The news that this year’s Small Market Meetings Conference attendees have been waiting for is here: the 2011 SMM Conference will be held in Little Rock, Ark., on Sept. 26-28.
The conference follows the highly rated inaugural SMM Conference on Oct. 4-6 in Shreveport, La., which drew meeting planners from 18 states and destinations from 21 states. Just over 80 percent of those meeting planners who attended in 2010 said they would attend the 2011 conference.
“Following the success of the inaugural conference we are excited to host the second year and look forward to the exposure and the future meeting business it will bring to our city ,” said Dennis Tracy, director of sales and marketing for the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, which, with the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism is a primary host of the conference.
“Little Rock is an amazing city for meetings and conventions,” said Joe Cappuzzello, president of the Small Market Meetings Conference. “If you look at its location, its air and highway access and its meeting facilities and hotels, its easy to see why the Arkansas capital is getting a lot of attention from meeting planners. It was the site of Bank Travel 2009 — a sister conference to Small Market Meetings — and our delegates loved the city.”
The Little Rock conference will be held at the city’s — and the state’s — dominant convention facility, the downtown Statehouse Convention Center, with 220,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
As they did in Shreveport, attendees will enjoy the convenience of staying in an upscale hotel that is attached to the convention center.
In this case, the headquarters hotel is the Peabody Little Rock, a 418-guest room hotel that has earned Forbes’ Four Star rating and a Four-Diamond rating from AAA. It’s also home of the famous Peabody Ducks, which parade down red carpet to the lobby fountain twice each day.
The convention complex is in the capital city’s River Market District, an entertainment and dining area. The redeveloped area along the Arkansas River has more than 20 restaurants and about 20 shops, as well as a farmers market, two open-air pavilions, a 10,000-seat amphitheater, a park and an indoor market called Market Hall, home to 15 permanent merchants selling specialty foods, fresh meats and seafood, baked goods and other items.
As in 2010, conference registration is complimentary for qualified meeting planners, who will also receive up to $400 as reimbursement for travel expenses, two free nights at the Peabody Little Rock, free meals and events, professional education sessions, and, the conference’s most-popular feature, scheduled face-to-face appointments between meeting planners and representatives of small meeting venues and destinations.