Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

March 2013

Western Destinations: Boundless Opportunities

By Jennifer N. Dienst, Contributing Editor

often found only in small towns.

… you think will change with regard to meetings this year?

There is certainly a new energy and an improved perception about the direction of the meetings industry, but we can't take that for granted. We need to continue to help organizations promote the value of our industry to prospective attendees of their events. More than ever before, that message promotes the value of face-to-face meetings, the exchange of information and best practices, the overall experience that the backdrop of a city like Sacramento can provide to a meeting attendee, and the value of that particular organization to be the leading source of cutting-edge information to its constituencies. However, there is still much more that needs to be done to demonstrate the value of our industry. We still need to push forward with the messages that meetings directly impact the economies of communities and meetings are opportunities to share best practices and creatively collaborate with others from around the nation and world.

Aaron M. McCreight, CDME
Chief Executive Officer Casper Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

… a meeting attendee shouldn't miss doing or seeing while in your destination?

Getting outside! Casper is Wyoming's Adventure Capital, and as great as our meeting-space options are, nothing compares to what awaits when you step away from the conference room. Whether you want to hike, bike, ski, or sled on Casper Mountain, stick the green on one of our 90 holes of golf, or get out on the North Platte River to fish, kayak, or just for a relaxing float, Casper offers outdoor adventure for all of your meeting attendees.

Tom Norwalk
President & CEO Visit Seattle

… meeting planners should know about your destination?

Seattle's reputation for meeting excellence along with its superb hotel package, convention center, and off-site venues often inspires record-setting attendance for groups. Downtown Seattle is vibrant, walkable, and anything but cookie-cutter, and planners know their attendees will thrive on our city's culture, creative energy, world-class food and wine, and unique proximity to outdoor recreation. Seattle is a good fit for mid-sized meetings and conventions, but offers big-city sophistication. More than 7,000 hotel guest rooms are within an easy walk of the Washington State Convention Center, and the city's top attractions, theater, museums, symphony, shopping, and dining are just steps from both.

… you try to cultivate within your CVB team?

Visit Seattle's primary goal is to provide the best DMO service in North America. We're making good progress — Visit Seattle was just ranked the top CVB/DMO by more than 700 meeting planners in a survey conducted by Watkins Research Group.

Joel Racker
President/CEO Utah Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau

… meeting planners should know about your destination?

Last May, Utah Valley welcomed the Utah Valley Convention Center. This $41-million, 130,000-square-foot facility is Utah's only LEED Silver-certified, eco-friendly convention center, conveniently located on historic Center Street in downtown Provo. There is no other facility like it in Utah or the Intermountain West. Plus, it's easy to get here. Utah Valley/ Provo is conveniently located 45 minutes south of Salt Lake International Airport — a hub for JetBlue, Southwest, and Delta. And beginning this spring, FrontRunner will connect with Utah's newest TRAX Light Rail service line from Salt Lake International Airport.

Julie Saupe
President & CEO Visit Anchorage

… meeting planners should know about your destination?

Meeting planners should know that Anchorage offers truly top-rate — and gorgeous — convention facilities. This may sound very basic, but as an Alaska destination, we often have to work hard to counter perceptions that we are “rustic” or “frontier” in the facilities that are available. The second misperception that falls right behind is the notion that Anchorage will be an expensive destination. We prove to be exceptionally competitive on a cost basis, which is a surprise to most meeting planners.

… a meeting attendee shouldn't missing doing or seeing while in your destination?

Anchorage really does deliver adventure. Meeting attendees must not miss the chance to experience our outdoors (yes, even in winter). From a day cruise to view whales and glaciers to a hike in the mountains or along our Coastal Trail, a wilderness experience is at our doorstep. For winter visitors, skiing, dog mushing, flightseeing, or enjoying our trail system are all great options. Of course, we always recommend that visitors end that experience with a dinner of fresh Alaskan seafood.

… you try to cultivate within your CVB team?

Our team is incredibly service-oriented and recognizes that our best sales tool is ensuring that our current meeting delegates have a great experience. Fortunately, we have a very experienced team that cares deeply about the success of our meeting clients.

Scott L. White
President & CEO Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau

… meeting professionals should know about your destination?

Greater Palm Springs is known for great weather, world-class resorts, events, and championship golf. But many meeting professionals don't realize we have more than 100 hotels offering many different price points and types of product — from small historic inns and mid-century chic to full-service resorts with national brands. We can accommodate a group with thousands or create that unique and intimate setting with a few people. We have some of the most unique outdoor venues in the country, including celebrity estates, outdoor sports facilities, and botanical gardens — and our tram can transport your group up 8,500 feet in 10 minutes. But the most unique feature is our surrounding mountain views.

… a meeting attendee shouldn't miss doing or seeing while in your destination?

Experiencing what is unique to our destination: Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, The Living Desert Zoo & Botanical Garden, El Paseo Shopping District, our Mid-Century Modern architecture, plus top events like Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, Palm Springs International Film Festival, BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament, the Humana Challenge featuring the Clinton Foundation and Health Matters, and the LPGA major tour event Kraft Nabisco golf tournament.

… you try to cultivate within your CVB team?

We strive to provide the best and most personalized services for our customers. We have a team of seasoned professionals that understands the industry and the needs of the customer. We customize all of our lead services, site inspections, and keep all of their information confidential.

… you think will change with regard to meetings this year?

We see clients booking further out. As rates continue to rise, clients want to ensure they have their preferred dates and rates secured.


Jennifer Wesselhoff, CDME
President & CEO
Sedona Chamber of Commerce
Tourism Bureau

Bill Malone
President & CEO
Park City Chamber/Bureau

Wes Rhea
Executive Director
Stockton Convention & Visitors Bureau

Kathy Smits
Vice President, International Tourism
Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board

Tracy Farhad
Executive Director
Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau

Anne Jenkins
Senior Vice President
Travel Medford

Jim Kissinger
Vice President, Convention Sales
Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau

Jim Luttjohann
Executive Director
Santa Fe Convention & Visitors Bureau

Aaron McCreight, CDME
Casper Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

John Reyes, CMP
Executive Vice President & Chief Customer Officer
San Francisco Travel Association

Sara Toliver
President & CEO
Ogden/Weber Convention & Visitors Bureau

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