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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F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 8 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 29 icture this scene: Pro- fessionals are engaged in a networking event in the lobby of a venue. In a nearby room, their chil- dren—supervised by trained staff—are having a great time in a play room equipped with cornhole, board games, an arts and crafts bonanza, and a kid- friendly buffet. It's a win-win for all involved and a scenario that is becoming increasingly common as meeting planners seek out venues and destina- tions willing to cater to family-friendly meet- ings. In fact, the example above was the recent experience of participants at an internal Helms- Briscoe event in Richmond, Va., last summer. "It made it so much nicer for all of us," said Lisa Luks, a managing director with Helms- Briscoe. "The kids had a good time and that made it enjoyable for parents. It made connect- ing on business matters a lot easier." Family-friendly meetings are on the uptick for multiple reasons, according to industry pro- fessionals. Matt Robinette, director of conven- tion and sports services with Richmond Region Tourism, pointed out that many families are traveling together more outside of traditional vacation windows. "Vacations aren't for just for spring break and summer anymore," he said. Also, busy schedules make it increasingly difficult for families to get away for long va- cations, so many are looking for opportunities to travel together on short trips throughout the year, noted Magi Thomley Williams, public relations manager with Wind Creek Hospital- ity, operator of three casino hotels in Alabama including locations in Atmore, Montgomery and Wetumpka. "Multi-generational families are finding that day trips, short vacations and long weekends fit their schedules better than long stays at expensive, distant destinations," she said. "Family-friendly offerings can make the venue more enticing to business groups and drive up attendance numbers for meeting planners." Combining meeting-related travel with a short vacation and bringing family members along are two key aspects of the growing "blei- sure travel" trend (combining business trips ► P Rafting on the Buffalo National River near Buffalo River State Park in northern Arkansas Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

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