By Sarah Beauchamp and Katie Kervin, Assistant Editors
What's new for meetings and conventions at your venue that you're most excited about?
The Myrtle Beach Convention Center continues yearly to improve its technologies to the newest and latest trends in communications in our convention center and meeting space. All wireless, all under one roof!
What are meeting planners asking for now that they weren't asking for a year or two ago?
Planners are expecting more professional meeting environments and technologies, and more details on contracts specifically identifying their needs. The Myrtle Beach Convention Center is continually upgrading our technologies in our convention hall as well as in meeting rooms. As our contract is not changeable, it can be flexible to add the details the planners would like to outline to assure them of these services. In the past, this was the contract and it was either “take it or leave it.” Now by being more proactive in adding planners’ requests, we are opening ourselves up to a bigger bidding arena.
Who has been your mentor in the meetings industry?
I worked with a development and marketing director of a large hotel chain's headquarters as coordinator, where I was able to understand the process of the development of a property and marketing it as well, which initiated my interest in selling. Following my desire to accommodate the needs of others, combined with my natural ability to meet people, it certainly was the right industry for my success.
What is your leadership style?
Definitely two heads are better than one! Group decisions and input prove to be the best results. Creating an atmosphere where creativity and passion lead with a guided, educational hand.
What are you most looking forward to in 2013?
More local farm-to-table restaurants, less amateur organizers, and more educated companies able to do all the planning on their own. Customization of each event by changing its theme each year, adding and building a growing attendance with networking to larger masses. Less of a generational gap in events, from mobile and new advanced technologies that will attract all ages with a wiser, more detailed, and educated planner and venue.
What is the biggest challenge — and the biggest opportunity — facing the meetings industry today?
The biggest challenge would be to keep up with our technology that is changing daily. Attendees are becoming more traveled, wiser, and technology-driven. Social-media technologies will get even more streamlined. Marketing ambassadors will take over the exhibit-hall floors. Attendees and exhibitors will have a database of information to connect directly with matchmaking venues. By understanding and keeping up with the Generation Ys and the newest and latest ideas and trends, we will be able to keep our future sustainable in the meetings industry.
Rita Harrell, CEM
Sales Manager, Myrtle Beach Convention Center