DEC 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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⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 7 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 12 The AWARDS Issue! SPECIAL HONORS Outstanding Meeting Professionals Who Plan for Extreme Weather Events & Work to Keep People Safe, Informed & Protected 2017 brought a number of severe weather events to the South, causing damage to many meeting sites and disrupting a num- ber of planned events. But alongside the reports of evacuations, flooding and wind damages, we learned a lot about the meeting industry's involvement in keeping people safe before, during and after a storm. In some areas, meeting and convention hotels pro- vided a place for evacuees to get away from the projected path of a hurricane. In other regions, convention centers and other event facilities became temporary shelters for displaced people. When the skies cleared, it was reassuring to see how many properties located in storm-damaged areas were able to get up and running within a short time. In all of these and other situations, it became evident that preparation for a severe weather event is essential to a venue's ability to survive, repair and return to normal. The industry's response to weather-related issues also demonstrated two essential talents of successful meeting professionals: flexibil- ity and adaptability. Therefore, as we identify outstanding meeting professionals in this annual awards edition of ConventionSouth , it is important to shine a spotlight on the important role that meeting professionals play in keeping people safe during storms. Presented below are some examples of their efforts. A Blueprint For Dealing With Disaster Fort Lauderdale was among the areas of Florida that was, for several days, forecasted to be directly in the path of Hurricane Irma. Fortunately for the area, Irma took a southwesterly turn and the impact to the east coast of Florida was less severe than expected. According to Stacy Ritter, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau (GFLCVB), hotels along the destination's coast reported no structural damage following the storm, although many residents lost power for a few days and clean- up was needed for downed shrubbery, sand and tree debris around town. "Many of the area's hotels remained open during the storm and provided shelter for residents and visitors," she said. However, by the Thursday following Hurricane Irma's presence in south Florida, "hotels, attractions and restaurants were up and running and open-for-business and things were quickly getting back to normal." She added that the Broward County Convention Center had to postpone only one event, which was rescheduled. Ritter said that the area's response to threat- ening storms is effective in large part because the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB, in partner- ship with Broward County, has policies and procedures in place for all severe weather conditions, and other natural disasters. "These provide a blueprint for our team to work strategically and quickly with our hospitality partners, including hotels, attractions, transportation services, and other government agencies, such as Port Everglades and the Fort Lauderdale/Holly- wood International Airport, Ritter The Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB issued post-Hurricane Irma photos of the beach area and Los Olas Boulevard (below) to show that attractions were "up and running."

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