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Small Market Meetings Conference makes headlines

Photo by Pearson Photography, courtesy Shreveport-Bossier CTB

SHREVEPORT, La. — The Small Market Meetings Conference, the industry’s first conference designed specifically for meeting professionals who seek smaller destinations and venues, made headlines last month in Shreveport-Bossier City, La., where the conference will be held Oct. 3-6.
In its Dec. 4 issue, the Shreveport Times announced that the conference would be held in the city during its annual Red River Revel Arts Festival, a strategic move on the part of those planning the meeting industry event.

“We wanted the opportunity to really show our Southern hospitality, our arts and culture, and what makes ‘Shreveport-Bossier: Louisiana’s Other Side,’ so unique,” said Kim Brice, vice president of convention marketing for the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau, at a news conference.

Brice and others described the payoff the conference will have for the city and for the 100 meeting planners and 100 exhibitors from across the country who are expected to attend. Officials also announced that American Eagle will be the conference’s official airline sponsor.

Joe Cappuzzello, CEO and president of the Small Market Meetings Conference, came to Shreveport for the press conference and said the city was chosen based on three criteria: convention center facilities, an adjacent host hotel and local attractions. Of the center, he said, “I was taken aback with how impressive everything was.”

The Shreveport Convention Center and adjacent Hilton Shreveport were integral in winning the conference bid.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to have this unprecedented event, but even more so at the opportunities it presents for the future,” said Sam Voisin, general manager for the convention center. “Nothing sells and promotes a city quite like having the key decisionmakers here in person. They can fully experience Shreveport rather than just hearing a presentation.”

“We believe this conference can be just the first step in bringing more conferences to Shreveport-Bossier City,” said Bill Cooksey, manager of marketing for the Shreveport Airport Authority, another partner in bringing the event to the city.

The conference will mean an immediate economic impact of around $60,000, but its effect on future meeting business could be much more. Each meeting planner who will attend the conference plans from one to 50 meetings a year.

“This could be multimillions of dollars for our community. It can range from meetings at the convention center to those at hotels around the city,” said Brice.

“There is no time like the present to see what Shreveport-Bossier has to offer,” said Stacy Brown, president of the CTB. “During economic times when everyone else is struggling, it’s good to be Shreveport-Bossier. We have had such wonderful things going on in our community. This is the perfect time to host this conference and let them [see what all we have to offer.”

Shreveport-Bossier is a third-tier city because its 350,000-square-foot convention center is in the 100,000-square-foot to 500,000-square-foot range.

Cappuzzello is also CEO and president of Group Leaders of America. In that role, he has helped produce conferences for the group travel industry, including the BankTravel and Going On Faith conferences.

For preliminary information about the Small Market Meetings Conference and how to register, call Joe Cappuzzello or Kim Dolan at (330) 337-1027