers, underwent a head-to-toe renovation that installed the latest meetings technology, improved presentation capabilities and revamped the interior design. The conference center’s changes merge state-of-the-art technology and contemporary design while acknowledging the history of the college that encompasses it. The center provides a private, distraction-free venue with over 17,500 square feet of versatile meeting space, including 26 meeting rooms. Design renovations and technology improvements add to a list of service-oriented amenities, providing planners and their attendees: • 75-inch Samsung Digital Interactive Whiteboard Solution with ClickShare Software • Portable audiovisual carts with 65-inch Samsung Digital Interactive Whiteboard Solution and ClickShare Software • The Beverly Room, which features a video wall consisting of six 55-inch screens • The Oceanfront function room, which accommodates up to 200 people • A designated conference planner and support staff to coordinate details, from event inception to completion • A conference concierge to handle all the auxiliary needs that pop up during the run of the program • Sophisticated IT systems throughout the center with on-site technical support • Continuously restocked refreshment areas • A full-service business center • Leisure areas, including a billiards room, lounge space and a walking trail to the beach. The property’s designers at Design Continuum drew inspiration from nearby Patch Beach and used a coastal color palette that features deep blues, sea greens and sandy neutrals. Conference center hallways are decorated with award-winning photography from Endicott College seniors. Meetings spaces are punctuated by original architectural elements, including the original basketball court floors in the Marblehead room, and other reminders of the property’s history, such as images of Endicott College, vintage postcards and maps. “The renovations look great and we’re pleased the improvements provide us the capabilities to better service meetings planners, Endicott College and the surrounding community,” said Jim Merrill, Pyramid Hotel Group executive vice president of operations.

June 2017




The status quo doesn’t get to be extraordinary. But you do. Centrally located and insanely affordable, Nebraska’s capital has the venue selection, entertainment value, small-town hospitality, and big-city amenities that planners and attendees come home raving about.

Plan for more at


Linda Swindling shares the open secret for successful negotiating By Vickie Mitchell

s Jay Leno approached her, “Tonight Show” audience member Linda Swindling decided not to ask the talk show host to pose for a picture with her. She immediately regretted it, as a friend who was also in the audience did ask and, subsequently, got her photo taken with him. The Leno story is central to a TED talk ( Swindling gave last year about how much we miss out on by not asking for what we want. It is also one of the stories she uses in her new book, “Ask Outrageously! The Secret to Getting What You Really Want.” Swindling is a lawyer, a certified speaking professional and a writer. She’s helped businesspeople polish their negotiating skills and taught them how to deal with difficult personalities in the workplace. Her latest book, though not specifically aimed at women, could go a long way toward helping them advance their careers when you consider that women, overall, aren’t keen on negotiating for what they want. “Women are intimidated by the concept of negotiating,” said Swindling. So, in one of several mind twists she offers in her book, Swindling advises readers to simply redefine what they are doing. Instead of “negotiating,” try “asking,” she says. Swindling’s research — she got 1,163 people to respond to her survey simply by asking them — revealed that the things we fret over when we want to ask for something have nothing to do with why our requests are rejected. Swindling found that people hesitate to ask for what they want because they think that the timing is bad, that more information is needed or that people don’t want to spend money. Interestingly, the top two reasons requests are rejected, according to her survey, are (1) the request is inappropriate — in other words, it is something the person can’t possibly deliver, usually because it is out of their control, and (2) the person dislikes or distrusts the person making the request. “The two highest reasons they will reject a request are not what people are worried about,” Swindling said. Here are a few tips from Swindling about how to ask for what you want.




Realize your requests benefit others. If you have no problem asking on behalf of someone else, you are not alone. Swindling’s research found that 65 percent of people are more comfortable making a request for others. Here’s a way to use this ability on your own behalf. “Ask for yourself, but think of the others who will benefit,” said Swindling. “If you want to ask for a raise, then think about it this way: ‘If I get the extra money, what does that mean for my family? We can pay off a loan, take a trip, etc.’”

Ask open-ended questions. Successful leaders ask a lot of open-ended questions, and you should do the same as you ask for everything from raises to company funding to support personal development. If you ask for a raise (and it is probably an ‘ask’ that’s worth the effort, since 40 percent of people get the salary increase they request), be prepared to follow up with some questions if your request is rejected. “Ask ‘What do I need to be doing to be considered for a raise or promotion in the future?’” Swindling said. You could also talk to your boss about what you would like to accomplish in the future. “You want to show that there is value that you are going to be adding.” If you want to take a class or go to a conference, look for ways to bring back information others need. “Let’s say you want to go to an MPI conference. Go to all the people who are stakeholders and say, ‘I am about to go to a meeting — what do you want me to look for for you?’ And when you get to the conference, talk to others. Tell them what you are looking for and what you need to get out of the conference.”

Perfect your approach through practice. Like anything we do, from making par on the golf course to pounding out tunes on a piano, practice is the way to get better at asking for what you want. Whether you want a raise or a better price on a floor lamp at a yard sale, just ask. “Practice makes proof,” said Swindling. “You just have to start asking.” Vickie Mitchell is the former editor of Small Market Meetings. If you have ideas for future columns, contact her at

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Savings Solutions

CVBs offer tips on planning budget-friendly meetings Courtesy Visit Greenville

By Savannah Osbourn taying on budget is often a top priority in the small meetings industry, but knowing how to find the most affordable options is not always obvious. Though the internet is replete with ideas on how to get the most bang for your buck, we spoke with several planning experts to single out a few key points of advice. Susan Flynn is the director of national accounts at the Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau in Tennessee and has worked as a supplier to meeting professionals for over 30 years. As the vice president of sales at Visit Greenville in South Carolina, David Montgomery has spent more than 25 years as a marketing and hospitality professional. Amy Zientek serves as the director of sales at Visit Lubbock in Texas and has worked on the sales and services team for over 16 years.


Talk to the Convention and Visitors Bureau As many planners know, the most valuable free resource at their disposal is a destination’s tourist organization, usually known as a convention and visitors bureau. This office serves as a gateway to the local


Managing Meetings

After hours, attendees can explore free Greenville sites such as The Liberty Bridge.

community, telling planners where to go, who to call and what to do. “We help with groups, whatever their need may be,” said Flynn. “Planners might come to us and say, ‘We want to do a fun run — who should we contact, what routes should we take, how do we set up a police block on certain roads — various things like that. A CVB is a one-stop call to everything in the area.” The convention and visitors bureau will also be able to tell planners what local services are available for lower prices, in terms of transportation, venue rental, decoration and more.

Save on Transportation With Free Shuttles When it comes to finding affordable transportation, a free shuttle service is a planner’s best friend. Some cities, like Chattanooga, offer shuttle services throughout the day to major airports in surrounding cities, even if they are more than two hours away. As a result, attendees can take advantage of low-cost airline companies like Southwest or Spirit that do not

When the backdrop for your fall meeting includes European art amongst the foliage.

Courtesy Chattanooga Area CVB

Local artists and student bands often perform at events for moderate fees. always service regional airports. Planners can also choose their meeting venues based on shuttle access points throughout the city. Because of limited space on shuttles, planners may have to factor in extra time for groups to board, but the savings are more than worth it. For groups that require a more spacious mode of transportation, the convention and visitors bureau can help them locate the best service to suit their needs. “Here in Chattanooga, there are a few bus drivers that own their own buses,” said Flynn. “So when they’re not working with schools, they might be available for event transportation, which would be much cheaper than a motorcoach.”

June 2017

Take Advantage of Local Speakers Instead of hiring a speaker from out of town and having to pay their travel expense, planners should ask the convention and visitors bureau about what local business owners or industry experts are available. “If a group is interested in history, there might be a park ranger that could come to a meeting and talk about the region,” said Flynn. Planners can also reach out to faculty from local universities. Zientek mentioned how one of the professors at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Barry McCool, gives regular talks on crisis management, drawing from the experience he gained after his

From a prestigious university to bountiful farmland, Champaign County delivers an Outside of Ordinary meeting experience.



Courtesy Visit Greenville

Above: Centralized locations like downtown Greenville provide access to hotels, restaurants and meeting space all in one area. Facing page: For several events, Visit Lubbock saved money on table arrangements by borrowing vases from local florists. astronaut son’s tragic death in the 2003 explosion of the space shuttle Columbia.

Explore Different Catering Options Flynn advised planners to be honest about their catering budget in their requests for proposals, as many chefs are willing to adjust the menu to meet certain price points. “You can say, ‘This is my budget — tell me what you can do with that budget,’” said Flynn. “Sometimes they get very creative, and they like to do that.” Certain costs may be more flexible than planners realize. Instead of hiring a caterer for every meal, planners can simply choose a location with nearby restaurants and leave dining plans up to the attendees. “A lot of planners feel like they always have to have a planned meal function, but attendees often appreciate being given more free time to explore the city and grab a bite to eat outside the meeting environment,” said Montgomery.


Managing Meetings

Courtesy Visit Lubbock



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June 2017


Courtesy Visit Greenville

Above: Many attendees enjoy visiting nearby eateries in lieu of catered meal functions. Facing page: A local band performs for an event in Chattanooga’s Big Nine historic district.

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The same can be said for after-hours activities. Rather than schedule a packed program from start to finish, planners can give attendees time to stretch their legs and enjoy the surrounding attractions on their own.

Look to Schools for Music and Decorations Many music and art students at high schools and universities will service events in exchange for nominal donations to their programs. “Usually, you can hire student bands or choral groups for low cost, since a lot of the students just want the experience,” Zientek said. Sororities and fraternities will often help with events as a community service project, which could involve anything from making decorations to staging a performance.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

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Managing Meetings

When in doubt, a planner can always ask and see what happens. “If you’re thinking something like ‘I don’t think they’ll give me a comp room for my organization’s president,’ all they can do is say no,” said Zientek. She went on to describe how Visit Lubbock asked florists if it could borrow vases for table decorations at city events, instead of purchasing them, and then return them afterward. “So far, every florist has agreed to it,” said Zientek. Likewise, planners should not be shy about negotiating discounts. Venues with in-house catering, like hotels and convention centers, will often waive venue rental fees when planners commit to a guaranteed price on food and beverage.

Courtesy Chattanooga Area CVB

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June 2017 Downtown Macon

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A Natural Agenda

These park locations make meetings scenic Courtesy Glacier Park Inc.

By Savannah Osbourn hen it comes to meetings and conferences, most attendees hope to gain more than just a few days in a boardroom. They want to experience something fresh and inspiring, and few places stir the imagination quite like one of the country’s magnificent state or national parks. To make sure your attendees stay relaxed and engaged throughout the meeting experience, consider one of the following parks as your next destination.


Glacier National Park Montana Known as the Crown of the Continent, Glacier National Park features some of the most spectacular scenery in the country, with more than 700 miles of hiking trails, 762 lakes and a breathtaking portion of the Rocky Mountains. This aquatic region is also the headspring of waters that flow to the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and Hudson Bay. Visitors can hike past massive floating chunks of ice on the Iceberg Lake Trail or travel to the iconic Grinnell Glacier at the foot of the con-


Meeting Ideas

Dinner comes with a view at the Great Northern Dining Room in Glacier Park Lodge. tinental divide. The diverse terrain invites a wide range of wildlife as well, including bighorn sheep, grizzly bears and mountain goats, which are the official symbol of the park. When planners bring their events to Glacier, they give many people the chance to cross out a major item on their bucket lists. “It’s a really cool opportunity to get out into the park and see the sights of Glacier,” said Rebecca Baker, marketing and public relations manager at Glacier Park, Inc. “And people can experience it on their own, even if they don’t get the opportunity with their group.” Many planners host events or conferences at the historic Glacier Park Lodge, which is just outside the park in the village of East Glacier. Featuring an impressive backdrop of snow-capped mountains, the property is characterized by sweeping outdoor gardens and 60 towering Douglas fir tree trunks that line the main lobby. Guests can relish the mountain view with a steaming cup of Montana Coffee Trader coffee from the Empire Café or step into the train-themed Empire Bar to dine like passengers on the Great Northern Railway.

Courtesy Arkansas Dept. of Parks and Tourism

Mount Magazine Lodge overlooks the Petit Jean River Valley from Arkansas’ tallest mountain. Other meeting facilities are available at Grouse Mountain Lodge and St. Mary Lodge.

Mount Magazine State Park Arkansas Nestled atop the plateau of Arkansas’ tallest mountain, Mount Magazine State Park provides a stunning panorama of canyons and lakes in the Petit Jean River Valley below. Visitors can spend the night on this “island in the sky” in one of the Lodge’s 60 guest rooms and 13 cabins, where every room comes with a view. “It’s a great place to get away and relax,” said Heidi Ryan, director of sales and marketing at the Lodge. “You really have your group’s attention when you’re up here.” Planners can use the Lodge’s 3,772-squarefoot meeting facility, which can be divided into three conference areas or opened for banquetstyle seating. The property also features a 300seat outdoor amphitheater that overlooks Cameron Bluff. Originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps more than 70 years ago, the amphitheater is now being restored and renovated. “Once they have electricity, it’ll be a great place for group events and concerts,” said Ryan.

June 2017


“It’ll have one of the best views on the mountain.” No trip to Mount Magazine is complete without taking the 1.4-mile hike from the Lodge to Signal Hill, the highest point in the state of Arkansas at 2,753 feet above sea level. Visitors can sign their names in a guest book at the top. For an afterhours activity, meeting groups can take advantage of one of the park’s guided programs, such as a night sky exploration where a park interpreter discusses the constellations and planets, or a hawk watch along one of the trails. “Groups can actually watch eagles and falcons fly by,” said Ryan. “Birds of prey are very common to the area.” Other recreation pursuits in the park include horseback riding, hang gliding, rock climbing, mountain biking and ATV adventures. The Lodge’s Skycrest Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with savory items like barbecue brisket, farm-raised catfish and black-bean salsa. At the end of the day, attendees can soak in the indoor pool and hot tub as they watch the sun set over the valley.

The Lodge at Lake Barkley State Resort Park sits along a 134-milelong lake. Courtesy Kentucky Dept. of Parks

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Meeting Ideas

Courtesy Kentucky Dept. of Parks

Two guests survey the lake from Lake Barkley’s pool deck.

Lake Barkley State Resort Park Kentucky Lake Barkley Resort State Park overlooks a lush 134-mile-long lake, where visitors can swim, fish and hike to their heart’s content. Lake Barkley is one of two lakes that surround the national recreation area known as Land Between the Lakes, a strip of undeveloped landscape that features hiking, camping, an elk and bison prairie, and an 1850s living-history farm called Homeplace. Across from Land Between the Lakes, Lake Barkley’s 120-room lodge was designed with a beautiful combination of Western red cedar, Douglas fir timber and towering glass windows. Groups will find plenty of opportunities to unwind in this little slice of paradise, which includes an 18-hole golf course, a racquetball court, trap shooting, a glass-covered indoor pool and an outdoor pool overlooking the lake. “The atmosphere and scenery make this park special,” said Gil Lawson, information officer at Kentucky State Parks. “The lake is simply beautiful and enticing. It’s a place to retreat, refresh and rewind.” The recently renovated convention center at Lake Barkley accommodates up to 900 guests, in addition to two smaller reception rooms that seat 150 apiece. Meeting attendees can enjoy a buffet of traditional Kentucky fare in the Windows on the Water restaurant, which prides itself on serving locally sourced favorites like fried catfish, hot brown casserole and country vegetables. Alcoholic beverages are available as well. “If ordering from the menu, you’ll find everything from a delicious steak to fried green tomatoes and a healthy chicken wrap,” said Lawson.

June 2017

Inspiration. Creativity. Heritage. With over 90,000 square feet of flexible meeting space under one roof and a globally celebrated creative culture, Paducah’s amenities make it an inspiring destination for meetings and your next convention or trade show. Become one of our coming attractions. Book Paducah today! 1-800-PADUCAH


Custer State Park South Dakota Custer State Park is much more than an outdoor recreational area. As a 71,000-acre wildlife preserve, this expanse in the Black Hills region provides a rare opportunity to glimpse 1,300 free-roaming buffalo, a remnant of the great herds that once swept across North American plains by the millions. “The park is known internationally for its free-roaming wildlife,” said Gina Konechne, regional director of sales and marketing at the park. “Many of the encouraged group activities involve experiences with the fantastic spread of different animals out here.” For an after-hours adventure, attendees can savor the sights along a guided horseback ride, veer off-road during the Buffalo Safari Jeep Tour or venture out to a mountain meadow canyon for the Hayride and Chuckwagon Cookout. Hiking, paddleboarding, mountain biking and kayaking are high in demand among visitors as well. There are four beautiful lodges in the park, three with meeting space. The State Game Lodge, the largest and most popular venue for meeting groups, once served as President Calvin Coolidge’s summer White House during the 1920s. Its meeting facilities include a 4,000-squarefoot open-air pavilion and two smaller banquet halls with creekside patio access. The Sylvan Lake Lodge features a 3,500-square-foot wooden interior with a fireplace and floor-to-ceiling windows, and the Blue Bell Lodge offers a 1,000-square-foot banquet room. Courtesy Custer State Park Resort

Game State Lodge offers a sweeping view of South Dakota’s Black Hill region.


Meeting Ideas


Endless shopping, dining and nightlife options

15+ facilities with unique, affordable meeting space

Fun options for group activities and team building

Make the Fox Cities your next meeting destination! Enjoy the big city amenities and small town charm that our 20 communities along the shores of Lake Winnebago and the Fox River have to offer: • An exceptional visitor experience for groups of 10 to 2,500 • Safe, walkable communities • Flexible, affordable meeting spaces • Free bureau services










We invite your group to COME TOGETHER IN THE FOX CITIES.





Begin your planning at


This is going to be big.

Courtesy Salt Fork State Park

The Wildlife Lounge is open year-round at Salt Fork State Park.

New Conference Space Coming to Brookfield! New and remodeled facilities will set the standard for business and social functions in Southeastern WI. Located near worldclass dining, marketdominant shopping and entertainment, plan a meeting your guests will remember in Brookfield.

For more information, contact Tracy Sinclair, CMP, and/or Ann Marie Hess, CMP at

(800) 388-1835. Download the Visit Brookfield app free for Apple and Android devices. 26

Meeting Ideas

Salt Fork State Park Ohio As Ohio’s largest state park, Salt Fork State Park is sure to keep every attendee entertained with 17,229 acres of recreational facilities. The Salt Fork Lodge offers 148 guest rooms with private balconies or patios, and 53 cabins, with an adjacent 7,000-square-foot conference center. One of the advantages of the park is that groups can enjoy great views and teambuilding fun from the comfort and modern amenities of the lodge, which trails the shore of the state’s biggest inland beach. Between sessions, attendees can take advantage of the heated pool, the hot tub, the tennis court, the golf course, volleyball courts, shuffleboard, boating and more. For those eager to delve into nature, the surrounding terrain encompasses 14 miles of leisurely hiking trails through meadows and woodland, as well as historic structures like the Kennedy Stone House, an 1800s home overlooking Sugar Tree Fork that is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.

The area is also the source of many Bigfoot sightings, drawing the attention of national broadcasts like “Finding Bigfoot” and the “The Today Show.” Every year, the park hosts events like the Annual Bigfoot Conference and Creature Weekend, as well as monthly Bigfoot night hikes led by paranormal investigators Alan and Jesse from “Fathom Frontiers.” “We have a map of marked sightings that we give to guests,” said Bobbi Taylor, sales manager at the park. “Even the local newspaper photographer and his wife had an encounter.” For a bite to eat, groups can stop by Timber’s Restaurant for a plate of grilled salmon or forest mushroom risotto. Visitors would be remiss not to try the signature local dessert: the Salt Fork Pretzel. To make this rich treat, a pastry chef stuffs a pretzel with cream cheese, deep-fries it with caramel and chocolate, and then tops it off with candied nuts, powdered sugar, cinnamon and vanilla ice cream.


We are the experts that help bring out the best in event planners. Through proven methods, innovative concepts, attentive customer service and passionate industry professionals, Spectra turns your event into a truly remarkable experience.



Des s M Moines ees o in e s D ub iis s a hhub a c t iv i t y ooff activit an d a and amenities me n i t i e s iinn tthe he M Midwes idwes t

Pappajohn Sculpture Park is one of Des Moinesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; signature offsite event venues.


Destination Showcase

“What makes us a little unique is that most of our downtown hotels and surrounding facilities are connected via a four-mile skywalk system.”


owa is not a state that immediately appears on the radar screens vice and an in-house marketing agency to assist them. An extra bonus of meeting planners elsewhere in the country. But Des Moines is for the budget-conscious planner is that the convention center facilities quietly getting the job done, according to the local convention are tax exempt. The IEC has a total of 286,000 square feet of space, and visitors bureau. Planners should look at Iowa’s capital as a smart which includes a 150,000-square-foot exhibit hall, a 28,000-squarechoice for their group’s next meeting or convention site. foot ballroom and 37 meeting rooms that total about 60,000 square “A lot of people don’t know about Des Moines, Iowa,” said Greg feet. Everything is connected to the 17,000-seat Wells Fargo Arena, Edwards, the CEO of the Greater Des Moines which can be booked for large events. The arena Convention and Visitors Bureau. “But we are a is also home to sports activities and concerts. cool, upbeat and cultural community.” A second top meeting venue in Des Moines is Edwards said his city is strategically located, the Iowa State Fairgrounds. Of course, the proptoo. “Des Moines is right in the center of the erty bustles for 11 days each August during the country, so it’s very accessible via car or plane. State Fair, but it is also used extensively the We’re at the intersection of interstates 80 and 35, other 354 days of the year. Livestock exhibitions, so we have great north-south-east-west concar shows, antique shows, flea markets, trade nections.” shows, concerts and a lot more happen on a Des Moines International Airport also has 120 regular basis. daily domestic flights and 19 direct flights into “It offers an array of buildings and exhibit a variety of popular cities, including some major facilities,” said Edwards. “We host a lot of agrimetropolitan areas quite far away, like Los culture shows and a lot of sports events because Angeles, New York and Orlando. There is a trolthe fairground has a small arena that seats ley system in the downtown area, and shuttle about 4,000.” services are offered by various hotels and transDowntown Des Moines portation companies. Fine Downtown Hotels Des Moines is in central Iowa along the Des Des Moines has 22 properties that are considAll photos courtesy Greater Des Moines CVB Moines River and the Raccoon River, which ered “convention hotels.” There are approxiintersect in the downtown area. The city has a mately 2,325 hotel rooms within a mile of the French connection, so to speak, having been IEC. Metrowide, there are about 12,500 rooms. LOCATION named by French colonists; Rivière des Moines But even if the meeting attendee’s hotel room is Central Iowa can be translated to “River of the Monks.” Des in the suburbs, it’s only a 20-minute trip to the Moines is a major center for the U.S. insurance convention center. “Traffic congestion and quick ACCESS trade and has a solid base of publishing and accessibility are not issues here,” Edwards said. Des Moines International Airport, financial services industries. The largest hotel is the Des Moines Marriott interstates 80 and 35. Locals like to present Des Moines as a friendDowntown, with 417 guest rooms. Another fine ly city. hotel has a lot of history. The Renaissance Des MAJOR MEETING SPACES “Our Midwest hospitality and our willingness Moines Savery Hotel is an 11-story building and Iowa Events Center, Wells Fargo Arena, to work with planners is why they should cona 233-room hotel built in 1919. It has all the Iowa State Fairgrounds sider us,” said Edwards. “Our staff really bends modern amenities. A third choice downtown is HOTEL ROOMS over backward to accommodate our meetings the Embassy Suites by Hilton Des Moines 22 convention hotels. 2,325 hotel rooms and conventions business, and our whole comDowntown, with 234 two-room suites. Opening within a mile of the convention center. munity really grasps the importance of the in April 2018 is a new downtown Hilton that Metrowide, about 12,500 rooms. travel industry.” will be attached to the IEC. It will feature 330 Cities are often ranked on such things as rooms in a full-service environment. In addiOFFSITE VENUES quality of life, affordability and job prospects. tion, the new hotel will have 14,000 square feet Pappajohn Sculpture Park, Iowa State U.S. News and World Report has ranked Des of meeting space. Capitol building, Des Moines Art Center, Moines No. 9 on the 2017 Best Places to Live List. Getting around the convention center comState Historical Museum, Wells Fargo plex, arena and nearby hotels is easy in Des History Museum, Salisbury House, Science Moines. “What makes us a little unique is that Major Meeting Sites Center of Iowa most of our downtown hotels and surrounding The Iowa Events Center (IEC) in downtown CONTACT INFO facilities are connected via a four-mile skywalk Des Moines is a flexible, state-of-the-art venue Greater Des Moines CVB system,” said Edwards. “Whether you are here in that can accommodate all types of shows, meet800-451-2625 the cold of winter or in the heat of summer, you ings and events. On-site, planners will find can stay in 72-degree comfort.” three catering companies, an audiovisual ser-

Des Moines, Iowa

June 2017


Locals fill the streets of downtown Des Moines for a farmers market.

Free-Time Pursuits Free time is precious, so delegates should make the most of it when they are visiting Des Moines for meetings. There is a popular and impressive public art display in the city. The John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park is located downtown on a four-and-a-half-acre plot. It features artwork by more than two dozen of the world’s most celebrated artists. The intricate landscaping and the caliber of the art make the park a pleasant surprise for a midsize city. The Pappajohns’ contribution of personal works for the park is the largest gift of artwork ever made to the Des Moines Art Center. “There are 28 different sculptures worth to the tune of $45 million,” said Edwards. “Many of our downtown areas have painted murals on the sides of buildings. So we are a very arts-central city.” You may not think that a visit to a state capitol would be all that interesting, but Iowa’s capitol is magnificent, with ornate decorations and spectacular murals. And while visitors are at it, stops at the Des Moines Art Center, the State Historical Museum, the Wells Fargo History Museum, the historic Salisbury House and the Science Center of Iowa are more good options to consider. The performing arts also have many fans in Des Moines. A center called Des Moines Performing Arts stages Broadway-style shows. In the summer of 2018, it will host the tour of “Hamilton,” one of the hottest shows in Broadway history. The Wells Fargo Arena is a busy place. In addition to serving as a meeting venue, the arena is home to an indoor football team called the Iowa Barnstormers. The Iowa Energy is the NBA Development League


Destination Showcase

team in the city and is affiliated with the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves. Some college and high school championship sports are played in the arena. Music is a big draw. Paul McCartney is returning to Des Moines for a concert this summer. Downtown Des Moines has undergone a significant renaissance in the past 10 years. Many younger people live downtown, since there are many more new housing choices for them. Many new retail stores have arrived downtown as well. From about May 1 to November 1, one of the largest and most highly rated farmers markets in the nation is staged on Saturday mornings in downtown Des Moines. As many as 15,000 people attend the gathering, which encompasses nine city blocks. Farm-fresh produce, seasonal flowers, cheese, meats, wines and much more are made available by nearly 300 farmers from 50 Iowa counties, a statewide representation. Also available are tasty meals from vendors that operate food trucks or booths on-site. There are local artists and musicians on hand to add a creative feel to the scene. For outdoor enthusiasts of all ages, Greater Des Moines has hundreds of miles of trails to explore, and many of them converge in the downtown area. Where the two rivers meet downtown, there is the beautiful Principal River Walk, a gift to the city that was completed in 2013. The walk features some of the Pappajohn art, fabulous landscaping and unusual pedestrian bridges. “There are a lot of neat things to do for folks attending meetings and conventions here,” said Edwards, “or for their spouses or family members, if attendees choose to bring them along.”



Meet Kearney, Nebraska By Katherine Tandy Brown

All photos courtesy Kearney VB

Kearney is known worldwide for its migration of sandhill cranes.

K E A R N E Y, N E B R A S K A LOCATION South central Nebraska ACCESS Interstate 80, Kearney Regional Airport MAJOR MEETING SPACES Younes Convention Center, Ramada Conference Center HOTEL ROOMS 1,700, plus 60 more by the end of 2017 OFF-SITE VENUES Buffalo County Fairgrounds, Viaero Event Center, Great Platte River Road Archway, Classic Car Collection, Museum of Nebraska Art, Mac’s Creek Vineyard, Thunderhead Brewery, Merryman Performing Arts Center CONTACT INFO Kearney Visitors Bureau 800-652-9435


Destination Showcase

here are several important things to know about Kearney, Nebraska: It’s pronounced KAR-nee. It’s the Sandhill Crane Capital of the World. Agriculture is big here, as are group farm and manufacturing-plant tours. It’s home to the University of Nebraska Kearney. And this Midwestern city at the nation’s midpoint is superb at hosting meetings and events. The reasons are myriad. “We have a large amount of meeting space in a concentrated area,” said Sarah Focke, tourism and convention sales manager for the Kearney Visitors Bureau. “When you pull off the interstate, you’re right there and don’t have to find your way downtown like in a bigger city. Kearney’s easy to get around in, with the amenities of a large community. “There’s surprisingly little staff turnaround citywide, so service is consistently stellar, with a welcoming, small-town feel. Our food is outstanding. We have daily air service to Denver. And most of our attractions are viable off-site venues.” Two high-capacity venues are the Buffalo County Fairgrounds, which hosts trade shows, livestock and sporting events, and concerts in a 46,900-square-foot arena, and the 54,000-square-foot Viaero Event Center, home to the Tri-City Storm hockey team. Twenty luxury Skybox suites accommodate 10 to 25 people each. The Museum of Nebraska Art tells the state’s story through paintings and sculpture, and can host up to 30 at a meeting, complete with a museum tour. For six weeks every February through early March, 80 percent of the world’s sandhill crane population descends upon Nebraska’s Platte River during the cranes’ migration from southern wintering grounds to northern breeding grounds. Twenty minutes from Kearney, visitors can observe this breathtaking stopover from blinds and can


Younes Hospitality Paul Younes is a hands-on owner who knows most of his clients on a first-name basis, not that he has a lot of spare time. Younes Hospitality owns 14 properties in Nebraska, including seven hotels and a conference center in Kearney. There’s the 50,000-squarefoot Younes Conference Center and the Holiday Inn Hotel and Convention Center, with another 25,000; plus, there are six other brand-name hotels. All are in a space of three city blocks at the same I-80 exit. “Mr. Younes developed the area to give larger groups an affordable option to the bigger cities of Omaha and Lincoln,” said Craig Link, the company’s director of sales. “It’s been a great success.”

Top: Visitors can observe Kearney’s crane migration at Rowe Sanctuary. Bottom: The Younes Convention Center offers 50,000 square feet of meeting space.

Team Concepts

hold meetings at the Iain Nicholson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary. Two other venues guarantee fun. Mac’s Creek Vineyard has reception space for 400. And with two locations, Thunderhead Brewery has production site tours near Kearney and a restaurant and bar on The Bricks, as the town’s 100-year-old, brick-street downtown is fondly known. “Kearney is affordable but competitive in that planners receive a great product for the price,” Focke said, “yet without parking issues. We’re a perfect drive-in location.”

Corporate types can get tanked at Team Concepts, a 1,400-acre cattle ranch. And it’s not about alcohol: Attendees can settle into comfy Adirondack chairs in an animal watering tank with a cooler and float down the lazy Loop River. “It’s like a cool bath or reverse hot tub,” said owner Josh Erikson. “In a relaxed atmosphere, everyone’s guard is down, and it’s easier to create pivotal, decision-making moments. Individuals then take a new outlook back to their workplace.” Groups of up to 40 can stay in the 5,000-square-foot, river-view ranch house with a boardroom, a classroom and an outdoor courtyard. Other activities include four-wheeling, trap shooting and paintball.

June 2017



The Great Platte River Road Archway tells the history of plains pioneers and makes a distinctive event venue.









Accessible via Interstate 80 Daily Flights to Denver Int’l Airport 3 hours west of Omaha, NE 5 hours east of Denver, CO Over 1,700 Hotel Rooms Flexible Space for 10 - 5,000 Attendees 2 Full Service Convention Hotels 3 Amazing Event/Convention Facilities 34

Destination Showcase


Great Platte River Road Archway Paying tribute to the country’s first transcontinental highway, the $60 million, 79,000-square-foot Great Platte River Road Archway spans 300-plus feet over Interstate 80 and tells the harrowing stories of the pioneers who braved the perilous trails west 170 years ago. Through award-winning, often-poignant displays, visitors experience the perseverance of families slogging through freezing rivers, the rumble of the iron horse on the transcontinental railway, the adrenaline thrill of a Pony Express rider exchange and the deafening thunder of a buffalo stampede. A 1950s diner overlooks the interstate traffic speeding below. Up to 150 people can meet indoors, and any number can meet on 90 acres outdoors. The Archway even has a seasonal 4,800-square-foot maze for team building.

Classic Car Collection More than 200 classic cars star at an off-site venue sure to evoke “back when” memories. Classic Car Collection is a 50,000-squarefoot museum filled with an eclectic mix of carefully restored vehicles with names now rarely spoken, such as Packard, Pierce Arrow, Locomobile and Phaeton. “This collection is basically the history of automobiles, mostly American cars from the late 1800s to 1980s, with about 20 foreign cars,” said Greg McCollough, director. “The donor didn’t do muscle cars, street rods or sports cars.” As many as 125 people can mingle among the historic cars at a catered reception or buffet at this exhibit, which shares a building with the outdoor store Cabela’s.

A History of Hospitality By Kristy Alpert


hen guests check in to the Historic Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant in Berea, Kentucky, there are no plastic key cards, cold furniture or automated kiosks anywhere in sight. Instead, guests are welcomed by a warm smile and a friendly greeting, then given a metal key to unlock a guest room full of handcrafted wood furniture made by students at Berea College. The Historic Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant has a long history of hospitality, as it was originally built in 1909 as a guesthouse at the request of Nellie Frost, the wife of the Berea College president at the time. Its restaurant alone has made a name for itself, where guests from all over come to sample wellknown historical favorites like spoon bread and its famous Chicken Flakes in a Bird’s Nest, which was developed by Richard Hougan, the hotel’s innkeeper for more than three decades. The hotel has always thrived off its long-standing relationship with Berea College, one of the few schools in the world that do not charge tuition. Students of the school can earn a fouryear degree with little or no debt through the university’s

June 2017

All photos courtesy Boone Tavern

Stately white columns welcome guests to Boone Tavern, originally built in 1909. unique work-study format. Even today, many of the student artists can be seen working and creating on campus and in the town from the windows of the Boone Tavern Hotel’s guest rooms. Over the years, the Boone Tavern Hotel has acted as a home away from home for artists, dignitaries and scholars who flocked to what has become known as the art and craft capital of Kentucky. It wasn’t until 2009, nearly a century after it was first opened, that the Boone Tavern Hotel underwent an extensive $11 million renovation that included earning a LEED Gold Certification, updating its 63 guest rooms and adding a brand-new event center that holds up to 150 guests. The hotel managed to retain its historic charm throughout, but now it juxtaposes its historic, artisanal furnishings with modern appliances, i.e., flat-screen TVs, Keurig coffeemakers, etc., in the guest rooms as well as high-tech audiovisual equipment, lighting and sound for its meeting guests.


Historic Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant Meeting Space The artfully restored and renovated meeting spaces at the Boone Tavern Hotel span more than 8,552 square feet and feature seven separate event rooms for anywhere from six to 150 guests. The new event center was opened last fall and offers 2,834 square feet of flexible function space that holds a maximum of 150 guests. Other spaces throughout the hotel are the Skylight Room, maximum 50 guests; the Robinson Room, maximum 20 guests; the Coyle Gathering Room, maximum 80 guests; the Bowling Dining Room, maximum 150 guests; the Lincoln Lounge, a 380-square-foot add-on space for receptions, registration, breaks and set-up; and the Elizabeth Ann Dunseth Lounge, maximum 20 guests.


Hospitality Showcase

Location Berea, Kentucky Size 63 rooms Meeting Space 8,552 square feet of flexible space Access Interstate 75; Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky, approximately one hour away Contact Info 859-985-3700

Catering Fine dining has been a tradition at Boone Tavern since it opened, and the restaurant features produce and ingredients from local farmers and producers in Kentucky through its Kentucky Proud catering program. The catering team crafts all-day menus for a wide range of meeting types, including breakfast buffets, plated lunches and all-inclusive dinners. Besides the hotelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s famous Chicken Flakes in a Birdâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Nest with cranberry-orange relish and Southern-style spoon bread baked fresh each day, dinner favorites include its thick-cut filet of beef prepared with a lump crab and herb cream sauce served over mashed potatoes. Early risers rave about the warm cinnamon rolls drizzled generously with icing. Alcohol is available.

Eco-Friendly and Historic Along with the chance to meet in a beautifully restored historic property, meeting groups can also take advantage of Boone Tavern’s complimentary Wi-Fi; complimentary parking, with VIP parking for eco-cars; cutting-edge audiovisual equipment, high-resolution projection screens, flat-screen TVs, LED lighting and natural light options; portable staging; and exclusive guest rooms for event guests. Guests attending events and meetings at the Boone Tavern Hotel will appreciate the hotel’s green aspects, which include energy-efficient heating and cooling systems; lowemissivity windows; fresh air circulation; and lowvolatile-organic-compound paints, adhesives and carpets, all in a smoke-free environment.

Left: Boone Tavern offers a signature tea blend for meeting breaks. Right: Recent renovations earned Boone Tavern LEED Gold Certification. Opposite page: Boone Tavern’s restaurant and catering operations offer contemporary twists on Southern classics, made with locally sourced ingredients.

Meetings with a View Corbin, Corb Co rb bin in,, Kentucky Keent n tuc ucky Where heeree Adventure, dven dv e tu en ture ree, History Hist o y an aand d Ho Hospitality osp spittal a itty Aw Await! wai a t! ntu u kyy - W Ad His Hi stor

After Events Before and after events, meeting guests and guests of the hotel are free to explore the historic grounds of the hotel to see the handiwork and artistry of Berea College students displayed throughout the property. The hotel’s proximity to the college allows guests to learn about the history and culture of Berea College and its famous Craft Department without straying far from their rooms. The hotel staff also updates its list of recommendations for guests and can arrange murder-mystery dinner shows, musical entertainment, craft-making demonstrations and outdoor games. There are also miles of walking and hiking trails just outside the hotel.

June 2017

Outstanding venues for large & small meetings Personalized experiences & unique destinations Conveniently located off of I-75 exit 25 Corbin Tourism and Convention Commission 606-528-8860

Let’s discuss your next event.t 37

The House that Wal-

By Kristy Alpert lthough the sound didn’t carry far from the Fayetteville First Baptist Church gymnasium where the North Arkansas Symphony was performing back in the late 1980s, the whispered hopes for a world-class performing arts venue could be heard miles away. It seemed like fate that at the same time the city of Fayetteville began dreaming up plans for a multiuse community arts facility, the University of Arkansas, along with the Walton Family, had begun plans to construct an auditorium that could accommodate major touring shows, performing arts opportunities and Wal-Mart shareholders meetings. It didn’t take long before both parties decided to band together to create what would become Arkansas’ premier center for the performing arts and entertainment. The Walton Arts Center opened in 1992, introducing artists and entertainers from around the world to its friendly and arts-driven community in northwest Arkansas. The center hosted Broadway shows, summer camps and numerous community events before it debuted its grandest performance of all, a $23 million expansion and renovation completed in November 2016. Today the center offers six meeting and event spaces where groups can gather and be entertained without leaving the building. From the beginning, the attentive and passionate staff and shareholders have held a uniform vision that the center would be a venue that connects and engages people through inspiring arts experiences, and their dedication to that vision is evident with each meeting and performance. The center’s glass-walled exterior creates a sense of una-



Venue Showcase

Photos courtesy Walton Arts Center

Above: The Walton Art Center is Fayetteville’s hub for meetings and cultural events. Left: The center debuted a $25 million expansion in 2016.

nimity with the Dickson Street entertainment district beyond. The center has become more than a venue for shows or meetings; visitors and meeting guests of the Walton Arts Center have immediate access to Fayetteville’s finest restaurants and shops. And the University of Arkansas campus is located just a short walk away from the center. From perfectly staged events to entertaining outings, the Walton Arts Center is a fantastic space for gathering in Arkansas.

-Mart Built

Meeting Spaces The Walton Arts Center began as a meeting venue, and one of its premier sponsors, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., has held its annual shareholder meeting in the center’s amphitheater since its inception. The center offers six meeting and event spaces, including the Baum Walker Hall, maximum 1201 guests; the Starr Theater,

maximum 250 guests; the McBride Studio, maximum 60 guests seated or 100 guests for a standing reception, depending on the setup; the Sudduth Garden Room and Bradberry Amphitheater, maximum 32 guests seated or 100 for a standing reception; and the Joy Pratt Markham Gallery, maximum 75 guests.

Catering Although there are no restaurants or on-site caterers at the Walton Arts Center, the center operates a concession stand, and more than a dozen restaurants that welcome groups are within walking distance of the venue. The meetings and events staff works with a select group of pre-

ferred caterers that offer diverse menus and are familiar with the ins and outs of the Walton Arts Center’s unique spaces. The center does allow alcohol; however, the center’s management is the sole provider for the venue, so all sales need to go through the events team.


Walton Arts Center LOCATION

The natural beauty of the building makes decorating for events a breeze, as there is no need for extensive decor in the already striking space. The window of the Walker Atrium looks out on the historic Old Main — the first building at the University of Arkansas, built in 1879 — and provides a symbolic glance of the

region’s rich past. The spaces inside the Walton Arts Center are great for birthday parties, holiday gatherings and more, and the group sales department will gladly arrange flexible payment options and group ticket prices for performances before and after events.

Fayetteville, Arkansas

TYPE OF VENUE Off-site, theater



CONTACT INFO 479-443-5600

June 2017

25 Years Onstage Over the years, the Walton Arts Center has been a landmark in Fayetteville and on Dickson Street. Residents have grown up seeing shows and performances at the center, and there is a sense of nostalgia associated with the venue. This year, the center is

celebrating 25 years of entertaining guests, and the anniversary season is packed with performances to please all ages. Everything from Broadway productions to one-man shows and jazz concerts will grace the stage.


Meet on the Water in the Mid-Atlantic By Rachel Carter Courtesy Virginia Beach CVB

The “King Neptune” statue is an icon of Virginia Beach.


ater always seems to draw people. Whether it’s river banks, lake shores or ocean beaches, people want to be as near water as possible. And the same is true for meeting attendees.


“Attendance goes up because of the natural draw of water, the natural draw of the ocean,” said Sally Noona, director of convention sales and marketing for the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s that secret sauce.” Waterfront destinations help draw attendees to meetings, and these mid-Atlantic cities offer planners plenty of ways to get their groups near, on or in the water.

Virginia Beach, Virginia Although Virginia Beach is well known for being a vacation spot, it doesn’t carry the same cache as a meeting destination — although it should, Noona said. “We have every vibe for every meeting,” she said. “We have the resort area on the oceanfront. We have a retreat setting on the Chesapeake Bay. We have other hotels that fit the urban setting downtown.” When it reopens early next year, the 1927 oceanfront Cavalier Hotel will be part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. The ongoing $70 million restoration will add a luxury spa and fine dining and “make it truly one of a kind.” Guests will be able to ride in horse-drawn carriages or sip whiskey at the on-site bourbon distillery. Also on the oceanfront, a new Hyatt House opened in April. The 19-story, 156-room hotel has 2,000 square feet of meeting and function space, as well as an oceanfront patio. Pleasure House Oysters is a farm that cultivates the famous Lynnhaven oyster. In addition to boat tours, groups of up to 14 people can opt for a Chef’s Table dinner and enjoy a fresh meal on the Lynnhaven River,

Mid-Atlantic Meeting Guide

right in the marsh; they can also spend one-on-one time with oyster farmer Chris Ludford, who will teach them about the history of the Lynnhaven as they sample oysters straight from the water. “People say it’s a jaw-dropping experience,” Noona said. “It will stay with you.” In addition to the beloved Virginia Beach boardwalk, there’s a parallel “bikewalk” for cyclists and surreys, and planners can also book the Beach Bounce, a trolley bump-and-run for attendees to enjoy the boardwalk.

Ocean City, Maryland Ocean City, Maryland, is a classic boardwalk beach town that sits on a barrier island, so it’s surrounded by water, with the Atlantic Ocean on the eastern shore and a bay on the western shore. With so much water everywhere, it’s not difficult to find venues and activities that make the most of it. The Roland E. Powell Convention Center has the nickname “the sandcastle of convention centers” because water from the Isle of Wight Bay laps the edges of its bay-front promenade. The center’s recent $22 million expansion and renovation project added meeting space and a 1,200-seat performing arts center. The convention center has 25 meetings rooms, including two that offer water views: the 24,000-square-foot Bayfront Ballroom on the second floor and the 14,000-squarefoot Dockside Hall beneath it on the first floor. “We have gorgeous bay views here in the building — particularly at sunset, it’s gorgeous,” said Donna Abbott,

Courtesy Ocean City CVB

tourism director for the Ocean City Department of Tourism and Convention and Visitors Bureau. The city has a host of venues that front the water, either the bay or the ocean, and most of the larger hotels offer function space, among them the oceanfront Clarion Resort Fontainebleu Hotel, the Carousel Hotel, the Princess Royale, the Dunes Manor, the Holiday Inn, the Hilton and the Grand Hotel. Seacrets, a bay-front restaurant and nightclub with a tropical vibe and its own beach and pier, is popular for social receptions. Harrison’s Harbor Watch is a twostory restaurant that sits at the southern tip of the island overlooking the inlet; dinners and receptions there are right across from the boardwalk and “have a beautiful view of Ocean City,” Abbott said. Housed in an 1891 building next door, the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum offers tours for groups of up to 60 and welcomes small gatherings and receptions.

Wilmington, Delaware Wilmington, Delaware, sits at the confluence of Brandywine Creek and the Christina River, which flow into the Delaware River. Visitors will find a walkable riverfront and plenty of nearby attractions along the Christina River in downtown. The Chase Center on the Riverfront is the city’s largest conference center, with 90,000 square feet of function space and the attached 180-room Westin Wilmington hotel. Both front the 1.3-mile Christina Riverwalk trail, which leads to several

June 2017

riverfront restaurants and a brewpub. About half a mile south of the center is the DuPont Environmental Education Center — DEEC to locals — on the Wilmington Riverfront in the 212-acre Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge. The center features a 10-acre ornamental garden, a trail through the freshwater tidal marsh and a four-story environmental center. A top-floor meeting room with floor-to-ceiling windows and panoramic views can accommodate about 75 guests for receptions, said Jessica Bittmann, director of sales for the Greater Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau. In downtown, several attractions front the river. Constitution Yards is a seasonal beer garden at Justison Landing along the Christina Riverwalk with 30,000 square feet of outdoor space for bocce ball, cornhole or whiffle ball; in the winter, “the beer garden turns into an ice skating rink,” Bittmann said. The Riverboat Queen is a replica riverboat that just resumed cruises in May. It offers brunch and dinner cruises on the Christina River, and private charters for up to 80 passengers. The Hagley Museum and Library sits on 235 acres on the banks of Brandywine Creek, the original site of the DuPont gunpowder works. Today, the historic soda house, the library and the visitor center, which features exhibits and a riverfront patio, can accommodate seated meals for 20 or receptions for up to 200 people.

Ocean City sits on a barrier island.


By Nikolas Koenig

The Asbury Hotel offers contemporary decor and meeting space in coastal New Jersey.

Asbury Park, New Jersey The small New Jersey shore city of Asbury Park is Bruce Springsteen’s hometown — his 1973 debut album is titled “Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.” — and The Boss has been known to surprise locals with impromptu concerts. Asbury Park is enjoying an ongoing Renaissance as fixtures in the beach town are renovated and revitalized. The hip 110-room Asbury Hotel opened last summer in the historic converted Salvation Army building.



The front desk does double duty as The Counter, a graband-go kitchen where guests can purchase coffee and food, and the lounge is a recreation room with pool, pinball and pingpong, along with board games and a communal table. For events, Baronet is a 4,300-square-foot rooftop space on the sixth floor where guests can watch movies on the turf lawn and take in views of the Atlantic. Asbury Hall and Terrace has 4,800 square feet of flexible indoor-outdoor space that can be split into two or three smaller areas. The Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel is a Beaux Art building that has been a fixture on the beachfront for over a century. The recently updated hotel boasts 30,000 square feet of renovated function space, including five ballrooms, which can accommodate up to 500 guests for events. A trifecta of historic venues are some of the most popular in the city: Convention Hall, the Paramount Theatre and the Grand Arcade connecting the two. In addition to Springsteen, Convention Hall has hosted the likes of Frank Sinatra, Elton John and the Rolling Stones. The ornate brick exhibition center on the boardwalk was built between 1928 and 1930 and can seat up to 3,600 people. The 1,600-seat Paramount Theatre opened in 1927, and the Grand Arcade, between the two, can also serve as an event venue.

THE ROLAND E. POWELL CONVENTION CENTER WE MAKE IT EASY TO WORK HARD. The Roland E. Powell Convention Center has been designed from the ground up to provide a seamless environment for any event. With 1,200 on-site parking spaces and additional parking lots for crowds of all sizes spread over 214,000 square feet, it’s the perfect venue for all of your needs.

Main Exhibit Hall – 45,500+ sq. ft. of column-free, flexible halls Bayfront Ballroom –19,126 sq. ft. • Exhibit Hall –14,000 sq. ft. of flexible space • 21 meeting rooms • Brand-new Performing Arts Center–1,200 seats with state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment, box office, concession area, and spacious dressing rooms • •

Plus, we are less than three hours from Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia and 30 minutes from the Salisbury-Ocean City: Wicomico Regional Airport (SBY).



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Small Market Meetings June 2017  

The Small Market Meetings June 2017 issue features small meeting ideas for budget-friendly meetings, meetings at parks, and the Mid-Atlantic...

Small Market Meetings June 2017  

The Small Market Meetings June 2017 issue features small meeting ideas for budget-friendly meetings, meetings at parks, and the Mid-Atlantic...