By Lisa Lance
Missouri Meetings & Events held a reader forum on the evening of August 28 to meet face to face with event planners and learn their thoughts on ways to improve the magazine.
The event was held at the Hilton St. Louis Airport and was a great opportunity for attendees to tour the recently renovated facility and get a taste of the gourmet food offered by the hotel. Addressing the group were Tom Lyons, vice president of sales and revenue for Lodging Hospitality Management; Jackie Kelley, director of sales; Connie Barber, the new catering manager for the hotel; and Nicole Newton, a representative from the hotel’s convention services team.
After sampling a buffet of tasty hors d’oeuvres and enjoying complimentary cocktails, the group was given a tour of the hotel. The Hilton St. Louis Airport boasts 27,000 square feet of meeting space, which has all been recently renovated or is in the process of being renovated. All 393 guest rooms are being updated as well, and feature an elegant, contemporary look.
The project includes plans for the lobby to be renovated. All of the current pink marble will be removed, some walls will be eliminated to create a better flow and all new lighting will be added, including fiber optics.
The business center is open 24 hours a day and offers free Internet access, faxes and copies. The modern fitness center is also open 24 hours a day, and an indoor swimming pool is available for use by guests.
After the hotel tour, the group of planners in attendance provided valuable feedback to the magazine’s editorial staff in a relaxed, conversational format.
While the overall feedback indicated the magazine does a good job of covering different regions in Missouri, some planners made the suggestion to add coverage of local festivals and entertainment throughout the state. Listings of local bands and top and up-and-coming bands in different genres and price ranges would benefit meeting professionals looking for entertainment or after-hours activities for their groups, planners said. Another suggestion was to include creative uses for musical acts, such as booking a band instead of a speaker at an event. A final suggestion on this topic was to include a list of alternative entertainment options such as circus performers, with talents ranging from fire eating to card tricks.
Suggestions for new topics to cover included a column featuring insight directly from a planner, such as “things I learned while planning my last event,” and a “back-to-basics” column for planners who are just starting out.
Most of those in attendance said they found the Missouri Meetings & Events Web site to be user-friendly, but had not realized the breadth of resources available online. The Web site not only features articles, but also includes how-to videos and information about MM&E Expos. Forum members said they do like the online calendar but would like to see it expanded to show the entire year.
The Missouri Meetings & Events staff appreciates candid feedback from readers, and will continue to work to improve the magazine and Web site to create the best resource for meeting and event planners in the state.
Planners interested in attending future quarterly Missouri Meetings & Events discussion forums can contact Vikki Matthews at [email protected]. To make suggestions for future story ideas, contact Patti Curran at [email protected].
Missouri Meetings & Events would like to extend a special thank you to the Hilton St. Louis Airport and Lodging Hospitality Management for their generous hospitality in hosting the event.