Courtesy Amelia Island CVB
Putting the spotlight on a smaller destination is one of the aims of the Small Market Meetings Conference.
The 2012 conference, Oct. 28-30 in Jacksonville, Fla., expands on that purpose by giving meeting planners who attend the conference the opportunity to visit and tour three northeast Florida meeting destinations: Jacksonville, the conference site, as well as nearby Amelia Island and St. Augustine.
“Thanks to the Amelia Island CVB and the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra and the Beaches CVB, this year we are offering post-conference familiarization trips to our meeting planner attendees,” said Joe Cappuzzello, SMM Conference president and CEO.
“After two nights and three days in Jacksonville, seeing all that the city offers, meeting planners will have the chance to see two other completely different destinations. It will really broaden their knowledge of the possibilities that northeast Florida offers. And, they will be the guests of three of the region’s top hotels.”
Start in Jacksonville
The conference host hotel and home base, the 966- room Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, is the region’s largest convention hotel, with 110,000 square feet of meeting space in as many as 30 meeting rooms.
Although it is in the heart of the city, the Hyatt makes the most of Florida’s mostly cooperative weather with a 21,000-square-foot terrace that overlooks the St. John’s River; an outdoor, heated rooftop pool and seasonal pool bar; and prefunction areas and several meeting rooms that look out upon the river.
The hotel also has two full-service restaurants, including a steakhouse, a sports bar, a lounge and an Einstein Bros. Bagel shop.
Within walking distance of much of downtown, the hotel is also within a couple of blocks of Jacksonville Landing, a waterfront entertainment complex with some 20 shops and 20 eateries and bars. Visitors can walk along the Landing’s 1,000 feet of public dock and dine outdoors on patios and balconies next to the river.
City sightseeing tours on Monday
Meeting planners who attend the conference won’t rely strictly on their feet to see Jacksonville’s sights.
“One of the highlights of the conference each year are our city tours,” said Cappuzzello. “Everyone who wants to go — meeting planners and suppliers — boards motorcoaches and with locals as our tour guides, we take a driving tour of our host city.
“Not only is it a great way for meeting planners to get their bearings and get a better understanding of the city’s layout, we make stops at top attractions and at popular off-site event venues,” he said. “It takes only a couple of hours, and everyone learns a lot more about our host city. Plus, spending time on the motorcoach helps our attendees make new connections and get to know one another a little better, in a more relaxed setting.”