Myrtle Beach Convention Center: When You Think Out of the Box

Author: Sarah Beauchamp       

In a place as beautiful as Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, it’s not hard to balance business with pleasure. No one knows this better than Myra Starnes, president and founder of Leisure Time Unlimited (LTU), an event production company based in Myrtle Beach. Starnes has been hosting events at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center (MBCC) for more than 40 years.

“They go above and beyond,” Starnes said of the staff at the conference center, which offers 250,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. “They’ve got it down to a science. Whatever you need technically, they can do it.”

One of the shows Myra Starnes, president and founder of Leisure Time Unlimited (LTU), hosts every year at MBCC is the Hotel Motel Restaurant Supply Show, which sees more than 400 exhibitors and thousands of attendees annually.

Over the course of her four decade-plus career, Starnes has utilized the convention center for a wide range of events. She once brought a 24-foot-high Ferris wheel into the convention center’s 100,800-square-foot exhibit hall. She’s also used the venue for more relaxing extracurricular activities. For one event, Starnes and her team constructed a temporary spa inside the center for attendees, offering pedicures, manicures, massages, and facials. “We don’t do halfway, honey,” Starnes told me.

Most recently, for Performance Food Service’s Food Expo, held at the MBCC on May 2, Starnes brought the great outdoors inside. “They wanted an outdoor setting in the middle of their tradeshow,” she explained. LTU constructed an 18-foot-tall hot air balloon in the convention center, and brought in a variety of food trucks. Each hall in MBCC has 35-foot ceilings, with 11 dedicated docks and drive-in access. “If it’s the same old conference, why would you go to this one? We have to make them different, fun, and unique.”

Event organizers can also tap into the local culinary scene in order to impress conference-goers. For the World Amateur Golf Tournament, held at MBCC, Starnes and her team provided attendees with a tasting from 14 different local restaurants, including the “best barbeque in the South.”

And as any meeting organizer knows, things don’t always go as planned. Even when Murphy’s Law is ruling your conference, MBCC has you covered. A few years ago, when Starnes was hosting an event at the convention center, a freak storm hit and resulted in a power outage. “The generator kicks in, the emergency lights come on, and I just start barking orders,” Starnes said. She found a way to serve 7,000 hungry attendees all with the help of MBCC staff. “It worked. They did what I needed them to do when I needed them to do it.”

After recent renovations, completed early 2017, including a remodeled front entrance and increased bandwidth, this is the best time to host an event at MBCC.

The property’s elegant, 17,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom also underwent a massive $425,000 renovation in 2016. With 24-foot ceilings, the ballroom can accommodate up to 1,000 guests. For receptions and other special events, the MBCC’s glass-enclosed Hall of Fame is the ideal setting. The convention center’s 17 meeting rooms vary in size and spread throughout two levels. Air walls and a sleek executive boardroom round out the offerings. For even more space, the conference center includes a 10,000-seat arena, and a 30,000-square-foot Events Plaza for outdoor events.

MBCC’s 17,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom underwent a massive $425,000 renovation in 2016. With 24-foot ceilings, the ballroom can accommodate up to 1,000 guests.

For meeting planners who like to think outside the box, MBCC is the ideal venue to execute your bold ideas. “What I love about the convention center, is I can come up with some harebrained idea and they always listen,” Starnes said. “They understand that everything isn’t cookie cutter, that people need different things, and that not everyone is the same.”

For more information: Myrtle Beach Convention Center — [email protected]; (843) 918-1236.

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