FEB 2016

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 35 of 51

he market for reunions and social events has existed as long as peo- ple have felt the need to connect with those around them. Families gather to reunite and reconnect. Veterans meet up to share sto- ries and help each other heal. Weddings draw a mixture of friends and families. Throughout the South, organizations celebrate the mirth of Mardi Gras at decadent balls. For as long as those con- nections continue to be made, destinations and properties throughout the South will continue to grow and evolve to ensure those events and reunions happen seamlessly and make lasting memories for years to come. One of the recent trends affecting reunions is that many of them are becoming mega-sized, ac- cording to Dana Holmes, family lifestyle expert for The Huffington Post. "Mega reunions mean gathering for several days, connecting to and learning about your roots, and involve multiple generations," she said. "This has become especially important in an increasingly impersonal and technologi- cal-driven world." Destinations across the South have also noted this uptick in interest in reunion and social gath- erings, and are capitalizing on their uniqueness to draw these groups in. One example, Florida's Space Coast, which touts itself as "Orlando's closest beaches," is home to 72 miles of beaches along Florida's Atlantic coast that include the beach towns of Cocoa Beach and Melbourne. For reunion groups, this destination allows participants to take surf and kayak lessons for family bonding time, said Bonnie King, director of sales for the Space Coast Office of Tourism. "Kayaking can be an especially unique experience here at the Brevard Zoo, where you can kayak through 'Africa' as you adventure around animal exhibits to see the animal residents up close," she said. Additionally, families are attracted to the space-age allure of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, King remarked. To entice groups, the center offers sample visitor itiner- aries that include admission prices, attractions that are and aren't included in admission, and the approximate amount of time each attraction will take. Also, groups can now partake in rocket launch viewings from Port Canaveral's Explora- tion Tower. Offering itinerary options is a great draw for reunion and social groups that are researching the area where their event will be located. Mark Vaughan, executive vice president and chief sales officer with the Atlanta Convention and Personalized Service Attracts Reunions & Social Groups By Ashley Wright MARKET SEGMENT: REUNIONS & SOCIAL GROUPS Kayaking can be an especially unique experience here at the Brevard Zoo at Florida's Space Coast. ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 36

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