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M A R C H 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 19 ANNUAL CVB ISSUE working towards a set schedule and budget. It helped streamline the process and by utilizing their relationships and resources, we were able to find the best resort venue to insure our attendees had an engaging and memorable experience throughout the conference." Doing The Legwork Working in the field as a meeting planner and site selection specialist for more than 20 years and as a global account manager for HelmsBriscoe since 2015, Carol Black in Greenville, S.C., knows a thing or two about the advantages for meeting planners when working with a site selection specialist. "Sometimes planners have a whole other full- time job and are now in charge of planning an entire event," Black said. "Site selection specialists work with clients strategizing, researching, evaluating and executing the drafted contract to protect the client. Site selection specialists can act as a go-between, talking to the sales person at the venue about specifics like loading docks, how close the restaurant is to the ballroom, special guest services and more." Black added that it's important from the beginning to really understand what the client's needs are for a particular event. "In the initial conversation, we find out what their needs are, their goals, their resources including budget, their parameters. You have to really listen, to not only get the information needed but to start to get the entire picture of what they really want." Black emphasized how working with a site selection specialist takes out a lot of the legwork for the planner. "They [the planners] just have to make final decisions instead of having to spend a lot of your time choosing the site and dealing with the many details that go along with it. Once I have narrowed down the sites, I present three to eight options based on their criteria," she said, noting that it's important to do walk-throughs of the preferred venues with the client and always maintain communication throughout the process. As part of the team that started Euphoria – a four-day festival in Greenville, S.C., featuring food and wine tastings, music and more – Black said it's so much more than just the overall destination that has to be chosen. It's really the details that make the event fun and unforgettable, and finding the right site that can accommodate all of the factors of the event is crucial. "We took over the streets, parking lots, had a huge brunch, indoor and outdoor concerts, even a concert at the children's museum," said Black. Providing A Knowledge Of Venues Gaylord Opryland in Nashville is a site Andrews knew would be perfect for the National Property Management Association (NPMA) National Education Seminar, held Aug. 28 – Sept. 2, 2016. Because the NPMA worked with Meeting Expectations for site selection, the event was a huge hit for the association, with 698 attendees, Andrews said. "Nashville has historically been a huge draw for NPMA and 2016 saw record attendance for the event. Attendance at the event was so high, our breakout rooms were above capacity, forcing us to turn classroom sets into theater, just to accommodate everyone. Our room block pick-up ended up at 130 percent, far exceeding the number we expected at the hotel," she said. And one reason for success was Meeting Expectations' knowledge of nearby venues, as well as the luxurious hotel, which could be used for specific events during the seminar. "Not only was Nashville easy for our attendees to get to but it offered plenty of activities for our attendees to enjoy during their free time," Andrews said. "Our attendee surveys raved about both the location and the closing event, which was held aboard the General Jackson Showboat. And many of our long-time attendees exclaimed this event to be the best one they had ever attended." n b o r n t o c e l e b r a t e Y O U R N E X T C O N F E R E N C E W I N A C H A N C E T O V I S I T H I S T O R I C M O B I L E F O L L O W E D B Y A C A R I B B E A N C RU I S E ! F O R M O R E D E TA I L S , G O T O W W W.M E E T I N M O B I L E.O R G