Courtesy Shreveport-Bossier CTB
SHREVEPORT, La. — Meeting planners and industry representatives will get a warm welcome as they roll into the Shreveport Convention Center in Shreveport, La., on Monday, Oct. 4 for the evening kick-off of the inaugural Small Market Meetings Conference, Oct. 4-6.
An energetic start is promised with a 5 p.m. Super Session led by McNeel Keenan, an event management expert who is a sales executive for Cvent.
Keenan will show meeting planners how event registration, meeting management site section, venue sourcing and Web survey solutions can make meetings run more effectively and efficiently. His one-hour session will be followed by an opening dinner with entertainment, hosted by the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau. This opening affair is expected to be one of the highlights of the conference, a lively introduction to a city that combines Texas’ flair with Louisiana’s spicy Cajun flavor.
“The theme for the opening event is Lights, Camera, Action,” said Kim Brice, vice president of convention marketing for the Shreveport-Bossier CTB. “We are combining theater with live entertainment and terrific food. This will be a great introduction to our culture, entertainment and Southern hospitality.”
When the evening ends, attendees simply walk to their complimentary rooms in the Hilton Shreveport, a 313-room property attached to the convention center. The hotel has its own lounge, Cajun/Creole restaurant, 24-hour business center, rooftop pool, complimentary airport shuttle and complimentary (within a 2-mile radius) city shuttle.
Marketplace builds networks
The Shreveport-Bossier CTB takes charge of hospitality on Tuesday morning as host of the opening breakfast, followed by the first session of the SMMC Marketplace. The marketplace allows meeting planners and industry representatives to meet one-on-one to discuss potential business opportunities during a series of prescheduled appointments.
A noon luncheon features entertainment as well as a presentation by a new meeting destination that will be of interest to many who plan smaller meetings.
Education is the focus of the afternoon. During a one-hour seminar, meeting planners will gain from the experience and insight of their peer Lesley Kyle, senior event planner for the Society of Plastics Engineers. Kyle has become a respected speaker on social marketing.
She will discuss how Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media tools can be used to drive attendance and build better meetings.
After the seminar, meeting planners and travel industry representative will board motorcoaches for a tour of Shreveport-Bossier.
Guides will talk about Shreveport old and new, explaining the importance of the Red River in the area’s history and explaining why in more recent times the pair have become a hotbed of Hollywood filmmaking.
“It’s important to us to really showcase what makes Shreveport-Bossier an ideal meeting location. Of course we want to highlight our top-notch meeting facilities, but we also want to emphasize what makes us unique, fun and a great place to meet,” Brice said.
Last stop: Red River Revel
The tour ends at downtown Shreveport’s Festival Plaza, where the annual Red River Revel Arts Festival will be in full swing. Shreveport-Bossier is the Festival Capital of north Louisiana, and the Revel is its biggest and best fest. The celebration of art, music and food draws more than 200,000 people from a five-state region over the course of eight days.
Attendees will be elbow to elbow with other festival-goers who are enjoying live music, local food and arresting artworks.
“The Revel is our crown jewel,” Brice said. “The attendees will be so blown away by the headline entertainment, local food, one-of-a-kind artwork and family atmosphere.”
Headlining this year’s Revel are country duo Steel Magnolia, the Hunt Family, the Band Perry, and others.
After an 8 a.m. breakfast, attendees will get a better understanding of the Boomer generation during a seminar by Dr. Vicki Rosebrook.
Rosebrook has discussed the challenges of marketing to this sector on NBC’s “Today Show” and in major daily newspapers.
Another Marketplace session of one-on-one appointments between meeting planners and travel industry professionals will follow her talk.
Big announcement concludes conference
The host city for the 2011 Small Market Meetings Conference will be announced at a farewell luncheon that serves as the wrap-up to the three-day conference.
The 2011 host city will showcase some of its flavor by supplying entertainment for the luncheon.
Planners can still register for the conference by calling 800-628-0993 or contacting Kim Dolan at KDolan@smallmarketmeetingsconference.com.
The $199 registration fee is waived for qualified meeting planners and travel expenses are reimbursed up to $400. The conference includes two free nights at the Shreveport Hilton Hotel, free meals and events, a guest pass for the Red River Revel, professional education sessions and one-on-one meetings with meeting venues and destinations.