Talk about meeting expectations—looks like a couple days out of the office for scores of meeting pros yielded plenty of follow-up once they got back in. Many who came to our most recent Regional Expo returned to their desks with much more to juggle than they’d planned.
So, isn’t it great that planning’s what we do best?
Post-show evaluations reveal that meeting planners on hand for our magazine’s March 14-15 show at the Saint Charles Convention Center enjoyed the exhibit floor’s international flair. The keynote address and breakout sessions all got high marks, and yes, many mouths still water over cuisine that ranged from caviar and lamb chops to sushi.
More important, planners and exhibitors alike did some serious networking, made new contacts aplenty… and wrote business, some of it right on the show floor. Contributing editor Michael Humphrey drills deeper into the collective take-away in his article recapping our 6th annual Expo. A sidebar spotlights other intriguing details culled from the data.
Humphrey, ever the sporting gentleman, also takes the first of MM&E’s closer looks at a fast-growing, largely untapped market: amateur sports. Whether it’s a local league honcho who needs the typical out-of-town amenities for a couple dozen or hundred soccer players and families—or a CVB, destination resort or planner looking for a new specialty (hint, hint)—who’s on the ball? Who’s covering him (or her)? (Put me in, coach!)
Meanwhile, the biggest sports story out of St. Louis this year is the baseball Cardinals and their brand new Busch Stadium—if you blinked, you missed Busch the First’s demolition just after the 2005 postseason and Busch the Second’s completion in time for opening day 2006. Our cover story details the metamorphosis of the adjacent hotel, a $40 million facelift transforming a 1976 facility into the Hilton at the Ballpark. Smack in the middle of a revitalized district that’s to include the mixed-use Ballpark Village, this property will double in size and include condos and more types of meeting spaces than you could shake a Louisville Slugger at.
Other meeting venues we explore include Saint Louis University (for which a billboard recently announced, simply, “conferences, weddings, retreats”) and the Coronado, a renovated facility in St. Louis named after the circa -1926 hotel where the likes of Harry Truman, Barbara Stanwyck and Mae West once slept.
Since venues usually aren’t themed, a change of pace can go beyond a simple change of place. We’ve all done the corporate Wild West night in borrowed boots, dime-store duds and cap pistol, wincing while city slickers slosh too much sarsaparilla. Why not go all out, way out yonder, and do an honest-to-John-Wayne dude ranch?
Think you’ve already seen everything “country” since you’ve been to Branson? Not if you haven’t experienced the Radisson Hotel and Grand Palace combo act. These two have joined forces to bring you more space, more comfort and greater accommodations.
What else? Scan a menu of ideas shared by The Art of Entertaining, a unique company for which the name “catering” doesn’t quite cut the cheesecake. Learn how to steer clear of legal hassles when working with volunteers. And get all the scoop on The Loop, the way-beyond-boho destination neighborhood in University City, arguably the nation’s most progressive this side of the Big Muddy.
Glad you noticed that I led off this month’s letter with “meeting expectations.” That wouldn’t rate anyone a 3 out of 5—in a business where the only constant is change, the only way to succeed is to exceed expectations. We know that’s what you’re all about, and we’re glad you’ve brought us along to help you get there!