JUN 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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J U N E 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 15 and the availability of networking spaces are top considerations, in that order, when determining if a venue will provide the most productive and inspiring venues for delegates." And the report found that within the next two to five years, attendees are projected to expect increasing bandwidth and an emphasis on the attendee ex- perience. "While the overall objectives and goals of meetings have generally remained constant," the report states, "there are clear indicators that the adoption and use of technology, the physical design of meeting and networking spaces and the emphasis on 'experience creation' will be increas- ingly important." The Woodlands venue understands that plan- ners are looking for these evolving elements and has incorporated them into their center. "Today's demographics want to have the ability to multitask and merge the old separation of work and play. They are looking for small, inti- mate, nontraditional meeting areas throughout the venue. Staying connected via the internet is crucial to them. It is imperative that the venue creates these gathering areas for the attendees to network and relax in," said McCaskey. Transforming Technology The University of Louisville Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning in Louisville, Ky., has focused on transforming its technology to accom- modate the changing needs for meetings. "Tech- nology continues to be a priority for planners. They are looking for venues with innovative, seamless technology that enables conference/ event attendees to be connected and interact as they see fit. This includes high-speed wireless internet, event web presence (including social media and live streaming of meetings and events) and places to charge devices," said Terry Thomp- son, director of the University of Louisville Event and Conference Services. "In order for venues to accommodate the 'Bring Your Own Device' push, they must invest in digital infrastructure to be able to give attendees the experience they expect." Thompson said the Delphi Center focuses on doing just that. "We've made significant investments in our digital infrastructure. All of our meeting rooms are equipped with up- graded, high-definition technology. We have installed digital signage in our buildings so attendees know what events are taking place and where they need to go. Clients can also use the digital signs to share information and com- municate with event attendees. Additionally, we have a dedicated technical resource that is available to clients to troubleshoot and handle issues that arise." ► CONFERENCE CENTERS The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center in The Woodlands, Texas GEORGIA WORLD CONGRESS CENTER'S 2020 Vision Over the next three years, the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) Authority in Atlanta, Ga., plans on creating the ultimate conference center experience with its 2020 Vision (pictured on page 14), said Damon Bell, senior director of convention sales. Multiple enhancements include a new restaurant concept called Social Table, with locally sourced food and beverage options. "We really wanted to redesign the restaurant expe- rience," Bell said. "We want conference attendees to feel like they are sitting down and having a break at their neighborhood restaurant." The restaurant features a full-service bar, a huge lounge with flat-screen TVs, grab-n-go stations and USB ports to charge devices while in the restaurant. Another project expected to be completed this fall is new terrazzo flooring and carpet throughout the center. "We want to give attendees the feeling of what they would experi- ence in in the lobby of a luxury hotel," Bell said. In 2018, the GWCC campus will connect Buildings B and C exhibit halls with a fixed gate- way to create one million square feet of contiguous exhibition space. "It will put the us on the map as the largest in the country and the world," said Bell. In addition, with the decommissioning of the Georgia Dome that will come down this fall, the significant space it will leave beside the center will be transformed into the Home Depot Backyard, according to Bell, offering great green space. A new rooftop terrace includ- ing event, exhibit and reception space will offer 360-degree views of Atlanta's skyline and the state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz Stadium. On the west side of the GWCC campus, a high- rise luxury convention hotel providing 800 – 1,000 guest rooms has been approved and will further enhance the campus' 2020 vision. "Consisting of the Georgia World Congress Center, Centennial Olympic Park and the state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Geor- gia World Congress Center Authority's downtown Atlanta campus is the No. 1 convention, sports and entertainment destination in the world," according to the GWCC's website. "This is all about being able to retain current conventions that are growing," said Bell, "while also allowing us to attract the world's largest trade shows in the future." n The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center

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