Tampa Bay has more than Florida sunshine to offer planners and their groups, and that’s why a growing number of organizations, including the American Academy of Dermatology, and Connect Marketplace, recently moved their meetings to Tampa Bay from other cities. Here are five reasons to book your next event or meeting in one of the Sunshine State’s most outstanding cities.
1. Peace of Mind about Safety
Event and meeting guests can travel with confidence knowing they’ll be passing through Tampa International Airport — which was ranked No. 2 among large North American airports in J.D. Power’s 2020 North America Airport Satisfaction Study. The airport’s robust “TPA Ready” plan includes plastic shields in high-traffic areas, mandated face masks, social distanced markets, reduced seating, and enhanced cleaning and sanitation. The airport also has partnered with BayCare Health System to launch the country’s first airport COVID-19 testing pilot, which offers two types of FDA-approved COVID-19 tests for all departing and arriving passengers.
Tampa Bay venues know that when your meeting guests aren’t worried about safety, they can focus on the business that really matters. That’s why local hotels are taking safety-focused steps, including mobile check-in, hospital-grade cleaning protocols, and requiring personal protective equipment for staff members.
The Tampa Convention Center recently achieved GBAC STAR Facility Accreditation —the gold standard in cleanliness during COVID-19 — and offers temperature checks upon entry, physically distanced room layouts, hand-sanitizing stations, frequent touchpoint cleaning, and new food and beverage protocols. The waterfront venue also offers hybrid and teleconference packages so planners can open their events to a wider online audience, as well as virtual tours to make planning those events a breeze.
2. Exciting New Openings and Renovations
The 600,000-square-foot Tampa Convention Center is currently undergoing a $38- million renovation, targeted for a 2023 completion, that will add 18,000 square feet of new meeting rooms, all overlooking the Hillsborough River. Breakout rooms and ballrooms also were renovated.
Another exciting new development, Tampa Bay’s first JW Marriott, is now open just steps from the convention center and Amalie Arena. The 519-room, 26-story property boasts 126,000 square feet of event space and the city’s highest rooftop bar, Six. Looking for a cool boutique option? The new Hotel Haya, located in historic Ybor City, draws inspiration from mid-century Cuba and features wraparound balconies, eye-catching artwork, and innovative menus. New properties from Hyatt, Hilton, and Marriott are coming soon, each offering a variety of room types and unique meeting spaces.
Another new project, the $500-million Tampa Midtown development, will connect the downtown Convention District to the vibrant Westshore district. This development offers a whopping 1.8 million square feet of retail, residential, entertainment, and hospitality space — including newly opened locations of REI and Shake Shack.
3. Outdoor Venues and Waterfront Views
Groups looking to gather outside will have no shortage of options in Tampa Bay, where the city’s year-round sunshine allows for ample outdoor venues. The scenic Tampa Riverwalk, a 2.6-mile pathway that runs along the Hillsborough River, connects hotels, restaurants, parks, attractions, and many open-air meeting spaces.
There’s no lack of outdoor food and beverage options, either. A highlight is Sparkman Wharf, situated on the waterfront downtown and offering hip restaurants and bars, a beer garden, and live music. North of the River District, Armature Works is a mixed-use commercial building consisting of Heights Public Market, multiple event spaces, co-shared workspace, and waterfront restaurants and bars. Looking for a suggestion? Relax after a long day of meetings by watching the sunset at Armature Works’ popular M.Bird Rooftop Lounge.
4. Exhilarating Local Culture
When business meetings wrap for the day, Tampa Bay is the perfect place to extend your trip and explore local culture. Athletic groups can arrange two-hour paddleboard classes organized by Urban Kai Stand Up Paddleboarding.
For those who want something a bit more laid back, Tampa Bay is known as the craft-brewing hub of the Southeastern U.S. Try Cigar City Brewing, which offers hundreds of locally brewed craft beers.
For the thrill-seekers, the city is home to Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay, which features Tigris, Florida’s tallest launch coaster that rockets riders at more than 60 miles per hour along more than 1,800 feet of steel track that features a 150-foot skyward surge and an inverted heartline roll.
Why not try to do it all? The city’s free TECO Line Streetcar makes 15-minute stops at key destinations, including the Tampa Convention Center, Amalie Arena, Sparkman Wharf, The Florida Aquarium, and the Ybor City Historic District.
5. Help With Hybrid Tech Costs
To help promote your meeting, Visit Tampa Bay and event organizers will develop a customized sponsorship marketing package that includes mutually agreed-upon options including a custom landing page on VisitTampaBay.com, exclusive partner offers, sponsorship items, and additional perks.
Grants will be awarded based on estimated economic impact of the event, anticipated attendance figures, and other factors.
As you can see, Tampa Bay is a more desirable location than ever for group gatherings. Explore what can be done for your event at visittampabay.com.