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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Page 31 of 59

⎜ 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 32 FAMILY-FRIENDLY MEETINGS The Margaritaville Resort Biloxi is seeing more family-friendly corporate business for the same reason, according to Ann-Carter Bloom- field, public relations, media relations and event coordinator for the property. "We are see- ing an increase just from last year," she said, noting that the resort has the infrastructure and experience to address the nuances of meetings and effectively balance that with family fun. While destinations should always bring some creativity to the mix, Bloomfield noted that built-in entertainment offerings help planners narrow the playing field when choosing ven- ues. "We have so many activities for families to enjoy all under the same roof," she said, noting three restaurants, a water playground and a family entertainment center that keep families on site near other event happenings. Additionally, Robinette emphasized the im- portance of value in terms of hotel rates, dinner prices, and attraction pricing and selection. For instance, the Richmond region is full of historic offerings that require minimal expense, such as Thomas Jefferson's Virginia State Capitol, the American Civil War Museum, Henricus Histor- ical Park or historic St. John's Church, the lo- cation where Patrick Henry recited his famous "Give Me Liberty" speech. Alternatively, fami- lies can take in Kings Dominion, offering some of the most thrilling roller coaster experiences, along with rides for all ages in Planet Snoopy, the 14-acre kids area, and Soak City waterpark. Echoing the appeal of value, Tamora Williams, group travel consultant with the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, said that groups seek family-friendly des- tinations that offer authentic experiences that are affordable and accessible. The state of Arkansas, for exam- ple, provides an abundance of natural charm through the availability of 52 state parks and seven national parks, opening up opportunities for families to experience mountains, lakes, rivers and forests. "From one corner of the state to the other, visitors will find awesome scenery, world-class facilities and variety of venues, festivals and activities," Williams said. Family-Friendly Trends As destinations try to align strategies with family-friendly trends, Robinette said that there is a greater awareness of the needs of at- tendees. "Venues and destinations are thinking through all attendee experiences, including the meeting planner, attendee and family," he said, noting the Greater Richmond Convention Center's recent addition of a mothers' room to accommodate breast-feeding mothers as an example. Additionally, the Richmond Marriott Downtown installed a playroom for meetings held in the facility, complete with a video game console, board games and offerings for smaller children. "Another trend is the need for vetted, insured day-care providers onsite during meetings," Photos on this page: Helms-Brisco event in Richmond, Va. Photos courtesy of Reichmond Region Tourism

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