2012 digital edition v2 Volume 17, Issue 2 â€˘ 2012 $15 US
a meeting planner
tech know-how P. 32
Sustainable actions P. 13
problem-solving P. 30 site selection P. 39 Innovation P. 15
Passion & creativity P. 10
serving others P. 17
audience engagement P. 34
Event design P. 177
in this issue
PR ES SU RE R DE LE
ERS OTH SHUTTERSTOCK
6 anatomy of a
l a n
o u r
e e t i n g s
13 Making the most of
Ditch your binder and embrace the iPad
11 7 things you could learn
15 Do you have what it takes?
from going to camp
16 so you say you want a revolution? 19 21
What's in your bag of tricks? Smart uses for QR codes
Making the case for mobile engagement
20 ways to ruin a perfectly good convention
hybrid how-to What you need to know to create successful virtual and hybrid events
28 Emilie Barta's rules for engagement 31 Reaching new audiences
33 destination guide
A tour of some top meeting cities. For more national and international guides, visit planyourmeetings.com/destinations.
contributoRs Editorâ€™s Letter & staff
connect with us
the practical guide to meeting planning
colorado 34 Breckenridge 36 Aspen
georgia 38 Atlanta
42 Grapevine 44 Lubbock 46 The Woodlands 48 Montgomery 50 San Antonio 54 Laredo
Biege Jones/Snowmass Village; Greater Houston cvb
R TO CA
UN CA LM
HI ET N-M
ER ORK DW
TIV EA CR OPE
Emilie Barta is a hybrid event consultant, audience engagement specialist and virtual host/emcee. Her No. 1 goal is engaging the audience … no matter where they are located. Emilie’s 16 years of broadcast/video experience and 14 years of live event experience enable her to help meeting, conference, and trade show organizers plan successful, visually stimulating, and interactive hybrid events. Known for her audience engagement expertise, she is forging new territory in the blended conference world and in creating the role of virtual emcee to ensure the virtual audience members feel like they are in the room even though they are not physically there. Read more at EmilieBarta.com.
Stormi Boyd, CMP, CMM is a certified meeting professional and certified meeting manager who has been in the event industry for 14 years. She enjoys live production and mobile technology. You can find her on LinkedIn or Twitter @stormisee.
Keith Johnston is a meetings consultant and publisher of the industry blog PlannerWire.com. Keith has been in the meetings industry for more than 15 years, working with such notable clients as Pepsi, Cisco Systems and the Economist Magazine. He works with clients to integrate technology into the attendee experience.
Christy Lamagna, CMP, CMM, CTSM is the founder and chief strategist of Strategic Meetings & Events, an event planning company that specializes in producing events that achieve clients’ marketing and sales goals. With an ability to see the big picture while simultaneously understanding events down to the minutiae, Christy’s ability to create, market and execute programs has made her a leader in the industry. A former vice president of a Fortune 20 company and a member of five start-up organizations, Christy has built successful marketing, event, travel and trade show departments for companies while simultaneously helping them create or strengthen their brands and the infrastructure that supports them. Christy teaches event and meeting management classes at a college level and is working on an industry textbook focusing on the science of strategic planning. Christy speaks at industry events whenever possible as a way of giving back to the profession that has given her 21 years of career satisfaction.
MeetingBoy is the secret online identity of a corporate worker driven mad by buzzwords, status meetings, bullies and hypocrites. He’s amassed a following of more than 80,000 coworkers for his rants on Twitter as @MeetingBoy. Follow him on MeetingBoy.com or on Facebook.
James S. Rota is the founder of Dazzle Creative Events and director of creative strategies with Strategic Meetings and Events. In 1989, he began his career in New York City as a manager of special events for a multimillion dollar cosmetic corporation. Heading out on his own, working with his cosmetic contacts, doors opened and James began to produce events and product launches for high-profile celebrities. James has a natural ability to convey information with creativity and ease and holds a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. His extensive experience in the hospitality industry, a background in interior design and his creative ingenuity has led to accolades by his clients and recognition in the event industry.
Marla Watson, CSEP, CTA is head ChicGeekGirl (aka president and CEO) at PeaPod Group, a Dallas-based social media, videography and event planning company. After graduating from the University of North Texas with film production and event planning in her blood, she began her career as a helicopter traffic reporter, working for some of the best radio stations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. She eventually transitioned to being behind the scenes as a producer. After several years in radio, Marla became a reporter/producer for Time Warner Cable. In 2001, when most companies were downsizing after Sept. 11, she left to pursue her dream — PeaPod Productions, a full-service event and production company. Her knowledge of cinematography and special events have helped build PeaPod into one of the top production companies in the DFW Metroplex. Follow her on Twitter at @ChicGeekGirl or @PeaPodGroup.
We are a proud sponsor of the Green Meeting Industry Council and assist with the communications for GMIC Atlanta. Read about our other CSR initiatives at PlanYourMeetings.com/corevalues.
editor’s letter PlanYourMeetings.com
Don’t follow the curve, create it I was traveling through Prague, hanging out with American expats about 10 years ago, when I learned about the Mayan calendar. “You know,” my shaggy young companion told me, “the world is going to end in 2012.” Ever since then, I’ve looked forward to seeing what would happen this year. And I’m not alone. When I spoke with a novelist documenting the “Occupy” movement, she told me that the world wasn’t going to end. “It’s just that everything we think we know is going to collapse,” she said with a chuckle. “And that means we can finally build everything back the right way. The way it should be.” If everything you took for granted disappeared, what would you do? If you had the opportunity to build your own framework rather than follow someone else’s blueprint, what would it look like? How would that change the way you live, communicate, work … and meet? This issue is all about change, revolution and upheaval. But it’s also about the bare necessities, the anatomy of what it takes to be a meeting and event planner. Somewhere in the middle lies the key to creating transformational experiences. Here are the tools. You’re the meeting architect. Please share with me how you building a new way of doing things on Twitter @PYMLive or on Facebook.com/ PlanYourMeetings. Plan well and prosper,
EDITORIAL VP of creative/chief storyteller
Kristi Casey Sanders managing editor
Kathy Janich Contributing writers
Emilie Barta, Stormi Boyd, Beth D'Addono, Taylor Dahl, Ashley L. Farrell, Keith Johnston, Christy Lamagna, @MeetingBoy, James S. Rota, Marla Watson, Mary Welch, Keisha Wilson Contributing Editor
Diane Casey PRODUCTION CREATIVE Director
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Sophia Chin marketing & Sales Vice President, Sales & Marketing
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Carol Campbell Director of business development
Lisa Kraus Gardner account executive
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Claudia Madigan audience development
Kristi Casey Sanders Chief Storyteller
Vanessa Jatho, Kaprecha Robinson For subscription inquiries, please call 404-459-4124 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The #PYMEditPro team would like to thank the following for making this issue possible:
Spotify, The Monkees (RIP Davy Jones), “Donut Shop,” the office espresso machine, MightyMighty, Guidebook, #SoMeT, #MPI, #PCMA, Event Camp, Facebook, Google+, King Claude, Redbull, Famous Amos, Zumba, Draw Something, Pandora, Chipotle, Pinterest, Apple, Mashable, BooBoo, Dude, Noble and that inspirational chirpy music at our favorite Thai Restaurant.
Diane Casey President
Tom Casey Controller
Special thanks to the #yaypym crew of meeting professionals who inspired our 2012 editorial calendar and educational programming:
Jeff Hurt, Paula Rigling, Stormi Boyd, Cheryl Lawson, Tahira Endean, Susan Fox, Cindy Lo, Keith Johnson, Joyce Ginsburg, Samuel J. Smith, Emilie Barta, Traci Browne, Midori Connolly, Jessica Levin, Erica Prewett, Dan Parks, Stacey Ruth, Claire Gould, Christy Lamagna and Liz King. For more contributors to the PYM “awesome sauce,” visit PlanYourMeetings.com and subscribe.
Suzzie Gilham E-mail: email@example.com Published by Atlanta Metropolitan Publishing Inc., 180 Allen Road NE, 200 North Building, Atlanta, Georgia 30328, 404-843-9800, fax 404-843-9070. Copyright ©2012 by Atlanta Metropolitan Publishing Inc. AMP makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information it publishes, but cannot be held responsible for any consequences arising from errors, omissions or opinions expressed herein. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part of any text, photograph or illustration without written permission from the publisher strictly prohibited. Publisher reserves the right to refuse any advertising for any reason and to alter advertising copy or graphics deemed unacceptable for publication.
PR ES R
BLE FLEX I
a meeting planner
If you like adrenaline rushes, working under pressure, making the impossible happen and doing it all on five hours of sleep and not much more than a granola bar you ate standing up sometime within the past 24 hours, welcome to the wonderfully exciting, unpredictable, rewarding world of event planning. By James Rota and Christy Lamagna, CMP, CMM, CSTM
id you know that as recently as three decades ago, meeting planning was not considered a “real” profession? Sure, meetings and conferences were held, and people were paid to plan them, but the industry as we know it today did not exist. Over the years the industry has taken shape and has become a thriving career choice for ambitious, energetic people worldwide. Industry certifications have been created, adding credibility to the field, and colleges around the country have been adopting meeting, event and hospitality degrees and certifications to their curriculums.
According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employment of meeting and convention planners is expected to grow 16 percent over the 2008-18 decade, faster than the average for all occupations. As businesses and organizations become increasingly international, meetings and conventions become even more important.” The American meetings and events industry directly and indirectly supports 6.3 million jobs, generating almost $1 trillion a year in direct, indirect and induced spending. The industry’s direct $106 billion
DIY online schedules You don't need a big budget to create interactive online schedules that let attendees build their own conference agendas. Sched.org has free and paid options that let event organizers build colorcoded schedules that are compatible across desktop and mobile viewing platforms and can be exported or embedded anywhere.
contribution to the U.S. GDP is greater than the amount generated by auto manufacturing ($78 billion); performing arts, spectator sports and museums ($71 billion); and information and data processing services ($76 billion). If indirect and induced spending numbers are included, meeting and event production’s total annual contribution to the GDP is $458 billion. These findings are part of a study titled “The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy,” conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers and commissioned by an alliance of 15 travel, meeting and hospitality organizations. Many outside the field imagine that our days are full of glamorous travel, parties and fivestar hotel accommodations, but those in the field know there is a tremendous amount of work and responsibility behind every program. What we do takes talent, dedication, creativity and a relentless commitment to delivering a successful experience. We sacrifice nights, weekends, family gatherings and our social lives to make sure things get done right. Event planners are the people behind the curtain making everything happen. The next time you work a program, realize that you are wearing the badge of honor. It’s that peel-off, self-adhering label or plastic case
According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employment of meeting and convention planners is expected to grow 16 percent over the 2008-18 decade, faster than the average for all occupations. As businesses and organizations become increasingly international, meetings and conventions become even more important.”
attached to a lanyard that announces your name and your event planner title to the world. Think about all the subtitles that come with being a planner. We are magicians — for magically making budgets work. We are problem-solvers because we find solutions for every challenge we encounter. We are negotiators because we are tasked with reading and understanding the many contracts we must address. Add to the list relationship counselor, interior designer, stylist, miracle worker, dietician, juggler, motivator, mediator, travel agent, and our favorite, prophet, because we must be able to see into the future and predict the outcome of all that’s been planned!
Event: Intel Developer Forum in Beijing Organizer: Lou Cozzo (@IntelEvents) Goal: Reduce environmental impact and educate attendees about sustainability. “Having a successful business is not just the result of good earnings, it's about having triple-bottom-line success by thriving in all three areas: environmental impact, social responsibility and economic benefits,” Cozzo says. “Driving sustainable events is no different than designing the next powerefficient chip. It all counts.” Idea: Use venues and hotels with strong sustainability practices within walking distance of each other and convenient to public transportation. Install recycling bins on-site, replace water bottles with water cooler stations, use energy-efficient LED lighting during general session and hire local staff. Minimize printing, reduce water usage and reuse as many materials as possible. Execution: Cozzo and his staff included minimum requirements for sustainable events
in their RFPs and contracts. They chose the China National Convention Center, which has energy-efficient cooling and water-reuse systems in place, to host the event. Only hotels with comprehensive green policies were selected to house attendees. Pre-event communication strategies educated attendees about the importance of reusing hotel linens to reduce water usage and instructed them to recycle conference badges as well as bottles, paper, cardboard, wood and carpet on-site. Reusable “pod” booths were compacted before shipping to reduce carbon emissions, and staging was reused throughout the event. Result: Using local equipment saved 103 tons of carbon emissions (equal to taking
21 cars off the road for a year). Using water coolers saved the equivalent of 83,200 cups of tea. All told, the event recycled 2,000 pounds of waste, which is equal to the weight of six giant pandas. “The misconception today is that it costs more to implement a green event,” Cozzo says. “Being green is all about being smarter about how you plan your event. Break the status quo and try something different. Your audience will notice, and it will be good for your reputation and the planet.” PYM would like to thank Meeting Professionals International and writer Ian Whiteling for sharing this case study with us. For more CSR case studies, visit mpiweb.org.
Case study: Creating an eco-friendly event
ditch your binder and embrace the ipad Any event professional will tell you that the binder they carry on-site is their lifeline. It's key to remaining organized and getting the job done. As a CMP and CMM who’s worked as an event planner for 13 years, I have organized small and large events. Currently, I work on an annual event that lasts five days and has more than 9,000 attendees, so you can imagine how big my binder gets. This got me to thinking about how I could use an iPad in place of my binder to save paper, money and — quite literally — my back. By Stormi Boyd, CMP, CMM When asked, most event professionals say they could not survive without their binders. They feel paper is faster and more reliable. The benefits of using an iPad, however, are both logistical and economical. The less you print, the more environmentally friendly you become. And the more money you save. Don't believe me? Let’s convert this idea into numbers. One document I use is 24 pages, which had 34 versions. If I printed this document 34 times, I'd have 816 pages. A ream of paper is 500 pages. It takes about 0.6 percent of a tree to generate one ream of paper. Let’s say there are 11 people on my events team who printed this 24-page document 34 times. That’s 8,976 printed pages, or 16 reams of paper, or one entire tree. A ream of paper costs, on average, $7.50. Multiply that by the 16 reams of paper we just used, and you can see that we'd save $120 by NOT printing one document and all its permutations. Think of all the money and paper you’d save if you made this switch with your entire binder. Afraid that finding something on an iPad will be slower than using your binder? I have found that I not only save time by using my iPad, but that this technology is very reliable. How many times have you written something important on a Post-it note and then lost it? Yep, it's happened to all of us. With the “notes” features on an iPad, you can jot a quick note (or speak it), then email it to yourself, a vendor or team member. No more lost scraps of paper! There are literally thousands of applications available to do just about anything you need. A partial list of the ones I use include: Quick Office — View, create, and edit office documents. Evernote — Take notes and put them into folders with the ability to email. Dropbox — Allows storage of documents in a single “folder” accessible from any device.
reminders— To-do lists (comes with the iPad). iannotate pdf — For signing contracts, changing diagrams, putting notes on documents and PDFs. Flight Aware — Track flights of VIPs /presenters to see if they have arrived or been delayed. There are many more that you might find useful, so don’t be afraid to experiment and ask your industry friends what works for them. The technology is constantly evolving. Imagine what might be developed for us once meeting planners embrace the technology. I’d love to see an app that uses the iPad’s camera to show you in real time how a ballroom would look with a classroom set, or banquet rounds, or how a certain screen size works in a room. This type of interactivity is coming, and it’s coming soon. Now ask yourself this question: Can your paper binder do that?
Meeting efficiencies One of the biggest meeting timewasters is typing and distributing notes afterward. With Peak Meetings, an app available for the iPad ($12.99), you can schedule meetings, organize the agenda, add action items, assign deadlines and note the people responsible for carrying them out in an easy-to-use, intuitive format that’s pre-populated with fields based on the kind of meeting you’re having. When the meeting’s over, just click send, and a copy of everything you’ve just agreed on goes to everyone who was there, plus anyone else you’d like to add.
Have a PYM-let for us? If you were watching HBO in the 1980s you might remember comedian Rich Hall’s “sniglets.” They were words that should have been in the dictionary, but weren’t. It occurred to us that there are a lot of terms and phrases that meeting planners use that aren’t well known to those outside of the industry, like “toilet-bowl foot massage” and “Pop-Tart shower.” Have suggestions of other little-known terms you love? Post them on our Plan Your Meetings Facebook page (Facebook. com/PlanYourMeetings). If we decide to feature it in an upcoming story or video, we’ll send you a very special PYM Planner Toolkit.
The planning process has many components. The irony is that planners spend most of their time re-planning, un-planning and contingency planning because so much changes along the way. One of the most important things to remember is that no matter how perfectly it looks on paper, it won’t turn out exactly as you’ve imagined. It never does, and that’s OK. What’s critical is that we remain flexible and continue to adjust each step of the way. Sometimes the changes are easy to navigate and, although unexpected, make for a better program. Other times, Murphy’s Law takes over and it’s our job to manage the chaos and keep things moving forward no matter what. Consider this example. We once had a welcome reception beach party planned for a large program in Miami. The weather forecast was sunny, warm and bright. The décor had been designed down to the placement of throw pillows on the outdoor furniture and where the shells would be scattered on the buffet tables. The morning of the event, the design team sprung into action. Palm trees were lit, furniture was placed. We even had people “combing” the beach to make sure our sand was pristine and perfect. And then an unexpected guest joined us: Mother Nature. She brought some of her best friends: dark clouds, chilly breezes and rain. We had two hours before the party was to begin, and we had to scramble.
You can’t bring a chaise lounge indoors, nor can you take the fire pit we were to grill food on into the hotel, so not only did we have to change décor, we had to change the menu. Our ballroom could not be broken down quickly enough to host the event, so we found ourselves transforming the pre-function space on the fly. Thankfully we had a network of wonderful vendors and a strong relationship with each of them. The florist came in and redesigned the flowers. The decorator arrived with new furniture, and the chef redesigned the menu, how it would be served and where it all would be placed. The event bore no resemblance to what we had spent months creating. We went from a stylish beach party to a sophisticated, Asian-inspired cocktail reception. Along the way, we managed the client’s expectations, understandable disappointment and addressed the need to communicate the new plan to 180 guests. And we did it all without looking panicked. When all was said and done, the look on our client’s face when she saw the indoor redesign for the first time was of pure amazement. Knowing we pulled it off was rewarding, but seeing the client doing the rain dance as it poured outside was priceless. If you like adrenaline rushes, working under pressure, making the impossible happen and doing it all on five hours of sleep and not much
the meeting industry’s impact on the u.s. economy The U.S. meetings industry directly supports 1.7 million jobs, contributes $106 billion to the GDP and generates $14.3 billion in federal tax revenue.
Each year $263 billion is spent on goods and services resulting from meetings and events. $151 billion is spent on planning and production, venue rental and other non-travel or tourism-related components; $113 billion is spent on lodging, food service, transportation and other travel commodities.
Every year, meetings generate 250 million overnight stays by 117 million Americans and 5 million international attendees.
1.8 million meetings, trade shows, conventions, congresses and incentive events take place in the United States every year.
Of the 1.8 million U.S. meetings held annually, 1.3 million are classified as corporate or business meetings; 270,000 are conventions, conferences or congresses; 11,000 are trade shows; and 66,000 are incentive meetings.
Including direct, indirect and induced contributions, meetings activity contributes $907 billion to the U.S. economy and supports 6.3 million full-time and part-time jobs. Source: The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy
7 things you could learn from going to camp Ah … how I used to love summer camp. I always came home with a head full of new ideas, an address book crammed with new friends, oodles of new music and an expanded sense of what was possible. Believe it or not, there’s a camp for meeting planners. It's called Event Camp, and you can find it everywhere from Washington, D.C., to Sydney in the past few years. Tahira Endean, CMP, BHM, was a virtual attendee at the 2010 Event Camp Twin Cities, and the experience inspired her to launch Event Camp Vancouver, which took place over three days in November 2011. Her goal? Design a meeting that encouraged learning and collaboration, engaged attendees, optimized their physical and mental performance, and integrated new technology. You can read her comprehensive report of how successful the experiment was at Ez.com/ecv11. But here are seven takeaways you can use right away. Serve “brain-friendly” foods. Endean and her team worked with the chefs at every venue to create high-protein, low-carb and reduced salt and sugar menus that would provide sustained energy rather than spike blood sugar levels. Fresh fruits and veggies as well as protein-packed snacks were available during breaks instead of muffins and cookies. Everyone had plenty of coffee, water and chocolate to keep them focused.
Help attendees connect with each other. Instead of an opening general session, a circle of chairs was set up in a big room at the Westin Bayshore Vancouver. Attendees were told what to expect and taught how to download, operate and engage with the available technology. Then, everyone in the circle (90 people!) got the chance to introduce themselves. Afterward, smaller “spark sessions” took place in nontraditional meeting venues around the hotel (a cafe, an atrium, etc.) to encourage casual, collaborative discussions.
Add a gaming element to reinforce education and introduce sustainable initiatives. The conference app, developed by QuickMobile, gave attendees points for answering questions and time-sensitive challenges that related to meeting sustainably. Signage at the venue displayed a leader board of attendees’ high scores, encouraging a healthy sense of competition. From a practical standpoint, the app let organizers eliminate paper, give sponsors additional exposure, familiarize the uninitiated with what
conference apps could do and show attendees how easy it is to create eco-friendly events. Think about the added value of attending in-person. The aim of adding a hybrid element to an event, Endean wrote in her white paper, is to make virtual attendees want to come next year. With that in mind, the content streamed live was carefully chosen. The entire first day was for face-to-face attendees only, which let them bond before the chatter of the remote audience was introduced.
Rethink room sets. When the event moved to the Vancouver Convention Centre for days 2 and 3, the main gathering space was configured to accommodate multiple conversation “nooks.” There was a stage, where content for the virtual audience could be mic’d and professionally lighted. There were formal seating areas around tables, and there were informal areas that were more lounge-like — all of which featured soft, comfortable seating. In this setup, attendees could easily move from discussion to discussion, depending on their areas of interest, and engage in as many conversations as they wanted.
Engage all the senses and allow for play. The off-site reception was held at the Underground
Circus Rehearsal Studio, where instructors and low-risk circus training equipment were available to help daring attendees push their boundaries in a safe way. For those less physically active, seating was available on sofas, stools, “floating” platforms and swings. Some educational sessions also featured breaks that incorporated movement or content-like improvisation. Make it easy to process and assimilate new knowledge. Educational sessions presented the content in 10-minute chunks (see the article on p. 28 for more on why this works). At the end of each chunk, discussions or interactive activities helped attendees refocus their attention and process the information. At the end of each session, the content was summarized, and attendees were asked a question that allowed them to figure out how they’d apply the new ideas to their work.
Travel like a pro The more you travel, the harder it is to keep track of all those flights, hotel reservations and other trip details. Luckily, the fabulous people at TripIt.com have created a place for you to store that essential information. Create a free account, and you can forward all your confirmation emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. The cloudbased system automatically creates trip folders for you based on the dates and destinations mentioned in the emails, and you can go in and add notes, maps and other important events. Tie your account to your calendar, and that information will automatically appear on those dates. Mobile apps allow you to access your TripIt information on the go.
more than a granola bar you ate standing up some time within the past 24 hours, welcome to the wonderfully exciting, unpredictable, rewarding world of event planning. You’ll come across many titles for what we do: conference coordinator, convention planner, special event coordinator, meeting manager, meeting strategist and more. Regardless of the title we hold, we all share some basic characteristics that make us successful. If you are considering a career in meeting planning, or find that you have been tasked with planning meetings in addition to your other duties, prepare for a wonderful adventure! Not sure if you’re right for this field? If you see your skills in this list, you are off to a great start: desire to please people and make things happen; natural multitasker; problemsolver; creative thinker; ability to lead others and work well in a team; flexible and openminded; calm under pressure; clear, concise communicator in both the spoken and written word; ability to visualize and then create a concept; not afraid of a challenge; and a desire to work hard. Not all planners have all these skills, and there are many other traits that make up the profile of a planner. Regardless of where you’re at in your planning career, there are a few eternals truths that you need to know and follow without fail. Some may come naturally, some may take practice, but all are essential to your career advancement. Here’s a little parting advice: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make sure you ask the right ones, as well. Ask openended, thought-provoking questions. The more you know, the deeper your curiosity becomes. Ask. Learn. Ask something else. Each time you ask, you are expanding your knowledge base. The answers are the solid foundation upon which your event will be built.
The American meetings and events industry directly and indirectly supports 6.3 million jobs, generating almost $1 trillion a year in direct, indirect and induced spending. The industry’s direct $106 billion contribution to the U.S. GDP is greater than the amount generated by auto manufacturing ($78 billion); performing arts, spectator sports and museums ($71 billion); and information and data processing services ($76 billion). If indirect and induced spending numbers are included, meeting and event production’s total annual contribution to the GDP is $458 billion. These findings are part of a study titled “The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy,” conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers and commissioned by an alliance of 15 travel, meeting and hospitality organizations.
Communication is key. So many of our interactions are with people we don’t meet until we get on-site and much of the information we exchange is done electronically. It’s crucial to be specific when stating what you need, describing your vision and following up on details. It’s also important to pick up the phone and talk to people when you can. Email is convenient. Live conversation builds relationships. Checklists and timelines are critical. You need to create and use a definitive and specific set of checklists, timelines and recaps to guarantee that all parties are moving forward, aware of deadlines and up to date on event details. The more that is written down and recorded, the more likely the event will be successful.
PLANNING BY THE NUMBERS U.S. GRATUITIES
SPACE NEEDED PER PERSON
Classroom (18" tables): 14-15 square feet Classroom (30" tables): 17-18 square feet Theater: 9-11 square feet Banquet (60" rounds): 12 square feet Banquet (72" rounds): 13 square feet Reception: 10-12 square feet
BEVERAGE numbers • 6-oz. servings in a gallon of coffee: 21 • 5-oz. glasses in a bottle of wine: 5 • 12-oz. servings in a keg of beer: 165 • 1.25-oz. shots in a liter bottle of liquor: 27 • 1-oz. shots in a 750 ml bottle: 25 Average consumption at an open bar: 1-2.5 drinks per person
making the most of association memberships By Marla Watson, CSEP, CTA I have always been a firm believer in the power of association memberships. From the time I entered the meeting and events industry, to the present, it has been one of — if not the reason — for my company’s success. When I came to the industry from the film and television world a little over 10 years ago, not only was I jumping into an unknown world, I did not have all the tools and mentorship I needed to be a complete success. I was blessed to have a colleague take me under her wing and invite me to my first “industry” meeting. She introduced me to several people who immediately became my mentors and the “wingmen” in my journey. Not only did they help me learn more about my business, they helped me find success through the relationships I built. Networking is not, and never will be, a dead art. In today’s economy, you need all the friends and education you can get. Here are few thoughts to consider as you think about how to make your association memberships work for you: Find the group that is best for you. There are so many amazing organizations to choose from, but not all of them will be a good fit. There are associations based in every discipline of the meeting industry, so don’t just join one because you are told it’s the right one. Take the time to go to a few meetings, meet people, find educational opportunities and then determine if that is where you want to put your focus.
sponsorship opportunities from luncheons to golf tournaments. Associations welcome your help. The best part is seeing your company get exposure and advertising in front of your industry peers.
Join a committee. Yes, we are all busy, but the best way to meet new business is to be a part of something. When you volunteer, you meet other great folks who may need your services. If you put your all into a project for an association, it’s natural for them to assume that you run your business the same way, and who wouldn’t want to do business with you then?
Look outside the box. If you are a meeting planner, sometimes being one of 50 planners in an organization means you don’t have as many business opportunities unless you start competing with your colleagues. Taking a chance on a smaller ancillary organization that has a good vendor base, and where referrals are much more substantial, may give you opportunity for growth in a new market.
Sponsor an event or meeting. There are many ways to do this, including overall chapter sponsorship or sponsoring a chapter meeting or event. Every association has a range of
Your associations are designed to help you, so let them. Take a chance on yourself and your business, and become more involved in your association today.
calculating event REGISTRATION FEES
Pre-dinner hors d'ouevres: 4-6 pieces per person
bartender: 1 per 75-100 attendees
Attend meetings, educational programs and networking opportunities. If you join, make sure you can make at least one meeting or mixer
Heavy hors d'ouevres: 8-12 pieces per person
a month. Go out and meet people, learn about new industry standards and find opportunities to work together. The best business deals are done outside the boardroom.
Dinner: 50% beef, 40%-45% chicken/fish and 5%-10% vegetarian
cocktail server: 1 per 50 attendees server: 1 per 30-40 people buffet-style
Divide total fixed costs (like room rental and speaker’s fees) by number of anticipated attendees. Then add variable costs per person (F&B, transportation, etc.) to determine the event registration fee. For example: Fixed costs ($250,000)/ # of attendees (2,500) + variable costs per person ($750) = registration fee of $850.
Sources: Wikipedia, jeffhurtblog.com (Meeting Planners’ Cheat Sheets), regonline.com and “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Meeting and Event Planning” by Robin E. Craven and Lynn Johnson Golabowski
Butts in seats Bob in accounting doesn’t get along with Martha in sales, but Kelly in marketing needs to be near both of them at the awards banquet. If paper seating charts aren’t cutting it, keep track of where everyone’s sitting with TopTablePlanner.com. The drag-and-drop cloudbased service is available for $20-$40 year and can be accessed from any computer.
No more ideas down the drain Some of the best ideas come to us when we’re doing mundane tasks. If inspiration strikes you in the shower, consider getting an Aqua Notes waterproof notepad ($7, myaquanotes. com). For note-jotting on the go, consider a waterproof notebook from Thinkgeek.com ($14.99).
Network. Talk to everyone. Listen to their stories, offer assistance where you can and stay connected with as many people as possible. Use an online networking agent like LinkedIn to connect and build your network. No matter how many people you know, you can always benefit by knowing more. Work with others. No planner can do it alone. You need to rely on the network you’ve built. Rely on it for support and be willing to lend your talents where needed. Surround yourself with others who are at the top of their game. Your support team can bring a fresh perspective on each member’s area of expertise. In planning, the whole is almost always greater than the sum of its parts. Collaborate! Be flexible. Once you make a plan and have it almost perfect, get ready to change it. And change it again. If you cling to your original plan, you won’t succeed. “Shift happens,” and you have to shift right along with it. Stay current. Never stop learning. Knowledge is power. Attend seminars. Earn industry certifications. Subscribe to industry-related media. Always be on the quest for innovation in each area of the planning process. Use these tools to set trends and reinforce your reputation as an authority. Be honest. Be true to your values and your company’s values and never lose sight of either. Some situations are black and white and easy to navigate. Others are gray. Taking gifts for bringing a piece of business to a hotel that otherwise would not have earned it, is always the wrong thing to do and easy to identify as inappropriate. But what if you are offered a family trip to a country that you know nothing about, but know your company or client will never visit? That’s when you need to do a gut check. The bottom line: if your boss was standing next
Stuff event planners say You’ve probably seen those videos about white chicks. Well, we here at PYM felt like meeting and event planners needed their own version of the meme. We solicited ideas over Facebook and Twitter, then created a Google Doc where #eventprofs could collectively share their thoughts. Then we filmed PYM staff and friends at our Atlanta offices and on the road in Austin. If you have a minute and want a chuckle, go to Ez.com/epsay to watch the results and leave suggestions for future videos.
to you, what decision would you make? Let that be your compass, and you likely won’t go wrong. Give back. Lend your talents to an organization of your choice. Giving back is beneficial — and not just for the recipients. Research has shown that the adage, “It’s better to give than to receive” is true. With time, giving back will establish you as a true professional with sound ethics. There are few things more rewarding than being recognized in the industry as a leader, a motivator and someone who can be trusted.
Event: 2008 MPI Southeast Educational Conference Organizer: Kathleen Zwart/ MPI North Florida (@MPI_NF) Goal: Reassure the people attending the Ponte Vedra-based event that the organizers were aware of the threat of an impending hurricane and were prepared to handle any eventuality. Idea: Communicate frequently and honestly. Execution: The day before the event, all attendees received an email with essential
contact numbers and instructions as well as a weather update. After the opening reception, letters with updated weather and emergency information was slipped under everyone’s door. “Honestly, we were just flying by the seat of our pants,” Zwart says. Result: On the second day of the event, as the hurricane touched down nearby, attendees were gathered in a hurricane-safe area. The venue temporarily lost electricity, but the meeting was eventually able to resume.
Case study: Communicating during a natural disaster
do you have what it takes? Did you realize there are 33 essential skills you must master to be an efficient and effective meeting professional? The Meeting and Business Event Competency Standards (MBECS), which were created jointly by Meeting Professionals International and the Canadian Tourism Human Resources Council, are broken into 12 categories. They are: strategic planning, project management, risk management, financial management, administration, human resources, stakeholder management, meeting or event design, site management, marketing, professionalism and communication. Within each category, critical sub-skills are defined. If you want to earn your Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation, you should become familiar with all of them, because the Convention Industry Council is realigning its CMP Blueprint to match the MBECS. If you think the 88-page document defining the MBECS is a little hard to read, you're not alone. That’s why we're creating a new Advice section on PlanYourMeetings.com that will be called “Meeting the Standard.” Every month, we'll share real-life stories from the trenches that correlate to the 33 essential
Plan meeting/event project
Manage risk management plan
skills and multiple sub-skills needed to excel at this profession. For example, instead of running a dry how-to story about the nuts and bolts of creating a crisis management plan, we’ll tell you how one planner used hers after a VIP jumped into a pool during an on-site function and drowned. Our goal is to create an online library of flesh-and-blood stories that help you learn from your peers and put the standards into perspective. If you have stories you’d like to contribute, please send them to email@example.com. And, for now, a brief look at the 33 skills.
For a compilation of the best lists, tips and guidelines for events, turn to Plan Your Meetings’ Practical Guide to Meeting Planning on pg. 177.
4 Develop sustainability plan for meeting/ event
Measure value of meeting/event
Manage meeting/ event project
Engage speakers and performers
Coordinate food and beverage services
Manage technical production
Develop plan for managing movement of attendees
meeting or event design
meeting or event design
meeting or event design
meeting or event design
meeting or event design
meeting or event design
Manage strategic plan for meeting/ event
13 Perform administrative tasks administration
Manage marketing plan
Manage marketing materials
Manage meeting/event merchandise
Contribute to public relations activities
Manage sales activities
Design site layout
Manage human resources plan
Acquire staff and volunteers
Develop financial resources
Manage monetary transactions
Manage meeting/event site
Manage on-site communications
29 Train staff and volunteers
30 Manage workforce relations human resources
31 Want to download a copy of the MBECS? Go to Ez.com/mbecs
Manage stakeholder relationships
32 Conduct business communications (requires 6 sub-skills)
33 Exhibit professional behavior (requires 12 sub-skills)
n i n w o d o g n a c I â€˜You and . o w t e l b i r r e t histor y as the a d e t r a t s o h w o The tw o h w o w t e h T . t n moveme s s e n s u o e t h g i brought hip, r y r t s u d n i n a o t and cool back e l a t s , d l o n e t t that has go s g n i t e e m e h T and boring. s i y r t s u d n i s t and even e k i l l l e m s o t g n star ti t e N a u q A d n a mothballs .â€™ t a h t x fi o t g n i o g and we are Notes from #awesomeevents One of the coolest things about Twitter is that it allows you to eavesdrop on conversations people are having at conferences. Here are some of our favorite notes from recent events.
@PartyAficionado: No one talks about the trade show, they talk about the parties that happen afterwards. So how can you make your trade shows more like a party? #SWSC12
@JRock1209: "Being the best is not enough if nobody notices or cares." #PCMA12 @tommartin: Perception is reality, right up to the point of experience. #SoMeT
so you say you want a revolution? g
By Keith johnston
reat! But you can’t handle a revolution. People love change! People love revolutions! Viva La Revolución! People want the scrappy underdog to succeed, and they want to see the little guy score a win. But there is one big butt in the room. The “but” is that people actually have to get off their butts and do something. Unless they have to put in an extra hour in the office. Unless they have to go to the boss and tell her why the budget needs to increase by 5 percent in order to meet new standards. This is a reality of life, and it’s something I am sorry to see. I am sure that you see it, too,
@PYMLive: If you suck in real life then you'll suck online~@neenjames. #PCMA12. Best quote of the day! via @meetinsd @mprokay @SanDiegoJenG <-HA!
because you are smart and just waiting for someone to fan the flames of insurrection to get our industry moving in the right direction. You are just like me, right? We are modern-day corporate revolutionaries. (Kinda makes you feel all Che Guevara, don’t it?) You are an amazing person, a person of action, a person on the leading edge of change. You would step in front of a Hells Angel to stop the underdog from getting beat up, wouldn’t you? You are Paulie Pepper-Pants and have the spice and fire to light up the night with your revolutionary zeal! Seriously though, let’s look at reality.
@banffsquirrel: Behave like a consumer. Make use of free or cheap tools. A bunch of cheap balloons is better than one big expensive balloon. #SoMeT
Inspiration in the palm of your hand The Internet's a wonderful place to find interesting information and inspiration. But it's difficult remembering where you saw things. Create an online scrapbook of your favorite images and links with Pinterest. com, a platform that works on your desktop and mobile devices and that can be shared with friends or kept private.
@Thomsinger: "A podium only protects someone's groin so they are less vulnerable" — Richard Saul Wurman, founder of TED (speakers should not read). #PCMA12
Attendees as video stars You probably knew that Google was the No. 1 search engine, but did you realize YouTube.com was No. 2? If you're interested in people knowing more about the events you organize, there's no better way to spread the word than creating video content. Or, better yet, encouraging potential attendees to create content for you. The easiest way to do this is to hold a video-based contest where the winners get free admission or other perks. Ask contestants to upload videos to YouTube, insert your conference hashtag as a “keyword” and to send you the link after it’s posted. Then you can add those videos to a playlist on your YouTube channel and send people there to vote on their favorites.
We are not Paulie Pepper-Pantses, and we are not even close to having a “Meetings Industry Spring,” in which we move the industry forward by marching through McCormick Place, the San Francisco Hyatt or the Scottsdale Princess. Even though we are not like those lazy sloths that will never do anything to better the industry, you and I have no idea where to start. Well, I have a plan. I know how we can light a fire under our behinds to get us moving, because revolutions do not start with massive crowds marching down the street or the overthrow of a totalitarian regime. They do not start at the end. They start at the beginning. The beginning of any revolution is usually one guy, in a basement with a gun or a guitar. Since this is the meetings industry, I am not starting with a firearm but with my version of a guitar – my keyboard. My favorite revolutions have always been in music. Those seemingly random events that create a movement which blazes randomly across the globe and changes our lives forever. The punk revolution did not start with a major record label, a marketing department, major airplay or with someone who looked like they just got out of a Photoshop session. Punk started with two dudes, an amp and a 12-pack of beer. They liked what they heard and told a couple of other dudes. Those dudes liked what
@thetimhayden: Mobile is a behavior. More people will be talking online, but they'll be in and out of glance-and-go behavior. Visual … is how you're going to have to tell your stories. #SoMeT
Create more engaging presentations For years, high school and college teachers have been instructing students to ditch the PowerPoint in favor of Prezi-based presentations. The zooming presentation editor at Prezi.com is easy to use, build and share with others. Plus, it allows presenters to easily skip around through their content to answer questions as they arise. A series of tutorials help creators build mad skills in a matter of minutes.
they heard and ran down the block to tell someone else. The guys and girls jamming this music were not pretty or glamorous, and they were definitely not the type of people you’d take home to Mom or Dad. Still, they were about to change the music world forever. We need this in the meetings and events industry. We must start with the most important element of any revolution: you and me and something we believe in. You and I can go down in history as the terrible two. The two who started a movement. The two that brought hip, righteousness and
@spelletier: #rswurman: "I don't show visuals bc I don't want to be a caption." #PCMA12
@danielburrus: We are in the communication age, not the information age. #CES
Case Study: Creating digital buzz Event: Social Media Tulsa Organizer: Cheryl Lawson (@partyaficionado) Goal: Develop an on-site game to facilitate networking and generate outside buzz about the event without having to invest a lot of money. Idea: “I know everyone says the business card is dead, but that's because they haven’t seen a business card that takes you beyond just ‘Here’s my name and who I am.’ MeetMeme is a trading card, like the baseball cards people collect,” Lawson explains. A QR code on the card takes you to the person’s social networking profiles. When a connection is made, it can be shared via Twitter or Facebook, increasing exposure for your event.
Execution: Lawson created Meet-Meme (meet-meme.com) trading cards for each of the conference’s speakers in addition to a few “secret memes.” In order to be eligible to win big prizes, attendees had to connect with as many memes as possible and share that information on social networks using Meet-Meme’s “share” button. Result: The scavenger hunt went viral as people tweeted and talked about the people they were meeting at Social Media Tulsa. This year, Lawson says, she’s working with MeetMeme to create cards for all attendees.
@banffsquirrel: Social media is what happens while you're making other plans. #SoMeT
What’s in your bag of tricks?
Here are some of the coolest things we’ve seen developed for meeting planners and/ or employed at conferences this year. compiled By kristi casey sanders Search engine with RFP for short-term bookings: Zentila.com Have to plan an event in 180 days or less? No sweat. Search for venues on Zentila, use its intuitive drag-and-drop RFP to create a customized request and submit it to your top three to eight hotels. Hotels know who they’ll be bidding against, which works to your advantage, and they are required to respond to your request within three hours. You then have 24 hours to choose a winning bid, or the offers are off the table. Then you go straight to the contracting phase. Those not chosen are contacted automatically.
zentila.com; intefy.com; twoppy.com; scottevest.com; lgneswsroom/youtibe.com; layar.com
Aggregated social media feeds: Intefy.com and Storify.com It’s great when people are talking about your event, but do you know how to condense and present those conversations as one unified story? Intefy is useful when you want to display real-time media feeds of the Twitter chatter, live-video streams and other event-related media. Storify helps you sift through everything that was said across multiple platforms postevent and publish stories that illustrate what happened.
Mobile meetings Think you need to pay big bucks to create a mobile app for your event? Think again. Guidebook allows you to build a basic app for your event for free. Upgrade to include more functionality, like individualized schedule tracks, photo galleries and more. Already have a Sched.org online schedule set up? You can import it directly into your Guidebook app. The system also is fully compatible with Eventbrite.com, a free online registration and ticketing system.
Plug and play mobile apps: Twoppy.com, Guidebook.com and Leapfor.it You can create a basic conference app for free using Twoppy or Guidebook. Leap lets you create photo challenges that can be shared with Facebook contacts.
Mobile-enabled clothing Let’s face it, we carry a lot of gear and gizmos when we travel. Phones, tablets and laptops are just the tip of the iceberg. If you like to breeze through security lines without being weighed down by a ton of baggage, consider getting a jacket with pockets to keep all your electronics organized. Scottevest.com offers a line of clothing that includes windbreakers, business jackets and overcoats. They all have hidden compartments for keys, phones, earbuds, even iPads.
3-D projections Technology now exists that can transform something as concrete as a building into an interactive, 3-D environment. Check out the video at
Ez.com/3Dprojection to see how jaw-dropping this technology can be. Inventive signage: Layar.com and ColorSpotInk.com If you’re meeting in a cavernous space with a lot of room options, it’s hard not to lose your attendees. That’s why we love these two solutions to the problem. On the bleeding edge, there's the augmented reality app Layar. It uses a mobile device’s camera to show users where programmed, interactive information layers exist. Those layers could be a digital art installation, local information about restaurants and transportation, or guide points that tell them which activities are in which breakout rooms. A really low-fi way to keep people on track is to use peel and stick vinyl floor signs from the Color Spot to point the way to important event landmarks. After all, if your attendees are already looking down to check their email and tweet, it’s only natural that you’ll get their attention with a floor sign faster than traditional signage.
Creative handouts and collaborative documents: Docs.google.com If you’re going to have a printed handout at all, why not make it pretty and engaging by putting some creative thought into the layout, like this one we picked up at the HOW Design Conference? Or let attendees create collaborative notes on-site using an open system like Google Docs.
Challenge them Looking for a fun way to get attendees to compete for prizes and engage with exhibitors on-site? The mobile app Scvngr (scvngr.com) awards points to people for completing challenges and keeps track of their progress on a leader-board event that organizers can use to award participation and engagement.
cool back to an industry that has gotten old, stale and boring. The meetings and events industry is starting to smell like mothballs and Aqua Net, and we are going to fix that. Together we can make history. First we must decide what we are railing about. What has us so up in arms that we need to start a revolution? The meetings industry has no shortage of problems. It is so slow to move forward that it sometimes seems as if we’re still living in 1985, taking three-martini lunches and lighting up at our desks. Should we go after inequality? Finally bring green meetings to the forefront of the agenda? Or focus on the lack of technology adoption? Do we want to change everything at once or take baby steps? The choice is ours — mine and yours — to make. Let’s say that we have settled on one thing and are going to go after the lack of technology adoption because, God knows, that’s a revolution that has never taken off. The Internet is now decades old, and it seems that half of the meeting
@robertpatterson: Stop calling this a smartphone. It’s a mobile device, because it does a lot more than making calls. #SoMeT
Create a private Twitter chat Enjoying the convention chatter on Twitter, but wish you could discuss something with just a few of the people there? There’s an app for that, it’s free and you don't even have to download it. !Blether (blether.co) allows you to create a private group chat room in real time. Just type !b then the Twitter names of the people you want to invite into the conversation and a phrase that will give the chat room a title. Those people will be sent a link that invites them into your private conversation.
planners out there have no idea what a Twitter is or what the Facebook thingy does. The No. 1 thing that needs to change is ... us. If we are going to go all revolution, up in arms and talking big stick, we must practice what we preach. We know that we’ll be getting out of bed early and taking time to learn how to integrate Twitter
@rodneyp: Ideas have sex appeal. But people think of them like herpes — they’re afraid of giving them away. #SoMeT
@bazaarbrett: Finally, augmented reality with real utility: @Blippar shar.es/fsMTc - the coolest thing @be3d saw at #CES, offline to online shift!
Event: Society of American Travel Writers NE/AC Joint Chapter Meeting Organizer: Kristi Casey Sanders (@PYMLive) Goal: Show off what was unique about the host venue while creating story opportunities for the writers attending the opening night reception at the Fairmont Pittsburgh. Idea: “While we were conducting our site inspection, the head chef spoke about the quality of the locally grown produce he used to create fresh, seasonal and wellnessfocused cuisine, and mentioned how strong his relationships with farmers were,” Sanders remembers. “I asked if there was a way to have the people who grew and supplied the food at the event so they could educate attendees about where the food came from and how it was made. My attendees want to sell as many travel articles as possible post-event; I thought that giving them the opportunity to talk with people who are part of the local farm-to-table movement in a city
l a n
o u r
e e t i n g s
that's known for its green initiatives would spark some great story ideas.” Execution: Local farmers and food producers stood by tables full of fresh bread, meats, cheeses and other delicacies sourced within a 50-mile radius of the hotel. “I thought there would just be a couple of tasting stations,” Sanders says. “But there was an impressive spread of food and five to seven different people that my writers could interview. The
Fairmont really pulled out the stops, and my attendees were very impressed.” Result: The writers met farmers whose families have worked the same land for centuries, people who left corporate America to figure out how to become dairy farmers and other interesting characters sharing tidbits about food and the local passion for fresh, sustainable cuisine. Sanders says, “People kept telling me, ‘Whoa! This is so much nicer than what we usually get. We're going to get spoiled.’ ”
kristi casey sanders
Case Study: Using what’s indigenous and unique about the destination
smart uses for qr codes
QR codes are everywhere, but how do you use them for your event? Here are some great ways planners are making them work. 1 Enhanced networking Enter an attendee’s contact info into a virtual business card, tie it to a personal QR code and place that image on their name badge. When scanned, users can download the vcard and add it to their address book. Some programs let users export all contacts as an Excel spreadsheet. For more ideas on how to reinvent your conference badges, watch this short video: Ez.com/badges. 2 Handout replacements Instead of using reams of paper to print speaker bios and handouts, tie each speaker’s bio, handout and information to a Web page that’s embedded in a QR code.
Scavenger hunts Whether you want to plant clues that drive traffic to exhibitors and sponsors, or just want attendees to interact with their meeting environment, QR codes can be linked to mini-sites that provide clues, information, email capture boxes and links to social networks.
3 Portal to collaboration Let people take notes or comment on educational sessions together in a Google Document. At the end of the conference, send the links to all attendees so everyone has a collective record of the essential information disseminated at the event.
5 ROI generator Place QR codes alongside ads in conference brochures and monitor their metrics using an inexpensive tool like BudUrl.pro. That will allow you to track interest and send leads to exhibitors and sponsors long after the event concludes.
How far did your tweet travel? So you’ve started dabbling on Twitter and your conference has a hashtag. Congratulations! Now it’s time to see how far your messages are traveling. Go to Tweetreach.com and search for an @name, #hashtag or keyword. You’ll see how many individuals have seen your messages, how many impressions were generated and
who the top influencers spreading the word are. Hint: Those are the people you want to start engaging with on Twitter ASAP.
Engage effectively on Facebook If you’ve started a Facebook fan page for your event, but can’t quite figure out what to post or how to engage your audience, join the Social Media
Trackable QR codes There are a lot of sites that can generate QR codes for free, but if you want to know if anyone is clicking on them, you’re going to want to upgrade to a paid service. BudUrl.pro is an incredibly affordable option that allows you to code website URLs and automatically generates QR codes that link to them. Whenever anyone clicks or reads the code, BudUrl tracks where they are, how many times they visit and what device they used. You also have the option to create micro websites that feature a logo, text, an email capture field and links to Facebook and YouTube pages.
Tourism Symposium page (Facebook.com/ SoMeTourism) and start taking notes. The organizers use the page as a conference website, frequently posting educational archives, news, even RFPs and information about upcoming challenges. As a result of their year-round engagement strategy, attendance at the event doubled from its first to second years, and the amount of fans has increased exponentially through word of mouth.
P LAN Y OUR M EETINGS . C O M
All-in-one interactive meeting technology SpotMe (spotme.com) is a handheld device that features venue maps, conference agendas and attendee information, and allows users to message each other, respond to surveys and polls and manage their time on-site. It also has game functionality that can be programmed for group or individual challenges.
next steps To read Keith’s list of the top things we can change and should stop doing as meeting planners, go to Ez.com/revolution.
into our live events. We’ll learn best practices in live-event streaming. We’ll integrate Facebook into our marketing efforts, finally make our event websites mobile and create apps for our trade shows. We will put in the time because most revolutions need nurturing, not money. We will never again have a printed brochure. Our marketing materials will be downloadable and viewable on an iPhone, Android phone or Kindle Fire. We will march forth with grim determination, a Twinkie and a smile. We’ll practice what we preach because nothing is worse than a revolutionary hypocrite. Our quest will fail if we do not live up to our own expectations. Once we know what we are going after, what we are doing and what we believe in, we need to figure out our plan of attack, because every revolution has a battle. How will we make people see? How will they hear us? How will we make them understand that they want the same things we do, they just don’t know it yet? We will tell people what we are doing. We will go to industry events and let everyone know the successes we are having. We will start interacting online and posting comments on Facebook walls, blogs and industry association websites. If we do not speak, we cannot be heard. This is what will happen next. Others feel the
@intlCES: Biggest lesson learned from #CES according to @DanielBurrus? Create, connect, interact and share. huff.to/AhIPnA
Matchmaker, matchmaker The No. 1 reason people attend meetings is to network. Help your attendees, exhibitors and sponsors do this with PresdoMatch (match.presdo.com). The cloud-based system integrates with most registration systems to create rich profiles for your attendees, VIPs, exhibitors and sponsors that they can automatically populate with information from their LinkedIn accounts. The system also allows attendees to schedule meetups and invite people to your event via Facebook and Twitter. Planners can add schedule information, send out updates and receive reports on how many meetings were scheduled by people using the system.
same way we do, and they have been fighting their own private revolutions. We are more than two, or three, or four or five. We are now a platoon and, over time and by continuing the fight, a platoon can become an army. Then our effort will reach critical mass. We will find that starting a revolution is not hard. It just starts with you and me.
@BenGrossman: Stop building cities. Start building experiences. Just one of the #CES 2013 tips from @JackMorton: slidesha.re/ ABnK6U
@RaquelP1073: Friends don't let friends buy bad promo! @heymarkgraham @ruthverver #paperclippromotions #ASIDallas
Event: NeuroLeadership Summit Organizer: Dr. David Rock (@davidrock101) Challenge: While organizing events for neuroscientists, Dr. Rock realized that the traditional conference structure, with its rigid schedule and overloaded educational agenda, contradicted everything they’d discovered about how the mind works. It exhausted and overwhelmed attendees. So he set out to redesign the entire conference experience. Solution: Limit the number of sessions to prevent idea overload. Create more free time for people to connect with each other and discuss new ideas. And restructure the sessions to help people focus on the content being delivered.
Execution: Sessions were limited to four per day. “Your brain can’t fit any more than that,” Dr. Rock explains. “We developed a range of ways for speakers to allow a little pause within their sessions without just going to Q&A.” So every 10-15 minutes, attendees enjoyed a break activity, exercise or discussion that helped them digest the new material. To provide context for the experience, Dr. Rock designed the program so there was a core theory at the heart of the event that tied into daily themes. “It’s like designing theater,” he explains. “You have to craft the experience to make sense so people don't get to the end and say, ‘Wait, this shouldn’t have gone there.’”
Result: Dr. Rock says attendees were amazed that they could stay focused for three days. “They say it's the most intelligently and respectively designed conference. They feel like they've been treated like an adult."
Case Study: Realigning an event schedule to make it more ‘brain-friendly’
making the case for mobile engagement Do you have a mobile-friendly website or event marketing strategy? You should think about getting one quick. Why? Mobile is becoming part of who we are and what we do. Don't believe it? Check out the statistics. population that owns a mobile device There are more than
127.6 million mobile users in the United States.
used an application used mobile web browser scanned QR code
96% Source: International Telecommunication Union (October 2010) via mobiThinking
Source: comScore 2012 Mobile Future in Focus
number of apps downloaded and used just once.
Source: Localytics (January 2011) via mobiThinking
of U.S. mobile subscribers have an Internet-ready phone.
64.2 million people in the U.S. accessed social media networks or blogs on a daily basis in December 2011, a 77% increase over the previous year.
84.6% Engaged with social networks to connect with friends
73.6% Post updates
57.4% Read posts from brands, and/or events
Source: comScore 2012 Mobile Future in Focus
tablet users in the United States, representing almost 15% of the U.S. mobile market.
Source: comScore 2012 Mobile Future in Focus
global mobile internet users
Source: comScore (February 2011) via mobiThinking
U.S. online usage habits
There are nearly
2009: 450 million
more people will Within access the Internet via a mobile device than a desktop computer. Source: International Telecommunication Union (October 2010) via mobiThinking
2013: More than 1 billion Source: International Telecommunication Union (October 2010) via mobiThinking
u.s. smartphone market
of the people in the United States who use their phone to surf the Web only use their mobile device to access the Internet. Source: On Device Research (December 2010) via mobiThinking
RIM's share (Blackberry)
Apple iOS Source: comScore 2012 Mobile Future in Focus
“Whether to have a mobile site or a mobile app and which to develop first depends on what kind of product you have. If most people are going to find you through search, then you should optimize your site for mobile web. But if you think you have a big enough fan base and you can cut through the clutter [to convince] people to download your app, then you can have a more immersive experience by creating an app.” — Chat Fenster, MEC Entertainment
the convention misery index
20 ways to ruin a perfectly good convention By @meetingboy
’ve been to some lousy conventions, and the more I go to, the less I want to go. Don’t get me wrong, I will usually take any chance to get out of the office and away from my boss, and my standards aren’t high, but it’s also occurred to me at a particularly bad conference that I might have been better off just pretending I went and walking around Central Park all day instead. There are lots of ways to ruin a convention, so I came up with list of the Top 20. I’m calling it the Convention Misery Index, because I think
Annoying ice breakers
You get at most one, maybe two, ice breakers before attendees are entitled to attack the planner with ice picks. No more. And two is only acceptable if more than 50 percent of the attendees show up after the first one. I was at a three-day conference in 2009, and there were five icebreakers. Five! Each ice breaker after the first one: 1 point
(Also if there’s an insufficient number of wireless routers, so that those that do exist are overwhelmed and slower than the Edge network.) There’s no excuse for this — 150 people crammed in a room will overwhelm any 3G. If you think 150 annoyed people with smartphones is bad, then keep in mind how much more irritated they are that they can’t tweet about how annoyed they are. It’s a negative feedback loop. Each session without wireless: 1 point
if we have people count one point for each violation, then you’ll be able to give a pretty good idea of just how bad it is. A 4 on the Convention Misery Index? Probably pretty good, so quit your whining. A 27? Well, personally, if it rises above 20, I’m sitting in my room and seeing what’s on cable before I venture back down to the convention. If the boss asks why I missed everything after the first day, I’ll give a convincing story about how I was sick — it’s not hard to argue food poisoning, as everyone will cut you off once you start in on the details.
No place to charge devices
Everyone has their smartphone, and some are also lugging laptops or tablets. Give us a place to charge these, or we’re going to be up in our rooms after four hours no matter how exciting your 1 p.m. session is. Our phones need juice, and they will not be denied. We are slaves to our phones. Even out in the desert people charge their phone and then look for water. 1 point
Long lines at registration
It’s a first impression that says, “These people don’t have their act together.” Don’t use up all my patience before something goes wrong and you really need it. Every 10 minutes in line: 1 point
No dedicated place to take calls
No dedicated place for people to take calls means EVERY hallway is a bunch of shouting idiots. Most people aren’t so self-centered as to sit in a crowded session and take a call. Well, most people know they can’t get away with it and, if they try, other attendees will
apply street justice. Conventions that have dedicated areas to take calls are much easier than those without. 1 point
Not enough drinks in session rooms
If you tried to shave $1.73 per attendee off the cost and give us terrible food, then I think it’s fair to roast you on a spit, with a nice honey glaze. Make mine medium well. Each crummy meal: 1 point (1 additional point for anyone who gets food poisoning)
Don’t leave coffee, water and soda in the hall or in the lobby — they need to be in the room. Because if they’re not, then people will be coming and going the whole session so they can get their afternoon fix. 1 point per session
Crunchy snacks during sessions
Putting out snacks is nice, but not if I have to hear the jerk in the next row crunching on corn chips for an hour. If I snap and kill Mr. Crunch, you are an accessory to his murder. 1 point per session
Not enough doughnuts
Music that’s too loud
At mixers and other things, make sure people can hear each other talk. I know loud music makes some people feel like the event's cool and hip, but this is a work convention, not an East Village rave. 1 point (no penalty if it’s live music)
disguised vendor pitches as sessions
Or speakers who talk too much about their book. The minute the crowd realizes they got suckered into a pitch and it’s too late to go to another session, you have a problem. But I’m not an unreasonable man — if you allow us to boo and throw rotten produce at speakers we don’t like, then no misery points will be assessed. Each vendor pitch: 1 point
Poorly chosen speakers
At one convention my co-worker and I started referring to the afternoon speakers as Boring, Mumbler, Buzzword and Tedious. I think Pointless was unavailable that week. Each bad speaker: 1 point (3 if it’s the keynote)
No one wants to see my nipples poking through my shirt. At least not since my botched boob job. Any room below 70 degrees: 1 point
Starting too early
Office work starts at 9 a.m. I’m attending because work sent me. Therefore, no sessions before 9 a.m. It’s OK to have a scheduled breakfast at 8, but no speakers. Let me eat and have coffee in peace. Each speaker or session scheduled before 9 a.m.: 1 point
Or worse, no doughnuts. I flew in last night, then went to your mixer. I overslept and missed breakfast. But I still need to be fed, so have something for me to grab on the way into the first session. 1 point
Presentation screen too small
I’m 32 years old with 20/20 vision. If I’m squinting from the third row, there’s a problem. Of course you may have a perfectly good-sized screen, but some idiot panelist has a slide with 8-point type on it. Take a point off for that, too. Each session with an unreadable screen: 1 point
No attempt to standardize #hashtag
Post it near the stage where everyone can see it. Have the speaker mention it before starting. This isn’t hard. For people who want to see what others are saying, not doing this is keeping them from seeing each other. 1 point
Too much PowerPoint
Twenty slides per hour. No more! Any more than that, and the person is just reading from the screen. Boooorrrrring! And besides, the people who go to conventions probably get stuck sitting through plenty of boring PowerPoint back at the office. Every slide above 20: 1 point
Not enough time between sessions
If it’s a huge hotel and there are 20 session rooms, then five minutes is not enough to ... • Go to the bathroom, • Grab a beverage, • Answer the boss’ text • And get my butt where it needs to go. Before you set the schedule, walk between the two farthest conference rooms with a stopwatch. Add three minutes to that time. That’s how much we need. 1 point
Don’t select a hotel so cheap that there’s nothing worth stealing in the rooms. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but if the bed is more uncomfortable than the couch at the dorm where you slept one off in college, find a nicer place. Nothing will ruin a conference faster than a bunch of people who didn’t sleep well for reasons other than their desire to parrrr-tay. 1 point per attendee
I can’t expense drinks anymore, even at meals. They require itemized receipts for everything, so I’m asking you — begging you — to please find a way to at least get some beer and wine included in the cost. FOR Every event with alcohol included: Take away 1 point (alcohol decreases misery)
*Bonus Not enough hot women! This one is from my co-worker. He is 47 and lives with his mother. This was his complaint about the last convention we sent him to. Oh, and ladies, he’s loser2783 on match.com. Look him up. No deduction!
So how bad was your last convention?
Add it up and see . Finally, I’d like to ask convention planners to please, please, please find a way to include as many of the things I’ll need in the cost of the conference. The less receipts I have to get and fill out, the happier I’ll be when it’s all over.
hybrid How-to From DIY to hi-fi: What you need to know to create successful virtual and hybrid events By Kristi casey sanders
eeting planners are architects of experience, whether that experience is delivered face-to-face, live, on-demand, over the Internet or on a mobile device quietly humming in someoneâ€™s pocket. The biggest challenge meeting planners face when planning hybrid or virtual events is not finding adequate technology that is reasonably priced. It is figuring out which platforms and services are the best fit for their meeting goals.
of marketers predict that by 2016, half the events they plan will be virtual ones.
Source: The Future of Business Environments (May 2011) via VirtualEdgeInstitute.com
There are hundreds of service providers who can capture content, stream it to remote viewing audiences, archive the broadcast and host it as on-demand education. How do you weed through the sea of options to find the perfect technical solution?
Ask yourself the following:
1. Why do you want to add a hybrid or virtual component? 2. What kind of meeting or portion of your meeting do you want to have online? 3 What’s your technology budget? 4. What do you want the virtual experience to be like?
Why bring it online?
Full-on virtual events, like webinars and Internet-based trade shows, really took off at the beginning of the current economic recession because they let companies and associations communicate with meeting attendees without paying for venue rental, food and beverage, and all the line items that come with holding a bricks-and-mortar session. Cost-consciousness continues to be a big reason organizations opt to use virtual technology for meetings and events. At first the industry saw this as a threat, because people said it would replace face-toface meetings. Just the opposite has happened. Companies drastically slashed corporate travel budgets when the economy tanked. Employees faced with paying their own way to conferences opted not to go. Layoffs forced existing employees to pick up more work, making it harder to leave the office. In-person attendance at conventions plummeted in 2009. Convention planners who added virtual or hybrid components to their events, however, discovered that their audiences were growing. They were not only reaching people who
otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend, they were attracting new audiences. And the limitations of the technological experience (unengaging broadcasts, awkward avatars, no late-night bar talk, restricted access to content) reminded those distant viewers why face-to-face engagement is essential to doing business. Now that the economy is picking up, planners expect to see attendance numbers reach pre-2008 levels by the end of 2012. Using virtual technology also let companies and associations hold meetings more frequently and reach audiences year-round with a constant stream of online education and engaging content. That, in turn, increased traffic to their websites and exposure to their brand.
Types of technologically enhanced events
The platform or service you use really depends on what your broadcast and user experience needs are. Virtual (digital) events don’t have a face-to-face component unless multiple viewers hang out together in a “pod.” Participants typically log in using a desktop computer or mobile device and interact with other people who are doing the same. Hybrid events connect remote audiences to event participants like spokes in a wheel. Types of virtual and hybrid events include: Webinar. At its most basic level, users can see a window of slides and hear the speaker talk. Interaction and visual components are limited to slides and a chat window. Something like Go to Meeting/Go to Webinar is fairly inexpensive (about $30 per month). There’s also Zipcast, which is free and integrates with social networks as well as SlideShare.net (the YouTube of PowerPoint archives). Another benefit to these platforms is that they aren’t hosted on your server, because too much traffic to your site could cause it to crash. Professional
Emilie Barta’s rules for engagement Virtual and in-person host, spokesperson, presenter and emcee Emilie Barta’s advice for hybrid event organizers and presenters interested in creating more engaging events. Planners: Make sure that every decision is made with the virtual audience top of mind. “Just because the organizer thinks it’s cool doesn’t mean that the audience will find value in it,” Barta cautions. “Consider: Is this the right tool
for my audience? Are they going to benefit from it? Are they going to feel comfortable with it? And are they going to use it?” Ensure a seamless connection process for the virtual audience so that they don’t get lost. “Registration, log-in system checks, promotions, being welcomed,
being shown where to go, what to do and how to participate — all that needs to be a seamless and simple process.” Every single tool that will be used must be tested and moderated. “Have a welcoming representative there to facilitate and greet attendees, shoot out
reminders and be a welcoming voice in the room.” Hire crew, staff and virtual emcees who have broadcast experience. “They will be completely in the moment and dedicated to engaging the virtual audience,” she says. “Traditional A/V crews have an educational curve. You will have to work with that crew to ensure they are paying attention and following the action.”
of them said attending virtually was “very helpful” in making the decision to travel to the 2011 Summit. Source: Measuring and Maximizing the Impact of a Hybrid Event via VirtualEdgeInstitute.com
What kind of experience do you want your online attendees to have? Virtual/hybrid technology is becoming mainstream, so people have moved beyond the “this is cool” phase. Now they want to be engaged. How will you do that?
Think visual, think design. “Don’t just put a camera in the back. Plan out what the virtual audience is going to see.” Speakers: Design the session in chunks of learning that can be broken up with interactive activities. Add the conference hashtag and your Twitter handle to every slide.
of 2011 Virtual Edge Summit in-person attendees were virtualonly attendees the previous year.
Going a step beyond
channels, like BrightTalk, are engineered to handle heavy volumes of virtual traffic, and charge a sliding scale (from free to fee) based on the number of webinars and attendees. Cost: $0-$1,000 per webinar. Webcast. If you want to take it up a notch, use a hosting platform like SonicFoundry’s Media Site to integrate a live video feed from either the speaker’s computer or cameras at the live event. Viewers will see a video feed of the speaker next to the slide deck. Many of these windows let viewers communicate via social media. Service providers often can handle everything from registration to post-event surveys, and deliver rich metrics about viewer behavior. If you’re doing only one session,
Free videoconferencing Some terrific options allow you to use your webcam to converse with multiple people at once. In the past, we used OoVoo.com to create our Knowledge Series webcasts. But we also are big fans of Vivu.tv and Google+ hangouts. If you just need to talk one-on-one, Skype.com is easy to use and allows you to share your desktop.
you can get away with Skyping a speaker in as your live feed and letting them share their desktop when they want the audience to see slides. If you have a multi-day conference, you’ll want professionals who can operate or coordinate cameras and mics on-site as well as host content online for consumption later. Another great reason to use a professional supplier is that their portal can link to an agenda, allowing viewers to jump from session to session, and connect to online conference communities that facilitate networking with other attendees. Some professionally broadcast events also use Livestream.com, which has free or paid components, based on your branding needs. Cost: $0-$2,000 per session. Virtual trade show or conference. These can be among the most expensive to produce, because most providers will charge by the number of virtual rooms needed. One of the least expensive ways to hold a full-on virtualonly conference or trade show is to book the Virtualis Convention Center in Second Life. Other providers include On24, InXpo and Unisfair. These are the best options for events that last several weeks or months and target attendees and exhibitors from around the world because the trade-show floor can be kept open 24/7. Cool bells and whistles include embedded hyperlinks, language translation services, downloads and videos triggered as “avatars” walk by exhibit booths, and notices that are sent to salespeople when their booth is active so they don’t feel tied to their computers. Cost: $5,000-$250,000.
Make friends with the camera operator and give him a heads-up on what you’ll be doing. Welcome the virtual audience at the beginning of the session and thank them for participating at the end. Make eye contact with the camera as if it was another person in the room. Ask questions of the virtual viewers and give them enough time to answer.
of virtual attendees would not attend a face-to-face event if the virtual option were eliminated.
of face-to-face attendees would attend a virtual event if the in-person option were eliminated.
Source: Measuring and Maximizing the Impact of a Hybrid Event via VirtualEdgeInstitute.com
A very simple way is to think of what they will see and hear from moment to moment. If the speaker will do a Q&A, give the on-site cameraman permission to pan away so the viewing audience can see who’s asking questions, or so other unscripted moments can be captured. (And don't forget to plant audience mics!) What will the virtual audience do while people in-room are having roundtable discussions? Will they be able to download a handout to brainstorm over, too? Will there be special online-only “Easter egg”-like interviews with speakers while people on-site are filing in? When the session ends, will they simply be ejected from the conference or will there be some way to give it a denouement — maybe a post-session chat room or survey? And how will their feedback be integrated throughout the event? Who will moderate the virtual chat stream? And how will viewers interact with presenters? Don’t forget to coach speakers about on-camera lighting, angles and behavior — remind them that they can ask questions directly to the camera because people are there, listening and ready to participate. More and more, online event organizers are mixing things up with digital trade shows so that the experience is more robust. If people are shot against a green screen, they can be “dropped” into the virtual environment. At a Cisco meeting years ago, a presenter played with audience perceptions at a hybrid event by leaving the physical stage and “reappearing” on a virtual stage in Second Life, which was part of the feed the live audience was seeing. Even face-to-face attendees can be included in the hybrid experience. Connect them to distant-viewing peers with Twitter hashtags.
Create video archives Want to capture all the cool video conferences you're having? ScreencastO-Matic.com is free if you want to film in 15-minute increments. But it's only $12 a year to get unlimited length. Select the area of your monitor to film, hit start, and when you're done, you can edit or send directly to YouTube.
Watch a DIY hybrid event On Valentine's Day 2012, the author of this story used Livestream Procaster to webcast an educational session on this topic simultaneously to MPI chapters in Jacksonville, Gainesville and Tallahassee, Fla. If you'd like to virtually relive this experiment, go to Ez.com/pymlive.
Encourage collaboration by giving them links to Google documents to write session notes on. Link mobile conference apps and websites to QR codes that attendees can scan at registration. Move them around the trade-show floor with geo-location challenge games like Scvngr. Or embed your conference agenda and other special information into an augmented reality app like Layar. You’re the architect. What kind of experience do you want to create? Post your ideas on facebook.com/PlanYourMeetings.
Case Study: Stream a live event to Facebook Event: Event Camp Twin Cities Organizer: Samuel J. Smith (@samueljsmith) Goal: Use Facebook more. Figure out how to eliminate the need for an online virtual platform to host the event’s live video feed. Idea: “We wanted to do more with Facebook, so we had the idea to stream it on [there],” Smith says. “We wanted to prove it could be done. We also wanted to show people that you could create the same level of engagement on Facebook and don’t need the virtual platform stuff.”
Execution: Smith and his team used Livestream.com and coding that they grabbed from developers.facebook.com to
embed a feed on their Facebook page. Two navigational tabs let viewers flip between two feeds streaming live from the event. Result: All virtual attendees were instructed to go to Facebook to watch the feed and engage in real-time chat there. The livestream generated 158 new “likes” and was seen by about 700 people. “People can share it easily, so there’s the power of the right now,” Smith says. After the event, the broadcast was archived, so Facebook page visitors can still watch what happened.
reaching new audiences
How the Atlanta Opera created a live webcast of its 24-Hour Opera Project On Jan. 21, 2012, the Atlanta Opera webcasted content for the first time in its 50-year history. It had an audience of 762 viewers, which has grown exponentially since then. Plan Your Meetings spoke with Atlanta Opera Communications Manager Laura Soldati about how they did it. How did you decide to use Ustream.com? It was the only streaming site I had heard of or used, it was free and I had used it for five or six webcasts I had done for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. It was not only a good host, but it could account for multiple views and wouldn’t crash, and it didn’t require that big of a bandwidth. We wanted interactivity, and people could vote for an audience favorite [using its chat feature].
Tim Wilkerson/the atlanta opera
How did you promote the event? We started out [with] a media alert, and with each pickup, we made sure that they had details on the webcast. We did blog posts, Twitter posts and word of mouth. Marketing and communications intern Ellen Sturgill had an idea to put a hyperlinked banner by our signatures on our emails, so anytime an email went out, people would know we had a webcast going on. We created an icon that we could distribute virally — there were thousands of people who saw it and clicked on it. The media was really very supportive. [The webcast] was the angle they were most interested in. And we got a lot of follow-up in the industry, people involved with small opera companies asking us how we did it, how we funded it. Where did you find your technical team? I have to give Dave Stevens props, he directed the webcast. He used to work for Turner Broadcasting, and he now
owns his own company (Stevens Internet Productions). He volunteered his time to come and do the webcast, and we were able to work with student interns who have a background in filmmaking. So, all the stars kind of aligned on this. What were some of the moving parts he had to coordinate? He had two cameras, specialized lighting, and he worked in the back in a “green room” with a sound board and a switchboard. He had two camera operators in the house, positioned stage right and stage left, so he could get different vantage points. And he’d switch back and forth, just like it was a broadcast. His background is with sporting events, which is perfect for live performance, because there’s a lot of movement. He was able to predict when things were going to happen. We did pay for one professional to make sure the lighting was good. But with [Steve’s] experience and the team he was able to bring on, he was able to produce a beautiful broadcast. What kind of feedback did you get? Mostly people wanted to know how we did it. Since opera companies are kind of folding left and right and don’t have the kind of budgets they used to have, they’re looking for ways to reach new audiences and cheaper ways to do it. They were impressed with the quality of it and the feeling of being up close and personal with the performers. The feedback we’re getting is that it captured the essence
Want to view the archived broadcast of the 24-Hour Opera Project? Go to Ez.com/atlopera.
of what we wanted to accomplish: that opera is constantly evolving and that we’re willing to bring it to people in any way that we can. It’s not this elitist art form. Opera is evolving at the speed of light. How much did it cost? I’d say that the entire webcast, because it was staffed by volunteers who had their own equipment, probably cost under $1,000. What are some things you’d suggest to someone planning a live broadcast to make it an easier process? Consult with people who have done it before. And consider your goals because it will result in a better product. We wanted to promote new works and give up-andcoming artists, composers and librettists an opportunity for [exposure]. Opera isn’t all calibrated and traditional, it’s actually quite lively and crazy and fun and full of all these fantastic neuroses. We wanted to showcase opera at its best … and I think we did.
Give us 3 hours, we’ll give you the world (or at least a pretty cool new set of tools, tricks and tips) We know you’re busy. That’s why our PYM LIVE Events are short, sweet and packed with nothing but 180-proof education, networking and planning resources. Spend your time with us, and we’ll return you to your office with a head full of new solutions, an address book full of important business contacts and the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re on the right track, with a room full of fun, supportive people. Inspiration can be intoxicating. Visit PlanYourMeetings.com/events to find a PYM LIVE Event near you. If your city isn’t there, let us know on Facebook or @PYMLive, and we’ll put you on the virtual attendee list.
Ez.com/3hours 2012 PYMLive event cities: Atlanta, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Denver, Chicago, Charlotte, Houston, Orlando, Philadelphia
On the following pages, we profile select American destinations, offering highlights and insights about how these locations can enhance your meetings. Weâ€™ve spoken with meeting planners, CVB representatives and local experts to bring you the best of what each city has to offer. For more extensive coverage of national and international destinations, visit PlanYourMeetings.com/destinations.
Breckenridge What you should knoW During the winter months, attendees can ski in/ski out of meetings and meal functions. The rest of the year, they can hike in/hike out. A single lift ticket not only gives access to Breckenridge, Keystone and the Arapahoe Basin ski areas, it’s also good at Vail Resorts. The village is two hours from Denver International Airport, an hour from Eagle County Regional Airport in Vail, and 110 miles from Colorado Springs Airport. Planners organizing conventions in Colorado Springs often send pre- or postevent ski trips here.
Want to break out of the boardroom?
Want to meet by the fireplace?
Breckenridge Hospitality has four distinct meeting properties: the Village at Breckenridge, Mountain Thunder Lodge, DoubleTree by Hilton Breckinridge and One Ski Hill Place, offering the most combined meeting and conference space in town, with 43,000 square feet of flexible space in 42 rooms. Select from facilities with fireplaces, patios, balconies, window walls and mountain views. The beauty here: Clients can use space over multiple properties, if they wish. The Village at Breckenridge can accommodate up to 500 people. It has 13 meeting rooms with a total of 22,000 square feet of space. In summer, a 4,000-sq. ft. tent is an option.
Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center is at the base of two ski lifts, so attendees can meet then ski right out of there. A free shuttle connects the ski area and resort to downtown.
What will surprise you Instead of tearing down its history, Breckenridge continually repurposes historic buildings: Old mining cabins are artist studios, Victorian homes house wild-game restaurants, and accommodations for adventurous groups are available in World War II-era military training huts. Sure, skiing is a big draw, but summertime concerts, a bustling downtown and a plethora of warm-weather activities make this an attractive yearround destination.
Mountain Thunder Lodge specializes in intimate events and can accommodate groups up to 325. Its five event rooms total 3,000 square feet and include French doors that open onto protected wetlands. The DoubleTree by Hilton Breckenridge can accommodate up to 475 people. It has 12 meeting rooms with a total of 10,000 square
feet of space and picture windows that welcome natural light and provide mountain views. One Ski Hill Place is a ski-in, ski-out facility in winter. In summer, its Rocky Mountains location is an alpine wonderland. In any season it offers more than 3,600 square feet of meeting space in 12 rooms, and 10,000 square feet of outdoor function space.
Want unusual venues?
Planners can create an intimate setting and exclusive lodging for board retreats or small groups at private homes like Mountain Villa Paradise; ResortQuest, White Cloud Lodging and Paragon Lodging also manage residential properties available to groups. The O2 Lounge & Internet Café not only has reception space, it also serves different flavors of oxygen to help attendees acclimate to the altitude. The Alpine Villa is an executive retreat near the Breckenridge Golf Club and ski areas; amenities include conference facilities,
From the Beaver Run Resort, attendees can ski right out of meetings to the Beaver Run Super Chair Lift and the Quicksilver Six; from the spa they can ski to Peak Nine. The resort has an entire wing of meeting and conference space and several on-site dining venues. Local companies, such as Summit Concierge and Nordic Sleigh Rides, have dinner packages that take attendees on sleigh ride trips to an 1860s-style miners’ camp or the Gold Run Mountain Lodge for a hearty supper, music and entertainment. A short drive away in Kremmling, Rusty Spurr Ranch can sandwich in a cowboy lunch between team-building cattle drives, rafting trips or trail rides.
• • • • •
country boy mine; www.jeffscroggins.com/gobreck.com
• 35,000+ square feet of meeting space at the Beaver Run Resort 25,000 beds in hotels and rental properties 200+ shops and boutiques 80+ restaurants Average group size: 450 Average annual snowfall: 250-300 inches Best values from April 1-Nov. 15
a Roman bath, a dining hall, a billiards room, a home theater and a 35-ft. high natural rock climbing wall. The Riverwalk Center is a 770-seat outdoor amphitheater available for meetings, concerts and receptions. A roof and walls make year-round events possible. During the summer, lawn seating raises the venue’s capacity to 2,000.
Want historic settings?
The Country Boy Mine has indoor dining facilities and an outdoor fireplace/gathering area as well as underground gold mine tours, gold
The Country Boy Mine has dining facilities and an outdoor fireplace/gathering area as well as gold mine tours; in warmer months, ski trails become mountain bike and hiking trails.
panning, and hay or sleigh rides. Downtown meeting, dining and reception space are available in Summit Historical Society homes, such as the 1896 W. H. Briggle House or the 1882 Barney Ford House Museum, which was built by a prominent mine owner and black rights advocate, the son of an escaped slave.
Want to team-build?
The Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center has a lodge for corporate retreats and a 40-acre outdoor campus able to accommodate groups up to 300 for experiential learning adventures,
including adaptive skiing, snowboarding and ropes courses for people with disabilities or special needs. Colorado Bike & Ski Tours creates trips on backwoods trails through abandoned mountain towns and ski huts built by the 10th Mountain Division for World War II training as well as GPS scavenger hunts and customized eco-challenges. Casarietti Studio has “Out of the Box” workshops designed to enhance creative solutions, communication and problem-solving. Peak Rhythms creates group drumming and rhythm programs designed to empower and unite groups of up to 5,000 people.
Aspen What you should know Aspen is a Top-10 ski resort with excellent nightlife and dining options. Attendees can fly direct into the Aspen/ Pitkin County Airport. They also can fly into Eagle Airport (75-minute drive) or Denver (four hours away). During the ski season, direct air service is available to Aspen from Denver, Los Angeles, Chicago (O'Hare), San Francisco and Houston. Ski-lift tickets are good for four mountains: Aspen (sometimes called Ajax), Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass. The pedestrian-friendly layout of the village means you can avoid using shuttles altogether, if you wish.
Want unusual venues?
Want to dine on the mountain?
Winter or summer, The Sundeck atop Aspen Mountain is accessible by the Silver Queen Gondola and has views of the Elk Mountain Range. Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro overlooks one of the most photographed local sites, the Maroon Bells. Just outside of Aspen, the Pine Creek Cookhouse is located in the midst of the Ashcroft Ski Touring network of cross-country trails. If attendees aren’t big skiers, they also can take a horsedrawn sleigh to the restaurant, which serves lunch and dinner.
Want cultural activities?
The Wheeler Opera House has been Aspen’s cultural center since 1889. In addition to a 503-seat theater, the opera house has an unusual lobby space that may be booked for intimate dinners (capacity: 60) or receptions. The Aspen Music Festival and School
The Sundeck Restaurant on Aspen Mountain has amazing views of the Elk Mountain Range.
What will surprise you Aspen is a year-round destination that doesn’t only cater to the well-todo. Look for bargains in the spring and fall months; July occupancy sometimes exceeds January’s levels. Unlike other ski towns, Aspen has a vibrant community of people who actually live there, which gives the village an authentic, friendly vibe. Virtual tours of Aspen are available from everyscape.com; a second virtual tour is on aspenchamber.org. If overflow housing is needed, hotels in neighboring Snowmass Village are an option; a free, year-round bus system connects the two alpine villages.
presents a series of concerts throughout the summer, featuring some of the world’s best professional and student musicians. Jazz Aspen Snowmass produces a summer festival, a Labor Day festival, educational performances, and free concerts in both villages. The
Aspen Institute specializes in leadership seminars and a fascinating array of public programs on topics such as arts and ideas, business and society, and energy and the environment. Every summer, the Anderson Ranch Arts Center offers more than 130 workshops between Memorial Day and the end of September, when world-class artists are in residency. From October through April, the center presents gallery shows and a lecture series. A Victorian museum, ghost town and West End walking tours are available from the Aspen Historical Society.
Want to break out of the boardroom?
Encourage attendees to relax by kicking the day off with a pajama breakfast or on-mountain yoga classes. The Maroon Bells Outfitters at the T-Lazy-7 Ranch offers western-themed dinners, dances, wagons, sleigh rides and trail rides year-round. The ranch itself has several event venues, including a 5,300-sq. ft.
Biege Jones/Snowmass Village
Private clubs, such as the Aspen Mountain Club and the Caribou Club, are elegant options for group functions and private dinners. Hold a high-end, exclusive event in one of the private residences on Red Mountain. The Aspen Historical Society’s Wheeler/ Stallard Museum, a Queen Annestyle Victorian mansion, along with its grounds, accommodates up to 250; its Holden/Marolt Barn, Mining and Ranching Museum has outdoor event space for 250 people.
log cabin with a dance floor, bar and space for up to 280 guests. Old stagecoaches and wagons surround the Chuckwagon Grounds (capacity: 180), which is a popular venue for outdoor barbecues and has a fire pit for cool Colorado nights as well as a built-in dance floor, bar and band platform. The ranch also offers an event lawn with a view of Pyramid Peak that may be tented.
Want to meet green?
The city of Aspen sells Canary Tags to reduce the carbon footprint of traveling to and doing business in the city. Planners should check aspenzgreen.com and stayaspensnowmass.com for details and green meetings packages. The Doerr-Hosier Center is a LEED Gold-certified facility. The boutique properties Sky Hotel and Hotel Jerome have green-meeting packages and green initiatives in place. Other LEEDcertified venues include Snowmass, the Snowmass Club, Aspen Meadows Resort and the Sundeck Restaurant. The Aspen Ski Co. has been a green pioneer for more than a decade, installing micro power stations, extensive recycling programs and biodiesel-powered machines at its on-mountain ski runs and properties. The St. Regis Aspen Resort, which also has the largest hotel ballroom at 16,000 square feet, has a comprehensive set of green initiatives, including energy-conserving solar panels, water-conserving toilets and an in-house recycling program for paper, plastic and more.
The 411 • 31,000+ square feet of meeting space in Aspen Meadows Resort (350-seat auditorium) • 1,055 guest rooms • 17 hotels • Average group size: 20-150 • Best values mid-April to early June and September to November
Metro Atlanta What you should know Atlanta is a big city with interesting little neighborhoods, each with its own accommodations, attractions, meeting facilities, shops and restaurants. From the largest conventions to small family reunions, the city attracts diverse groups because it means so many different things to different people: civil rights, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., New South, “Gone With the Wind,” hip-hop, Fortune 500 companies and Southern hospitality. When people speak of the Perimeter, they are talking about I-285, which encircles and separates Atlanta from its suburbs.
Want creative venues?
Want to break out of the boardroom?
The Oceans Ballroom at the Georgia Aquarium has two glass viewing stations where attendees can peer into tanks holding beluga whales and aquatic species from the world’s oceans. The entire ballroom seats up to 1,100 people or accommodates up to 1,500 for a reception; it also may be partitioned out for smaller events (the Arctic Room is the one with the view into the beluga whale habitat). For VIPs, think about scheduling a 2.5-hour “Journey with Gentle Giants” adventure, where they
The Georgia Aquarium sits across from Centennial Olympic Park and next to the World of Coca-Cola.
What will surprise you Most people who live in Atlanta didn’t grow up there, which is a testament to how fast the city has grown in the past 20 years. Despite all the talk about Atlanta traffic, conventioneers and groups meeting downtown never deal with it because everything is within walking distance or accessible by MARTA train. Atlanta gets a lot of flack for constantly evolving, but its diversity and bustling energy (especially in its arts and business communities) makes it a fun, exciting and culturally enriching destination.
can swim or scuba dive with the sharks and fish in the Ocean Voyager tank. AT&T Dolphin Tales, an aquatic show with stadium seating for 16,000 also is available.
Need audio/visual or hybrid event assistance?
Active Production and Design Inc. is the exclusive in-house A/V partner for the Georgia Aquarium and Atlanta Event Center at Opera, and the go-to solution for many people who book
space at the Atlanta History Center, Woodruff Arts Center, Puritan Mill, the Fox Theatre, Georgia World Congress Center and Georgia International Convention Center. In addition to providing lights and sound, they can videotape educational sessions and can facilitate live, hybrid and virtual events.
Want to meet green?
The World of Coca-Cola is a U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold-certified facility; venues include the 160,000sq. ft. Green Space, a tasting room, a banquet area and a theater. Theatrical Outfit’s Balzer Theater at Herren’s is a LEED Silver-certified building with a 199-seat theater, dressing and green rooms, pre-function space and a rehearsal hall available for rentals. The Georgia World Congress Center is working to reduce energy use by 20 percent and landfill waste by 80 percent in order to become LEED-certified.
Want sports-themed events?
Turner Field offers meeting and event space year-round in its spacious 755 Club, which has exhibit space, private banquet areas, VIP seating and a bar. It offers some of the best seats in the
Centennial Olympic Park has many special facilities within walking distance of the Georgia World Congress Center and AmericasMart, which recently added 220,000 square feet of conference and trade show space. The Tabernacle was built in 1911 as a Baptist church and has been converted into a concert hall; it can accommodate up to 1,500 people for meetings, banquets or special events. CNN Center tours of the 24-hour news network’s headquarters are one of the top convention attractions; planners can create “Prime Time Events” in its Control Room Theater, atrium, terrace or 50-ft. globe. Centennial Olympic Park can host private outdoor events and concerts. Imagine It! The Children’s Museum of Atlanta has interactive gallery space for receptions and private events.
house on game days. Group tours of the Braves locker room and stadium, and access to the interactive Scout’s Alley and Braves Museum also are available. Burgess Amusements has an impressive inventory of virtual reality simulators ranging from alpine skiing to racing to golf, carnival games, inflatable teambuilding equipment and Brooks Lake, a facility for outdoor corporate events 25 miles east of Atlanta.
Want to put attendees in touch with nature?
Roll out the green carpet for attendees at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, which has several venues, including Day Hall (capacity: 500), Mershon Hall (capacity: 100) and the Georgia-Pacific Classroom (capacity: 50). Outdoor banquet space and eco-friendly catering options are available, and a recent “green” expansion added additional parking, event and garden space. Piedmont Park has a lakeside gazebo, spacious lawns, softball fields, jungle gyms and indoor/ outdoor event space within walking distance to several hotels. Veniamco nsecte minit acon ute dolor; Lore feu feum vvenim nostrud magna faccum. Veniamco m. Veniamco nsecte minit acon ute dolor; Lore feu feum vvenim u feum vvenim u feum vvenim nostrud magna faccum.
Want to meet somewhere wild?
Want group dining?
Ray’s in the City is an award-winning steak and seafood restaurant with private and semi-private dining spaces; Delta Sky Magazine named it one of the “World’s Best Seafood Restaurants.” The Hard Rock Café Atlanta has a living museum of rock ’n’ roll memorabilia, and three venues for music-themed meetings and events. The main café holds up to 800 guests reception-style, the Velvet Underground room has a 200-person capacity and the Atlanta Rythym Section room holds up to 75.
Want to shake up a meal function? Every Tuesday and Thursday at noon from April through October, free
The Atlanta Botanical Garden has indoor and outdoor venues adjacent to Piedmont Park; Zoo Atlanta offers special educational programs as well as group meeting and banquet facilities; Turner Field has several private meeting, dining and party spaces.
concerts are performed in the Southern Company Amphitheater in Centennial Olympic Park, which is a short walk from the CNN Center and downtown’s major convention hotels. Planners can arrange for box lunches to be delivered to the site from one of the nearby restaurants, giving attendees a fun change of scenery for an hour before they head back into sessions. Turner Field has a whole section of the stadium devoted to “all-you-can-eat seats.” Planners can purchase tickets for their group to a Braves game and attendees will have access to all the food and sodas they want. The Outfield Pavilion offers a traditional hot dog/ veggie dog/hamburger menu; the Golden Moon Casino Pavilion offers a little
more variety and access to Club Level amenities. If you have a group of 1,500 to 5,000, consider booking out the full Georgia Aquarium for a progressive event with food and drink stations set up throughout the atrium, gallery, exhibit and ballroom spaces.
Want to surround your group with culture?
The High Museum of Art has dramatic galleries, lobby and atrium spaces, designed by Richard Meier and Renzo Piano, which are popular venues for banquets and receptions. Other venues include theater and classroom space. Exhibits range from retrospectives of famous artists, such as Salvador Dali, to innovative explorations of
GDEcD; keith dorton; zoo atlanta
Lions and tigers and panda bears, oh my! Zoo Atlanta encourages groups to go wild with meeting packages that include scavenger hunts, animal encounters and “zoofari” tours. Zoo Atlanta also offers team-building and education programming and catering through Culinary Sol. Trader Vic’s can create Tongo Hiti parties featuring entertainment from the phenomenally talented crooner Mike Geier and Dames A’Flame burlesque dancers.
the 411 •1.4 million square feet of meeting/exhibit space in the Georgia World Congress Center •92,000+ guest rooms in metro Atlanta •12,000+ guest rooms downtown •8,000+ restaurants •950+ shopping centers •100 streets with “Peachtree” in the name •57 public golf courses •54 public parks •10 Fortune 500 company headquarters; 22 Fortune 1000 company headquarters •5 major convention centers
modern design in objects not typically considered art, like automobiles.
GDEcD; keith dorton
Want to roll out the red carpet? The historic Georgian Terrace Hotel has seen the likes of Calvin Coolidge, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Clark Gable; amenities include grand ballrooms, banquet halls, patio dining and multibedroom suites. Across the street is Atlanta’s theatrical treasure, the Fox Theatre, an atmospheric theater with a private stairway to its Egyptian
The High Museum has gallery, atrium and classroom space available for events; elegant ballrooms and behind-the-scenes tours are available at the Fox Theatre.
Ballroom and Grand Salon event spaces, and an expansive marble entryway to its 5,000-seat theater. Inside, the auditorium is designed to resemble a Moorish castle courtyard with twinkling stars and clouds that move across the ceiling’s “sky.” Tours are available.
Want to meet in a place with history?
Sweet Auburn was once the richest black neighborhood in the world; today, it is best known as the birthplace of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who preached at Ebenezer Baptist
Church. The National Park Service, in partnership with the Ebenezer Baptist Church and the King Center, operate several facilities within the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, including the outdoor Peace Plaza, gallery space and Fire Station No. 6. Much of the original city center of Atlanta was paved over and preserved as Underground Atlanta, now a collection of shops, nightclubs with event space and restaurants. The Event Loft at Underground Atlanta is an upscale venue with a dance floor, a balcony overlooking Underground’s Kenny’s Alley and an exterior veranda with a view of the downtown skyline.
What you should know
Atlanta’s DeKalb County is Georgia’s third-largest county with more than 700,000 residents and is home to Georgia’s No. 1 attraction, Stone Mountain Park. The county boasts a diverse selection of world-class museums, art centers, music venues, eclectic neighborhoods and unique shops.
DeKalb County Want to convene in green?
The 198-room Emory Conference Center Hotel is a Green Seal Environmentally Certified Hotel, the only one of its kind in the state. Ecoinitiatives include waste minimization, recycling programs and conservation of water, energy and other natural resources. The Frank Lloyd Wrightinspired architecture fills meeting space and public areas with natural light and brings the building in harmony with its 20-acre wooded campus. Amenities include 23 meeting rooms for up to 700 people, a 240-person and a 70-person amphitheater, a full-service spa and a 5,376-sq. ft. ballroom (banquet capacity: 400). Two golf courses are nearby.
The Decatur Courthouse overlooks the city's eclectic town square; Fernbank Museum's atrium is guarded by a dinosaur skeleton.
Want to enjoy the great outdoors?
Stone Mountain Park, near the village of Stone Mountain, covers 3,200 acres of woods, water, trails and attractions. What you’ll likely notice first is the large carving in the mountain itself, depicting three Confederate heroes of the Civil War: President Jefferson Davis, Gen. Robert E. Lee and Lt. Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. The carving is three acres in size, larger than a football field. It is 400 feet above the ground and measures 90 feet by 190 feet. Lee’s elbow represents the deepest point of the carving — 12 feet into the mountain. The park has plenty to do year-round for attendees and spouses — golf, a summertime laser light show, railroad rides and show, Ride the Ducks, sky rides, a Sky Hike and more.
Want to break out of the boardroom?
The Fernbank Museum of Natural History has several venues, including a private banquet room, a patio, a dramatic atrium (complete with dinosaur skeleton), an IMAX theater and the Star Gallery, an oval room with a fiber-optic ceiling displaying the constellations. The Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University has the largest collection of ancient art in the Southeast, including objects ranging from Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome to the Americas; meeting/event facilities include a reception hall, café space and a 30-person boardroom.
Cartersville What you should know Cartersville, a city of about 20,000, is 45 miles due north of Atlanta via I-75. It provides direct access to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (55 miles south) and is home to the Cartersville-Bartow County Airport, which provides aircraft charter, rental and leasing through Phoenix Air. It is the county seat of Bartow County.
Want a venue that defines ‘unique’?
The Booth Western Art Museum features artwork from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries depicting Western life. Also inside is a Presidential Gallery that showcases framed photos and original, signed letters from each of the 43 presidents of the United States, as well as a Civil War Gallery. Available for rental are the 250-seat banquet hall and 140-seat theater. The Tellus Science Museum showcases 125,000 square feet of galleries devoted to minerals, fossils, transportation technology, and hands-on science experiences. Rental spaces include a 200-seat presentation theater, a large multipurpose room for events, four well-equipped science labs and an observatory. The crowning jewel of Cartersville’s historic district is Rose Lawn Museum. This heirloom house, originally built as the home of renowned evangelist Sam P. Jones, offers 3.5 acres of lush lawns for rental as well as the first floor of the original 1895 construction. The eco-conscious, handicap-accessible Clarence Brown Conference Center (CBCC) is just a mile west of I-75. The Etowah Ballroom — the facility’s largest meeting space — measures 12,800 square feet and will accommodate 1,068 guests for a seated banquet; 1,424 guests for a reception; or 64 in its 10-ft. wide by 10-ft. deep tradeshow booths. The CBCC was awarded a LEED Gold Certification for its use of natural light, Lithocrete (recycled glass) flooring and recyclable carpeting in a thermally efficient structure built from
The Booth Westerm Art Museum features artwork depicting Western life, a Presidential Gallery and Civil War Gallery.
regionally sourced materials. Barnsley Gardens Resort encompasses 3,300 acres amid historic ruins and 160-year-old heirloom gardens. The facility offers a combined 8,000 square feet of event space including a 5,000-sq.ft. Pavilion and two boardrooms in addition to lawn space. The Spa at Barnsley Gardens Resort — rated No. 14 by Conde Nast in the 100 Top Resort Spas of 2010 — offers luxurious services such as hot stone massages and skin therapy. Other on-site amenities include championship
golf, horseback riding, hiking and biking, fishing, sporting clays and upland bird hunting. The Hilton Garden Inn has more than 10,500 square feet of flexible event space with six ballrooms, one boardroom and one conference room. On-site amenities include audiovisual equipment rental, business center access and printing services.
Want to keep it indoors?
Catch a show by modern-day cowboys at the Booth Western Art Museum,
Booth Western Art Museum
Want major meeting venues?
Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau
What will surprise you
The Rose Lawn Museum is the crowning jewel of the historic district and offers 3.5 acres of rental space; canoeing, kayak and biplane tours are all available at Lake Allatoona.
complete with whip tricks, gun-slinging and smart cracks by Jim Dunham, historian and professional gunslinger. Enjoy classic films at the Historic Legion Theatre and live shows from regional and national performers at the Grand Theatre.
Want memorable gifts and goodies?
Cartersville offers unique treats for visitors. Agan’s Bakery, family-owned and operated for more than 50 years, serves sweet treats perfect for gifting such as cookies and fruitcakes. Get locally sourced natural honey from Bill’s Bee Farm. Find locally made pottery and handmade jewelry at Spring Place
Pottery & Artists’ Gallery. Or pick up a cold six-pack of Anheuser-Busch products — all brewed in Cartersville.
Want to leave behind the 9-to-5 grind?
Take team-building to the great outdoors. Options for groups large and small include hiking, canoeing and kayaking, and biplane tours at Lake Allatoona. Take aim on the hunting grounds and shooting ranges of Spring Bank Plantation or on the links at the Barnsley Gardens Resort golf course. Red Top Mountain State Park has hiking, boating, skiing and geocaching. Other eco-chic activities in nearby
Bartow County, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is rich with American history. Major points of interest spotlight American Indian civilization, Civil War battles and sharecropping innovations. Today the county is making advances in robotic health-care technology and industrial manufacturing. Cartersville film credits include The Three Stooges, released by 20th Century Fox, and The Devil’s Knot with Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth.
communities include guided moonlight hikes on Pine Mountain and tours of the Pettit Environmental Preserve. Visit the Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site and take a walk along the Etowah River Nature Trail, which winds through six earthen mounds, a plaza, village site, borrow pits and a defensive ditch. This 54-acre park is the most intact Mississippian Culture site in the Southeast. Demonstrations of weaponry, pottery-making and daily life are given by historians and artisans throughout the summer months.
meet, stay and play Cuscowilla is ideally located in the middle of Georgia’s Lake Country on beautiful Lake Oconee just 80 miles east of Atlanta. It is the perfect setting for intimate team meetings, executive brainstorming sessions or golf retreats. Cuscowilla offers charming accommodations, an award winning golf course, boat rentals and conference center. Book 20 room nights and receive a complimentary Welcome Reception for your group. 126 Cuscowilla Drive | Eatonton, Ga 31024 | UsaToll Free - 1.800.458.5351 Local/Intl. - 1.706.484.0050 | www.cuscowilla.com
St. Simons Island What you should know St. Simons is a barrier island off the coast of Georgia that is accessible by car. The island is known for its beaches, excellent golf courses, fresh seafood, laidback locals, historic lighthouse and seaside village. Delta/ASA provides daily, nonstop service from Atlanta to the Brunswick Golden Isles Airport (BQK) which is less than a half-hour away; the Savannah/ Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) is 90 minutes from St. Simons; Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) is about an hour south of the island. Private charter flights can land at McKinnon St. Simons Airport. Accommodations range from condos and multi-bedroom resort suites to bed-andbreakfast inns and boutique hotels. The largest meeting space is in Epworth By the Sea (capacity: 1,000), a Methodist conference center on the Frederica River.
Want unusual transportation?
Want somewhere historic?
The 197-room King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort opened in 1935, survived two fires, was rebuilt and reopened in 1941, just in time to be commandeered by the U.S. Navy for use as a WWII radar operator training station. The Delegal Room began its life as an openair “casino” (read: gathering place) that was the center of the island’s social life. Lined with stained glass windows depicting scenes from the island’s history, the now-enclosed space offers a stunning view of the ocean and accommodates up to 200 for banquets and 250 for receptions. The Solarium (capacity: 60 banquet-style) was the original hotel’s lobby lounge; it features distinctive crown moldings, woodwork, antique furnishings and a wraparound
The King and Prince has been at the center of the island’s social life since the 1930s.
view of the water. Other historic meeting spaces with ocean views include the 20-person Butler boardroom and the 1,050-sq. ft. Retreat Room. The resort also has a divisible ballroom, oceanfront event lawn, 48 two- and three-bedroom villas and eight private homes for events.
Want to meet by the marsh?
A short drive from the beach is the 175-room Sea Palms Resort, which has one- to four-bedroom suites and meeting space with views of lagoons, the salt marsh and lush golf courses. Meeting space includes a 6,500-sq. ft. climatecontrolled pavilion (capacity: 600 banquet) and a conference center with 11 meeting rooms (capacity: 400 theater; 320 banquet). Amenities include a private beach club, three swimming pools and two golf courses: an 18-hole, par-71 Tall Pines/Great Oaks course and a par-34, nine-hole executive Sea Palms West course.
What will surprise you Georgia’s coastline is only 100 miles long, but it’s home to a third of the country’s salt marshes. The unique ecosystem in the marsh produces very sweet white shrimp known as “Wild Georgia Shrimp,” and caviar rumored to be the best in the world. Out on a boat tour, guests can view whales and dolphins; on land, they will observe loggerhead turtles and an array of wildlife and birds. The island recently was named one of America’s 10 Best Winter Beach Retreats by Budget Travel.
The 411 • 1,330+ guest rooms • 6 golf courses • Max group size: 350-1,000 • Best values in late fall, early winter (except holidays)
kristi casey sanders
Play off the island’s historic allure by chartering a Lighthouse Trolley for a guided tour or to shuttle attendees from point A to point B. The open-air trolley looks historic, but provides a smooth ride and might be piloted by naturalist, sometimes politician and local character, Cap Fendig, whose family has resided on St. Simons since the 1800s. Fendig’s company also offers fishing and dolphin tours and beach walks.
Want to meet by the marsh?
A short drive from the beach is the 175-room Sea Palms Resort, which offers one- to four-bedroom suites and meeting space with views of lagoons, the salt marsh and lush golf courses. Meeting space includes a 6,500-sq. ft. climate-controlled pavilion (capacity: 600 banquet) and a conference center with 11 meeting rooms (capacity: 400 theater; 320 banquet). Other amenities include a private beach club, three swimming pools and resort activities.
Sea Palms has two golf courses on property: an 18-hole, par-71 Tall Pines/ Great Oaks course and a par-34, nine-hole executive Sea Palms West course. The 18-hole, par-72 King and Prince Golf Course is so integrated into the wild
marsh landscape, tee boxes give way to hazards of wild grass, holes are linked by elevated cart bridges, and gators lurk in the historic forests and ponds between the fairways.
Want group dining?
The Village Inn & Pub on St. Simons is a 1930s-era beach cottage that’s been expanded to include an authentic English pub and guest rooms. The cozy pub is known for its wild orchid martinis and features a stone fireplace surrounded by leather lounge chairs and a sun porch. Live entertainment is a staple at SaltWater Cowboy, a steak and seafood restaurant within walking distance of the King and Prince. If it’s Brunswick stew or barbecue your group hankers after, Southern Soul Barbeque offers full-service catering and can bring its hardwood-fired smoker to prepare meals on-site.
Want group activities?
St. Simons has some fascinating historic sites in addition to its famous lighthouse, which is still used and maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. The Maritime Center at the Historic Coast Guard Station has rooms filled with interactive maritime exhibits and a short film that gives guests a crash course on the island’s history. The Christ Church congregation dates back to the 1700s. The island’s church of that name was built in the 1800s and is known for its stained-glass windows and cemetery filled with the island’s earliest settlers. In 1742, Spanish and British forces met in battle to decide the fate of St. Simons Island. The English soldiers of Fort Frederica were victorious. Today, the remains of their military stronghold are Fort Frederica National Monument’s main attraction.
Want to meet in a natural sanctuary?
Then Little St. Simons Island beckons. This private barrier island, accessible only by boat, accepts no more than 32 guests overnight. The historic Barn, a landmark within the island’s main Lodge compound, is ideal for out-of-the-way executive retreats or small corporate groups. Meeting services offered include planning assistance, private boat transportation, flexible meeting space, A/V support and menus. Your attendees can bird-watch, go boating or fishing, take garden walks or naturalist-led tours to learn about the ecology of the island and its plant and animal inhabitants, or just lounge on the beach. Meeting doesn’t get much greener than this.
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Cabarrus County What you should know Cabarrus County comprises the cities of Concord (the county seat), Kannapolis and Locust, and the towns of Harrisburg, Midland and Mount Pleasant. At last count, its population was 178,600. It was named after Stephen Cabarrus, speaker of the North Carolina House of Commons. Cabarrus County is about 19 miles northeast of Charlotte, making Charlotte Douglas International (CLT) the nearest airport.
Want to feel the need for speed?
Cabarrus County is to NASCAR what Nashville is to country music and Hollywood is to the movie industry. Fast is the operative word here. The county and its major cities, Concord and Kannapolis, comprise one of the fastest-growing destinations in the country. Which fits, since it’s known for its fast cars and being the home of Charlotte Motor Speedway, zMAX Dragway, Hendrick Motorsports and Kannapolis. More than 10 businesses offer drive-andride experiences. Think of it as team-building and dream-fulfilling. The Cabarrus County CVB can help your group take advantage of all things motorized and much more.
Charlotte Motor Speedway has five facilities that can be used for meetings and corporate events: the Sprint Cup Garage and Nationwide Garage, each with 22,000 square feet; the Media Deadline Room (capacity: 150); the Theater Room (capacity: 100); and the Photo Deadline Room (capacity: 70).
Want multipurpose venues?
The 135,000-sq. ft. Cabarrus Arena & Events Center has three meeting rooms that total 4,800 square feet and accommodate receptions, business meetings, seminars and other corporate events. Other options: the Arena itself, with a 28,800-
The Concord Convention Center & Embassy Suites Hotel Resort overlooks Rocky River Golf Club and features 42,000 square feet of event space.
sq. ft. floor and seating for 5,000; and two event centers (40,000 and 30,000 square feet, respectively). The spaces also can be combined. The 308-room Embassy Suites CharlotteConcord Golf Resort & Spa and Concord Convention Center offers more than 42,000 square feet of event space for functions of all sizes. Attendees can take a turn on the Dan Maples-designed golf course or spend quality time in Spa Botanica. Concord also is home to the Great Wolf Lodge, with stateof-the-art meeting facilities and a bucolic setting. It has a 20,000-
sq. ft. conference center, more than 8,500 square feet of flexible meeting space and five rooms than can accommodate groups of 10 to 600. Bonus: The Lodge includes an 80,000-sq. ft., 84-degree water park.
Want a ballroom alternative?
The 15,000-sq. ft. Vintage Motor Club, part of a former textile mill, is in a 100-year-old red-brick building in Concord. Its flexible floor plan can accommodate groups of 15 to 1,000 and includes a corporate boardroom and a permanent dance floor. An on-site event planner is available as well.
cabarrus county cvb
Want to meet amid the motors?
Want indoor/outdoor flexibility?
The Event Place at the Old Creamery, just outside historic downtown Concord, has 1,300 square feet of indoor space with a separate catering area. The 5,000-sq. ft. courtyard is partially covered and adjacent to the indoor space. Its soaring steel beams and exposed red brick make it unique in the downtown area.
Want to do serious shopping?
Concord Mills calls itself the shopping entertainment destination of the Carolinas and the most popular visitor attraction in North Carolina. It features more than 200 stores including manufacturer and retail outlets, off-price retailers and unique specialty stores. A NASCAR-themed fun park, a 24-screen AMC theatre and North Carolina’s only Bass Pro Shops are also part of the scene. The center has an oval racetrack layout and architecture that reflects its Carolina roots.
Want group or spousal outings?
At Reed Gold Mine in Midland, where young Conrad Reed made the first gold discovery in America in 1799, attendees can tour underground tunnels, pan for gold and watch an ore-crushing stamp mill in action. Other historical attractions include Bost Grist Mill in Concord, which still grinds corn into meal and grits with the same stones and techniques used in the 1800s; Historic Downtown Concord’s shopping district; and the threeacre Memorial Garden.
Want to keep it green?
Cabarrus Arena & Events Center is extremely eco-friendly with myriad recycling, energy conservation and composting programs as well as a policy of serving locally grown products whenever available.
Grapevine What you should know Grapevine has small-town flair but, with several full-service properties (including mega-resorts like the Gaylord Texan and Great Wolf), it’s no stranger to the meetings and convention industry. It’s close to the airport, located halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth. A new visitor shuttle provides all-day access to key areas of interest throughout the city and offers discounted group rates.
Grapevine Want to make a big splash?
Want to treat attendees like VIPs?
The 40-acre campus of the Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center includes horseback riding trails, indoor and outdoor pools, basketball and tennis courts, four restaurants and a private fishing lake. Minutes from historic downtown Grapevine and the DFW International Airport, the property has 393 total rooms and an IACC-certified conference center with 63,000 total square feet of space, including a 14,400-sq. ft. exhibit hall, three amphitheaters and 26 meeting rooms. Team-building packages are available, and nearby attractions include wineries, Austin Ranch and the Grapevine Mills shopping center.
Want group activities?
The Grapevine Wine Trail has eight wineries, some of which have meeting space and do custom bottle labeling. Lake Grapevine and Nash Farms lend themselves to special, outdoor events. Historic downtown Grapevine hosts many festivals and has shops, restaurants and a studio where attendees can watch glassblowing demonstrations at Vetro Glassblowing Studio & Gallery, which also has team-building packages.
Charter a group excursion to Fort Worth aboard the Grapevine Vintage Railroad.
What will surprise you The Grapevine CVB offers planners several value-added perks for meeting in the area. Their "Burgundy Brigade," a 75-person event staff, provides registration assistance and more; there's a CVB kiosk in the Gaylord Texan Convention Center that is staffed during key events; and for events that are open to the public, the CVB will distribute press releases beforehand to help spread the word.
trips to the Stockyards. The train can be chartered for special events and parties. Consider booking a private room at a winery for a meal function or treatment rooms at a day spa to pamper attendees. Three golf clubs and Lake Grapevine give groups opportunities to get outside and be active. In September, Grapefest lets visitors stomp grapes (and win awards for their purple feet) at the largest wine festival in the Southwest.
Want shopping? Want dramatic spaces?
The Glass Cactus at the Gaylord Texan is a 40,000-sq. ft. entertainment complex with four bars, a large dance floor and 13,000 square feet of patio space overlooking Lake Grapevine. The Palace Arts Center has two historic theaters, the Palace and the Lancaster, that are next door to each other. Meeting space includes a 435seat auditorium, a 180-seat performance room and indoor/outdoor event space.
Want to break out of the boardroom?
The Grapevine Vintage Railroad links Grapevine to Fort Worth with regular
Grapevine Mills is a large outlet center with brand-name merchandise at discount prices. In the historic district, shops sell dolls, gifts, Americana and British imports. From March through November, the Grapevine Market is an open-air, European-style artisan market with vendors selling jewelry, fine art, home décor, antiques and specialty foods.
Want Texas-themed events?
The Austin Ranch accommodates 50 to 1,000 people for private events; attractions include gunfight re-enactments, cookouts, live music, dancing, roping and kids’ activities. Cross Creek Ranch has a 4,000-sq. ft. party barn and a 2,000-sq. ft. covered patio deck.
Great Wolf Lodge is best-known for its massive, 80,000-sq. ft. indoor waterpark, but it also offers more than 20,000 square feet of meeting space, 605 spacious rooms and complimentary Wi-Fi. Meeting venues include a 7,350-sq. ft. ballroom (capacity: 500 banquet; 685 theaterstyle), two boardrooms, six meeting rooms and outdoor function space.
Lubbock what you should know Lubbock is a West Texas town that offers the type of cowboy-based experiences most people associate with the state as well as a wide variety of cultural amenities and attractions that make it unique. The local convention and visitors bureau offers a range of complimentary services for meeting planners bringing groups of 10 or more. These include: sending RFPs to hotels and meeting facilities; providing complimentary welcome bags, nametags and VIP gift baskets; and tour-planning assistance. Four major airlines fly in and out of the Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport: American Eagle, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines. Lubbock often is referred to as "Hub City" because of the number of major highways that run through it, including U.S. highways 87, 84 and 62/82, Texas 114, and Interstate 27.
Want dramatic venues?
Want to rock their socks off?
Buddy Holly is the city’s most famous musical son, but he’s not the only local musician to hit it big. The West Texas Walk of Fame celebrates some of the region’s finest performers. Adjacent to the
Grab your boots and ten-gallons if you plan to meet here, the hub of West Texas cowboy culture.
what will surprise you Famous ’50s rocker Buddy Holly hailed from Lubbock, as have such other notable musicians as Tanya Tucker, Waylon Jennings and the Gatlin Brothers. In addition to music-related attractions, the city also has interesting historic and cultural attractions tied to ranching, wind power, World War II and prairie dogs. And entertainment options are impressive for a city this size.
walk of fame and its Buddy Holly statue, is the West Texas Terrace with raised seating that honors citizens who have devoted a significant part of their lives to the promotion, development or production of regional art, music or entertainment. The Buddy Holly Center has several meeting venues, including a 2,500-sq. ft. fine arts gallery, a Texas Musicians Hall of Fame, and a gallery dedicated to the life and music of Buddy Holly. The entire facility can accommodate 415 people indoors; its outside courtyard accommodates an additional 250 people. The center is located in the Depot Entertainment District, which offers nightlife and live
music venues such as Cactus Theater, a 400-seat, 1930s-era renovated motionpicture house that presents plays, musicals and specialty music acts like adorable girlgroup the Cactus Cuties.
Want real West Texas flair?
The city was named after Texas Ranger Thomas S. Lubbock, and the community still celebrates its ties to ranching and cowboy culture. Every fall, Lubbock hosts the National Cowboy Symposium & Celebration, which fills the streets with rodeo stars, cowboy poets and chuckwagon cook-offs. Professional cowboy Brice Chapman is available to spice up events year-round with his rodeo horseriding and roping specialty act. On the campus of Texas Tech University, the National Ranching Heritage Center is a museum and historical park that tells the story of ranching, pioneer life and the development of the North American livestock industry. In addition to educational resources and exhibits, the center has 48 historic structures on its 30-acre park, and Cogdells General Store, which has a fun selection of takeaway items.
Owned and operated by the city, Lubbock’s central performing arts venues do double duty as major meeting facilities. Lubbock Memorial Civic Center has event space ranging from the traditional – a 40,000-sq. ft. column-free exhibit hall, to the unconventional – a scenic outdoor plaza with waterfalls, bridges and fountains. The outdoor plaza can hold receptions of up to 1,000. Other on-site facilities include a 1,300-seat theater that is home to the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra and Ballet Lubbock, and a 14,000-sq. ft. banquet hall with a fixed stage. City Bank Auditorium/ Coliseum has a 2,800-seat auditorium and regularly presents touring Broadway shows. Its coliseum has hosted everything from rodeos and circuses to Bob Hope and Elvis; it has 6,900 fixed seats and 1,440 portable floor seats. Wells Fargo Amphitheatre is an outdoor venue on a hillside in Mackenzie Park. In summer, it’s home to Moonlight Musicals’ familyfriendly productions.
The Woodlands What you should know Home to more than 1,000 company headquarters, The Woodlands is about 30 minutes from downtown Houston and 20 minutes from the George Bush Intercontinental Airport. It’s known for upscale dining, shopping and leisure amenities. The town center is ringed by a waterway that connects The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center to nearby attractions, restaurants and businesses.
Want to create VIPs?
Want to lose the boardroom?
CineMeetings & Events works with theater operator CineMark to help meeting planners produce turn-key corporate meetings and events in movie theaters. From private screenings to presentations, product launches, team-building events and face-to-face meetings, CineMark can provide event coordination, catering, marketing, technical support and A/V tools that link attendees to groups that are meeting in other cities. The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion hosts major concerts and performances from the Houston Ballet and Symphony Orchestra. In addition to VIP seating, its amphitheater has a 1,600-sq. ft. Woodforest Bank Club that’s available for business meetings and receptions. Amenities include 42-inch plasma TVs and a 10-ft. HD projection
The Waterway is a 1.25-mile-long linear park and transportation corridor that runs through the Town Center’s entertainment and convention district. Look for its daily water-and-light shows.
What will surprise you The town center is fairly compact, with the shopping and dining areas connected by trolleys and water taxis. But just north of the business district, amid several hundred acres of woods and lakes is The Woodlands Resort, a secluded corporate retreat. Attendees are only a half-hour from the hustle and bustle of Houston, but the peaceful, eco-oasis feels like it’s in a whole other world.
screen with multimedia capabilities, a full-service bar and a covered outdoor patio. Next to the patio is the 6,000sq. ft. House of Blues Hospitality Tent, which is available for group functions year-round. It holds up to 300 guests. During performances, live video feeds from concerts are broadcast on 11-ft. HD video screens and a 42-inch TV inside the tent. Spectrum Catering, Concessions and Events is the venue's preferred caterer. Waterway Square is a one-acre plaza with a synchronized
musical water-and-light show seven days a week in the town center. Groups interested in using the plaza should contact the Woodlands CVB.
Want group dining?
Landry’s Seafood House is accessible by Woodlands Water Taxi or trolley. Custom menus and private dining areas are available. Located in the Market Street outdoor shopping complex, Grotto Ristorante offers authentic Italian cuisine. Its Enoteca Room seats up to 30 guests; the Amalfi Room seats up to 70. Grotto can provide décor, including Italian ceramic pieces and candies, candles, custom menus, audiovisual equipment and florals as well as complimentary printing and ribbons for menus, if planners want to supply the stationery. Jasper’s is led by “Iron Chef America” winner Kent Rathbun. It has two private dining areas, including a frosted glass-enclosed boardroom. Both are equipped with high-speed Wi-Fi Internet. Crú Market Street offers wine-tasting menus and private wine lunches and dinners.
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The whole concept of the Woodlands Resort & Conference Center is to provide a serene natural setting where meetings can take place in an environment far removed from the daily grind. The hotel has more than 60,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor meeting space, including 32 meeting rooms (many with water or forest views), and fun extras like 18-hour swivel-and-tilt executive conference chairs. Conference service managers can help put together themed events, such as margarita parties, Texas-themed banquets and tapas dinners. There’s also the spa, where small groups of spouses or VIPs can convene for a day of pampering, enjoying meals at the terrace cafe in their robes and slippers.
Montgomery what you should know Texas’ iconic Lone Star flag was created in Montgomery, one of the oldest towns in the state. An hour northwest of Houston and 15 miles west of Conroe, Montgomery has a historic 19th-century downtown district filled with shops, restaurants and attractions.
Want eco-friendly accommodations?
La Toretta Lake Resort and Spa on Lake Conroe has several green initiatives in place, including recycling and water-reuse programs, low-flow water fixtures, organic and vegetarian menu items, locally sourced food and herbs, vegan spa products and guest education programs. Meeting facilities include four ballrooms (the largest is nearly 10,000 square feet), three lounge/breakout areas, and outdoor venues for groups of up to 1,500. The resort has a marina and a mini-waterpark.
Want to meet in a place with history?
Want group dining?
The Yacht Club on Lake Conroe offers several banquet and meeting spaces, including the Commodore Dining Room, the lakeside Promenade Room, a lakeside gazebo and a wine room that seats 12. AAA Four-Diamond dining is available at Chez Roux, an upscale French restaurant at La Toretta that has a chef’s table, lounge and outdoor patio. For a more casual dining experience, Kaiserhof serves classic German cuisine plus a smattering of other European
Lake Conroe lets your attendees meet in spaces that embrace an outdoor getaway vibe.
staples, such as paella and carpaccio. There is a private dining room, a lounge area and a Bier Garten with a stage. Ransom Steakhouse and Saloon serves Texas flavors, music and atmosphere in a rustic environment.
Want spirited activities?
The Rancher’s Daughter is a downtown gift shop that features all things fine and funky, including daily wine tastings of local vintages in its Rockin’ R Wine Bar. Wine tastings also are available at the Retreat Hill Cellars, in Montgomery’s old First State Bank Building. At the Cork This! Winery, attendees can create and bottle their own wines and design their own custom labels. Full- and half-day team-building programs and educational programs are available.
what will surprise you Montgomery is a family-friendly lake resort town with first-class meeting facilities at the La Toretta Lake Resort and Spa. The nearby Sam Houston National Forest offers hunting, horseback riding, fishing and nature hikes. Traditional convention facilities exist in Conroe; its Lonestar Convention and Expo Center accommodates groups of up to 1,200 indoors and has an equestrian center and fairgrounds.
the 411 •111,000-sq. ft. exhibit hall at nearby Lonestar Expo Center •22,000-acre Lake Conroe •9,504-sq. ft. ballroom at La Toretta
La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa
The Vintage Garden Tea House in the old Gundy home specializes in catering lunches, afternoon teas and social events. Private meeting and dining space is available indoors (capacity: 100) and an outdoor garden is available for receptions of up to 75 people. The Caroline House Bed and Breakfast Inn dates to the 1850s. In addition to the main dining room in the historic home, there is private meeting/banquet space for small groups in a garden cottage and five sleeping rooms. Fernald Historical Park comprises four historic homes dating from the 1800s.
Unite & Conquer Over 73,00 square feet of meeting space, 19 meeting rooms, stylish all-suite accommodations, endless group activities, award winning conference space and restaurants make La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa Houstonâ€™s ideal meeting retreat. For more information call 877.286.9590 or email email@example.com.
latorrettalakeresort.com | 877.286.9590 600 La Torretta Boulevard, Montgomery, TX
San Antonio What you should know San Antonio is a charming, pedestrian-friendly city that’s both laidback and festive. The River Walk (or Paseo del Rio) is the city’s central dining, shopping and nightlife corridor, and where major convention facilities are. Planners can shuttle attendees to venues or meal functions by water taxis, or arrange for a local restaurant to cater a river barge. Special facilities are available in River Walk restaurants, historic venues, museums, guest ranches and amusement parks. It's an incredibly fun, diverse destination with top-notch service and style.
Want to meet green?
Want attendees to feel like VIPs? The elegant Westin La Cantera Resort, a Condé Nast Gold List property, is just 20 minutes from downtown in the heart of Texas Hill Country. Amenities include a PGA golf course, a full-service spa, a 17,000-sq. ft. ballroom with 20-ft. ceilings, a 3,200-sq. ft. event pavilion, on-site fine dining, and 508 guest rooms and suites. A free shuttle connects the resort with the Shops of La Cantera, an upscale, open-air mall that has several group-friendly restaurants. Six Flags is just down the road.
Want to try the cowboy way?
Several guest ranches in the area cater to groups, offering meeting and conference space, cowboy entertainment (singers, shootouts, rodeos), teambuilding activities, dance and banquet
The eco-friendly Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center is accessible by water taxi or river barge.
halls, and hearty cowboy cookouts or steak dinners. The Knibbe Ranch gives groups the chance to participate in archaelogical digs. The Rio Cibolo Ranch has “A Little Bit of Texas” cooking school and lessons on using herbs for groups of up to 200. Diamond K Ranch has accommodations and can organize hunting, photography or fishing trips. Running-R Ranch has 40 miles of Hill Country horse trails. Pedrotti’s North Wind Ranch has special facility buildings reminiscent of downtown San Antonio in the 1880s.
Want a room with a view?
The all-suite Hotel Contessa is right on the San Antonio River Walk, a public park open 365 days a year and lined with hotels, restaurants, shops and attractions. It has more than 10,000 square feet of meeting space, including the 2,300-sq. ft. Contessa Ballroom and three outdoor terraces that overlook the River Walk. Meeting amenities include
state-of the-art technology, ergonomic chairs, a concierge and a refreshment island. The 2,400-sq. ft. Lone Star Palace at the Hyatt Regency San Antonio is a dramatic rooftop venue with a patio that overlooks the Alamo. A private elevator transports guests to the 850-sq. ft. private penthouse, which has a dedicated catering kitchen, bar, fireplace and outdoor grill. It’s a fun and unexpected venue that's right off the River Walk and offers great views of the sunset. The 632-room hotel also has an 18,000-sq. ft. conference center with 13 meeting rooms and two ballrooms, a garden terrace (capacity: 250 reception-style), a rooftop pool and a full-service spa. If you’re looking for function space on the Paseo del Rio, the Westin Riverwalk has more than 26,000 square feet of flexible space with river-view terraces or riverside patios. The 473-room property has 23 meeting rooms, the 5,900-sq. ft. Navarro Ballroom, the 3,100-sq. ft. Hidalgo
San Antonio CVB
The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center has green initiatives in place (recycling, energy conservation). The RK Group, the center’s caterer, doesn’t use paper coffee filters. It encourages use of china, cloth napkins and silverware over disposable goods, and donates leftover food to Daily Bread Ministries. Freeman Decorating recycles aisle carpet, steel metal waste and aluminum exhibit components; it also uses propane lifts and carts to reduce emissions. PRA Destination Management can organize transportation, themed events and group activities as well as green meetings and events.
What will surprise you
san antonio cvb; Witte Museum
The city’s vibrant arts scene is anchored in the King William Historic District’s Blue Star Arts Complex, where performance venues and arts groups provide creative meeting facilities and group programs. Unlike some cities, San Antonio’s river is a real river with a silt bottom that some locals still fish. A project to expand the River Walk an additional 13 miles will eventually connect the existing area to art museums in the north and the historic missions in the south. Note: Because the Alamo is a National Historic Landmark, functions held there cannot serve alcohol.
Ballroom, a boardroom and full-service restaurants. Its Planners Edge events provide meeting planners with easy solutions for entertainment and teambuilding events, with on-site options ranging from Biker’s Night to food-andwine pairing and preparing restaurants. In all, the 473-room property has more than 22,000 total square feet of space, including 23 meeting rooms.
SeaWorld San Antonio has multiple entertainment venues as well as corporate programs; the Witte Museum has venues for groups of 10 to 1,500, including the H-E-B Science Treehouse.
Want to team-build?
SeaWorld San Antonio’s teambuilding workshops occur in a marine animal classroom and include handson encounters with a beluga whale; additional meeting amenities include an in-house catering and design staff, keynote speakers and multiple event venues. The Don Strange Ranch Adventure Challenge Course is one of the few in the country that’s handicapaccessible. Capers DMC can create scavenger hunts and group activities. Dave & Buster’s has several teambuilding programs including special agent missions, problem-solving quests
and scavenger hunts; meeting space, arcade games and a dinner theater also are available.
Want to meet amid history?
The Witte Museum, a museum of South Texas history, culture and natural science, has venues for groups of 10 to 1,500 along the San Antonio River, including the H-E-B Science Treehouse and a 200-person auditorium. The Spanish Governors Palace is the last standing example of the Spanish government that once ruled San Antonio; the 1749 house and grounds are available for private functions.
The Alamo is a popular reception venue. La Villita was San Antonio’s first neighborhood; today, it is home to an arts and crafts community, shops and restaurants. The Majestic Theatre’s auditorium was constructed to give audiences the feeling of being in a Mediterranean village; planners can arrange private concerts, onstage banquets or seminars. The Empire Theatre is another historic venue available for private or corporate events. Historic Sunset Station has four buildings with a total of 100,000 square feet for groups of up to 20,000 people: the Depot (the historic Southern Pacific Railroad Depot Terminal), the Spire (the 1884 St. Paul Episcopal Methodist Church), the Crown (historic hotel and courtyard) and the Pavilion (covered banquet area and plaza).
Want to create a fiesta?
The San Antonio Conservation Society can create a mini-Night in San Antonio street party in La Villita with Mexican food, street vendors and entertainment for groups of 250 or more year-round. Historic Market Square (El Mercado) is designed to resemble an authentic Mexican market, with shops selling Mexican goods; planners can arrange for strolling musicians, and arts and crafts demonstrations.
Want to leave the boardroom?
Pearl Brewery, a converted 1883 brewhouse, is a 22-acre live, work and play development on the San Antonio River. At the complex, you’ll find the elegantly restored 19th-century Pearl Stable event space, which has a state-of-the-art video projections
system, wireless mics and a wireless communication system. The facility accommodates up to 500 guests indoors and has two 10,000-sq. ft. courtyards. If you’re looking for speakers, the brewery complex also is home to educational institutions such as the Culinary Institute of America, the Aveda Institute and the AIA Center for Architecture. The Southwest School of Art & Craft has meeting and event facilities on two campuses. The Ursuline Campus, founded in the 1800s by nuns as a girls’ school, has landscaped gardens, a historic dining hall and a Gothic chapel; the Navarro Campus has modern conference, meeting and reception space, contemporary art galleries, and sophisticated classrooms for art-making workshops. Local catering company Don Strange also operates several off-site venues — two ranches, the Buckhorn Saloon & Museum and the Waring General Store — that have indoor and outdoor function space, western-themed meeting
san antonio cvb; Al Rendon/san antonio cvb
The colorful River Walk attracts locals as well as tourists; the Majestic Theatre’s auditorium was constructed to give audiences the feeling of being in a Mediterranean village; the Buckhorn Saloon & Museum is a special facility operated by Don Strange Catering.
facilities and team-building programs. The University of Texas San Antonio’s Institute of Texan Culture has meeting, classroom and event space in an outdoor living history museum, an auditorium and a conference center. Entertainment showcasing the state’s multi-ethnic heritage also is available.
Want Tex-Mex cuisine?
san antonio cvb
Las Canarias at the Omni La Mansion del Rio is a AAA Four-Diamond restaurant serving upscale Tex-Mex food along the River Walk; it’s known for its champagne Sunday brunch and margaritas. Rosario’s Restaurant y Cantina is a neighborhood haunt in the King William District with Mexican food, a Latin art collection and live music. Blanca Aldaco (owner of Aldaco’s Mexican Cuisine in Sunset Station) leads cooking classes where attendees learn to mix the perfect margarita and prepare dishes from Guadalajara.
Want creative settings?
McNay Art Museum is a modern art museum housed in a Spanish Colonial Revival-style facility on 23 acres of
For an upscale Tex-Mex menu — and champagne Sunday brunch — try Las Canarias at the Omni La Mansion del Rio; the McNay Art Museum has both indoor and outdoor event space.
The 411 • 33,000 guest rooms citywide • 12,000 guest rooms downtown • 1.3 million square feet in the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center • Average group size: Under 200 • Best values in early January and from mid-August through September
landscaped grounds; event space includes the octagonal entryway, a garden courtyard and an auditorium/ballroom. Museo Alameda is a Smithsonianaffiliated museum with exhibits on the
Latin experience and 20,000 square feet of exhibit space. It shares a plaza with El Mercado and the 24-hour restaurant/ bakery Mi Tierra, which has a mural banquet room for 200, a garden terrace for 100 and a patio dining room for 40 or more. Mi Tierra also can provide entertainment like mariachi or trios, folkloric dancers, and more. The Blue Star Arts Complex has several venues, including a theater, beer garden, gallery space and banquet halls. The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center has event space as well as educational programs in dance, media arts, visual arts, literature, theater arts and traditional music
Laredo What you should know Laredo is 156 miles south of San Antonio, 158 miles west of Corpus Christi, and 153 miles north of Monterrey, Nuevo León, México, on the banks of the Rio Grande. It is a vibrant city offering nightlife, Mexican-themed entertainment and dining options, two major shopping districts and pedestrian access to Mexico. It’s proud of its heritage and has renovated the historic heart of the city, where lodging and many special facilities may be found. Laredo International Airport is served by Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United as well as Allegiant Air via Las Vegas and Orlando, American Eagle via Dallas-Fort Worth and Continental Express via Houston.
Want unusual amenities?
Texas A&M International University can provide speakers, seminar leaders, performance groups, facilitators and unusual venues, such as the Lamar Bruni Vergara Planetarium, which hosts presentations, stargazing workshops and receptions. Its memorial garden offers seating for outdoor events. TAMIU, itself, has 11 meeting spaces that can accommodate groups of 20 to 819. The Laredo Convention & Visitors Bureau helps planners organize cooking classes with local chefs along with functions across the border. The Audubon Society of Laredo offers eco-tours of Laredo’s birding and butterfly attractions, and hosts an annual birding and butterfly festival each February. The Lamar Bruni Vergara Environmental Science Center at Laredo Community College offers a variety of educational tours that invite your attendees to experience the Rio Grande ecosystem.
Want to meet where the art is?
Laredo Community College has two campuses: the historic Fort McIntosh Campus and the newer South Campus. The Fort McIntosh campus houses the Guadalupe and Lilia Martinez Fine Arts Center, which includes a stateof-the-art theater that seats 750. The
Attendees can go stargazing at Lamar Bruni Vergara Planetarium at Texas A&M International University. It has space for indoor receptions and a garden with seating for outdoor events.
What will surprise you Laredo overflows with outdoor attractions for naturalists (birding and butterfly trails) and hunters (deer, quail, elk, hog, ducks and bow hunting). The city also has cultural amenities, most notably in the multi-venue Laredo Center for the Arts.
Laredo Center for the Arts houses an arts league, a theater and art exhibits. Its event spaces include three galleries, an atrium, classrooms and a patio. Those spaces range in size from 350 square feet to 2,849 square feet and feature a combination of cathedral ceilings, skylights, arched windows and hardwood
floors. Planners with large groups can reserve the entire building, with access to all the galleries, the 2,849-sq. ft. Mezzanine Hall and an outdoor patio framed by two water fountains.
Want to go big?
The Laredo Energy Arena can host conventions, trade shows and meetings. Its 178,000 square feet include a 32,000sq. ft. open floor, seating for 10,000, 14 suites, six meeting rooms and a private club. The Laredo Civic Center has an auditorium (1,979 capacity), a banquet and exhibit hall (1,500 capacity), four meeting rooms that can each accommodate 65 and a large meeting room for up to 300.
Want to keep it green?
Want to sample Rio Grande history? Casa Ortiz, in the Villa Antigua district, was built in the 1700s and is a Spanishstyle house with rooms built around an interior courtyard. It offers views of Mexico and the Rio Grande along with a fully-equipped conference room that seats up to 25. The Villa Antigua Border Heritage Museum has gallery space and exhibits on the ethnic groups who settled the area. The Republic of the Rio Grande Museum tells the story of the 1840 republic and is the point of departure for Webb County Heritage Foundation historic walking tours.
If you have an event, the Laredo Energy Arena can accommodate you, with meetings areas large, small and in between in its 178,000 square feet; Casa Ortiz, built in the 1700s, offers views of Mexico and the Rio Grande.
Want group dining?
Agave Azul is a Mexican restaurant that doubles as a nightclub when the sun goes down. Hal’s Landing serves TexMex food alongside 100 arcade games and other entertainments. It also has a stage and video-projection equipment for meetings and presentations.
Want groups to get active?
Groups can boat, fish, water ski, picnic or pick up a game of golf at Lake Casa Blanca State Park. Group golf lessons are
• • • •
• 28,000-sq. ft. exhibit hall in Laredo Entertainment Center 4,080 guest rooms 700 Fortune 1000 companies do business here Best values in September-October, March-May 40 blocks of shops along San Bernardo
available at the Casa Blanca Golf Course, where greens fees start at $8. An upscale option is the Laredo Country Club
private course. The Laredo Hunt Club leads white-tailed deer, Mexican dove, quail, elk and bow hunting expeditions.
Want to shake up a meal function?
Create dinner and a show with entertainment from mariachi or a folkloric dance group at El Rancho Su Majestad El Taco in nearby Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. It has four private halls that can accommodate groups of 30 to 500 for banquets and receptions. Planners also may create progressive dinners that crisscross the Mexican border.
Dallas-Fort Worth What you should know People tend to think of this area as just being Dallas and Fort Worth, but planners who have investigated know that many of the metro area’s poshest resorts, largest meeting facilities, famous attractions and major sports venues are in the surrounding towns. Because many of these communities flow together, several local convention and visitors bureaus work together to promote North Texas as a whole.
Want high-tech surroundings?
Want attendees to feel like VIPs?
The Warwick Melrose Hotel has been a Dallas landmark since 1924. The AAA Four-Diamond award-winner has 184 guest rooms outfitted with plush beds and considerate touches such as multi-plug adapters on work desks and bathroom makeup tables. A Presidential Suite and 21 luxury suites are available on the property. Meeting space includes an elegant ballroom (capacity: 230 reception; 200 banquet), a boardroom, three breakout rooms and the Bridewell Suite, which accommodates up to 70 people. On-site dining includes the popular afterwork bar The Library and the AAA FourDiamond rated Landmark Restaurant, which is considered one of the city’s best. Minutes from high-end shopping district North Park Center, the Stoneleigh Hotel and Spa is fresh off a $36 million
The Dallas Convention Center has a 203,000-sq. ft. exhibit hall, in case your group needs to stretch.
renovation. The 170-room property has tribute suites honoring the likes of Elvis Presley, Judy Garland, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee; 6,000 square feet of meeting space; a full-service 5,200-sq. ft. spa; and a signature restaurant, Bolla, led by “Iron Chef” challenger David Bull. Built in 1912 and lovingly restored, the AAA Four-Diamond Adolphus Hotel has 422 elegant guest rooms, including 16 luxury and 123 junior suites. Crystal chandeliers and other distinctive architectural touches in its 5,300-sq. ft. ballroom, restaurants and other event spaces evoke the grandeur of the Gilded Age.
Want to take attendees away from it all?
The White Bluff Resort, 90 minutes south of Dallas, overlooks Lake Whitney and is home to two championship fourstar Golf Digest-ranked golf courses that consistently rate among the top 10 resort courses in the state. Meeting space for up to 110 people is available in the conference center, which also has a large outdoor terrace. In addition
to a variety of golf tournaments, the resort offers planners the option to buy all-inclusive corporate meeting packages that include A/V, accommodations, room rental, meals and an on-site conference coordinator. Other resort amenities include a marina and a full-service spa.
Want to meet by the airport?
The Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) is close to Grapevine’s major attractions, shopping and dining outlets, and central to both downtown Dallas and Fort Worth. The Grand Hyatt DFW is part of International Terminal D, so attendees can disembark from their flight and get right to business. Amenities at the 298-room property include a 6,600-sq. ft. ballroom, a 3,000sq. ft. ballroom, 20 850-sq. ft. conference suites, 45 meeting rooms, a spa, a 24-hour rooftop fitness center and on-site dining. If more space and rooms are needed, the Hyatt Regency DFW, next to Terminal C, has 811 guest rooms and 92,000 square feet of renovated event space, including an executive conference level.
The AT&T Plaza in Victory Park is an outdoor events venue surrounded by LED screens mounted on five-story glass buildings. Planners can use screens to brand events, show videos, make presentations, advertise sponsors or create a 360-degree environment of light and sound. The 342-room Hyatt Regency North Dallas, eight miles from downtown by the Richardson technology corridor, has 15,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 7,800sq. ft. ballroom, a 2,700-sq. ft. ballroom and 4,000 square feet of pre-function space. The hotel is next to a DART light rail and commuter station, which connects attendees to major shopping/ dining districts, the convention center and local attractions.
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what will surprise you Dallas is called “Big D” for a reason — it’s a Top 10 convention city — but it also has intimate venues, including an extensive collection of boutique hotels well-suited to smaller meetings and events. A flurry of activity throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area has added meeting facilities, hotels and entertainment districts.
21,000-sq. ft. DeGolyer Estate and the 5,000-sq. ft. Rosine Hall. The Dallas Contemporary has 6,000 square feet of gallery space for meetings, receptions and banquets; the museum allows groups to employ outside caterers/service providers and supply their own alcohol. The Embassy Suites Hotel Dallas has daily 10:30 a.m. feedings of their in-house “royals,” swans Queen and Barron.
Want Texas-themed venues?
The Old Red Museum of Dallas County History & Culture is housed in a restored 1892 courthouse building within walking distance of Dealey Plaza, the West End Historic District and the convention center. Meeting and event space is available in turrets, a great hall and the historic courtroom. Gilley’s Dallas is a 65,000-sq. ft. honky-tonk with five event areas accommodating up to 6,000 people. It’s classic Dallas, with live music, hearty food and plenty of room to dance (or meet).
Want to meet in a place with history?
Two miles east of downtown Dallas, Fair Park is the largest collection of 1930s art deco exposition-style architecture in the United States, covering 277 acres of landscaped grounds, and home to the annual State Fair of Texas. Indoor and outdoor venues include exhibit halls, a bandshell, a theater, gallery space and sports arenas. Fair Park also is home to an impressive collection of museums and attractions planners can use as special facilities, including the Smithsonianaffiliated Women’s Museum, the African American Museum, the Museum of Nature & Science, the Texas Music Center, the Texas Discovery Gardens and the Dallas World Aquarium.The Hall of State in Fair Park has a beautiful atrium event space and galleries devoted to the different regions of Texas.
Fort Worth Want to break out of the boardroom?
Planners can charter one-way or roundtrip journeys aboard the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, traveling the historic Cotton Belt Route between Grapevine and the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District; entertainment options include interactive “train robberies,” saloon girls, piano players and a built-in bar. Billy Bob’s Texas is a honky-tonk with team-building, concert, meeting and banquet facilities for groups of up to 5,000 people.
occupies a cliff overlooking the lake. It’s home to a spectacular 4.5-star Golf Digest-ranked golf course that is one of the top five courses in Texas with several available tournament options. Its conference center has 1,800 total square feet of indoor meeting space for groups of up to 125 people. Outdoor event spaces include a terrace and two covered pavilions. All-inclusive corporate meeting packages include room rental, A/V, accommodations, meals and an on-site conference coordinator. Other resort amenities include a marina and a full-service spa.
Want to meet in a place with history?
Stockyards Station is in the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District and has four special event venues, including the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame and a 12,000-sq. ft. outdoor covered pavilion. Attractions include historic walking tours, daily cattle drives, trail rides, a cattle pen maze, the Livestock Exchange Building, an outdoor concert venue, seasonal rodeos, themed restaurants and shops. The downtown Hilton Fort Worth is registered as a national historic landmark and known as the place where President John F. Kennedy spent his last night. In November 1963, the hotel, then known as Hotel Texas, was the backdrop for JFK’s outdoor address to the public. Minutes later, in the hotel’s 14,352-sq. ft. Grand Crystal Ballroom, he gave his final speech to 2,000 guests over breakfast. The 294-room property has more than 150,000 square feet of event space, including six meeting rooms for more than 700 people.
Want to get away from it all? Bring them to the Cliffs Resort on Possum Kingdom Lake, 75 minutes west of Fort Worth. The property
What you should know The Fort Worth Convention Center is within walking distance of Sundance Square, a 14-block downtown entertainment and shopping district. Meeting venues in Sundance Square include the Norris Conference Center, which has meeting, exhibit and banquet space. To experience what Fort Worth was built on, attend the daily cattle drive in the Stockyards. For a sense of where the city is headed, walk through the Cultural District and look at the continued evolution of downtown.
mark olsen/ dallas cvb; kristi casey sanders
The Dallas Arboretum has conference space as well as gardens; facilities at the Old Red Museum offer historic grace and modern amenities.
P L A N YO U R M E E T I N G S . C O M
What you should know Irving is 15 minutes from DFW International Airport, 20 minutes from Dallas Love Field Airport. The city is home to several full-service meeting hotels, including the Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas at Las Colinas and the Omni Mandalay Hotel at Las Colinas.
Irving Want eco-friendly accommodations?
Want to meet in a place with history?
The National Scouting Museum has a Norman Rockwell art gallery, virtual reality adventures, hands-on activities and exhibits on the history of the Scouting movement. Heritage Park has shade arbors, picnic areas, a gazebo, an antique caboose, and replicas of a settler cabin and a water tower.
Want high-tech amenities?
Texas Training and Conference Center has training suites for PC-based seminars; many hotels offer shuttles to and from the facility. Regus Group helps planners book meeting, conference and training rooms in full-service
Las Colinas Urban Center is a huge, work-in-progress entertainment complex with shops, eateries and eventually a 6,000-person performance venue; Mandalay Canal gives Irving a Venetian feel; “The Mustangs of Las Colinas” is one of the largest equestrian sculptures in the world.
what will surprise you The Mandalay Canal gives the city Venetian flair, complete with gondolas and singing gondoliers, who can ferry attendees from hotels to off-site venues. The Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas has 275,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space, including a 50,000-sq. ft. column-free exhibit hall, a 20,000-sq. ft. ballroom and 20 meeting rooms. It’s part of an urban entertainment complex that will feature shops, restaurants and a 6,000-person performance venue.
office complexes by the hour, halfday or day. ClubCorp Business Clubs have videoconferencing capabilities, e-lounges, workstations, and multimediacapable meeting and conference rooms.
Want creative meeting facilities? The Irving Arts Center has four galleries of contemporary and traditional art,
a 10-acre outdoor sculpture garden, two theaters and classroom, reception, meeting and rehearsal facilities.
Want group activities?
Las Colinas Equestrian Center and Polo Club has horseback riding trails, lessons, horse shows and polo matches from January to March and May to October. Two country clubs, Las Colinas Country Club and Hackberry Creek Country Club, have meeting and banquet space in addition to golf courses; the Four Seasons is home to the world-class TPC course. The Irving Heritage Society can arrange tours of historic homes and the downtown area, themed teas and educational programs.
Want to shake up a meal function?
Transport attendees through the Las Colinas Urban Center to a breakfast meeting or evening meal by gondola. The La Cima Club, on top of Las Colinas, has views of the Dallas skyline from its banquet area and conference room.
The 200-room, five-suite NYLO Dallas/ Las Colinas purchases renewable energy credits to offset 100 percent of its energy consumption and uses low-wattage bulbs throughout the property. Meeting facilities include a 4,000-sq. ft. ballroom and a 7,500-sq. ft. outdoor courtyard called Central Park. The Element DFW Airport North Hotel has applied for LEED Certification. Its 123 guest rooms feature recycling bins for paper, plastic and glass; all in-room kitchen appliances are Energy Star-rated; and the hotel was constructed using eco-friendly materials, wherever possible. Meeting space includes a 1,150sq. ft. room (capacity: 95 people banquetstyle) and a 12-person boardroom. The aloft Las Colinas offers a 525-sq. ft. room that can be configured for a 12-person board meeting or small banquets of 40 persons or fewer. Other meeting spaces include a lounge and a flexible outdoor courtyard. Environmental practices at the 136-room hotel, which was constructed using sustainably harvested wood, include in-shower product dispensers and initiatives to conserve water and energy.
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The Practical Guide to
Meeting Planning Regardless of whether youâ€™re an experienced or entry-level meeting planner, you need to be aware of the best practices that have evolved in the industry over the years. This guide will help you create and keep track of the goals for your meeting, room layouts, budgets, F&B needs, timetables and myriad other details. What follows is a compilation of some of the best lists, tips and guidelines culled from past Plan Your Meetings issues and LIVE Events, updated by our editors, advisory board and contributors. For more industry news, tips, trends and advice, visit PlanYourMeetings.com.
ÂŠ2012 Plan Your Meetings. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in whole or part without permission.
P L A N YO U R M E E T I N G S . C O M
define your meeting Clarify the purpose. Get the history. Establish the goals and objectives. Create a complete meeting profile — spend time upfront gathering the basic information to build a good foundation. 1. What is it? A new product launch, an annual board meeting, an incentive trip, a sales meeting or a social event? What are the goals? 2. Who wants this meeting? Who is the decision maker? Who are the stakeholders? 3. Who will be attending? Why are they coming? What are their expectations? Where are they coming from? What is the age range, and are the majority male or female? Are they bringing family or guests? Are there any special needs? 4. What have they done before? What worked and what didn’t? What was the cost of past meetings? Where have they had meetings in the past? Do they want to do something entirely different? 5. Don’t forget to ask the people who didn’t attend last year’s event why they stayed home. Knowing that can help you create an irresistible event that they must attend this year.
Create a Blueprint A blueprint will shape your event and can serve as a selling tool. Whether you make a formal proposal to a client or simply need to report back to your corporate committee or manager, you should prepare a structured proposal.
A cover letter might include: o Objectives and preferences o Geographical information o Meeting structure
o Demographics o Budget parameters o Summary
The proposal Should contain the following: o Destination review o Transportation plans o Site information o Room breakdowns o Food and beverage information o Entertainment and other activities o Day-to-day itinerary with grid overview o Cost summary sheet o Planning timetable o Detailed program inclusions (spells out what is included in cost summary sheet: e.g., site inspection, promotion, airfare, hotel accommodations, décor, special effects, room gifts, communication costs, etc.)
©2012 Plan Your Meetings. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in whole or part without permission.
o Program options and enhancements (i.e., CSR/sustainability initiatives) o Other things to add: historical information (if applicable); destination brochures; location photos; hotel/meeting room layouts; brochures from restaurants, caterers and entertainers; promotional items; sample invitations; and, depending on your relationship with the client, your company profile and references. If you are going to be responsible for securing sponsors and marketing the event, include that information as well. (Note: If you need supporting materials on a city and its attractions, contact the CVB.)
develop the budget The meeting budget is an estimate of expenses and anticipated income (if your event is profitdriven). It provides financial control and accountability. Armed with the meeting’s objectives, you can begin to develop a worksheet covering all categories. Reviewing last year’s budget, if available, will make your job easier.
List all fixed and variable costs: VENUE o Meeting or event space rental o Room setup/breakdown costs o Equipment rental and setups o Taxes and gratuities ACCOMMODATIONS o Rooms o Hospitality suite o Taxes and gratuities o Other fees (read the contract carefully) FOOD & BEVERAGE o Per-person food costs o Beverages o Breaks o Setup/cleanup o Staff o Taxes and gratuities o Fees (read the BEOs carefully) PRINTING/DIGITAL COMMUNICATION o Invitations/confirmation cards o Website/social networks o Meeting/pre-registration kit o Online registration o Agendas o Handout copies o Signage, banners, tickets o Internet AUDIO/VISUAL o Computer rentals o A/V equipment o Setup/breakdown fees o Gratuities
programsROGRAMS: o Field trips o Tour guides o Team-building o Sports fees o Health club fees o Gratuities SPECIAL SERVICES o Decorations/florals/props o Messengers o Photographers o Entertainment o Speakers’ fees and gifts o Linens/laundry TRANSPORTATION o Airfare o Taxis or limos from airport o Shuttles o Parking o Valet o Gratuities o Other ADMINISTRATION o Accounting services o Advertising and promotion o Insurance o Legal services o Postage/shipping o Security o Staffing o Supplies (notepads, nametags, etc.) o Telephone o Gratuities o Other
8 extra tips 1. Keep track of how you arrived at each budgeted item. 2. Allow contingencies for the unexpected (about 10 percent to 15 percent). 3. Have a credit card with the right limits on it. Discuss payment with all venues ahead of time, and make sure the staff knows who gets the bill. 4. Have cash on hand for tips and other emergencies. 5. Make sure to keep track of actual costs against budgeted costs for each line item in a spreadsheet. 6. Keeping track of how much money you’ve saved helps prove your worth to the company. 7. Keeping track of how much money your group spends on hotels, incidentals and F&B can prove the worth of your business. 8. Keeping track of how much business your attendees have given past exhibitors and sponsors will help prove the value of your event.
List all revenues: o o o o
Audio tapes, books, videos Event fees Exhibitors Grants
o o o o
Product sales Program advertising Sponsors Other
©2012 Plan Your Meetings. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in whole or part without permission.
prepare an rfp (request for proposal)
After you establish the meeting’s goals, outline the agenda and know the budget, you are ready to approach meeting facilities with a request for proposal. (You are asking them to bid on your requirements.) RFPs can be completed online, using meetings-specific software, through a CVB or over the phone. Whatever method you use, be specific. An RFP can be one to 10 pages, but make sure it is clean, clear and precise. This document represents you, your company and your reputation. It is paramount to be ethical; remember you want to foster long-term relationships. Respond to vendors in a timely fashion and be flexible.
include the following: o Contact information (name, title, address, phone, fax and email) and preferred method of communication (phone, email) o Company information (name, address, website, phone and fax) o Event dates and alternative dates o Event start and end time o Number of attendees and, if property, number of rooms needed o Preferred location of event (city, state and area of town) o Venue requirements (hotel, resort, special facility, restaurant, etc.) o Type of event (meeting, wedding, social, reception, product launch, etc.)
o Food and beverage requirements (passed hors d’ouvres, buffet, seated, etc.) o Off/on-site requirements (caterer, entertainment and setup) o Audio/visual requirements (sound, stage, lighting, screen, microphone, laptop, etc.) o ADA requirements (shuttles, ramps, parking, etc.) o Time requirements (deadlines for proposals, deposits, vendors, etc.) o Estimated budget (includes money allocated for event, F&B, venue, travel, A/V, etc.) o Additional details (sustainability/CSR initiatives, breakout rooms, patterns, etc.)
do site inspections Go through the RFPs you’ve gotten back and eliminate the vendors and properties that won’t work. Schedule site inspections with your top prospects. Ask questions. Take notes.
Basic information Needed: o Name of hotel or venue o All contact persons with information o Cancellation policy o Fees
o o o o
Deposit required Group rate for rooms Meeting room rates Banquet facilities and menus
o o o o
On-site caterer Business services Audio/visual services Parking
Food & Beverage
o What “green”/CSR initiatives are in place? o Does the hotel have executive/club floors offering special guest services? Business center, printing, free Wi-Fi, etc.? o Is there a pool, health club and/or a spa? Are they complimentary? Are group rates available? What are treatments and prices? o What attractions are on-site or nearby?
o What are the standard group offerings for meals and breaks? Can menus be created or tailored to your group? (Collect menus.) o Are taxes and gratuities included in F&B costs? Are extra charges applied for events that run over schedule? o What are the local liquor laws? o What on-site dining venues are available?
©2012 Plan Your Meetings. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in whole or part without permission.
Guest Rooms o What is the total number and type of rooms in the hotel and the maximum number that can be committed to the meeting? What are the room categories (nonsmoking, ocean-view, etc.), and how many are available in each category? Are smoking rooms close to nonsmoking, or are there nonsmoking floors? o Determine the cut-off date for room reservations and room blocks as well as check-in/check-out times. Will rooms be available for early arrivals and late departures? Establish how many days before and after the official meeting dates special lodging rates apply. o What are the guarantee and deposit requirements? What is the refund policy for cancellations/attrition? o If confirmed rooms are not available, will property provide overflow housing at a comparable property for the conference rate and provide free transportation between the properties? o How many complimentary rooms are issued for units occupied before, during and after the meeting dates? o Specify the number of rooms needed for staff, speakers and VIPs. Ask what the criteria are for obtaining free, more discounted or higher-quality rooms. o Request the rate structure for both single and double occupancy, with and without taxes. Be sure there is an understanding about how sales and use taxes will be billed or avoided. o Ask if the rates apply to children staying in the same room. o Review services such as hot/continental breakfasts, newspapers, Internet access, resort amenities, local phone calls, etc. Negotiate to have them included at no extra cost. o Ask whether there is space available to store luggage after checkout but before departure from the conference. (This service should be provided free.) o Inspect the guest rooms. Are they comfortable and clean? Is the furniture in good condition? Is there balcony furniture? Are the bathroom fixtures modern? Are robes and other amenities (bottled water,
shampoo, hair dryers, irons, etc.) provided? Do rooms offer adequate lighting (check and make sure light bulbs are working), closet space and hangers? Are the rooms wired for Internet access? What services does the TV offer (DVD, conference news, Web access)?
The LOBBY o Are the front-of-house staff (doormen, concierge, reception, etc.) efficient and friendly? o Is the registration desk easy to find? Is there staff to handle busy check-in/checkout times for major groups? Is there a separate group check-in area? o Is the lobby inviting? Check the cleanliness of public restrooms. o Check the availability and location of guest services such as ATM machines, gift shop, safety deposit boxes, etc. o How far is the lobby from the self-park lot?
Meeting Rooms o Walk the space. How long does it take to get to and from rooms? o What technology is available? Are there fees for not using in-house A/V? o Are rooms adequately soundproofed? o Are lighting controls in the room and easy to use? Is the room comfortably well lit? Can it be darkened? o Are temperature controls in the room, and easy to use? Is the air-conditioning quiet? o Do meeting rooms have high ceilings? Are columns or obstructions a concern? Can rooms be set up in the seating styles required? o Is adequate space available in or near the meeting rooms for breaks? o Does the hotel have in-house or preferred suppliers for A/V, florals, etc.? o Does the facility have any theme decorations or props you can use? Are they free of charge?
12 extra tips 1. Prepare in advance: Go to the facility’s website. 2. Take pictures with a camera or video cam. 3. Bring someone along; another pair of eyes helps. 4. Create a timeline from when you first experienced the property until the day you leave. 5. Eat a meal at the property and sample on-site catering menus. 6. Get to know the key employees: the general manager, concierge, director of security, chef, etc. 7. Discuss concessions but be ethical, honest and realistic about your budget and expectations. 8. Make an unannounced visit to the property. 9. Stay overnight. Order late-night and earlymorning room service. Arrange a wake-up call, and keep a checklist of all services. 10. Are any renovations planned? Will the work interfere with your meeting? 11. If you’re visiting an unfamiliar city, also schedule tastings with potential caterers and meetings with other suppliers during this trip, as well. 12. If you can't attend a site visit in person, see if you can find a local planner through an online community like MeCo or an association like MPI to do the inspection and send you their notes/ impressions.
follow these 6 steps: 1. Report back
industry websites • Asaecenter.org American Society of Association Executives • Conventionindustry.org Convention Industry Council (CIC) • Gmicglobal.org Green Meeting Industry Council • Iaap-hq.org International Association of Administrative Professionals • Ises.com International Special Events Society • Meetingscommunity.com MeCo listserve • Mpiweb.org Meeting Professionals International • Pcma.org Professional Convention Management Assn. • PlanYourMeetings.com Plan Your Meetings: online RFPs, resource directory, blogs, news, social networks, advice, tips and more ... • Facebook.com/ Planyourmeetings An online community of meeting professionals • Sgmp.org Society of Government Meeting Planners • Siteglobal.com Society of Incentive & Travel Executives
o Notify all who were involved in the site selection process (national sales offices, property-level sales manager, CVBs, etc.) that the bid was awarded. o Send thank-you notes to everyone you met, and consider providing feedback to vendors you didn’t select.
2. Negotiate site contract o Make sure the contract is easy to read and precise. o Ask a meetings industry attorney to review it even if your company doesn’t require it. At the least, check to see that indemnification language is included and is reciprocal. Make sure that each party is responsible for its own negligence. o Make sure it includes concessions and upgrades besides the standard offering, such as complimentary meeting space, room upgrades, VIP amenities, complimentary welcome reception, free parking, health club passes, etc. Specify what is not allowable for direct billing, i.e., personal phone calls, alcoholic beverages, movies, room service, etc. o Does it contain cancellation clauses, attrition fees, etc.? o Strike out clauses that “double-dip.” o Protect your group from change of ownership or any other factor that might reduce the quality of service by inserting a clause that gives you the right to cancel if quality of service is jeopardized by specific conditions. o Include a statement in the contract that all fees and charges have been disclosed, and that you are not liable for any other changes unless you agree to them in writing. o Update your meetings résumé and doublecheck details before signing. o Make sure your contract is countersigned and dated by all necessary parties.
3. Choose vendors o Ask the facility to recommend vendors, if they don’t have on-site services or contracts.
o Check references and talk with people who have used the service provider. o Meet with caterers and sample food. o Meet with speakers and/or entertainers and review demo tapes/press releases/ résumés. Is there a backup plan if there are last-minute cancellations due to illness, travel delays, etc.? o Arrange for equipment needs. o Arrange transportation. o Inquire about policies on credit and payment of charges. Is there a discount for paying in advance or within a certain time frame? o Ask about the cancellation/refund policy. Find out what measures are in place in case of equipment failures. o If the event is outdoors or includes outdoor activities, what provisions are there in case of bad weather? o Finalize written agreements and follow up with final details. o Schedule extra help for the day(s) of the event. (CVBs or colleges may have volunteers.)
4. Create spec worksheets Make separate worksheets for each function or meeting room, so they can be given to everyone responsible for the session or activity. They will facilitate communication and establish a chronology. Include: o Billing costs and information o Beverage/break/menu/catering details o Equipment information o Entertainment details o Program location and title o Setup details/diagram o Staff responsiblities o Type of function o Contact information
5. Invitations, signs, amenities, ETC. o Develop your attendee list. o Print and mail invitations, or save paper and email invitations, depending on the preference of your group.
o Include information on agendas about suggested attire, travel arrangements, directions and other instructions. (Consider including a list of other meeting attendees.) o Track the number of RSVPs; follow up with those who did not RSVP to find out why they can’t/won’t come. o If no reusable supplies from previous events are available, order signs and printed material, including nametags. o Put together your welcome package; include evaluation forms. (Consider distributing digitally or via flash drives.) o Arrange delivery of all meetings material with the event manager. o Develop and distribute meeting agenda (include hotel and transportation information). o Prepare a complete master set of all handouts and materials to carry with you in case digital files are corrupt or shipments get lost in the mail. o Get estimates/proposals for gifts or favors. Make sure they reflect the meeting and respect the corporate brand/image. o Place gift orders, wrap and distribute. o Make arrangements for post-meeting disposal of items, whether they are to be donated, recycled or shipped.
6. Pre- and post-meetings Once the contracts are signed, you will probably be assigned to a Conference Services Manager (CSM) by the facility. Get to know the CSM very well; he or she can help with upgrades, perks and special requests. Schedule pre- and postconferences with the CSM. Depending on your program, the average pre-conference is two to four weeks prior to your meeting (date of arrival). The post-conference will provide important feedback for you, the property and for future meetings. So be honest and don’t forget to give praise where it’s deserved. In advance o Check with the hotel at intervals to review the agreement, plans and to make sure things are on schedule.
o Submit group rooming list to hotel and confirm arrangements three to four weeks out (including menus, room setups and special requests). o Provide guaranteed attendance numbers for food and beverage events at least 72 hours in advance. o Confirm speakers’ A/V needs and travel arrangements and review per diems and reimbursement policies. o Confirm logistical arrangements with other service providers. on-site o Hold pre-conference meeting to review details. o Confirm arrival of shipped materials and distribute. o Check hotel “reader boards” for posted times and locations of your functions. o Check function room/banquet setups. o Notify on-site contacts of any changes in plans or requirements. o Monitor service delivery. o Keep track of master account. Review and sign banquet checks daily. o Make sure everyone knows what’s acceptable. See that either signage, in-room screens or registration packets contain information about ground rules. After the meeting o Gather room pickup and other reports from facility. o Prepare statistical reports on the meeting. Detailed reports should include attendee demographics, budgets and procedures as well as feedback. (These will provide a history for future events.) o Process evaluation forms. Document your successes and share with meeting stakeholders. Surveys should include more than routine questions about food, entertainment and the facility; ask what attendees learned from the meeting that will change the way they do business. Evaluate overall satisfaction and demonstrate how well the event met its objectives. o Provide feedback to the hotel; it builds a future relationship. Let them know what they did well, and how they could improve.
5 extra tips 1. Room rates are the easiest item to negotiate. Knowing your attendees’ habits and what they will spend on other services, such as golfing fees, gives you more leverage. Look for soft dates and off-peak savings. 2. Familiarize yourself with the destination and meeting locale. Get to know the local culture; find out what events are going on that you might tie into; tap into the CVB and any other resource. 3. Stay in touch with everyone. Make sure meeting objectives, systems and procedures are clearly spelled out and conveyed to staff and attendees. Keep suppliers, speakers and staff up to date on the status of the meeting no matter how busy you are. 4. Stay on schedule. Attendees want to know exactly what will be offered, when it will start, and how long they’re expected to stay. 5. Be courteous to everyone and make sure your staff is trained to be, as well.
plan your f&b o Get estimates and proposals o Arrange tastings and take photos o Choose caterer/restaurant o Sign contract
don't forget Food allergies and diet restrictions are an increasing concern among event attendees. Make sure this information is gathered during registration and that allowances are made. Don’t forget to make sure the banquet staff understands the importance of attending to and serving these needs.
rent it Need a candelabra or brandy snifters? Coat hangers or cutlery? Fountains or furniture? You can rent them all. In fact, when it comes to renting items by the hour, the possibilities are endless. Think “different.” Need to set the stage? Consider prop houses that work with theaters or within the film industry. Think about renting plants from a nursery, or paintings or sculptures from an art gallery. Visit antique stores, specialty lighting facilities or furniture stores for ideas. For troublefree rentals, make sure to have the time and people needed to make it work. Visit the rental company and do a spot check for chips, stains, cigarette burns, etc. Finally, check the cost of renting against the cost of buying. In some cases, it may actually be more cost-efficient to purchase the item.
o Pay deposit o Choose format o Finalize menus (include special needs) o Finalize seating, décor, etc. o Take final head count o Arrange for tips and taxes o Arrange transportation and parking
Negotiating guidelines o Beware of hidden charges — tax, gratuities, service charges, setup fee, decorations, carving person, labor, bartender, etc. o Ask for references from groups that have held food functions at the facility within the last two months o Find out how far in advance the property will confirm menu/reception prices. At hotels, if you have a choice between last year’s pricing and a straight 10 percent off the bill, take the 10 percent. Don’t forget to take a look at menu pricing before hotel contracts are signed. o Watch F&B attrition in the contract negotiation stage: Tell them you will pay any attrition on their profit, not the entire plate and not on service charges if the attrition happens far enough out that food and labor haven’t been ordered. If you think this is going to be a problem, ask the catering manager how far out they order the food. Also, go low on your numbers; it is always easier to add than delete, but be sure to keep your catering manager updated if your numbers are growing. Most vendors provide 5 percent to 10 percent above the agreed-upon guaranteed number. o Find out when the site’s program coordinator will arrive to oversee last-
minute details. (This should be at least 30 minutes before the food function is scheduled.) o The best way to handle F&B billing is have the property do a binder that has dividers by dates, according to your catering functions. Each morning they take the banquet check, attach it to the BEO from the previous day and place them into the binder under the day the event happened. Accounting then gives the binder to the meeting planner who is handling the billing on a daily basis to sign banquet checks. Once checks for that day are signed, give the binder back to accounting. This way any discrepancies can be discussed while the meeting planner is still on-site. o Be aware of what is happening in general with food costs. If you frequent certain restaurants, become friends with the manager and occasionally ask what pricing on food is looking like. Same with liquor store owners. o Keep an accurate history on your numbers. Go around and see how many people you actually have: Don’t count empty seats; count folded napkins or unused silverware. o For bar service, on consumption is cheaper than per person. Coffee breaks per piece are cheaper than per person. If you are doing power bars or granola bars for your coffee breaks, make sure they are on consumption, as very few people eat them. o The biggest cost-cutting you’ll do is in beverages, by not having an open bar and just serving beer and wine. Or have just one special drink in addition to beer and wine versus an open bar. o Is there a charge for a bartender/cashier? In a cash bar reception, find out if there is a minimum sales amount required to waive the cost. (Be sure that you comply with the company’s policy on alcohol.) o Add curb value to your meal by having the chef put herbs in sauces,
food, vodka, etc. It seems more elegant and won’t raise your cost. o Discuss how they dress their buffets. Many companies are getting away from fluff cloths and, as a result, the buffets look flat and boring. Tell them up front this isn’t acceptable and you want to see layering and texture. If you have a couple of pennies to spend buy some potted plants — they will last your entire stay. o Make sure properties charge based on actual, not estimated consumption.
Fresh Ideas o Put meal coupons in the attendees’ registration package for those requesting special meals. Have the banquet server set a cocktail round with the box of special meals behind them; people can come up to this station to redeem their coupon. o For breakfast, think along the lines of a European continental breakfast: assorted nuts, trail mix, cheese display with crackers, and an antipasto platter of meats, sausages and vegetables. o For coffee breaks have the facility put the replenishments for cream, sugar, cups, etc., under the coffee break table. Put creamer and sugar in big bowls to cut down on replenishment. o Make sure snacks or treats are fresh. Have healthy alternatives; keep them simple but fun — baskets of popcorn, plates of cookies, yogurt with fresh fruit and granola, everything chocolate or a local specialty, like Moon Pies. o Use decorative buckets to hold different types of snacks — trail mix, dried fruit, miniature pretzels, chocolate-covered raisins, etc. Put out wax bags or little white bags with a sponsor’s sticker and let people make their own baggie. o Consider an afternoon tea. Offer a selection of green teas with finger sandwiches or mini-desserts. o Don’t pay much attention to what is “in.” Instead, pay attention to the foods
your group enjoys and try to put twists on them, i.e., instead of chocolate chip, oatmeal and peanut butter cookies, do toffee chip, M&M and Reese’s Pieces cookies. Or provide healthy alternatives like fruit and nuts. o Be more conscious of the food that is coming back. Get up and walk around the room during your events and see what people aren’t eating. Ask the banquet captain to keep track what comes back untouched (tip extra for his or her help). o Always make sure buffets are doublesided, even for smaller groups. o Make the menu a keepsake. Do something different with your printed menu; put relevant quotes above the item being served, and then print the menu on a nice paper from a paper store. Or, if you’re interested in being green, print the menu on a sheet embedded with wildflower seeds that can be planted, or project the menu on a wall. o Personalize the meal — have the company logo or name stenciled in chocolate or powdered sugar on the desserts; ask the bartender to create a signature cocktail. o Use props on the tables to tie in to your theme. o Chef demonstrations, wine-tasting dinners, create-your-own stations, and other interactive, educational opportunities enhance events and make for memorable experiences. o Lazy susans or salads that need to be assembled at the table are a fun way to get people talking to others at banquets.
5 extra tips 1. Cutlery: Rental cutlery goes far beyond plastic and stainless steel. Your borrowed finery can include fish forks, butter knives or demitasse spoons in gold plate or pure sterling. 2. Dishes: Options range from exquisite table settings to Fiesta-ware for barbecue grub. Beyond the basics, you can choose from goldor silver-rimmed plates, bone china soup bowls, demitasse cups, dessert plates and so on. Mixed shapes and patterns add to the table’s interest. 3. Glassware: Rent glasses in every shape and size. Try different colors. 4. Linens: Rent tablecloths, table runners and napkins in every imaginable hue and layer them. Order dark napkins and lint-free tablecloths; lint from white tablecloths and napkins leave a mess behind on dark suits. Organize buffet tables into color groups to match a corporate or program theme. 5. Tables and chairs: Tables come in half-moon, serpentine, high-top and more. Or rent bar tables, registration tables and banquet tables complete with covers of every description. Ordinary banquet chairs can be covered with fabulous fabric for greater impact tied with bows, or hang with silk vines and flowers.
pay attention to room setups Dynamic meetings, effective interaction and successful learning depend on the setup of the room. Pay close attention to details and don’t just accept the schematic the facility provides. Make setup decisions based on your needs.
7 extra steps 1. Make sure you take the overview tour of meeting room locations. Are the rooms easy to find? How much signage is needed? 2. Attendees should be able to leave the room without disturbing anyone else. 3. If extensive writing is to be done or if the meeting will run more than two hours, seat attendees at tables, preferably without a cloth. 4. If chairs are not as comfortable as they could be, ask your speaker to consider giving participants a stretch break. 5. Provide plenty of ice water, drinking glasses, notepads, pencils, mints, etc. 6. It’s important that during sessions, attendees can see each other; it helps them connect with each other and the presenter. 7. People learn and feel better in comfortable, attractive surroundings; keep that in mind.
o Comfort zone: Make sure the room is neither too hot nor too cold. Are there any unpleasant odors? Be aware of cleaning solutions, food odors or any other less-thanpleasant scents in the room. o Doors and walls: Your group should face the longest wall in the room. This way, the maximum number of people face the presenters. o Front and center: Typically the back of the room fills far quicker, to the speaker’s disadvantage. Place rope and stanchions across the back rows, forcing people to the front. Or put the speaker in the center, “in the round.” o General appearances: Check to see if there are any panels on the ceiling that show signs of dirt or water damage; that the windows are clean; that chairs and tables don’t wobble or show signs of wear. Ask when the last time air filters were changed. o Lighting: Make sure all the lights are functioning properly and set the way you prefer. Consider pink lighting for the speaker, which is the most flattering. o Size: Make sure the room is not too large or too small for the group. If participants arrive and see a room that is relatively empty, they may think the meeting is not very important. A room that is too large is as negative as a room that is too crowded — both may give an impression of lack of respect for the meeting and speaker.
Have you left space for staging, audio/ visual equipment, pillars or head tables? Is there space for refreshment breaks? How do you know if a potential space is adequate to your needs? The best way to be certain your group will fit easily into a space is to create a diagram to scale. (Room diagramming software is available.) Another advantage to using a diagram is that it can simply be handed to the people in charge of setting up the room for your meeting. o Sound: Make sure the sound system is in excellent working condition and that there is someone who knows how to work it. Do a sound check before the meeting starts, and have an additional microphone on hand in case of technical difficulties. Also, consider neighboring room noises and hotel maintenance schedules. You don’t want someone starting a vacuum cleaner or lawn mower outside your room during the presentation or meeting. o Table shapes: Square or rectangular tables create a sense of getting down to business and are often preferred for training sessions and instructional meetings. Round tables encourage a sense of cooperation and sharing, and are also a good shape for creative ideas and brainstorming sessions. o Visibility: Make sure presentations, overheads and handouts use a typeface that all participants can easily see. Make it easy for every person to see and hear the other individuals.
seating plans The following are common seating arrangements. Whichever arrangement you choose should be comfortable and promote open discussion. There are nine distinct choices, each best suited to a specific set of circumstances. For more out-of-the-box ideas visit thrival.com.
1. Classroom seating
5. U-shape seating
Reminiscent of a schoolroom, this is
Also used for small meetings, standard banquet tables measuring 8 feet long and 30 feet wide are placed end-to-end to form a large U shape. Participants face each other, but there is space between the tables that can be used as a presentation area.
basically rows of tables with chairs. It’s preferred when attendees need table area to take notes, spread out materials or do other activities. One of the most efficient uses of space, classroom tables come in two widths: The standard table is 30 inches wide; there also is an 18-inch version known in the trade as a “skinny.” Tables are either 6 or 8 feet long. Place two participants at the 6-foot table and 3 at the longer version. Specify in your contract the number of participants you want per table; otherwise the facility may overcrowd each table to fit more people into a smaller room.
2. Theater seating Theater seating maximizes space, but it is far less convenient for note-taking or group interaction.
6. Hollow square seating Standard banquet tables are placed endto-end forming a giant rectangle or square that is hollow in the middle. It’s generally used for groups of 30 or fewer.
7. T-shape seating
In this setup, chairs are angled toward the front of the room in a V-shape. Chevron seating has a friendlier feel.
inches in diameter, seats eight or 12 people, and is nearly always used at food functions.
Similar to banquet seating, but the chairs
Used for meetings with 30 participants or less, all chairs gather around one large table.
8. Banquet seating
9. Crescent seating
4. Conference seating
Another small group setup, banquet tables are arranged to form a large T, giving a sense of having a head table where presenters might be seated.
The standard banquet table is 60 or 72
3. Chevron seating
are placed around one-half or threequarters of the table. Chairs all face the front of the room.
hiring speakerS & entertainment
speakers online • Thespeakersgroup.com Celebrity speakers and experts. Search by price range. • Brooksinternational.com Celebrities, famous athletes, motivational speakers and entertainers • Nsaspeaker.org National Speakers Association • Premierespeakers.com International resource for prominent speakers • Speakers.com Authors, impersonators, actors, celebrities and special interest speakers • Speaking.com Keynote speakers
o Do you want them to educate, entertain or persuade? Make sure they can help you accomplish the meeting’s goals. o Before hiring a speaker or entertainer, meet with them in person, watch a performance or ask for a demo tape. o Discuss what the specific presentation or entertainment program will be for your event. You don’t want to be surprised. o Try to negotiate a flat fee. See if the speaker is willing to include travel, hotel or other costs in the fee. o Check contingency plans for illness, bad weather, power outages, etc. o Make sure the venue can accommodate your choice. (A two-piece act in a large convention room will get lost.) o Arrange for something to fill in when the band takes a break. o Make sure you have covered all equipment needs (lectern, microphone preference, overhead projector, LCD panel, video equipment). Check computer compatibility. Be thorough about the technical requirements and make sure you know what is allowed and whether the room can accommodate the equipment, such as large screens. o Check access to freight elevators and be sure to leave time for setup and breakdown. o Be sure to meet with the on-site technician and make sure you can contact her or him in an emergency. o Check all mics and sound levels well before it’s time for the speaker. o Make sure the speaker or room monitor knows where the light switches are, how they work and who will dim them on cue. o Check sightlines to the stage or podium. Never place the speaker in front of a window, shiny surface or busy background where glare or distracting elements will compete and diminish attention to the message.
o Fresh or silk flower arrangements or plants near the podium create a feeling of comfort. (Be sure to ask the speaker about allergies.) o Will speaker provide handout material or need copies made? Be green: Encourage attendees to go to websites for handouts or distribute them digitally on USB drives. o Make sure the speaker knows how much time is allotted for his or her presentation and how much time should be left for Q&As. o Is there a rehearsal schedule? Is there a speaker’s room (green room) where he or she can wait or do lastminute preparations? o Have water available at the podium. o Let speakers and other guests know what meetings or events they are invited to attend. Are they invited to the awards dinner? o Are they willing to offer other services: MCing, working the floor, handling an information booth, etc.? o If staff members are doing presentations and need to improve their speaking skills, consider hiring a theater professional to work with them on stage presence, body language, vocal work and delivery. Corporate divisions of theater and improv companies have a variety of programs that can enhance employee training and development, and are often staffed by actors with corporate backgrounds. o If you are planning a team-building activity, make sure it suits your group’s demographics. It’s important that whatever you plan, it’s fun as well as challenging and won’t leave anyone out in the cold. o Want a speaker to be a virtual emcee or presenter? Look for someone with broadcast experience.
technology know-how Manage your meeting o Get organized with the basics: a word processor, a spreadsheet and a database. o If you need guidance, download free Excel spreadsheet templates for everything from conference matrix grids to attrition calculators from corbinball.com/tipstools. o If you want everything spelled out for you, meeting management software packages, such as APEX Powershop, can include everything from RFPs to housing lists, nametags and budgets. o Organize press releases, email invitations and marketing metrics with an online system such as Certain Meetings or Constant Contact. o Invite local press or industry bloggers to attend and cover your event.
Get connected o Make sure you know how attendees can get connected to the Internet on-site, and at what cost. o Use a video-conferencing facility or virtual network like Second Life to facilitate training sessions and conferences between attendees in farflung destinations, or to introduce a special speaker to the group. o Need broadcast-quality resolution? Go for HD cameras/projectors, satellite feeds or Internet 2 access. Live satellite broadcasts also are available for conferences held in movie theaters. Check ncm.com for more information. o On a tight budget? Webcam-equipped laptops create instant conferences over the Internet using free software like Skype. com, Google hangouts and ooVoo.com. o The World Clock Meeting Planner (timeanddate.com/worldclock/meeting. html) calculates the best conference times for attendees in up to four time zones. o Leverage technology such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yammer, Tumblr,
YouTube and GooglePlus to help you network, connect attendees and market your event.
Make it snappy o Encourage presenters to include YouTube videos and music in PowerPoint/Keynote/ Prezi presentations. o Spice up a boring presentation with a little humor. Some improv theaters have corporate entertainment/video departments or can team-build. o Moderate Twitter streams for real-time conversations/feedback using an event specific hashtag (e.g. #yaypym), and provide a blogging station during general sessions.
Set the stage o Choose a room with adjustable lighting. Keep the room light enough to take notes. o Data/digital projectors can be hooked up to computer laptops or DVD players. o Using closed-circuit video in large rooms allows you to scatter satellite screens throughout the audience to improve everyone’s access to the information presented. o Copy boards let presenters record notes and print them out for attendees. o Interactive whiteboards are connected to a computer and projector, allowing presenters to interact with the audience and access computer-based information at the same time. o Plasma display panels (PDP) or flat-panel television screens can be used in lieu of a traditional screen. PDP overlays turn plasma panels into interactive whiteboards. o Multiple panels can double as videoenhanced scenery, projecting one or many background images. o Water screens provide a high-resolution projection surface and make images seem to float in midair.
5 extra tips 1. Research areas you’re unfamiliar with at planyourmeetings.com/ destinations or on our resource directory. 2. Visit hotel and facility websites for virtual site tours and online RFPs. 3. Find out whether airfare rates are likely to rise or fall, and see what the current lowest fares are at bing.com/travel. 4. Make sure software is compatible with your computer’s operating system. Also, only load software on the computer you will be doing the most work on; software locks may prevent it from running on more than one machine. 5. Create a closedcircuit video connection between the main space and any spillover group so everyone can see what’s going on.
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o You don’t need a screen to project images. The surface of a pool, the walls of a room, a wall of water — anything that is flat will add texture and a touch of the unexpected to projected displays. o Consider creating projected 3-D images to interact with speakers or audience. o Self-contained, roll-up venues are available for outdoor events. o Check the presentation sightlines from everywhere in the room. o Encourage speakers to interact with the audience by providing clip-on lavaliere, handheld wireless or headset microphones. o Use colors and light to transform the mood of a room and brand the space. Laser lighting can create rock-show effects, spell out company logos or slogans and reinforce the rhythm and mood of piped-in music. Gobo gels in fixed lights can project logos and color washes. Special gobo gels can simulate textures, as well.
Be prepared o Walkie-talkies are your best friends. All important contacts should have one on the big day. Don’t rely on cell phones. o Make sure the venue provides you with at least one tech-savvy A/V person who will be on-call and within arm’s reach throughout the event. o Have extra batteries for microphones and charger plugs for laptops in the presentation room. o Make sure projection equipment is compatible with the disc or laptop the presenter is bringing in advance. Just in case, have a backup plan. o Use text messages, social networks and emails to broadcast emergency information or schedule changes, as needed.
getting there and back By air o Who’s in charge of booking flights? An in-house department? An outside travel agency? Coordinate flight arrivals to simplify ground transportation arrangements (and lower costs). o Select an official airline. Some airlines have group sales departments offering discounted fares, ticketing services and convenient billing policies. o Airfares tend to be lower if you’re flying into a major hub where an airline is based. o Best fares are traditionally found 90 days out. Bing.com/travel predicts whether fares will rise or drop, and lists what the current lowest fare is on any given day. o Encourage attendees to use your official air carrier. Use that as leverage to get complimentary tickets, based on number of seats booked to use for future flights for staff or VIPs.
o Ask airlines for additional frequent flyer points for your group and for an additional discount for those booking flights 60 days or more in advance. o Negotiate for the use of the carrier’s VIP lounge for an attendee meetand-greet. o Note fees for checked luggage.
Ground transportation o Check with hotels and facilities; many have free, dedicated airport shuttles or can provide airport pickups for a minimal fee. o Arrange limousine (Hummer, town car) transfers for VIPs. o Do you need to ask for concessions on staging areas and curb space at the airport or venue? o Are police needed for extra security? If so, who will pay for them? o Get advice from the local convention and visitors bureau (CVB) about how to
handle group transportation needs. Do they have examples of what similar size groups have done in the past? Do they have suggestions for unusual forms of transportation? o Contact local transportation companies the CVB recommends. o Does the city have a public transportation system that would be useful? Are group fares or charters available? o What are taxicab fares, and can prepaid vouchers be purchased for attendees in advance? o Consider hiring a destination management company to arrange transportation and drivers, print brochures and maps for attendees, and set up signs and loading areas. o What’s the transportation schedule? A continuous loop? Morning and afternoon only? On demand? o Who’s providing signage for each vehicle? o Arrange America Disabilities Act (ADA)equipped vehicles, if needed. o If venues are within walking distance, give attendees maps.
Be prepared o Make sure the vendor carries adequate insurance that states liability limits. o Ask for recent references. o Make sure vendors’ contracts spell out who is responsible for what. o Have passenger lists to check so no one gets left behind. o Keep shuttle vans stocked with water and light snacks, especially if attendees will be getting on and off more than once a day.
Jackie Thornton, M.S., CMP, contributed the seating chart to this guide. President of Global Marketing and PR Inc., Jackie also teaches event planning certificate courses. Claire Gould, owner of Rx for Events LLC, contributed to the F&B section. Claire shares her F&B tips and experiences monthly at PlanYourMeetings.com.
o Consider hiring a speaker or storyteller to amuse attendees if they will be on the bus for more than 20 minutes. o If attendees will have bags with them, make sure shuttles have ample storage space. o Keep informed about local construction schedules and traffic patterns; use that information to avoid both while in town.
Prepare them o Keep attendees informed about what they should expect before they arrive. o What’s the weather like? What activities are planned? Will they need sensible shoes? What should they pack? o What’s the airport layout? Where should they go after they land, and who will be there to meet them? What should they do if their plane is late? o Greet attendees at the airport with a bottle of water and with welcome packets; they can relax, rehydrate and reorient themselves to the new task at hand before arriving at the hotel. o Provide diagrams of the meeting venue and transportation hubs, so no one wastes time getting lost. o Don’t ever assume attendees know where they’re supposed to be. o Be productive in informing attendees about potential crises like hurricanes or flu outbreaks so they know what contingency plans are in place.
7 SAFETY tips 1. Gather a list of emergency contact numbers from the local CVB and notify authorities when your group will be in town. 2. Meet with hotel and facility security professionals and go over emergency procedures, particularly exit and crowd management strategies. Know city plans, too. 3. Go over internal communication plans; know who is doing what and make sure everyone is on the same page and is connected during the event. 5. Make sure properties and facilities are aware of who your vendors are, what they are delivering and when they are expected. 6. Know what’s going on in the world. Designate someone who can deal with questions and concerns attendees may have. Have alternative travel plans just in case. 7. Spell out specifically who is responsible for what in vendor contracts. Vendors’ insurance should state liability limits; see if your group can be named as additional insured. Consider getting an event cancellation policy.
Plan Your Meetings Editorial Director Kristi Casey Sanders updated and edited this guide. For more best practices, planning trends, tips, ideas, examples, industry news and more claim your free subscription to PYM at PlanYourMeetings.com/subscribe.
Published on Feb 27, 2012
Published on Feb 27, 2012
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