Successful Meetings - February 2009 - (Page 90)

ARUBA > NICE & NEIGHBORLY NICE & By Heidi Waldrop Bay NEIGHBORLY petition among all the hotels and [destination management companies],” says Howard. “Their attitude is: ‘If I can’t help you, my neighbor will.’ ” The fact that a tiny island like Aruba boasts one of the highest repeat visitor rates in the Caribbean (57 percent overall, including timeshares; 43 percent for transient business), even during the recent economic slowdown, is more than mere chance. The island has proactively taken its natural assets and created a complementary infrastructure that is not only visitor friendly, but also group friendly. “We try to create a setting that works for meetings, from ease of accessibility, world-class accommodations, and technological capabilities, to the fact that meetings are tax deductible just like in the U.S., to a wide range of activities and celebrations and the island’s gold standard reputation for hospitality,” says Rob Smith, president and CEO of the Aruba Hotel and Tourism Association, which runs the Aruba Convention Bureau for North America in partnership with the Aruba Tourism Authority. Aruba is specifically using its assets to court meetings business. “We already do a good portion of group business, 85 percent of which is in the incentive market,” says Smith. “We would like to do more in the pure meetings market, and feel like now is a MEETING PLANNERS LOVE TO RETURN TO TINY ARUBA FOR THE CULTURE, CUISINE, AND NIGHTLIFE A distinct combination of convenience and service keeps Craig Howard bringing his meeting and incentive groups back to Aruba—a snippet of paradise only 17 miles long and five miles wide at its broadest point and home to more than 100,000 people of 80 different nationalities. Howard, the national sales director for Alexandria, VAbased Corporate Incentive Travel, says the island’s famous friendly attitude makes it easy to plan and execute a meeting program. “Everyone speaks English, their facilities are top-notch, and the biggest thing I see is there is no [unhealthy] com- 90 I SM I February 2009 I Top, one of the Radisson Aruba’s poolside cabanas; left, dine beachside at the Hyatt Regency Aruba

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Successful Meetings - February 2009

Successful Meetings - February 2009
Editor's Letter
News Update: Meetings Associations Band Together
Planner Spotlight
Technology Talk
Food & Beverage
Making Cents of It All
Meanwhile, Back at Headquarters
Seal of Approval
Come Sail Away
Making Tracks
Places & Spaces
Florida’s East Coast
3 Days in Philadelphia

Successful Meetings - February 2009