The annual Small Market Meetings Conference will soon have a spin-off: a shorter, more condensed event called the Small Market Meetings Summit.
“We realize how important time is for everybody,” said Joe Cappuzzello, CEO of The Group Travel Family, the Ohio-based company that manages the Small Market Meetings Conference. “We want the meeting planners to get their marketplace meetings, education, meals and networking time done all in one day.”
And that’s what meeting planners will get if they attend the Small Market Meetings Summit scheduled for May 13-14 in Panama City Beach, Florida. The regular Small Market Meetings Conference takes place October 4-6 in French Lick, Indiana. Planners can choose to attend one gathering or the other but cannot attend both.
The new Small Market Meetings Summit will work this way: During business sessions, 25 qualified meeting planners will have appointments with “pods” of three people each; each pod will represent one of 25 different meetings destinations.
“Ideally, the trio could include a representative from the city’s convention and visitors bureau, a hotel and a conference center, or whatever combination of people the destination wants to send,” said Cappuzzello. “All three are selling the city as a meetings destination at one time.”
There will be 25 appointments scheduled, about half in the morning and the rest in the afternoon. Instead of the usual six-minute meetings used at the Small Market Meetings Conference, the summit will feature 12-minute sessions.
Sitting down with three destination representatives will save meeting planners time and help them get answers to many more questions.
“It will give the meeting planner a much better understanding and more information about that city and what it has to offer,” said Cappuzzello.
There will be an opening-night reception to kick off the summit, and then everything else will be completed the next day, including the speaker presentations.
“We expect to end the summit by late afternoon,” Cappuzzello said. “It is all a concentrated effort. They can go home the same day.”
Summit organizers believe there is a need for planners to be able to focus on the smaller markets where great meetings could take place.
“The theme of the conference and summit are these second- and third-tier cities,” said Cappuzzello. “Meeting planners are looking for them for company or association meetings. For example, if you meet in a smaller city like Green Bay, Wisconsin, you will be treated differently, extra specially, than you would in one of the big city destinations where you might only be a small fish in a big pond.”
Since the summit’s format is so compact, there will not be time for any large-group sightseeing in Panama City Beach. However, meeting planners can sign up for a FAM tour of the area to be held after the summit to get a more extensive look at this beach community and the Gulf Coast Panhandle region in general.