By the Editors of Convene.
with an iPod docking station for music, is welcome and relaxing. We had a lovely dinner there and felt almost at home.”
With great pricing, big-city amenities, and a rich history, Philadelphia is a particularly good destination for East Coast meetings. Only about an hour-and-a-half from both New York City and Washington, D.C., downtown Philadelphia is also just a short trip from Philadelphia International Airport. “Many of the attendees from my last meeting in Philadelphia, which was a group of about 100, had nothing but great things to say about the area,” said Paige Woodburn, event manager for MD Events. “They loved the fact that they could walk or take a quick cab ride to Independence Mall, ...and the proximity of fine dining, cultural exhibits, and historical attractions make Philadelphia an easy, yet elegant, option for meetings.”
MEYDENBAUER CENTER, BELLEVUE, WASH.
Meydenbauer Center is designed for larger events, but also features an Executive Conference Suite, with room for smaller meetings of eight to 60 guests. Its human scale mirrors its destination. Located just east of Seattle across Lake Washington, Bellevue is a walkable city with many unique stores and boutiques and some of the Pacific Northwest’s best dining. “The Meydenbauer Center is a great venue with a great team,” said Niki Kinkelaar, CMP, project lead of meetings and incentives for The Pampered Chefs Ltd. “The meeting space is functional and the prefunction area is spacious. I had such a great experience in 2010 that I am thrilled to be back in August 2012.”
Best CSR Initiatives
CLEAN THE WORLD
What happens to all those used bars of soap your attendees leave in their hotel rooms? The majority are thrown out, according to Clean the World Foundation, an Orlando-based nonprofit that recycles and redistributes hotel soap and shampoo to impoverished people throughout the world. Currently, Clean the World partners with Starwood Hotels and more than 1,000 individual hotels across the country, including Caesars Windsor, where Jeremy Tyrrell, senior manager of resort and hotel sales, helped to implement the program. “It seems so small a thing,” Tyrrell said. “But anyone who’s had to compromise their hygiene because of a circumstance beyond their control knows just how much it means to have a fresh bar of soap.”
WESTIN DENVER DOWNTOWN’S HOLIDAY GIVE-BACK PROGRAM
Holidays are often a time for celebration and giving thanks - at home and in the workplace. They can also be a time for giving back, as is the case with the Westin Denver Downtown, which two years ago implemented a Holiday Give-Back program. When an organization books a holiday party, the hotel donates 4 percent of the food-and-beverage total to one of four local charities in Colorado - and plants one indigenous tree for each attendee. “This Give-Back program, and commitment to the community, differentiated the Westin from all the other venues,” said Trish Lowe, sales and conference associate at Denver-based BENTEK Energy. “We immediately made our decision to host our holiday party there.”
FREE THE CHILDREN’S WE DAY EVENTS
We Day events are an offshoot of the work done by Free The Children, an international charity whose programs educate, engage, and empower youth across North America and the United Kingdom. At the events, which feature figures from the Jonas Brothers to the Dalai Lama, young people join to celebrate the actions they are taking to give back. There’s no cost to attend - instead, youths earn their way in through their own fundraising or community-service efforts. We Day events don’t just inspire children, though, said Jacqui Sullivan, CMP, with Absolute Conferences and Events Inc. They are “an exceptional example of how powerful an event can be to inspire and lead to real change for the better.”
ARCHITECTS OF HEALING AT AIA’S 2012 NATIONAL CONVENTION
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) honored the lead and project architects of post–Sept. 11 restoration projects at the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and the Flight 93 National Memorial in the Architects of Healing ceremony at its 2012 National Convention last May - as many of those projects are nearing completion. “This was the first national gathering where honorees [publicly] shared their feelings and observations about how, as an architect, they responded,” said Phil Simon, CAE, AIA’s managing director of communications and publishing. Honorees presented “a first-person observation about what it meant to use passion and the architect’s skill to help inspire hope for a better world.”
MARKETPLACE 2.0 AT ISES NYC’s 2012 SUSTAINABILITY SUMMIT
The International Special Events Society (ISES) NY Metro Chapter’s 2012 Sustainability Summit focused on fostering green practices for the meetings and events industry, with the specific goal of providing stakeholders with the education and resources to achieve their own sustainability goals. One of the event’s standout features was Marketplace 2.0, a unique approach to the trade show, billed as a “marketplace of ideas” and made up of social spaces to encourage discussion between attendees, sponsors, and green experts. “I believe sustainability is not a cause, it is an imperative,” said Jill Taub Drury, ISES NY Metro Chapter’s director at large for CSR and sustainability. “I didn’t want us to just talk about sustainability. ...I looked to create a sustainable event for our attendees to experience firsthand.”
Best Off-Site Venues
ILLUMINATIONS, DISNEY WORLD
Many people would describe their Disney World experience as “magical,” but the park takes magic to a whole new level at the IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth fireworks and water show in the Epcot theme park’s World Showcase. Frequently used for smaller private events, the viewing areas “[are] special, reasonably priced, and a fabulous experience,” said Shonna Shroedl, vice president of events at Kikaua, LLC. And Disney staff are known to be exceptionally accommodating. “Disney is by far one of the easiest venues to have a meeting or event,” said Shroedl, who organized a 40-person event in the fireworks viewing area. “Their customer service is outstanding.”
ACL LIVE AT THE MOODY THEATER, AUSTIN, TEXAS
Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater is a unique venue in a city where live music is king - a reimagining of an iconic piece of Austin’s music roots with an immediate connection to the authentic soul of the city. ACL Live is home to the PBS program “Austin City Limits” and is an official SXSW venue. “ACL Live is a beautifully state-of-the-art facility with a specific focus on the fan/guest experience,” said Nicole Portwood, brand manager of Fifth Generation Inc., which held Tito’s Handmade Vodka’s 2011 Hometown Shindig at the theater. “Everything from the first impression walking up the stairs to the number of bathrooms ensures that everyone has the best possible experience.”
EMBASSY OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION, WASHINGTON, D.C.
A stark building reminiscent of the Soviet era takes guests back through history at the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Washington, D.C. Second-floor banquet rooms are furnished in the style of the Russian Empire - with authentic furniture, art, and artifacts from Peter the Great and the Romanovs. “Entering the rooms truly transports