FEB 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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By Adrianne Bowen By Adrianne Bowen ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ F E B R U A R 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 26 CONVENTION CENTERS As Brad Mettler, director of sales and market- ing at the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor, Md., explains, convention centers within Gaylord Hotels are similar in size to city convention centers, offering flexible meeting space to accommodate groups of all sizes. For example, Gaylord National Resort has more than 600,000 square feet of combined indoor and outdoor meeting space and Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn., has 700,000 square feet of meeting, convention, outdoor, exhibit and pre-function space. "Our resorts have similar loading docks, ample bus parking and a dedicated bus loop and are well equipped with state-of-the-art technology that can do anything from laser lights to video mapping," Mettler said. Where Gaylord convention facilities stand apart, Mettler pointed out, is that they come equipped with guest rooms, in-house decorators, A/V vendors, onsite catering and additional dining, spa, shopping and entertainment offerings all under one roof. "Convention and meeting attendees don't need to worry about traveling a block or two from a hotel to get to their meeting and events," he said. "This also allows attend- ees unparalleled networking opportunities that enhances the overall group experience." Randy Miller, director of sales and market- ing at Gaylord Opryland, said the experience at each property is unique. "Gaylord Opryland exudes the appeal of Music City through the charming Southern décor in our extraordinary environments, live music and entertainment, locally sourced food and beverage, and serves as an integral part of Nashville's history, all in one amazing place," he explained. These aspects are a big draw for groups such as the Edgefield, S.C.-based National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF). "Our show used to travel to a new city every year, causing our staff and our attendees to have to learn about a new city, new restrictions and new policies every year," said Vicki Johnson, NWTF Convention and Meeting Planner. "Eventually, those con- stant changes caught up with us and we found ourselves in a city that did not match our show. That is when we decided to find a more long- term home for our convention and we chose the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville. Having all of the hotel rooms and meeting space under one roof is a game changer for us as well as our attendees. Their staff treats not only our staff but also our attendees like their families, the meeting rooms are beautiful and can accommodate meetings of all sizes, their atten- tion to detail and customer services is unparal- leled and the atriums, restaurants and retail offer guests an entire vacation without having to leave the property. Yes, we're in a partnership with Gaylord Opryland but we also consider them part of our NWTF family." Gaylord National gets approximately 60 per- cent of its convention business from repeat business, according to Mettler. "We have great customer loyalty, with groups that are booked out through 2027," he said. "Many groups enjoy the option of being able to rotate to our sister properties (which also include the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, Fla., the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas). n Looking for some fast-paced family-friendly excitement as part of your event? "The Charlotte Convention Center is in the heart of Uptown Charlotte, nestled between the bustling corridor of Stonewall and South College streets, and walking distance from attractions like the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Levine Center for the Arts, as well as restaurants, public art displays and the city's convenient LYNX Blue Line light rail," said Laura White, director of communications at the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. "The Convention Center currently features approximately 550,000 square feet of space, including exhibit halls and flexible meeting space, featuring complimentary Wi-Fi service of 768 Kbps upload/download and affordable, in-house catering." Upcoming expansions are keeping meet- ings in mind, according to White. "Recently announced, the convention center will begin a multi-phase expansion plan in spring 2019 to add 26,000 square feet of breakout space, 24,000 square feet of pre-function space [composed] of 15 meeting rooms and a pic- turesque pedestrian walkway to The Westin Charlotte, the city's largest hotel with more than 700 rooms." The center was an already appealing locale for planners, even before the expan- sion, according to Janice Pauline, director of conferences and meetings for National League of Cities. "The Charlotte Convention Center was a perfect fit for our annual City Summit and played a big part in the suc- cess of our event," she said. "The center is compact yet has ample meeting and exhibit space. Conference participants don't have to walk great distances to get from registration to general session, and workshops or to the expo halls. Our delegates remarked at how easy the center was to navigate and how welcoming the convention center staff was to our attendees." n A Full Array Of Experiences Under One Roof At Gaylord Resorts, Convention Centers Are Just Part Of The Package Expanding Space & Pedestrian Walkway Charlotte Convention Center, Charlotte, North Carolina

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