It is almost time for the next Small Market Meetings Conference, the gathering of meeting planners and destination providers who represent smaller cities and sites.
The conference takes place September 26-28 in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a modern community of 65,000 people with memories of its place in the great history of the Old West. This important assembly will be staged at the official conference hotel, the Little America Hotel and Resort. The planners and travel industry representatives will meet in two marketplace sessions to discuss potential event opportunities.
The Little America property has 188 guest rooms for the delegates to enjoy. Meeting planners will be interested to know that the site has 16 meeting rooms that can be configured for different purposes, for a total of 38,000 square feet of available space. The Little America has the configurations, equipment, staff, accommodations and food service that make life easier for meeting planners. The resort is just minutes from downtown Cheyenne, the state Capitol, various history museums, Cheyenne Frontier Days Park and Warren Air Force Base.
Fast yet Fun
The annual Small Market Meetings Conference is always a fast-paced, jam-packed event. A lot gets done in a short amount of time. The format calls for planners to participate in up to 50 six-minute “get to know you” meetings spread out over two days. This is where planners and travel site providers decide if they have enough interest in each other to book future business. If the initial marketplace meeting doesn’t provide enough time to strike a deal, the two sides can continue to chat during several conference meal functions, on a sightseeing tour or in a lounge after hours. Follow-up contacts after the conference are also vital to help land the contract. In short, the Small Market Meetings Conference brings together the best people to get meetings booked at interesting sites around the nation.
Jim Walter is vice president and director of sales and marketing for Visit Cheyenne, the local convention and visitors bureau. He says he will be pleased to host 100 or so meeting planners, who have the power to book future meetings in his home city. “Planners will be sitting down with our representatives from Cheyenne but also with many fine people from various cities and attractions throughout the U.S,” he said.
Travel industry representatives also found value in attending the past Small Market Meetings Conference. William McBroom of St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra and the Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau in Florida sees much to be gained by participating. “I came to help us move forward with planning and holding live meetings again,” said McBroom. “There is no better way to develop relationships, drill down to what people are looking for and win the next set of meetings.”
Conference attendees will arrive by car and by air. Many will fly into Denver’s airport and shuttle 90 miles north to Cheyenne. Others will fly directly into Cheyenne Regional Airport, just a few miles from the conference hotel.
Sites to See
Being a true Western city, Cheyenne will offer attendees a lot of frontier history but also many modern attractions during planned sightseeing tours of the area.
“We are an authentic Western community but with the modern amenities you hope for, including great downtown nightlife,” said the CVB’s Walter. “It’s a great place to host meetings and to give people a unique destination experience.”
A great way to see a lot of Cheyenne in a hurry is to hop on the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley for an introduction to the city’s most interesting sites and buildings with lively, knowledgeable guides narrating along the way. The trolley is fantastic for groups. They can be booked for Wild West, holiday lights and ghost tours, to name a few.
Cheyenne is full of history at every turn, especially in the downtown area. Many buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The city got its name from the Cheyenne Native American people, but the railroads put the town on the map when they chose this location as the launching point for the laying of tracks over the Rocky Mountains and into the American West. The restored Cheyenne Depot has an interesting museum. The Wyoming State Capitol building had a four-year $300 million renovation that returned it to its former glory. It is open to visitors. The Nelson Museum of the West and the Cowgirls of the West museums are two more choices. The historic Governor’s Mansion and the State Museum are nearby, too.
Other area attractions include the Terry Bison Ranch, which has 2,400 head of bison and offers an unusual train ride right into a herd of bison so visitors can see the beasts up close and even feed them. There are horseback rides and other fun outdoor activities to do on the ranch. Big Boy 4004, the largest steam locomotive in the world, is displayed in Holliday Park. Cheyenne Botanic Gardens, with its spectacular gardens and floral arrangements, is the pride of the city and worth a stop.
The conference’s host city always enjoys feeding and entertaining its conference delegates, and the attendees won’t be let down when they get to Cheyenne. In addition to sightseeing tours of the area, Visit Cheyenne will provide conference delegates with a special treat.
Following a hearty opening night meal, guests will view a mini rodeo in the arena. Each July, Cheyenne hosts Frontier Days, considered the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration. As part of the Small Market Meetings Conference, delegates will sample the event by watching cowboys and cowgirls from the local community college race, rope and perform other tricks on horseback. There might even be a little bull riding and steer wrestling thrown in. In any event, the night will be colorful and exciting. This event will be interactive. Walter’s message to all conference delegates: “Be sure to bring your Western boots.”
Inspiration and Information
Change makes many people uncomfortable. Unexpected change in the business world can be especially nerve-racking. But the Small Market Meetings Conference’s keynote speaker will try to convince attendees that change can make them happier and more successful if they learn to manage it well. Motivational speaker Johnny Campbell encourages audiences to embrace change, not run away from it. Known in the trade as “The Transition Man,” he will deliver an enthusiastic message to offer delegates the tools they need to handle change.
Campbell says to improve your life you must reframe how you see change happening in you. That depends on how you see your life, the changing situation in front of you and yourself responding to it.
“People create, manage, react and respond to change,” said Campbell in one of his website talks. “In order to cope, people must transition through the change. Transition is the process that guides people through it. This is what determines success or failure.”
In addition to Campbell, various destination providers will address the delegates. These well-known travel industry representatives will be offering their sites as future meeting locations or suggesting ideas for group travel. Several of these sponsors will show beautiful videos of their cities and sites and will be available to answer questions and hand out materials at the sponsor booths that ring the floor of the marketplace.
These travel companies and destinations bring added value and are an important part of every conference.
“A sponsorship at Small Market Meetings Conference delivers added exposure to the destination marketing organization and puts their destination or venue squarely on the meeting planner’s radar screen,” said Charlie Presley, chairman and founder of The Group Travel Family and a partner in the Small Market Meetings Conference.
Don’t Miss It
Visit Cheyenne’s Walter is looking forward to the Small Market Meetings Conference, which, he says, unfolds at just the right time of year, the beginning of fall. “Our weather out here will be spectacular, and the trees will be turning red and gold,” he said.
The site of the 2022 Small Market Meetings Conference will be announced at the closing luncheon, which is hosted by that city’s convention and visitors bureau.