Skip to site content
The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

DuPage Shines at Small Market Meetings Summit

The Small Market Meetings Summit allows meeting planners to meet with up to three destination and venue representatives in pod-style appointments while providing the host city an opportunity to showcase itself to the planners. The 2024 Summit at the Chicago Marriott Southwest Burr Ridge Hotel, May 22–23, checked both boxes.

“I have gotten to meet a lot of important people,” said Lisa Sharpe of Anointed Women of Power in Raleigh, North Carolina. “It’s such a great thing to have the opportunity to chat and be comfortable. It has been very good, absolutely. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.”

“We wanted to get people here and build excitement around DuPage,” said Angela Rauen, senior sales manager at the DuPage Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It has not only met our expectations but also went beyond our expectations.”

DuPage, a sprawling county of more than 30 communities just west of Chicago, went all out to garner as much exposure as possible.

Delegates walked to and from registration through a lane of sponsoring venues and destinations with attractive giveaways, enjoying free ice cream at the entrance.

Following a networking hour with drinks and hors d’oeuvres on the hotel’s outdoor deck overlooking a pond, the attendees were divided into three groups for a walking jaunt around the nearby Burr Ridge Village, an attractively landscaped collection of bars, restaurants and commercial shops.

Each group visited Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant, Topaz Café and Kohler Waters Spa before gathering for dinner at The Hampton Social.

The following day, after a breakfast sponsored by Travel Santa Anna, California, guest speaker Sara Gerliczki gave useful advice for stress management that included getting the attendees out of their chairs for a series of stress-reducing exercises.

She also had the group do a few minutes of meditation using a mental mantra they had created.

“There is a vast strength of beauty waiting inside us,” she said. “It is a silent way of tapping into it.”

Two dozen meeting planners then met with destination representatives during morning and afternoon sessions, sandwiched around a luncheon sponsored by Branson, Missouri, the host for the 2025 Summit.

“Most shows are like cattle herds,” said Christianne Heba, with Meetings Unlimited in Lawrenceville, Georgia. “It’s great to be able to talk to these people.”

“I am learning about different destinations and meeting new players,” said Donna Masiulewicz of Timeline Meetings and Events in Mesa, Arizona. “The educational component was also beneficial.”

“Just having conversations face-to-face is beneficial,” said Molly Willard of Square One Meeting Planning in Summerville, South Carolina.

On the destination side, Susan Ford, senior sales manager of Chateau on the Lake in Branson, said, “I have gotten lots of RFPs [requests for proposals].”

Most of the meeting planners stayed for a day-and-a-half familiarization tour that combined delicious food, fun games and informative tours of area hotels.

“We want to showcase the Chicago experience right here in the Chicago suburbs,” said Beth Marchetti, executive director of the DuPage CVB. “We are taking planners to show our wonderful area.”

The afternoon and evening following the final marketplace included appetizers and drinks at Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse; a tour, pizza and dessert on the terrace at The Table at Crate; and mini-golf and drinks at the Puttshack in Oak Brook.

The next day started with a photo in front of the Route 66 sign at Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket in Willowbrook and breakfast and a tour at the Crowne Plaza Chicago Southwest Burr Ridge.

After coffee and a tour of the Hotel Arista in Naperville, an exciting game of Whirlyball (like lacrosse in bumper cars) and lunch at Fogo De Chao, also in Naperville, the planners toured the Westin Chicago Lombard in Lombard and had dessert and played games at Sony, Wonderverse in Oak Brook before heading for home.

What Meeting Planners are Saying

“It’s very accessible. I love the networking and learning about new destinations and what they have to offer.”

— Zena Young, Georgia State University


“I most enjoy meeting new people. It is more personal relationship-wise. It lives up to its name, it is a family.”

Bob Smith, RTS and Associates

Boyertown, Pennsylvania

“I am looking for smaller destinations, more second-tier cities. This gives me an opportunity to meet some of them. My time is much more useful.”

— Lynn Lawson, Event Prep

Aurora, Colorado

“It has connected us to people we wouldn’t have met. The smallness is the charm of it for us. This is the only place we come to. We are a customer for life.”

— Rodney Young, YoungHeart Event Planners

Douglasville, Georgia

“If it is not a good show, I don’t fool with it. I am looking to make relationships. This business is all about relationships, and Small Market Meetings is small enough to create those relationships.”

Brenda Glass, Superior Planning/Site Selection

New Port Ritchey, Florida

What Destinations are Saying

“The individual appointments are what drew us. A lot are asking about FAMs. I have met some great planners.”

— Tanya Minor, Visit Vancouver

Vancouver, Washington

“You can have more intimate conversations and a longer time to get to know planners and get to learn what they want in a destination. And they get a feel for what we have.”

Kelsey Meyer, Visit Lincoln

Lincoln, Nebraska

“I had nine good leads. The value was very good for me.”

Rebecca French, Manchester/Coffee County Conference Center

Manchester, Tennessee