NOV 2014

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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⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 4 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 14 You've heard the adage, "If you can't beat them, join them." In the world of meetings, it's no dif- ferent. With increasing pressure to win and retain group business, a new trend is taking hold. And one of the largest hotel brands is leading this emerging, or shall we say, "merging" movement. Instead of pitting their properties against one an- other to land a convention, Marriott has done something rather unconventional. Where others might divide and conquer, they've brought to- gether some of their best hotels to make their "one-stop shop" for planners even better. "We re-launched the Marriott Convention & Resort Network in 2013, after realizing that we wanted to have a name that resonated with our customers and spoke to our overall mission," said Dave Nostrand, Marriott International's Vice President of Sales for the Americas. By focusing on their organizations very best meeting's properties, Marriott has seen a substan- tial spike in interest, both online and in their bot- tom line. "Our website traffic has increased by 180 percent over last year and it continues to grow," Nostrand said. "We believe the name change has been instrumental in helping us to reach and attract meeting planners." Marriott's Convention and Resort Network (CRN) is a premier collection of more than 60 of the company's largest meeting and convention hotels and resorts. It provides planners with a dedicated website www.conventionresort to create the type of meeting they want. Doing so, says Nostrand, "helps planners narrow down their search to the properties that best suit their needs." "By working together and forming the Convention & Resort Network, the hotels were able to create synergies by pooling their resources," said Nostrand. This teamwork also meant more effective communications about convention group business and helped elevate the brand. "It gave Marriott a much louder voice in the marketplace by being a united network." The CRN Multi-Year/Multi-Meetings & Events Offers Can Save Planners Big. The more years a group books, the more sav- ings and added benefits they receive. Addition- ally the planner can get those years confirmed and not have to worry about site selection and contracting. Examples of savings are: ■ Percent savings off A/V, ■ Comp High-Speed Internet in all attendees guest rooms, ■ Catering Discounts, ■ a substantial rebate to the Master Account from guest rooms in the group block, and ■ up to 1 Million Marriott Reward Points. So what type of hotels are in this network? To find out, ConventionSouth sent Contributing Writer Mary Haban to visit four of Marriott's CRN properties in Orlando who were more than happy to roll out their red carpets. JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Nestled amid 550 acres of lush trees, serene lakes, and world-class golf is nirvana—times two. This luxurious resort gives planners double the choices when it comes to crafting magnificent meetings in that it's connected to a Ritz-Carlton. What's more, it's centrally located in what many refer to as "Minutes from the magic, miles from the madness." Situated minutes from Walt Disney World, Orlando International Airport, and the Or- ange County Convention Center…makes getting here a breeze. The vast array of team-building offerings reads like a "best-of" list straight out of a popular out- door magazine; adventure ropes course, on-site Eco-tours, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, the sand volleyball court, Surrey Bicycles. Did I mention the lazy river pool? Then there's this—Whisper Creek Farm—a 7,000-square-foot fruit and vegetable garden with an adjoining 6,000-square-foot outdoor event space. The chef harvests honey here, even pick- ing the mint leaves to crush in your next mojito. Imagine your next event under the stars, with twinkling lanterns, live music, custom-crafted cocktails and more. With 150,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, a VIP on-site coordinator, a $4 Million spa upgrade, and the addition of $1 Million in How One Simple Click Can Transform Your Next Meeting On Site Report by Mary Haban Inside Marriott's New Convention Network Whisper Creek Farm at JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center 2015 TrendsWatch

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