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SMM Conference is a hit again, survey says

By Dan Limke, courtesy Little Rock CVB

Results of a postconference survey show that the 2011 Small Market Meetings Conference in Little Rock, Ark., met the professional needs and expectations of meeting planners and industry representatives who attended.

Sixty-five percent of the Sept. 26-28 conference’s more than 200 attendees responded to the survey.

All of the meeting planners who took the survey rated their overall conference experience and the hospitality of Little Rock and Arkansas as good to excellent. Ninety-four percent said they would consider Little Rock for an upcoming meeting.

All meeting planner respondents also said they would do business with a supplier that they met during the conference’s Marketplace. Many of their conversations with suppliers began during the conference’s six-minute prescheduled appointments between planners and travel industry representatives. Among meeting planners, 90 percent found the appointments good to excellent; 84 percent of travel industry representatives rated them the same.

Last year’s inaugural SMM Conference in Shreveport, La., received similarly high ratings.

“This year’s survey results, along with the many positive comments we heard from attendees during and after the conference in Little Rock, have reinforced our belief that the format we have developed for the Small Market Meetings Conference is one that works well for both meeting planners and suppliers,” said Joe Cappuzzello, SMM Conference president. “What our attendees quickly realize is that the six-minute appointments are just the start of a conversation that continues throughout the conference as planners and suppliers see each other again and again, at education sessions, at meal times, on tour, even after the day is done, over drinks in the hotel bar.

“Attendees seem to appreciate the level of networking that our conference allows. The conference is smaller than many, which allows people to get to meet nearly everyone in attendance; the fact that travel industry representatives are invited to every event, from receptions and meals to city tours, is a bonus that builds relationships.”

The survey results also underscore the all-out effort that smaller cities put forth to make convention goers feel welcome. Nearly 100 percent of meeting planners rated Little Rock as a good-to-excellent meeting destination.

Facilities chosen for the conference also earned high ratings. Attendees stayed at the Peabody Little Rock; the Marketplace, education sessions and most meals were held in the adjoining Statehouse Convention Center. Ninety-eight percent of meeting planners rated the Peabody as good, very good or excellent; 92 percent gave the same rating to the convention center.

“Little Rock and the Arkansas Tourism were amazing conference partners,” said Cappuzzello. “They made sure our attendees knew they were special, from the big welcome at the airport to the special events at the Clinton Center, the Capital Hotel and the River Market — oh, and you can’t forget those great marching bands from Central and Hall high schools that led us to our dinners on Monday and Tuesday. Everyone loves a marching band, and those enthusiastic musicians made our events true celebrations.”

Another vote of confidence was meeting planners’ interest in next year’s conference, scheduled for Oct. 28-30 in Jacksonville, Fla., at host hotel Hyatt Regency Riverfront. Eighty-six percent of planners and 68 percent of suppliers said they plan to attend.

For more information, visit or call 800-628-0993.