s s e l Time e c a r Gt a
Crisis Management Merrimack Valley, Massachusetts
Missouri Meeting Guide
Courtesy American Bus Assoc.
Effective Risk Management
Protecting your event and attendees starts with strategic thinking.
Narrowing Focus These convention centers have made big investments in niche events.
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Massachusettsâ€™ Merrimack Valley This region offers history and convenience near Boston.
Courtesy Greater Richmond Convention Center
Butte is a popular meeting site for statewide organizations.
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The Grande Dame of Asheville ...................................
Missouri Meeting Guide .Explore the meeting resorts and distinctive small towns of the Show Me State.
Courtesy Biltmore Estate
On the cover: The Biltmore Estate is the crown jewel of Asheville, North Carolina. PPhoto courtesy Biltmore Estate
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.
For Sales Call
Montanaâ€™s Mining Mecca
.Biltmore Estate welcomes meeting groups with historic elegance.
26 28 30
Kyle Anderson 866-356-5128
Mac T. Lacy Publisher/Partner email@example.com
Brian Jewell Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Herbert Sparrow Executive Editor/Partner email@example.com
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Daniel Jean-Louis Savannah Osbourn Account Manager Staff writer email@example.com Christine Clough Copy editor Kyle Anderson Account Manager Rena Baer firstname.lastname@example.org Proofreader
Bowman Bids Farewell
Two New Account Reps Come Aboard
“At this juncture, we have the opportunity to gain the insight and acumen of two young men who believe in the future of group travel, small meetings, marketing and publishing, so we are happy about that.”
ersonnel changes are taking place this summer in the sales departments at Small Market Meetings and The Group Travel Leader Inc. Longtime director of advertising sales, Stacey Bowman, is leaving the company to spend more time at home with her two young daughters, and two new advertising account managers are coming on board to work with Kelly Tyner, director of sales and marketing. “We wish Stacey all the best as she departs,” said Small Market Meetings publisher Mac Lacy. “Stacey has been with us for 14 years and has been a tremendous asset to our companies. She is the consummate professional and has been a joy to work with. I speak not only for our staff but for many in the industry across the country when I say we wish her well. “I am happy for Stacey’s family and know
she will enjoy that time at home,” said Lacy. “I feel certain Stacey will return to the workforce at some point in the future and she will be a tremendous asset to anyone she works with.” Coming onboard as advertising account managers are Kyle Anderson, who worked part-time the past few months as he finished his business degree at the University of Kentucky, and Daniel Jean-Louis, who comes to the companies from a corporate meetings sales position at the Capital Plaza Hotel in Frankfort, Kentucky. Jean-Louis is a familiar face to many in the meetings industry through his involvement with groups like the Kentucky Travel Industry Association and Travel South USA. “We have two great new young employees in Kyle and Daniel,” said Lacy. “One of our philosophies in business is to stay young
whenever we can. At this juncture, we have the opportunity to gain the insight and acumen of two young men who understand the value of small meetings destinations to meeting planners, so we are happy about that. All our clients and friends in the meetings industry will enjoy getting to know Daniel and Kyle.” Anderson and Jean-Louis will work directly for Kelly Tyner and will be visible additions to the companies’ ongoing presence at industry events and trade shows. They may both be reached at the companies’ headquarters in Lexington, Kentucky. For more information about marketing to meeting planners who understand the value of smaller destinations, call Kyle Anderson or Daniel Jean-Louis at 866-356-5128 or visit www.smallmarketmeetings.com.
Conference Speakers to Highlight Creativity, Communication September 23-25 By Dan Dickson
keynote speaker whose goal is to improve delegates’ spirits, spur personal growth and change lives is scheduled to deliver his message at the 2018 Small Market Meetings Conference, which will take place September 23-25 in Ontario, California. The conference will attract up to 300 meeting planners, destination representatives and tourism professionals from around the U.S. Veteran speaker Harvey Alston will bring tips on how conference attendees can develop the creative passion necessary to succeed, whether in the work world or their personal lives. “I am so appreciative and want to express my heartfelt gratitude for the opportunity to contribute in making the Small Market Meetings Conference a great success,” said Alston, in a recent phone conversation. Alston has distilled some of his main points for how to “Be the Best,” the title of his new book. It begins with quality of performance and continues with effective service, ethical behavior, civility, passion and creating an energetic and productive environment. Alston has been a high-octane, full-time public speaker since 1989 and has appeared before millions of people across the country to deliver his soul-searching messages. During his professional career, Alston has also been a high school teacher and football coach and has worked in student financial aid at the university level. He is the coordinator for the Ohio High School Athletic Association Student Leadership Conferences, one of the largest athletic conference of its kind in the country.
All Jazzed Up
Another interesting speaker booked for the Small Market Meetings Conference is Joan Stanford, CEO of Jazzy Pen Communications, a marketing communications company that specializes in content marketing. Stanford loves using the power of words to convey important messages in many formats. She
Photos courtesy Greater Ontario CVB
Small Market Meetings Conference delegates will enjoy the beauty of Ontario in Southern California. helps people craft content for their businesses and organizations to build their brands and attract their best customers. Her presentations are lively, and she’ll leave conference attendees with strategies and action steps they can immediately use in their own operations. Stanford will explain to delegates how important it is for businesspeople to use
email effectively. “Yes, the power of the email inbox,” she said in a phone chat with Small Market Meetings. “Meeting and event planners and business owners all need to maximize this marketing strategy. I’ll offer some tips and tricks for getting the results they want through email marketing. I’ll tell them what an ideal email should look like.”
The minor league Quakes play at LoanMart Field near Ontario.
Ontario International Airport is a convenient alternative to the larger LAX. Stanford said one of the most overlooked email strategies is creating an effective subject line at the top of an email. “It is going to make or break you,” she said. “People take it for granted; it’s an afterthought but shouldn’t be.” Stanford is a native of southern California and is based in Rancho Cucamonga, just a few miles from where delegates will be meeting.
Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Announces New Group Experiences
Groups can integrate aquatic activities into their meetings at the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach. RIVIERA BEACH, SINGER ISLAND, Florida – Recognizing the creative power behind balancing work with play, the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort and Spa has amped up its team-building offerings to encourage corporate groups to take a break from the meeting room. From paddleboards to paintbrushes, experiences are designed to embrace the destination, showcase the resort’s amenities and ignite inspiration for meetings. Adventure awaits with these new teambuilding additions: • Inspiration on the Intracoastal. Ninetyminute guided tours of the Intracoastal Waterway by kayak or paddleboard support research findings that exercise and the great outdoors boost brain power and inspire creativity. • Deep Dive. With the world’s third-largest barrier reef just offshore, Marriott Singer Island is a prime spot for snorkeling. Colorful reef and marine life inspire with their beauty.
• Sharpen Skills. Surf and paddleboard lessons with a certified instructor are available for those looking to master a new skill. Mental breaks have been known to unlock creativity. • Different Strokes. Groups can unleash imagination and get visual during a Paint and Sip class. Instructors will guide participants in creating their own masterpieces while relaxing with a glass of wine. • Catching the Big Fish. Guided beach fishing excursions for groups of four are available, allowing participants to disconnect from intense working sessions. Their catch of the day will be cooked by the resort’s executive chef for the group to enjoy. • Bright Idea. Outside of turtle nesting season, groups can get their creative sparks flying and engage in friendly competition with a beach bonfire complete with s’mores and a game of LED volleyball on the resort’s private beach.
Courtesy Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach
The resort’s boutique-style meeting space accommodates conferences, beach weddings and social events. Comfortably furnished outdoor spaces make the most of the Florida sun and sea breezes, inviting guests to relax poolside or gather for an evening of drinks and conversation by a fire pit. Sea-inspired pampering is also provided at its awardwinning SiSpa. A wide range of dining choices includes such options as American regional cuisine and casual Caribbean fare. Guests can also enjoy dining at 3800 Ocean, poolside snacks from the comfort of their cabanas and a Kitchen Table experience with wine pairings. At the nearby Blue Heron Bridge, guests can embark on diving excursions to visit Florida’s colorful underwater friends, and nonmotorized water sports are available from the resort’s private white-sand beach.
Embassy Suites by Hilton Opens in Berkeley Heights
Courtesy Embassy Suites by Hilton Berkeley Heights
Design elements of the new Embassy Suites in Berkeley Heights are inspired by the natural surroundings of New Jersey.
BERKELEY HEIGHTS, New Jersey — Embassy Suites by Hilton has announced the opening of a newly built hotel in Berkeley Heights. The new Embassy Suites by Hilton Berkeley Heights is set amidst the rolling hills of Berkeley Heights in the heart of central New Jersey’s “pharma country.” It is conveniently located 15 miles from Newark Liberty International Airport. The hotel features 176 suites, each decorated in an Americana style, including 52 deluxe suites with views of the Watchung Mountains and 43 studio suites. An outdoor patio with a firepit is adjacent to a 2,400-square-foot solarium, and the Grove at Connell Center features an additional 10,000 square feet of outdoor space. “Guests will be able to enjoy value-added amenities and features, including the property’s on-site restaurant and unique outdoor space,” said Alan Roberts, global head, Embassy Suites by Hilton. According to Roberts, “the hotel’s proximity to Newark Liberty International Airport and New York City provides the ideal location for business trips to the city and for leisure travelers looking to explore central New Jersey.” The hotel’s on-site restaurant, Grain and Cane, is a progressive brasserie that celebrates quality ingredients transformed into seasonal, creative dishes. Additional amenities include an indoor pool, a 24-hour fitness center with Technogym equipment, and jogging and walking trails. In addition to over 18,000 square feet of flexible function space, the hotel also offers indoor and outdoor spaces for guests to enjoy and a 24-hour business center, where guests can wrap up last-minute projects. “The design of our Berkeley Heights location is inspired by the natural surroundings of New Jersey — the modern farmhouse, which includes stone walls, unique barn doors and warm wood tones,” said general manager Ian Brodsky.
Secrets to Speaker Success Look for TED qualities in the presenters you bring to the stage By Vickie Mitchell
e’ve all been there: squirming during a conference session, hatching plans to escape a talk that isn’t living up to its billing because the speaker isn’t up to par. As bad as it is for attendees, it can be even worse for meeting professionals. Quality speakers are one of the main reasons people return to conferences, ranking alongside networking in terms of importance. When speakers disappoint and we leave a session feeling that we’ve gained little to nothing for time spent, we think twice about coming back to next year’s conference. Evaluating speakers before we hire them is a key, and a book I read recently, “Talk Like TED: The Nine Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds,” offers insights into what to look for in effective speakers. Although the book is written for those who want to make better presentations, the attributes author Carmine Gallo describes can also serve as a guide for those who hire speakers. Here are seven important qualities Gallo found in TED presenters. They are passionate about their topics. When speakers are enthusiastic and inspired, so are their audiences. One researcher Gallo interviewed said it is nearly impossible for a speaker to electrify an audience if there is no intense and meaningful connection to the information being presented. They spend significant time telling stories. Research shows that our brains become more active when we listen to stories. Think back about speakers you most remember, and chances are good they were storytellers, infusing their talks with personal stories and anecdotes, or tales they had read or heard from others. For example, Gallo pointed out, Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative, whose TED talk has been watched by millions, spent 65 percent of his time telling stories during his talk. They are comfortable and conversational. A conversational style — in other words, a presentation that feels like listening to a friend over dinner — is more enjoyable and easier to absorb. The best speakers
also look natural and comfortable on stage, as their body language reinforces their words. Nothing is more distracting than an awkward or uncomfortable physical presence — the speaker who jingles his pocket change or waves her hands too much or nervously grips the podium. They share new information or old information in a new way. We all get a kick out of learning something new or hearing about novel approaches to the challenges we face. Attendees perk up as speakers connect seemingly disparate fields, present ideas they’d never considered or bend old saws by looking at things from different angles. They find ways to drop jaws. The best speakers include something unexpected. It might be a demonstration, perhaps of a new product or technology. Or speakers might use props to make points, such as the time a researcher brought a human brain onstage and used it to point out different areas and their roles in our behavior. They inject helpings of humor. We’re not talking jokes, but rather funny and genuine observations and stories. TED presenters who use humor most effectively tell stories about themselves and those they know, or make observations about the world around them. Speakers who effectively poke fun at themselves or their topics almost always win over audiences. They heighten talks with sensory experiences. Powerful photos often say more than words. Videos can be an invigorating break. The sense of touch can even come to the fore, like when a doctor used a feather and a blowtorch to make the point to the TED audience that the lightest of touches feels like intense burning to those who suffer from chronic pain. Vickie Mitchell is the former editor of Small Market Meetings. If you have ideas for future columns, contact her at email@example.com.
Preparing for the Worst
Strategy and communication are key to meetings risk management Courtesy American Bus Association
By Savannah Osbourn
Meeting attendees probably aren’t thinking about potential crises or disasters while at events, but it’s incumbent on meeting planners to have emergency plans in place.
re you prepared for things to go wrong at your next event? Risk management is often a trial-and-error process for meeting planners. Sometimes, this means preparing for events that seem unlikely or unimaginable, such as a fire or staging accident. It also entails having comprehensive plans in place for more common occurrences, such as a medical emergency. Though it is impossible to avoid every mistake or mishap, here are a few steps you as a planner can take to mitigate risks during your next meeting or event.
tion and other community concerns. “Oftentimes, when people talk about crisis management, they think about the big setbacks, but it could be a cell tower went out or the water in the convention center is not drinkable,” said Zack Davis, vice president of destination services at the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau. Users can sign up for the service online and create a profile with any information they would want to share with emergency dispatchers and first responders in the event of an emergency. Likewise, planners may find a similar alert app or service to share with their attendees before the event.
Reach Out to the Local CVB
Convention and visitors bureaus often play a key role in informing planners about any local concerns or considerations, such as political unrest or conflicting citywide events. To help locals and visitors keep abreast of these reports, some destinations, like Louisville, Kentucky, offer a free regional emergency-alert system that sends out text notifications about impending weather, power outages, water contamina-
Develop a Crisis Management Plan
A crisis management plan should be one of the first topics on the table when planners sit down with staff to hash out logistics. “The more people you have involved in that discussion the better, because you get more suggestions and feedback about what may or
Courtesy Eisenstodt Associates
Meetings consultant Joan Eisenstodt, center, helps clients create crisis management plans to protect their events, attendees and organizations.
Make Your Next Meeting, Training, or Retreat Perfect The National 4-H Conference Center is the Washington D.C. area’s non-profit hotel and conference center. We will make your event easy to plan and memorable to attend. • 246 sleeping rooms • 41,000 square feet of flexible meeting rooms • Catering and dining options available • Complimentary on-site parking & Wi-Fi • Conveniently accessible to Washington, D.C.’s three airports and just minutes from the monuments and memorials
may not happen, and you put a plan together accordingly,” said Peter Pantuso, president and CEO of the American Bus Association, a tourism trade group that holds an annual convention with more than 3,000 attendees. Additionally, when planners conduct site inspections of potential meeting venues, they should make sure to ask about the facility’s own crisis management plan and find out as much detail as possible. “Sometimes, you see planners come in and they don’t ask or engage,” said Davis. “After connecting with the CVB, the next big thing would be asking the facility, ‘Hey, what are your crisis plans, and who can we connect with?’” Joan Eisenstodt, a professional meetings consultant with Eisenstodt Associates, seconded this advice: “Don’t take it for granted if the hotel says, ‘Don’t worry, we have a plan.’ Ask them to explain the plan.”
Put the Plan in Writing
PLAN YOUR VISIT WITH US: SALESINFO@4HCENTER.ORG 800.368.7432 | 4HCENTER.ORG
A big part of risk management is simply asking the right questions, which planners can often include in their request for proposal, or RFP. These can be questions like “Does the venue have CPR-trained staff?”
What is the distance to the nearest hospital?” “Have there been any recent infrastructure issues in the city like power outages or water shortages?” “It’s all about asking the questions, digging deeper, writing the risk plan and sharing it with all the partners to the meeting,” said Eisenstodt. “A lot of people don’t want to take the time to have a written plan on risk, but even the most prepared of us have trouble thinking it through in the moment.” She recalled a time when an experienced colleague called in a panic because a rash of pickpocketing had broken out at his event and one of the attendees was in the hospital for a heart complication. “Once you write the plan, then you train everybody,” she said. “Who’s going to be in charge? Who’s going to be the spokesperson? Who’s going to be back at headquarters answering phone calls?” Eisenstodt also advised planners to include their crisis plan in the venue contract. “If the hotel tells me they have three AEDs, this is their evacuation plan, this is what they do about cross-contamination of food, and so on — those things can be attachments in the contract,” she said.
Courtesy American Bus Association
American Bus Association event planners include crisis management reviews in conversations with all their suppliers, including off-site venues.
Courtesy American Bus Association
Meeting planners should include an emergency contact list in the materials distributed to attendees at registration.
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Consider the ‘What If’s’
In many cases, the setbacks that planners encounter may be small or not life threatening, but they can still cause serious disruptions, depending on the context. “It could be something simple, like a speaker is running late because of a wreck on the way from the airport,” said Eisenstodt. “But if everyone is there to see that speaker, that in fact could be a disaster. That’s why I think it’s so important to have an internal conversation and ask yourself, ‘What is the worst thing that could happen?’” Many organizations opt to purchase a weather insurance policy to protect the financial viability of their event. Though some budgetconscious planners might view insurance as an unnecessary expense, it can be tremendously useful in the long run. “You’re protecting yourself against the potential loss,” said Pantuso. “It’s not necessarily about putting the plan into place; it’s having the plan available and ready. You hope you never need fire insurance on your home, but you’re glad to have it.”
Investigate Potential Security Risks
Security is another important subject for planners to sit down and discuss with their team. “You always have to look at what concerns there are over terrorism,” said Pantuso. “You never know when there might be someone local who just wants to get visibility.” Eisenstodt described one situation when a person came to register at a judicial event and made the staff uneasy, prompting them to call security. They later discovered that the individual was armed and intended to shoot one of the officials. who was present “I hope that everyone is planning for an active-shooter situation,” she said. Planners should look into things like the average response time of local law enforcement and find out which venues provide their own security staff. If there are any major concerns, they might consider hiring personnel from a private security firm or bringing in plainclothes security officers. “We typically meet with the local police department to ask if there’s anything delegates need to look out for as they’re out and about in town or whether we need security outside in pedestrian areas,” said Pantuso. “Again, it’s just the idea of being prepared for what may never happen.”
Provide Attendees an Emergency Contact List
As planners scan their preplanning checklist, they should evaluate what information is critical to share with attendees, such as emergency contact information. “If there’s an emergency situation, attendees need to know — what are the steps, what are the numbers and who to get in touch with,” said Pantuso. It is also crucial to provide adequate information about the chain of command so attendees know which staff members to contact about different situations. “When you have 3,500 people at a show at the same time, every once in a great, great while, you encounter situations where people aren’t following the rules or being respectful,” said Pantuso. “These are not necessarily security situations but still need attention.”
& Plan on meeting here
MEET, EXPLORE, CONNECT GREATER ONTARIO, CALIFORNIA A breathtaking contemporary state of the art venue with more than 225,000 square feet of flexible column-free exhibit, meeting and function space, the Ontario Convention Center is ideal for conventions, trade shows, exhibits and meetings. Located just 2 miles from Ontario International Airport with access to a variety of hotel and dining options within walking distance, the center is frequently used by filmmakers as an on-site location for movies and commercials. • 225,000 total square feet with a 70,000 square foot column free exhibition hall • Full range of technology services • Award winning Executive Chef and service excellence • Over 6,000 hotel rooms available in Greater Ontario • Complimentary hotel parking and shuttle service For meeting needs of all sizes – from a conference room to a citywide convention utilizing the Ontario Convention Center – or for a special exposition or sporting event, the Greater Ontario Convention & Visitors Bureau will provide the necessary destination support tools to execute a successful experience.
For more information on planning your next adventure, visit GOcvb.org 800.455.5755
Investing in Innovation
These convention centers are betting on specialized events Courtesy City of Arlington
By Savannah Osbourn
E-sports is one of numerous specialized areas where convention centers are making considerable investments.
eeting trends are constantly evolving, and convention centers must frequently adapt to engage new markets, whether that means acquiring more advanced technology or redesigning venue spaces. Some convention centers maintain success by catering to niche events. These five convention centers across the country have carved out a distinct role in the meetings and convention industry.
The plan came to fruition when the city began searching for ways to increase visitor traffic and received a recommendation from researchers at New York University to invest in e-sports. In 2017, the global esports market was valued at $493 million, a figure that is expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2020. At present, the International Olympic Committee is even considering e-sports for inclusion in future Olympic Games. Despite the rapid growth of this market, few facilities in the United States are designed to accommodate the unique needs of e-sports events, which require sufficient bandwidth and internet speeds to support hundreds of online players at once. Arlington officials have partnered with e-game event experts such as Populous, Esports Venues and NGAGE Esports to transform the Arlington Convention Center into the countryâ€™s first dedicated e-gaming stadium, soon to be called E-sports Stadium Arlington. Upon completion, the stadium will include a main competition area, a broadcast
Arlington Convention Center Arlington, Texas
This year, the city of Arlington, Texas, plans to complete one of its most ambitious projects to date: a $10 million e-sports stadium. The 100,000-square-foot facility will be the largest and most versatile venue of its kind in the United States, establishing Arlington as the epicenter of competitive esports in North America.
Courtesy Visit Salt Lake
The Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City is known for its outdoor spaces and energy-efficient features. studio, hospitality suites and team training areas. City planners expect the technological improvements and spacing arrangements to enhance the quality of all meetings and events hosted at the new facility. The property is conveniently situated in the heart of Arlington’s Entertainment District near major attractions such as AT&T Stadium, Globe Life Park and Six Flags Over Texas. www.arlington-tx.gov/conventioncenter
Salt Palace Convention Center Salt Lake City
As home of the Mighty Five national parks, Utah is a well-known haven for active travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. As a result, the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City frequently attracts groups with athletic and environmental backgrounds. Sports events are Salt Lake City’s fastest-growing market. Over the past couple of years, the convention center has hosted over 2,000
attendees for the USA Weightlifting Olympic Trials, 5,100 attendees for the USA Taekwondo National Championships and 8,000 attendees for the USA Fencing National Championships. Likewise, the convention center is a global leader in sustainability initiatives, building a 600,000-square-foot solar panel in 2012 and earning the IMEX-EIC Innovation in Sustainability Award for creative use of leftover event materials in 2018. These efforts have attracted the attention of groups like the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration and the Solar Energy Trade Shows One feature that appeals to many of these organizations is the center’s unusual balance of open exhibit space and conventional meeting areas. The Salt Palace Convention Center encompasses 515,000 square feet of continuous exhibit space and 164,000 square feet of smaller meeting venues that can be divided into as many as 70 sections. “This dynamic enables us to very often marry traditional conven-
tions that use lots of meeting space and relatively less exhibit space with athletic events that typically need a limited number of meeting rooms and lots of exhibit space for competition use,” said Mark White, vice president of sales at the convention center. The facility also offers flexible rent pricing, which greatly benefits budget-conscious planners. Instead of requesting a flat rate from clients, the convention sales team works with planners to establish a price based on dates, group size and other components. “We recognize that some athletic events and small not-for-profit organizations’ budgets are extremely limited, so we make efforts to accommodate them,” said White. www.visitsaltlake.com/salt-palaceconvention-center
Schaumburg Convention Center Schaumburg, Illinois
Courtesy Meet Chicago Northwest
The Schaumburg Convention has phone 3:03:58 reception albany cap centerCenter 2018 feb halfupgraded page.pdf mobile 1 1/22/2018 PM in its public spaces and attached hotel.
Thirty minutes northwest of Chicago, the Schaumburg Convention Center offers nearly 150,000 square feet of flexible meeting space alongside a luxury hotel. When the convention center opened in 2006, one of the first issues that meeting planners encountered was wireless connec-
tivity. The cell phone reception was so weak that attendees often had to move to a window or doorway just to get a signal and make a call. To address this problem, the convention center installed a Distributed Antenna System, or DAS, which involves placing hundreds of network antennas throughout a given building or area. Though some of these systems are owned by specific network providers, like the one that AT&T owns and operates in Navy Pier, others are neutral and support multiple carriers at once. In addition to providing a wider range of network coverage, these systems help bolster wireless connection and ensure consistent quality of service, which is vital during large events when thousands of people are using their wireless devices simultaneously. Since implementing this technology, the Schaumburg Convention Center has built a widespread reputation as one of the premier meeting facilities in the Midwest, particularly catering to unusual arts and cultural events, like the Stamp and Scrapbook Expo, the JFA Transworld Jewelry Show and Stitches, one of the largest knitting and crochet consumer shows in the country. The convention center also hosts Brickworld Chicago, one of five national LEGO conventions, and Minefaire, the official Minecraft community event. www.schaumburgconventioncenter.com
Greater Richmond Convention Center Richmond, Virginia
Though trade shows and large exhibitions traditionally take place on a single event floor, more planners are looking for convention centers with adaptable meeting space. Rather than isolating the event in one room or area, planners often like to set up a variety of venues where
Courtesy Greater Richmond Convention Center
The Virginia Auto Show is a favorite event at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.
ESCAPE THE ORDINARY Grand Wayne Center is more than an event facility — it’s an experience, crafted to simplify every event planner’s To-Do list!
Courtesy Greater Richmond Convention Center
Flexible staging arrangements at the Greater Richmond Convention Center make it a popular venue for cheerleading and indoor sports tournaments.
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attendees can engage sponsors, local vendors and speakers. The Greater Richmond Convention Center in Richmond, Virginia, provides a plethora of staging arrangements within its 300,000-square-foot facility. Planners can take advantage of the facility’s 36 breakout rooms or divide the 178,000-square-foot Exhibit Hall or the 30,550-square-foot Grand Ballroom into smaller sections. Each exhibit area contains a built-in concession stand, a restroom, a show office and a loading dock, allowing vendors and other patrons to navigate easily throughout the building. The convention center also recently opened a lactation lounge for nursing mothers. “We try to tell people that we’re not just a big box off the highway,” said Linné Dilorio, director of sales and marketing at the convention center. “We actually have these great breakout rooms with natural light so you don’t feel like you’re being completely enveloped in a huge exhibit hall.” This flexible layout is great for sports events like cheer and dance competitions, as well as events held by USA Fencing, USA Field Hockey and the Richmond Volleyball Club. And thanks to Richmond’s diverse offering of
restaurants, museums, historic landmarks and family attractions, many attendees opt to extend their stays and turn the trip into a family vacation. “When we see repeat visitors, we’ll ask, ‘What brings you back?’ and often they’ll say, ‘Oh, I was here last year for a conference and fell in love with it, so I decided to book a vacation,” said Dilorio. www.richmondcenter.com
Washington County Convention Center Greenville, Mississippi
Nestled along the historic cotton plantations of the Mississippi Delta, the Washington County Convention Center resides in the county seat of Greenville, Mississippi. What the convention center lacks in size, it compensates for with its diversity of venues. Beyond the facility’s 25,000-square-foot exhibit hall, the 420-acre complex also includes an expansive expo center and horse track, a stock car racetrack, an executive hospitality suite and a baseball park. The 38,400-square-foot Red Rempson Expo Center frequently hosts livestock, equestrian and agricultural events, and occasionally,
even a circus or a rodeo. The arena can accommodate up to 2,500 spectators. In late spring, the Mid-Delta Horse Show Association and the Washington County Mounted Sheriffâ€™s Posse use the horse track in the Red Rempson Expo Center for their annual horse shows. The Greenville Speedway is a quarter-mile Gumbo oval track with 3,500-seat stands. Racing season begins in early April and concludes in October with the Annual Gumbo Nationals. For smaller events of up to 96 guests, the newly renovated Executive Hospitality Suite provides an elegant, intimate space with an on-site catering area, a ceiling-mounted projector and a 10-seat conference table. A short distance from the convention center grounds, Warfield Point Park is an 80-acre park along the Mississippi River that draws many groups for after-hours picnics or outdoor concerts. In mid-October each year, the park hosts the Mighty Mississippi Music Festival, one of the signature blues music festivals in the Mississippi Delta. www.washingtoncounty.ms/convention-center Courtesy City of Arlington
Major technology infrastructure investments at the Arlington Convention Center will allow it to accommodate large-scale e-sports tournaments.
OF WRITERS AND REVOLUTIONARIES History and cul ture t hrive near Boston in Merrimack Valley By Savannah Osbourn
A summer music series draws locals and visitors to an outdoor venue in historic Lowell.
“We’re part of Greater Boston but half the price of being in downtown or being on the waterfront.” J
ust a short drive northwest of Boston, the Merrimack Valley is properties with extensive meeting space. Right off Interstate 495 near one of Massachusetts’ most vibrant regions, where colonial histhe University of Massachusetts and Lowell Memorial Auditorium, the tory, literary landmarks, beautiful hotels and New England scenRadisson Hotel and Suites Chelmsford-Lowell offers a 20,000-squareery blend into one destination. The area sits foot conference center with flexible meeting close to three major interstates as well as the and banquet space. Planners can take advanBoston Logan International Airport, making it tage of the hotel’s 24-hour business center, a choice location for meetings and events. complimentary parking and free weekday “We’re part of Greater Boston but half the shuttle to surrounding attractions. price of being in downtown or being on the There are two Regency properties in the waterfront. We’re seeing a lot of folks that are region. In Boxborough, the Boxboro Regency saying, ‘Why am I going to Boston when we Hotel and Conference Center features over have these beautiful and unique meeting 30,000 square feet of space as well as complivenues at the fraction of the price?’” said Tom mentary shuttle service within a 15-mile Fitzmaurice, executive director of the Greater radius. A short distance down the interstate, Merrimack Valley Convention and Visitors the Westford Regency Inn and Conference Bureau. Center provides a more intimate setting with Travelers will discover a broad range of 18,000 square feet of meeting space, including Minute Man National Historical Park sights and attractions throughout Merrimack two grand ballrooms, several smaller breakValley’s 21 towns. In Lexington and Concord, out areas and 6,000 square feet of seasonal Photos courtesy Greater Merrimack Valley CVB groups can trace the footsteps of literary legoutdoor space. ends like Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Attendees can enjoy luxurious amenities for Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Nathaniel attractive rates at the Boston Marriott LOCATION Hawthorne. Less than a few minutes’ walk Burlington, a full-service, 418-room hotel in Greater Boston region from the Old Manse, an 18th-century Georgian Burlington. Up to 1,000 guests can meet or ACCESS home where Emerson and Hawthorne once dine in the hotel’s 14,570-square-foot conferU.S. Route 3, interstates 93 and 495, Logan lived, groups can stroll across the first battleence center. Additionally, the hotel houses the International Airport, Manchester Airport, field of the American Revolution at Minute award-winning Chopps American Bar and Hanscom Regional Airfield Man National Historic Park. Grill, one of the finest steak, seafood and Another national park, Lowell National cocktail venues in the area. MAJOR MEETING SPACES Historic Park, resides at the center of Lowell, Tsongas Center, UMass Lowell Inn and Notable Venues Massachusetts’ fourth-largest city, merging Conference Center, Boxboro Regency Hotel Lowell is home to three of the Merrimack scenic canals and riverwalks with historic and Conference Center, Westford Regency Valley’s most notable venues: Lowell Memorial buildings, shops and restaurants. Inn and Conference Center, Boston Marriott Auditorium, the Tsongas Center and the “Downtown Lowell has a unique urban core Burlington, The DoubleTree by Hilton UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center. that doubles as a national park,” said Boston Andover, Radisson Hotel and Suites Built in 1922, historic Lowell Memorial Fitzmaurice. “It was the first urban park of its Chelmsford-Lowell, Holiday Inn TewksburyAuditorium can seat up to 2,800 guests and kind in America.” Andover, Holiday Inn and Suites Nashua provides a beautiful, classic backdrop for conLowell was founded during the early 1800s HOTEL ROOMS certs, family shows, conferences and corporate as a manufacturing town, and remnants of 7,000 seminars. Nearby, the Tsongas Center at UMass that heritage can still be seen today. By the OFFSITE VENUES Lowell is a state-of-the-art, 7,800-seat arena 1840s, the Lowell mills employed more than Cobblestones Restaurant and Bar, the that hosts everything from hockey games to 8,000 textile workers, serving as the first Onyx Room, deCordova Sculpture Park and trade shows and concerts. example of industrial revolution in the United Museum, Artistry on the Green, Vesper “The arena is absolutely beautiful,” said States. Many of the tall brick mill buildings Country Club, Four Oaks Country Club Fitzmaurice. “It’s one of those unique arenas have since been converted into museums, CONTACT INFO across the country that’s just big enough to shops, art studios and condos. Greater Merrimack Valley host these large-scale events but small enough Convention and Visitors Bureau Major Meeting Spaces that if you don’t fill it, it doesn’t feel empty.” 978-459-6150 The Merrimack Valley has several hotel The UMass Lowell Inn and Conference www.merrimackvalley.org
Visitors can take streetcar tours of Lowell National Historical Park
“We see a lot of people that are coming in for these large-scale conventions downtown and then drive north to enjoy more intimate off-site venues.” Center is also based on the University of Massachusetts campus and holds over 15,000 square feet of versatile meeting space.
In addition to hotel conference space, planners can take advantage of several creative off-site venues throughout the Merrimack Valley. “We see a lot of people that are coming in for these large-scale conventions downtown and then drive north to enjoy more intimate offsite venues,” said Fitzmaurice. “We’re like a built-in breakout space for the entire city of Boston.” For example, the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum is a stunning 30-acre sculpture garden and museum that overlooks Flint’s Pond, a site immortalized in Thoreau’s timeless memoir “Walden.” Groups can organize a cocktail reception or a corporate retreat on the rooftop terrace to admire a sweeping view of the sculpture park below or set up a tented event in the 35-acre park. The Onyx Room is an unusual black-box-style venue at Western
Avenue Studios in Lowell. The building’s black-veiled walls and hightech sound system enable planners to create vivid light and video displays that provide chic backdrops for seminars, receptions and other events. Cobblestones is one of the most iconic restaurants in the Merrimack Valley, specializing in quality American fare like hand-cut steaks, fresh oysters, burgers and craft beers. The restaurant features several private dining and meeting areas for groups and is close to signature attractions like Lowell Memorial Auditorium, Lowell National Historic Park and the Merrimack Repertory Theatre. In downtown Lowell, the family-owned Athenian Corner Restaurant serves one of the most diverse Greek menus in New England, regularly attracting groups for fine Greek dining, belly-dancing shows and live Middle Eastern music. The restaurant also caters events with between 10 and 75 guests.
Public art and private galleries abound in the Merrimack Valley.
“We’re like a built-in breakout space for the entire city of Boston.” Regional Attractions
Beyond the boardroom, business travelers will find numerous attractions and activities to explore in the Merrimack Valley. “There’s no shortage of off-site venues and extracurricular activities for groups — everything from live entertainment, national park tours, farms, breweries and wineries to team-building activities such as indoor go-kart racing and virtual-reality gaming,” said Fitzmaurice. History comes alive at Minute Man National Historic Park in the Concord-Lexington area, where visitors can walk across the first battlefield of the American Revolution and browse exhibits on colonial America inside the North Bridge Visitors Center. Nestled in the heart of Lowell, Lowell National Historic Park was once the epicenter of the textile industry, and today, groups can still tour some of the historic water-powered textile mills along the canal. During the summer, the park hosts several major regional events, including the Lowell Free Folk Festival in July and the Lowell Summer Music Series from June to September. In addition, there are numerous
hands-on activities available in the park, such as textile workshops, trolley rides, canal boat tours and guided wellness walks. Concord is home to some of the region’s most distinguished literary sites, such as the original homes of Alcott and Hawthorne, and also lays claim to the gravesite of renowned beatnik poet and writer Jack Kerouac. Several of Kerouac’s possessions can be viewed at the Morgan Cultural Center in Lowell National Historic Park. Every fall, the city celebrates his legacy with a three-day literary festival. “We pride ourselves in being the beginning of the Industrial Revolution but also the literary revolution,” said Fitzmaurice. Art enthusiasts are guaranteed to enjoy a trip to Western Avenue Studios and Lofts, one of the largest artist communities on the Eastern Seaboard. In 2005, the city of Lowell converted one of its brick mill buildings into an exquisite five-acre art-studio complex for more than 300 working artists. Groups can sign up for a wide variety of art classes — painting, pottery and fiber art among them.
Headframe of Mind By Kelsey Ogletree
B U T T E , M O N TA N A LOCATION Southwest Montana ACCESS Bert Mooney Airport; Helena Regional Airport, a one-hour drive MAJOR MEETING SPACES Clarion Copper King Hotel and Convention Center; Fairmont Hot Springs Resort HOTEL ROOMS 1,500 OFF-SITE VENUES Butte Civic Center; Butte Brewing Company; Casagranda’s Steakhouse CONTACT INFO Butte CVB 406-723-3177 www.visitbutte.com
Above: Headframes on Mountain Con are remnants of Butte’s mining heritage. Left: Montana Street runs through Butte’s historic downtown and into the surrounding wilderness.
early every association in Montana has held a meeting in Butte, and for good reason. The city of just under 34,000 lies at the crossroads of interstates 15 and 90 and is about an hour’s drive from the state capital, Helena, making it an easy drive for most. But thanks to major improvements to two key meeting venues, abundant outdoor activities and a supportive community, Butte is casting a wider net. “We’ve always been popular with state agencies,” said Maria Pochervina, executive director of the Butte Convention and Visitors Bureau, “and now we’re seeing more regional association markets coming to this area as well.” It’s a fitting development for the area once known as “The Richest Hill on Earth,” most notably for the hundreds of millions of pounds of copper produced there in the late 1800s. Evidence of Butte’s mining heyday is found throughout the city, particularly in Uptown. In this historic neighborhood, groups can tour the World Museum of Mining, stay at the boutique Miners Hotel and dine at the popular Uptown Café. Montana Tech, recognized nationally as a top engineering school, draws many mining and geology conferences to Butte and has a variety of meeting spaces.
Spaces Fit for a King The 92-room Copper King Hotel and Convention Center, Butte’s largest conference facility, reopened in May 2017 following a complete restoration. It boasts 17,000 square feet of meeting space, which includes the 7,400-square-foot King Ballroom with its state-of-the-art, 16-foot LED environmental projection screen, and the 4,700-square-foot Copper Ballroom, as well as breakout and prefunction spaces. Full catering services are available through Montana’s Rib and Chop House on-site, but budget-conscious planners are also welcome to bring in outside catering. Other meeting hotels in Butte include Hotel Finlen, a historic boutique property with an Art Deco-style ballroom; Quality Inn and Suites, now renovating its meeting spaces; and Comfort Inn and La Quinta Inn and Suites, both newly renovated.
Off-Site Venues Many historic buildings in Butte, though not promoted as meeting venues, can be transformed into event spaces. These include Front Street Station, which is a restored train station, and the Thornton Building in Uptown, which has a beautiful ballroom. Butte Brewing Company has an event space for up to 120 people with Wi-Fi, built-in screens and a patio. Casagranda’s Steakhouse, a popular local restaurant, has a private dining room. And the Butte Civic Center, frequently used for tournaments and concerts, is also available for meetings and has items like pipe and drape, tables and chairs.
Outside the City Photos courtesy Butte CVB
Though headframes still dot the surrounding landscape, Butte has diversified its economy over the last few decades, becoming a community known for festivals and events. The Montana Folk Festival, for instance, held every July, brings in performers and visitors from around the world. Many meeting planners schedule conferences before or after major events to allow attendees to join the fun. The allure of Butte as a meeting destination circles back to the plentiful hospitality of community members, who are glad to share stories about the area’s history. “If you didn’t have a friend in Butte to connect with when you came here,” said Pochervina, “you’ll definitely leave with a couple new ones.”
Fifteen miles west of Butte is the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, a full-service resort that doubled its meeting space in a total renovation completed in 2015. With four pools, a waterslide, a newly remodeled fitness center, three dining options, a spa, a golf course and more, this 153-room resort is a destination in itself and popular for meetings and corporate retreats. The 20,000-square-foot conference center, which can accommodate up to 600 people, includes two 5,600-square-foot rooms that can be divided into three rooms each; there’s also a wide hallway that nicely accommodates exhibitors, and a new prefunction area.
Embracing the Outdoors At an elevation of 5,538 feet, Butte is positioned for exploring the outdoors. The city has 13 trailheads that connect to the Continental Divide Trail Coalition. Thompson Park, nine miles south of Butte, is a recreation area with 25 miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. In season, planners can also organize group tours to Our Lady of the Rockies, a 90-foot-high statue overlooking Butte from atop the Continental Divide. Porchervina said the CVB hopes to have a tram to take visitors to the top in the next few years.
The Grande Dame of
By Kristy Alpert
or more than a century, the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, has stood as the grande dame of American architecture. It was built as the residence for America’s closest version of a royal family, the Vanderbilts, and the 250-room house is still considered the largest privately owned home in the country. Today, it welcomes Americans and visitors from around the globe to gather and explore its impressive halls and chambers. The home’s roots date to 1888, when a young George Washington Vanderbilt, grandson of industrial titan Cornelius Vanderbilt, took a fortuitous family getaway to the majestic, tree-lined soils of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains with his mother. The young businessman was so taken with the stunning scenery and rustic beauty that he decided to purchase land, amassing thousands of acres that would soon become the foundation for the family’s renowned countryside estate. Construction began in 1889, when a crew of 1,000 workers managed to bring Vanderbilt’s ambitious vision to life in less than five years. More than 32,000 bricks were made each day at an on-site kiln, and a woodworking factory was constructed on the property to supply the workers with oak and walnut for the home’s interior walls and custom flooring. Designed by Richard Morris Hunt to resemble a European chateau, the home also features work by renowned artists like Viennese sculptor Karl Bitter and Spanish architect Rafael Guastavino, with signature materials like Italian marble and Indiana limestone
Photos courtesy Biltmore Estate
Above: The 250-room Biltmore Estate is the jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Left: Docents offer guided tours of the Biltmore mansion. shipped in on a private railroad track. The home became self-sustaining, producing its own food and income through a healthy supply of livestock, vegetable gardens and dairy cows. Although the family has moved out, the Biltmore Estate still honors the Vanderbilt tradition of hospitality as a world-class attraction with multiple dining, shopping and entertainment options. The property has since expanded, adding an on-site vineyard and multiple overnight accommodation options. The estate is also open to the public for events and meetings.
Meeting Spaces Situated on more than 8,000 acres, the estate features many venues, from banquet halls and gardens to boardrooms and taverns. Venues and their guest capacities include Deerpark, 890; Lioncrest, 422; Diana, 900; Biltmore House and
Gardens, 1,200; Antler Hill Barn, 400; Winery at Antler Hill Village, 40; Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate boardroom, 12; Inn on Biltmore Estate, 250; Cedric’s Tavern, 120; and Amherst at Deerpark, set to open this fall, 850.
Catering The Biltmore has always been known for culinary excellence, with gardens that have been carefully pruned to produce the finest and freshest ingredients for creating memorable meals. Each of the estate’s 15 dining facilities, parlors and cafes sources ingredients from the estate’s grounds, creating a true farm-to-table experience for diners. The on-site catering team can
create custom menus that range from light bites to gourmet multicourse meals, paired with wines from grapes grown and blended on the estate. The culinary team also works with off-site vendors to acquire the freshest local ingredients, including farmstead cheese, grass-fed pork and mountain trout. Alcohol is available.
Before and After Events
Groups have numerous entertainment options while attending meetings or events at the Biltmore. They can tour the house and gardens on their own time, purchase an audio guide or book a private tour with a knowledgeable guide for more behind-the-scenes insight into each room. Numerous shops
line the property, offering a wide range of items from home accents to old-fashioned toys and confections. From guided hikes and private wine tastings to days spent luxuriating at the spa or riding horseback through the hills, there is never a dull moment at the Biltmore.
Asheville, North Carolina
TYPE OF VENUE Off-site, estate
More than 1,200 guests
The Village Hotel, Inn on Biltmore and Cottage on Biltmore are all at the estate
CONTACT INFO 800-411-3812 www.biltmore.com
Extras The Biltmore employs a dedicated destination activities team to help groups and event planners make the most of their time at the estate. The team works with groups to determine the best activities before, during and after events to satisfy their unique interests and desired experiences while in the
Blue Ridge Mountains. Options include winery tours and tastings, carriage and wagon rides, hiking or biking trips, horseback riding experiences, river float trips, a Land Rover Experience Driving School, an Orvis fly-fishing school, fireworks displays and custom event rentals.
Meet Missouri’s Resorts By Rachel Carter
issouri has become
a favorite Midwestern getaway destination where visitors, as well as meeting planners and attendees, can enjoy boating, golfing, shopping and fishing.
Although the Lake of the Ozarks region is perhaps Missouri’s best-known vacation spot, groups will find many other meeting resorts, guest ranches and woodland retreats throughout the state.
Tan-Tar-A Resort Osage Beach
Tan-Tar-A Resort sits on the shores of Lake of the Ozarks, and when it wraps up resortwide renovations next spring, the property will be rebranded as a Margaritaville Resort. Though the project is changing Tan-Tar-A’s look and amenities to match Margaritaville’s upscale beach vibe, the resort will retain its family- and group-friendly feel, said director of sales Ann Walters. Most of Tan-Tar-A’s 700 guest rooms have been fully renovated or are being refreshed, and the main building was fully renovated in 2013. All of the 90,000 square feet of meeting space was completely refreshed in 2016 and 2017. The largest single space is a 30,000-square-foot exhibit hall, and the 23,160-square-foot Grand Ballroom can be split into three smaller rooms. The 5,700-squarefoot Crystal Ballroom is another popular option with lake views. On the Lakeside Deck, “you have the lake over one shoulder, then the gorgeous pool over the other shoulder,” Walters said. Groups will often hold an event on the deck and then board the 150-passenger Tropic Island yacht, which docks beside the deck, for scenic cruises.
MIssouri Meeting Guide
After a four-month renovation, the resort’s full-service restaurant reopened in May as JB’s Boathouse. The Landshark Bar and Grille is being built on the lakeshore next to Sand Beach and will have indoor-outdoor seating and its own pool with a swim-up bar, and “the view is going to be amazing,” Walters said. Groups can play on Tan-Tar-A’s 18-hole, nine-hole or miniature golf course; go bowling; and rent pontoon boats, jet skis and paddleboards at the marina. www.tan-tar-a.com
YMCA Trout Lodge and Camp Lakewood Potosi
The YMCA Trout Lodge and Camp Lakewood in Potosi is only about 70 miles southwest of St. Louis, but “one of our mottos is ‘Disconnect to reconnect,’” said Andrew Dodenhoff, director of sales and conferences. The resort has Wi-Fi and cell service, but organizers often find that attendees get to know one another better and aren’t as distracted when they are disconnected, making the resort “a great place to get stuff done.” Camp Lakewood, on the north side of the 360-acre Sunnen Lake, is a youth summer camp, and the YMCA Trout Lodge welcomes grownups — and groups. The lakefront lodge has 60 guest rooms, many with decks, as well as 19 loft rooms, and 20 duplex cabins have either lake or forest views. The main lodge, which just completed a $4.3 million renovation, houses most of the meeting space. The 2,500-square-foot Mallard Room can be divided into
Courtesy Tan-Tar-A Resort
A group enjoys the lakefront property at Tan-Tar-A Resort, which will soon be rebranded as a Margaritaville property. four smaller rooms. Out back, a covered patio and adjoining deck overlook the lake and are enjoyable for meals or receptions. A short walk from the lodge is the stand-alone 3,060-square-foot Hillcrest Hall and the 1,080-squarefoot North Hall. The chapel’s 3,200-square-foot open floor plan can be set up for any kind of event. The resort offers up to 100 leisure activities, and its team-building program “is pretty phenomenal,” Dodenhoff said. Groups can tackle high- or low-ropes courses; arrange for barn dances, hayrides and horseback rides; try out archery, paintball and skeet shooting; and go kayaking, canoeing and sailing. www.ymcaoftheozarks.org
Morrell Ranch Gallatin
Morrell Ranch can be summed up as a “Hilton in the woods,” said Ron Kroeger, public affairs director for the 3,500-acre ranch located about four miles northwest of Gallatin. About 500 of those acres at the heart of the resort feature stocked lakes, stables, trails, cabins and the main lodge. Though the lodge was built in 2009, it opened only as a guest ranch in March 2016. The rustic-chic ambiance comes from massive timber beams, stone fireplaces and tongue-in-groove floors, the same finishes guests find in the six sleeping units. The ranch also has eight single cabins, eight family cabins and a large luxury cabin called the Bunkhouse.
The lodge’s dramatic Great Hall can be used for receptions, and five additional lodge rooms work well for small gatherings or breakout sessions. Housed in the converted stables, the Rose Room can seat up to 200 people, and the dramatic circular rotunda is capped by a cedar-clad ceiling. The room connects to the guest services building, where visitors will find the restaurant, which is also available for events. Outdoor options are nearly endless for groups that want to set up an event tent, but the ranch’s lakefront amphitheater has room for several hundred people, although most groups use it for 150 to 200 people. Groups can face off on the disc golf course, compete in a fishing derby, ride horses or the ranch’s 20 bicycles, and roast s’mores around fire pits. Attendees can also go to the greenhouse to pick fresh fruits and veggies to use in preparing a meal together in the lodge kitchen or visit the stables to meet the alpacas and horses. www.morrellranch.com
Innsbrook Resort Innsbrook
Innsbrook Resort is a 7,500-acre gated community about 55 miles west of downtown St. Louis, and with 100 lakes at the property, groups that gather there get a taste of lakefront living. The resort rents out about 30 condominium units and recently added two corporate homes on the lake for overnight stays, in-home meetings and other catered events. Any group that stays overnight at the resort has
the same privileges as property owners, so group members can use the trails, the new pool complex, the tennis courts and all the resort’s amenities. The Aspen Center sits on a hill overlooking 150-acre Aspen Lake, and every room has a deck with a beautiful view. The 2,700-square-foot Aspen Room’s stone fireplace reaches to the vaulted ceiling’s timber beams. Six other spaces range from a boardroom to a 1,660-square-foot conference room and the center’s recently renovated Foxfire Lounge, which features a bar, a dining area and large windows. The Innsbrook golf course has 12 lakes, 30 sand bunkers and a clubhouse that offers additional function space. The Clubhouse Bar and Grille is a full-service restaurant at the golf course that can serve groups. In addition to golf, groups can arrange for horseback trail rides, hayrides and carriage rides; play tennis; hike; attend concerts at the amphitheater; and swim in the outdoor pool and lazy river, which opened in May 2016. www.innsbrook-resort.com
Lodge of Four Seasons Lake Ozark
The Lodge of Four Seasons resort has been welcoming guests to the shores of Lake of the Ozarks since 1965. The full-service hotel underwent a $15 million renovation and remodel that updated all the sleeping rooms, all the meeting rooms and all the common spaces, said
Tom Conner, director of sales. With 358 guest rooms and 90,000 square feet of meeting space, the lodge can accommodate large groups, and its central location in the state makes it appealing for statewide events or people driving in from large cities. The 20,000-square-foot Campana Hall is a standalone building that can be used as an exhibit hall or converted into a ballroom-type space. The 8,700-squarefoot Granada Ballroom can be split into three rooms, and the 2,080-square-foot Valencia Room is divisible. The 6,200-square-foot Marbella Ballroom delivers views of the Japanese Gardens, and the Seachase Room overlooks the lake’s main channel. Both the 6,700-square-foot rooftop patio and the “expansive” Lakeview Patio overlook the marina and wharf, a 4,000-square-foot space that can also be used for outdoor receptions. At the property, guests will find a full-service marina, two 18-hole golf courses, Spa Shiki and several dining options, including the lakefront HK’s Restaurant and Bar. The resort partners with two privately owned boats that can each take about 100 people for dinner cruises, receptions and sightseeing tours. Groups can also rent jet skis and pontoon boats and go fishing off the dock. www.4seasonsresort.com
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Missouri’s Distinctive Destinations By Rachel Carter
By Sam Meade, courtesy Columbia CVB
A farmer’s market helps engender a sense of community spirit in Columbia.
n 1803, the United States bought what would become Missouri from France as part of the massive Louisiana Purchase.
In 1821, Missouri was admitted as the nation’s 24th state. Rivers figure large in Missouri lore, with the Mississippi River forming the state’s eastern border and the Missouri River making up its western boundary; planners will find water views and waterfront venues in several cities. College towns are home to renowned universities such as “Mizzou,” and the capital city is brimming with historic sites. Today, planners and attendees can explore the state’s past and present in these distinctive Missouri cities.
As home to three colleges — the University of Missouri, Columbia College and Stephens College — Columbia has a young, hip vibe and offers visitors a plethora of things to do. “We are a very fun, energetic, youthful community with lots of live music and art shows and festivals and a tremendous number of pretty sophisticated dining options, so we have a lot going on,” said Beth Mead, sales supervisor for the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau. Downtown, aka “The District,” is bordered on three sides by three campuses and is brimming with bars, boutiques, concert venues, coffee shops, art galleries and chef-owned restaurants, so “we consider it one of our best attractions in itself,” Mead said. Columbia has 38 hotels. In downtown, the historic
1928 Tiger Hotel recently renovated its 62 guest rooms and has meeting space for up to 200 people. The Broadway is a newer DoubleTree by Hilton hotel with 114 rooms, a rooftop bar and a ballroom that can seat 140 for banquets. The Broadway plans to build a second tower with 80 additional guest rooms and 7,000 square feet of meeting space “because they’re full all the time,” Mead said. The 310-room Holiday Inn Executive Center has 36,000 square feet of function space, including the 20,000-square-foot Columbia Expo Center. Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center has 11,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. Groups can also incorporate the colleges into their events by meeting on campuses, touring them and tapping the schools for expert speakers or team-building exercises. www.visitcolumbiamo.com
Branson has just shy of 12,000 residents, but its reputation is much bigger. The city is known as a music mecca that boasts hundreds of big-name concerts, world-renowned shows and long-standing theaters. “We have more than 100 live shows in 45 theaters, and that is the differentiator between us and most other beautiful lakeside destinations,” said Lynn Berry, director of communications for the Branson/Lakes Area
Courtesy Albrecht-Kemper. Museum of Art
The Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art is one of the numerous cultural institutions in St. Joseph. Convention and Visitors Bureau. Attendees coming to Branson for conventions and conferences often bring their families and extend their stays, which planners say helps with registration and attendance, according to Berry. The 220,000-square-foot Branson Convention Center features a 47,000-square-foot exhibit hall, a 22,700-square-foot ballroom and meeting rooms that range from 1,200 to 5,500 square feet. The Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks is a massive log-cabinstyle lodge with another 95,000 square feet of event space. Chateau on the Lake Resort Spa and Convention Center sits on the shores of Table Rock Lake, and “it’s just gorgeous,” Berry said. Its 43,500 square feet of meeting space includes the 31,750-square-foot Great Hall, which can be split into seven rooms. Just two miles south along the shoreline, groups can board the Showboat Branson Belle for a dinner show cruise and three-course meal. Though the city is home to long-running shows such as Branson’s Famous Baldknobbers and Presleys’ Country Jubilee, shows are constantly rotating, so there is always something new. www.explorebranson.com
events, said assistant director Megan Rapp, and groups can watch Richard Garey perform “Mark Twain Himself” at the Planters Barn Theater or see Jim Waddell perform “Mark Twain Live” in a theater cave at the Mark Twain Cave Complex. At the complex, Cave Hollow West Winery can also host receptions for up to 100 people. Downtown is packed with one-of-a-kind venues, Rapp said. The renovated 1937 Rialto Theater can seat 400 and has two smaller event areas for groups of up to 150 or 250. The Star Theatre is a restored 1906 vaudeville venue for gatherings of up to 400. Also in downtown, the Mark Twain Brewing Co.’s second-floor event space overlooks the Mississippi River. The Mark Twain Riverboat is a replica paddle wheeler that cruises the river from May to November and is available for group bookings or private charters. At the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum complex, the Museum Gallery is housed in an 1850s department store and can be used for galas or receptions, and the museum’s conference rooms work well for smaller meetings. A new 83-room Holiday Inn Express and Suites opened in April with meeting space for up to 80 people and an outdoor patio. www.visithannibal.com
It’s not many places where conference attendees can meet Mark Twain or two of the author’s beloved characters, Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher. But they can in Hannibal, where author Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka Mark Twain, lived between the ages of 4 and 17. The Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau can arrange for actors playing Tom and Becky to be at
MIssouri Meeting Guide
As Missouri’s capital, Jefferson City is “rich in history with a beautiful downtown district, so many fun family festivals and a thriving theater scene not many people know about,” said Brittney Mormann, communications manager for the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau. At the Capitol Grounds complex, attendees can
explore the Missouri State Capitol, the Carnahan Memorial Garden, the Elizabeth Rozier Gallery and the Lohman Building Store and Warehouse; all can provide guided group tours. Just steps from the state capitol, the Capitol Plaza Hotel and Convention Center has 25,000 square feet of function space, including a 12,000-square-foot grand ballroom that can be divided into eight rooms; there are also several other meeting rooms. In January, a new 131-room Holiday Inn with two conference rooms will open about two miles from the capitol, and developers plan to eventually build a 20,000-square-foot conference center there. On the grounds of the Turkey Creek Golf Center, construction is underway on the Capital Bluffs Event Center, slated to be complete by September 1. At Avenue HQ, a 3,000-square-foot hall with exposed brick and stone walls can seat about 200 for meals. The venue sits across the street from the historic Missouri State Penitentiary, which was decommissioned in 2004. Groups can choose from a variety of guided prison tours — history, mystery or paranormal — and the prison even offers overnight experiences to investigate otherworldly activity. www.visitjeffersoncity.com
St. Joseph is “an old river town where the Pony
Express started and Jesse James ended,” said Mary Supple, director of sales for the St. Joseph Convention and Visitors Bureau. Pioneers headed to California and other Western destinations stopped for supplies in St. Joseph, which sits on the Missouri River. The Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center has eight meeting rooms, the largest of which is the divisible 5,500-square-foot Frontier Room. A 169-room hotel that was most recently a Radisson before changing flags to Red Lion has 7,300 square feet of meeting space, Supple said. Missouri Western State University offers planners several meeting options, including the Fulkerson Center, which can accommodate groups of 500 or be divided into three rooms. Spratt Hall, which has four conference rooms, also houses the Walter Cronkite Memorial, a museum-type exhibit in the atrium. The university’s Griffin Indoor Sports Complex is home to the Kansas City Chiefs’ summer training camp, which visitors can visit to watch professional athletes train. St. Joe also has 13 museums. Groups can tour or meet at the Pony Express Museum, the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art and the Glore Psychiatric Museum, where macabre exhibits explore the 130-year history of the adjacent state mental hospital and the odd and sometimes inhumane treatments used on patients. www.stjomo.com
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Check out small meeting ideas for the Biltmore, Missouri and Butte, Montana as well as risk management tips in the July 2018 issue of Small...
Published on Jul 1, 2018
Check out small meeting ideas for the Biltmore, Missouri and Butte, Montana as well as risk management tips in the July 2018 issue of Small...