State College remains a popular meeting destination for two important reasons: It is home to the main campus of the Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) and its convention and visitors bureau is eager to bring meetings to the area.
As an example, the Central Pennsylvania CVB is offering incentives of up to $5,000 —based on the amount of used rooms — to organizations that contract new business in State College before March 31, 2011. Requests for proposals must go through the CVB, with the incentive either applied to the master bill or presented as cash to the association. The bureau will help defray transportation costs for groups that require three or more hotels.
“We’re here to make the planner’s job easier and to make sure their clients and guests receive the biggest bang for their dollar,” said Shirley Smith, director of sales for the Central Pennsylvania CVB.
The CVB happily hosts FAM tours for groups of 10 or more.
“And we are always available to host individual planners,” Smith said. “We work around their schedules.”
Toftrees Golf Resort and Conference Center offers planners a commission based on the number of booked guestrooms and will work with groups to accommodate their needs, said Laura Phillippi, director of sales for the resort.
On 1,500 acres, Toftrees — which means “home among the trees”— by March should complete major renovations to its 102 guest rooms. A new business center resides in the redecorated lobby. The resort’s 11,000 square feet of meeting space is newly decorated and has new carpet and a fresh coat of paint.
The Hampton Inn State College waives its fee on the Nittany Meeting Room if planners book 10 or more
guestrooms at the 119-room hotel, said Steve Morgan, director of sales. The meeting room can hold up to 20 people comfortably.
But planners with larger groups might consider the Hampton Inn as spillover space for events held at the recently renovated Penn Stater Conference Center and Hotel, which offers 58,000 square feet of event space and 300 guest rooms. “We get a nice overflow business,” Morgan said. “We’re not even five minutes away.”
At the Days Inn Penn State, event spaces have been redecorated and upgrades are under way in public areas. Barbara Lange, the manager, said much of the hotel’s meeting business is local and includes academic meetings, sales training and student events.
As for offsite activities, Penn State provides plenty, Lange said. The State Theatre offers local, regional and international performers, and Beaver Football Stadium provides football fun.
Groups can have catered picnics at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, a LEED-certified baseball stadium with views of Mount Nittany. Shavers Creek, Penn State’s environmental center, offers team-building programs.
The student population has given birth to numerous restaurants and pubs, ideal for dine-arounds.
There are also winery tours, cooking classes and balloon rides. The CVB on its Web site lists a number of possibilities. “Hospitality is our business,” Smith said, “and we love having guests.”