Prevue May/June 2011 - (Page 14)

bureau buzz where It Only Feels lIke yOu spent a lOt OF DInerO ATLANTA, LAS VEGAS + TORONTO CVBS dISCuSS THEIR ‘AFFORdABLE LuxuRy’ OPTIONS AROuNd TOWN Have you ever come home from a shopping spree and rationalized that it’s not how much money you spent, but how much you saved? “I could never have afforded that before,” you tell yourself. You are not alone. For 2011, cities are promoting their luxury product where planners can stretch a dollar, like finding a box of unopened Louboutins at a year-end closeout. ATLANTA Once known as one of the nation’s top convention destinations due to its collection of large hotels, Atlanta has sauced up the mix with smaller servings of boutique hotels. Over 12,000 hotel rooms, including a good selection of lifestyle luxe, reside within a 1-mile radius of Georgia World Congress Center, the country’s 4th largest convention center. Surrounding it are hotels like St. Regis Atlanta, Mansion on Peachtree, The Ellis Hotel and Glenn, a Marriott Autograph Collection property. “Atlanta’s market has changed drastically in the past five years with the influx of high-end unique hotel alternatives,” says Mark Vaughan, Chief Sales Officer for Atlanta CVB. “There’s more personalized service and pampered hotel experiences, and less reliance on transportation which help reduce groups’ costs.” And he adds, “Atlanta’s now acknowledged as one of the country’s 25 most affordable destinations.” Landing a whopper of a deal is no fish tale at The Georgia Aquarium, which was already the world’s largest aquarium before the $110 million expansion that opened in April. “You can have dinner for 1,000 in the 23,000-sf Oceans Ballroom while watching the whale sharks and beluga whales swim by,” says Vaughan. “There’s nothing like this dolphin-styled Cirque du Soleil anywhere.” The Aquarium is just one example of Atlanta’s lineup of cool, unique venues which don’t charge a mint for large groups, freeing up funds for things like fine dining and top-tier speakers. Vaughan recommends rentable spaces at The World of Coca Cola, The National Center for Civil & Human Rights and the new College Football Hall of Fame. “The uniqueness of these venues is that they took meeting planners and corporate groups into consideration when being built,” he says. LAS VEGAS Breakfast in Paris. Lunch in Venice. Dinner in Egypt. Late night drinks in Hollywood. Where else but Las Vegas could you do all four in one day without the cost of an around-the-world plane ticket? The city of neon lights, celebrity performers and themed block-long hotels has long boasted of its luxury offerings, but now the focus is on price and jaw-dropping value. “We want the world to know us as a value luxury destination. It’s a mind reset,” says Chris Meyer, CEM/CMP, VP of Sales for the Las Vegas CVA. “We don’t have to sell affordable luxury. We just help groups compare what they can get here versus elsewhere and ask what they want to achieve for their meeting.” Meyer mentions luxury product like the Mandarin Oriental, Cosmopolitan, ARIA, Wynn Encore, Bellagio and Caesar’s Palace. “No one,” he says, “offers better experiences at a more affordable price point than Vegas.” Furthermore, Vegas hoteliers have learned the value of working together. There are 25,000 rooms in Vegas’ affordable luxury market, yet hoteliers will say, “If I can’t provide the benefits you need to execute your program, I’ll refer you to another property,” says Meyer. “It’s always Vegas first as the destination.” When working with clients, Meyer doesn’t go into a hotel feature dump (how many ballrooms, pools etc). “I tell them how to get their value for every dollar spent.” He says studies prove that attendees spend 90% of their time at the host property, so Vegas hotels cement the deal with more group options. College Football Hall of Fame 14 | prevue magazine

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Prevue May/June 2011

Omni ChampionsGate Kissimmee
Beijin + China Travel Service
Radisson Blu
Atlanta/Las Vegas/Toronto
Clean The World
The New Luxury
Lausanne Palace, Switzerland
The Call of The Sea
PGA National Resort, Florida
St. Augustine + Ponte Vedra
Groups Gone Gaming
South Africa

Prevue May/June 2011