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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M A 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 23 RESORT MEETINGS Inventive, Fresh, Active & Healthy By Selena Chavis Resort Trends latest Bonding on the golf course at Streamsong Resort in Streamsong, Fla. Photo courtesy of Streamsong Resort esort properties have long been a go-to option for meeting and event planners. The inher- ent value of having so many offerings on site, coupled with wide-ranging appeal, makes these options attractive for catering to diverse age groups, attendee interests and needs. Yet even with mainstay options, planners must keep meetings fresh and inviting, staying one step ahead of trends. That's why resorts across the South are upping their game to re- spond to new preferences and expectations. According to Elizabeth McDonald, director of events with Clayton Homes, today's groups are looking for an "experience," not a confer- ence. "Resorts need to add value," she said. "They need to take on a more collaborative approach with the planners." The organization recently found a good fit for its 240- attendee meeting at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C. "The Grove Park Inn works well with today's obsession for fitness and a healthy lifestyle. It seems to bring that out in people." A resort should understand who they are and why their "brand within a brand" speaks to what a group is trying to accomplish, said Christopher Levine, director of sales for the inn. "If they can be successful in that, then the meeting or conference is mutually beneficial and repeat bookings follow," he said. Jim Bullock, director of sales and marketing with Streamsong Resort in Streamsong, Fla., said that the destination itself has become an integral part of meeting content and often drives the decision-making process. "The brightest companies are no longer making des- tination decisions based on the pre-verbal rates, dates and space," he said. "They are seeking places that uniquely align with their own com- pany culture, values and mission statement." Along with these big-picture trends, industry professionals weighed in on other fundamentals that represent the latest and greatest in resort group meetings. Health & Wellness Healthy activities – both active and restful – are increasingly incorporated into resort events. Benny Baker, M.Ed., CHA, director of sales with the Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa in Hot Springs, Ark., said that attendees want the opportunity to breath in the natural surroundings of a destination. "Planners are incorporating more rest and relaxation (R&R) into their schedul- ing. Why go to a resort setting if you can't enjoy the setting?" he asked, pointing to the strengths of the Arlington as the "front door" to downtown historic Hot Springs and Hot Springs National ► R

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