Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, OH announced the opening of its newly expanded convention center, marking the completion of a $22 million, ten-month renovation. The 120,000 sq. ft. addition more than doubles the size of the previous convention center, bringing the total square footage to 215,000 and making the Kalahari Resort – Sandusky the only under-one-roof complex in the Midwest to offer a convention center and hotel of such scope.
As the second largest employer in the area, the expansion will add more than 140 full-time jobs to Kalahari’s 1,200-member employee base. It is also expected to generate additional taxable revenue within the resort equal to the amount of approximately $150 million over the first 20 years.
photos courtesy Brandon Williams
Midwest Meetings took five with Dave Serino, Founder of the Social Media Tourism Symposium, at the Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference to discuss social media engagement, strategy, and more.
Dave Serino, SoMeT Founder
Here at Midwest Meetings, we’ve been hearing all about how anybody who’s anybody in tourism should be at SoMeT - that is, the Social Media Tourism Symposium, which took place in Tunica, MS in November.
What’s SoMeT? Just another conference about social media marketing in the tourism industry? Not even close - it’s way cooler than that. For starters, SoMeT is an actual product of social media marketing in the tourism industry. In fact, the whole thing is practically planned on Facebook.
Once we got a grasp of just how all-encompassing this event experience is for tourism, hospitality, and destination marketing professionals in the social media space, we started wondering… from a planning and logistics perspective, how on earth do they pull this thing off? So we got founder Dave Serino on the phone to tell us all about the vision, process, and community behind SoMeT, and why this is probably the conference model of the future.
Editor's note (December 2, 2011 @ 10:30 a.m. CT): Here at Midwest Meetings, we don't necessarily feel we should need to defend the conference costs incurred by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the recent Mortgage Bankers Association's annual meeting in Chicago. After all, the costs breakdown in the Federal Housing Finance Agency's response appears to contain justifiable line items. It looks pretty self-explanatory to us.
But alas, there's the rub: it makes sense to those who know what they're looking at.
Lawmakers, mainstream media, and the general public, on the other hand, don't have that meetings industry "insider" perspective. And $640,000 does sound like an awfully big number if one doesn't understand how to put it into perspective. So how do we, as an industry, get the message across?
Scroll down for updates as Midwest Meetings continues to gain commentary and insight regarding the latest black eye to the meetings industry from the mainstream media.
by Amanda Jasmine Williamson
What’s the Wi-Fi password? You asked a doorman who doesn’t know, who asked the lighting technician, who also doesn’t know, and now you’ve been told to look for Jean, who’s wearing a red top and walking around with a folder, but you don’t see Jean anywhere.
The joys of uninformed teams. They waste our time and don’t leave a good impression on our guests.
Our lead developer went to a very classy event last week. Despite all the branding and the free giveaways, patrons weren’t impressed. Why? Because they didn’t have the information they needed to get the most out of the occasion. Attendees didn’t know where they were going, what time the speakers were starting, or even where the bathrooms were located. The well-intentioned workers couldn’t help the guests because the organizers hadn’t told them anything to begin with.
What if you could get paid to bring your event to a particular destination? In essence, depending on the nature of your gathering and the city you’re considering, you can. Some Midwest CVBs offer grant programs to support new or existing groups in attracting or increasing attendance at events held within their borders.
As rough economic times continue to challenge many types of events, such longstanding assistance programs offered by some regional bureaus may be more attractive than ever for groups looking to get together. In a self-supporting effort to aid groups in bringing more visitor dollars to town, these grant programs are a common bureau strategy geared toward encouraging new events to get on their feet and to keep existing events coming back.
* The Sports industry – not just a game.
We are excited to introduce a Sports section in this edition of Midwest Meetings Magazine! From the significant economic impact to social and community ties, sporting events are an important segment in the meetings world.
Learn from the pros what makes this industry tick and how it not only survived, but thrived in the past few years.
• An emergency action plan is a life saver.
Keith Abrams, MA, ATC, LAT, PES, CES has been a Certified athletic trainer for 18 years. Some of his past experiences include: working with the Atlanta Braves, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs, XFL football league and various colleges, high schools and clinic settings. He is the go-to guy when it comes to preparing an emergency action plan for a sporting event.
Abrams offers a website service for event coordinators to locate certified and qualified athletic trainers. His service is free,so it’s a win-win all the way around for the event coordinator organizing an event or tournament. It’s a nationwide service so they can assist in locating athletic trainers for any and all sporting events.
• Sports events take special planning.
• Addressing security and transportation needs of your sporting event.
Organizing sporting events entail many of the same types of skills as other events, however there are a variety of differences as well. From the special needs in the initial planning, collaborating with a board of directors, establishing and working with volunteers, coordinating with local and/or state governments and security and transportation for the attendees as well as national or international dignitaries and visitors, the sports market requires a different model than traditional meetings and events.
• What happens when the biggest sporting event of the year comes to town?
• Special considerations for large events.
Football, a classic American hobby, is also one of the biggest sporting events of the year. In 2012, it will be visiting Indianapolis, IN for the first time.
Sports tourism is big business for the city that is home to the Indy 500 and as a result of their viable destination, the Indiana Convention Center doubled in size with a $275 million expansion. The NFL experience will take place here for Super Bowl XLVI, it will act as the official tailgate party and feature a hands on fan friendly zone where fans can meet past players, indulge in great food, and enjoy the festivities. The Lucas Oil Stadium which opened in 2008 will be home to the big game.
by Thom Singer
I speak at business meetings, and I’ve seen it all. Every event is unique, but the people you meet are often the most fascinating part of the conference experience.
Several months ago, I was at an event with “thought leader extraordinaire” Matt Church, and we were talking about the meetings industry. Soon we were joking about all the people you can expect to meet at a conference, and I’ve been collecting ideas about “-ists” ever since that conversation. Here are some of the interesting personalities who often show up.
1. The Conference Pacifist. The person who does not want to witness or participate in conflict, controversy, or hands-on activities. Anything can make them uneasy and cause them to flee the conference and seek diplomatic immunity in their hotel room.