Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

March 18 2013

Florida: Meeting in the Sunshine State

By Jennifer N. Dienst, Contributing Editor
PCMA Convene

A Convene special section produced in partnership with Visit Florida

A dynamic destination for dynamic meetings

It may be the land of sun and fun, but Florida is uniquely positioned to host successful meetings and conventions. The state's lush, subtropical landscape and endless ocean vistas help break down the barriers that often exist in the everyday office environment, and indeed, once meeting attendees cross the Florida state line, it's almost impossible not to relax and bond with colleagues. But carefree doesn't mean work-free, and among the palm trees, Florida is filled with state-of-the-art facilities suited to virtually any group size and budget — from one of the state's many large convention centers down to polished boardrooms set within intimate boutique hotels.

Meanwhile, off-site venues for breakout sessions and other group events help planners push their creative boundaries. Ever host a reception beneath a 6.2-million-pound moon rocket? Or a cocktail party in an ice lounge complete with a bar, chairs, and pedestals made of ice along with frosty works of art? How about a breakout session overlooking a championship-level pool where Olympic swimmers train? Or an awards ceremony surrounded by NASCAR vehicles and other racing memorabilia? All this and more is available to planners bringing groups to the Sunshine State.

Even the experts in recreation and family fun — the theme parks — can get down to business with exclusive areas and themed events created just for groups, including behind-the-scenes activities and experiences not available to the general public. If a more tranquil atmosphere suits the agenda, parks and nature preserves throughout the state can accommodate groups in on-site meeting facilities, including classrooms, outdoor pavilions, and amphitheaters.

Of course, once the PowerPoint presentations have been packed away, meeting attendees are just like any visitors to the Sunshine State, eager to hit the golf course or the beach, paddle a pristine inland waterway, indulge themselves at a spa, or sample savory specialties — whether it's Caribbean fare in South Florida or Southern-fried favorites in North Florida. So it's no surprise why planners report increased attendance when their meeting is set there, and why so many attendees return with their families later. Must be the sunshine.

For more information: VISIT FLORIDA — Cheryl Hatcher, Director of Marketing and Events; chatcher@visitflorida.org; 850.205.3831; floridameetings.com

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