APR 2017

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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Page 12 of 59

A P R I L 2 0 1 7 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 13 CORPORATE MEETINGS Pulling Out The Stops Dominating the wildly popular, constantly expanding world of gaming, GameStop – based in Grapevine, Texas – pulls out all the stops when it comes to planning corporate events, according to Samantha Vogel, CMP, manager of travel and meetings for GameStop. The gaming industry has some big players that play a vital role in making GameStop's corporate events a success. And it's the fun elements – and social interaction between attendees and sponsors – that make the events memorable. In fact, one of the most important elements in creating spectacular GameStop functions is working with corporate sponsors that showcase their most innovative products to captivate attendees. "The vendors are really the life force behind our events." Vogel said. "They bring the newest in gaming, virtual reality and collectibles. We've seen vendors bring out Dave Navarro, Stan Lee, The Hoff, Hershel Walker and more. They've built life-size arenas for game play on our show floors, and they give hundreds of thousands of dollars in exclusive giveaways to our attendees. Making sure our vendors are happy, have the ability to capitalize on their vision and leave feeling like they'll experience a huge ROI is always a top priority for our event." Vogel said it's important to work with sponsors, even if initial requests don't seem possible. "I am always open to hearing them out on new ideas or revamping certain opportunities to help them achieve their visions. And in the event they want to do something that is just not feasible, we don't tell them no," Vogel said. "We find a new way to bring their vision to life. We do this quite often with vendors and it always results in an amazing experience for our attendees and a better ROI for our vendors." Just last year, at a corporate event for GameStop, Vogel had a sponsor that wanted to present a new film at the event. "They wanted to take all our attendees off campus to another venue. We wanted the viewing to take place at the convention center so we could maximize other aspects of the event simultaneously." She knew how important the screening was to the sponsor and made sure a creative compromise was reached that worked out even better for the vendor, the attendees and the event. "In brainstorming with the sponsor, we decided to build an outdoor movie area on the plaza for the entire week. They loved it! We were able to help bring their original vision to life, keep our attendees on campus to maximize other opportunities and even sell the outdoor screen to other vendors on other nights to maximize the build-out." Ensuring Sponsor Exposure Meg Slentz, CMP, president of Meetings To Order, Inc., has been planning meetings for 28 years and started her own full-service meeting management company in Melbourne, Fla., in 1997. Like Vogel, she also believes that it's crucial to take care of sponsors when planning corporate events. "For many corporate meetings, the sponsors pay for the meeting. It is essential for the sponsors to feel that they are receiving the necessary networking time with the attendees and acknowledgement for their sponsor dollars," Slentz said. Planning the event's logistics to guide attendees to sponsors is an important step for planners, such as "incorporating all food and beverage functions throughout the exhibit hall to ensure traffic to their booths and exposure," she said. Even when meetings are more focused on business and finance than showcasing products, Vogel said having the right venue to make ► Duke University's Brand New Venue Open for Corporate Business JB Duke Hotel, on Duke University's West Campus in Durham, N.C., opened its doors in January and, according to General Manager Gregg Hilker, the venue is ready to host and meet all corporate meeting needs. "JB Duke Hotel continues the lineage of unparalleled service, gracious staff and attention to detail set by its father property, Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club, in its own contemporary style. Corporate meeting planners will find a unique level of flexibility and a wealth of options with the properties located across the street from each other," Hilker said. The venue offers 198 guest rooms and suites, the Thomas Executive Conference Center, a full-service restaurant, two bars and a fitness center. It's linked by a skybridge to the Fuqua School of Business and is only steps away from Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Duke University Golf Club and other Duke athletic venues, according to Hilker. "The JB Duke's central location, impeccable service and 20,000 square feet of state-of-the-art meeting, classroom and event spaces make it the ideal destination for conferences, weddings and social gatherings," he said. Beyond offering a brand new, elegant host destination, the JB Duke Hotel also features extraordinary opportunities to enhance corporate events. "Some of the unique experiences offered at JB Duke Hotel include private yoga lessons hosted in one of our outdoor courtyards and a 'Taste of Durham' tour, allowing attendees to experience the sights and tastes of Durham," Hilker said. "We can also incorporate the Duke Basketball Experience into corporate group events, where guests can take a lesson right from Coach K's daughter. There's nothing that says 'Duke University' quite like that." n Photos courtesy of JB Duke Hotel

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