@MPIGNY- Spring 2013 - (Page 16)

#feature MEETINGS W AT THE BEACH BY ROBIN BEHAR e’ve all heard the old adage before: Location, Location, Location! While this mantra may hold true in a quest to attain prime real estate for a storefront business, it should also be top of mind for meeting professionals. Indeed, meetings are not just contained within the walls of a convention center or hotel; rather, the general attitude and feel of a meeting should extend into its surroundings, giving attendees a sense that the event, the city and its attractions are inseparable. The environment in which a meeting is framed immediately dictates the mood of the event even before it begins. Leaving the airport in sub-freezing weather, trekking to the hotel and attempting to don a conference badge with a smile is a much more daunting task than to do so in the temperate zones near the ocean. So, what is it about the coast that is the biggest factor in the success of a meeting and in attracting attendees? Kimberly Miles of the Myrtle Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau notes, “Though the primary focus must be about the meeting, having opportunities outside of the ballroom walls can motivate and inspire. If incorporated appropriately, the ocean has a way of putting your thoughts into new perspectives to get the creative juices flowing.” And having engaged yet relaxed participants is what a successful meeting is all about for both planners and attendees. Patti Lloyd, Vice President of Sales at the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, agrees. “The contemporary meeting has moved from the corporate board room to the destination retreat – where attendees are a captive audience 16 @MPIGNY SPRING 2013 and creative thinking is inspired by the setting.” Dottie Bossley, Regional Sales Director of the Galveston Island CVB, says “meeting professionals know that their attendees find Galveston to be an exciting destination where they can mix business with pleasure by attending their meetings while bringing their families for a vacation. Pre and post trips give the meeting professional another angle to market their conference to their attendees.” Planning meetings at the beach does not have to be season-dependant. Throughout North America, destinations can be found year-round that will give your attendees opportunities to enjoy the ocean, the golf courses and other attractions unique to coastal environs. Locations such as Ft. Lauderdale and Miami are great fall and winter meeting destinations, as the weather is still warm enough for attendees to enjoy the beach, yet cool enough not to break a sweat on the golf course. Summer may be an ideal time to head north for a waterfront meeting. Cape Cod boasts average summer temperatures in the 70s, making it an ideal gathering spot for any outdoor activity. In some cases, however, great deals can be had planning events in perceived off seasons. When discussing seasonal bookings in Myrtle Beach, Kimberly Miles says that, “summer months bring a large influx of leisure visitors and families, which also becomes attractive for conferences that encourage family attendance. Spring and fall are shoulder months and promise perfect weather and lighter crowds. November-February offers the best in value while the cool crisp days still allow for golf and other outdoor activities.” It is a similar case in Galveston where, as Dottie Bossley points out, “summer and weekends are our busy leisure tourist times. Meetings packages typically are more competitive in the fall and spring during the weekday, helping the attendee and meeting professional stay within their budget.” In most coastal regions, caterers definitely take advantage of local seafood offerings. Dottie Bossley notes that “chefs of our famous local restaurants and hotels go to Pier 21 to hand-pick the best seafood the Gulf coast has to offer in order to prepare a menu that meeting attendees will rave about. The ‘buy local’ trend throughout the US is easy and delicious on Galveston Island.” The coastal regions of New England are lobster and clam country. Attendees will enjoy bellying up to a traditional seafood boil, complete with crab, lobster, shrimp, clams and all the fixings. But seafood’s not all that is on the menu in Cape Cod. Patti Lloyd says that, like Galveston, “there is a movement afoot in the region which promotes locally grown produce, poultry and beef…Fresh produce, herbs, eggs, lobsters, honey, baked goods…are among the many products for sale at Cape Cod farms, farmers’ markets and flower gardens.” Further south, Kimberly Miles notes that in Myrtle Beach “many chefs and caterers can provide their own Carolina Coastal Cuisine options, using a wide array of locally fished, grown and produced foods.” With over 6000 miles of coastline in the contiguous United States, there is no shortage of options on where to plan your next ocean side event. The best bet is to evaluate your budget and do some research on seasonal opportunities in coastal communities. Your attendees will thank you for the opportunity to walk away from the event having acquired new connections and, possibly, a new sun tan. @ http://www.mpigny.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of @MPIGNY- Spring 2013

President's Message
Force Majeure
Trends in Event Food and Beverage
Meeting and Media
Member Spotlight
Tips for Professional Development
Meetings at the Beach
Destination Niagara Falls
Chapter Survey
New Members
Advertisers Index
Can You Spot Yourself?

@MPIGNY- Spring 2013