JUL 2018

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 ⎜ J U L Y 2 0 1 8 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 50 M I S S I S S I P P I smaller theater and varied event space, including a 5,200-square-foot exhibit hall. (See Breakout Spotlight on page 54.) The city's Northeast Conference Center has ballrooms, and lawn areas for events, and can seat up to 180 for dinners. The center is adjacent to the 133-room Hilton Garden Inn, which has 3,600 square feet of event space, and the 116- room Hampton Inn, which has been completely transformed with revitalized meeting spaces and guest rooms, according to a statement from the hotel. The Meridian Holiday Inn offers 122 guest rooms and meeting space for up to 200 people. Home2 Suites by Hilton has meeting space for up to 50 people. Other hotels with small event rooms include a 180-room Drury Inn & Suites, a 54-room Fairfield Inn and Suites, and a 64-room Country Inn & Suites. Choctaw/Philadelphia Located in the center of the state, Choctaw is home to Pearl River Resort, which has multiple properties for lodging, entertainment and events, including Golden Moon Hotel & Casino, Silver Star Hotel and Casino, Dancing Rabbit Golf Club, Bok Homa Casino and Geyser Falls Water Theme Park. Combined, the hotels on the resort have more than 1,170 guest rooms and suites, and more than 40,000 square feet of event space with 26 meeting rooms. The resort features eight restaurants, two fitness centers and a full-service spa. Dancing Rabbit Golf Club has three 18-hole courses, consistently ranked among the best by various golf publications, including a short course designed for quicker play. Starkville Starkville and Columbus are part of Mississippi's Golden Triangle area and share the Golden Trian- gle Regional Airport and proximity to Mississippi State University in Starkville. According to Jennifer Prather, director of tourism for the Greater Starkville Development Partnership, The Mill Conference Center at MSU and the adjacent Courtyard by Marriott combine to offer nearly 100 guest rooms and nearly 30,000 square feet of function area. The Courtyard has 12 event rooms in 18,694 square feet. The Mill at MSU can welcome up to 1,000 people for recep- tions or dinners. "The center is accessible from Golden Triangle Regional Airport by shuttle that is part of our public transit system called SMART (Starkville MSU Area Rapid Transit)," Prather said. Almost any destination can provide plan- ners with quality lodging and event venues but the Mississippi Gulf Coast is focused on building relationships that meet both the needs of event planners and the local com- munity in a way that benefits all involved, said Milton Segarra, CEO of Visit Missis- sippi Gulf Coast. "We are a beautiful destination, strategi- cally situated to serve the entire Gulf Coast region, with more than 15,000 rooms and a phenomenal convention center," he said. "But what sets us apart is the desire and commitment of the whole community to make sure those who are here for a confer- ence, meeting or event have an experience that is relevant and unique to our area. To achieve that, Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast works as a community connector: We help planners discover what we offer that will meet their needs and, at the same time, enhance the vision of their event in a way that is unique to our destination. "All events can have a positive economic impact on the community. They help create jobs that enhance the lifestyle of the people who live here. Our job is to make sure that impact is felt by the entire community and that the planners know how their events are appreciated. "We want people here to understand why event planners select our destination and we want planners to know how our com- munity is uniquely situated to enhance the vision of their events. To do that, we have to fully understand the planner's vision." "This is the relationship we seek to form with event planners and organizers. We want to make sure that when a planner selects our destination for an event, he or she knows they have a real partner in us on their big picture. It's more than just finding the right hotel or venue. We can provide the tools that let planners really connect with our community and our local resources so that their event is unique and the economic impact on the community is maximized to its fullest potential. That's the key to building successful relationships and creating successful events." Segarra took on the role of CEO of Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast in January 2018 after a long career in Puerto Rico. Prior to serving four years as president and CEO of Meet Puerto Rico, he was director of Puerto Rico Tourism, secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce and held management positions with several hotels. n B R E A K O U T S P O T L I G H T : Mississippi Gulf Coast Contact: Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention Center Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast

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