MAY 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 ⎜ M A 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 12 SMERF events have one thing in common: no two sessions are exactly the same. Social, military, educational, religious and fraternal groups represent a unique market in that their needs are as diverse as the partici- pants. The key to successful SMERF events, then, is collaboration among all the parties involved. "The most important thing planners can pro- vide is a sense of the group dynamic," said Jen Durben, groups director for the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce in Maryland. "What has the group done at past events? What are the group's expectations? It's always great to have a glimpse into the group's past when planning its future events." To that end, Durben said she first considers the size of the group, as well as the dates for the upcoming event. Then, she works to determine whether the group intends to continue its past traditions or perhaps consider a change of scenery. "We have the capacity for two different settings," Durben said. "We can be busi- ness-oriented and meeting-centric for groups that want to use the traditional meeting spaces of a hotel or we can be casual, relaxed and intimate for smaller groups that are willing to consider meeting in a large vacation home or a resort setting." The difference is that a vacation home offers groups an opportunity to cook and dine together, as well as the flexibility for more casual and intimate meeting spaces. Homes with as many as 10 bedrooms offer a re- treat-style setting and allow groups to opt for amenities such as swimming pools. Groups that know each other well are usually better suited to this kind of setting, Durben said. Resorts, on the other hand, offer groups the flexibility to host all their events in one location, as well as all-inclusive packages. SMERF Events: Collaboration is the Key to Success By Shannon Rasmussen MARKET SEGMENT REPORT: SMERF MEETINGS Sponsors: A u t h e n t i c M E E T I N G S Garrett Co. Maryland SM SM Experience SM Experience The Wisp Resort in Garrett County, Maryland

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