Skip to site content
The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Social Events Build Relationships at SMMC

The appeal of the Small Market Meetings Conference (SMMC) is the interaction during meals, social events and tours for 300 meeting planners, travel industry representatives, vendors, conference staff and host city representatives. Although business meetings during the marketplace sessions were paramount, many attendees found the times outside the hall a great opportunity to further engage with people with whom they might choose to do business.

Attendees enjoyed several breakfasts, lunches and dinners together. Following the keynote address, delegates gathered for dinner and fun science demonstrations by Kevin Delaney of Little Rock’s Discovery Museum. Delaney has been a guest several times on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” Before long, a live band cranked up and the dance floor filled with happy delegates.

The conference’s second day featured group tours of Little Rock landmarks, including the Clinton Presidential Center, international charity Heifer International and Central High School, the site of the 1957 civil rights showdown. Others visited the Rock Town Distillery, a craft distillery that makes bourbon, vodka and even moonshine. Delegates had dinner outdoors along the Arkansas River with Little Rock’s skyline and lighted bridges as a backdrop. There were tasty local food-truck favorites, paddleboat rides and submarine tours.

“The meal and entertainment times were relaxed, casual, and people let their hair down,” said Norma Charette of Campus Conference Solutions. “I think those experiences were as important as the marketplace. I actually met someone on the dance floor. The next day we looked at each other and said ‘Let’s figure out if we can do business together.’”

Reg Forder of American Christian Writers in Nashville, Tennessee, has attended SMMC for years and is never disappointed. “It was all excellent; but then I’ve grown to expect this to be good,” said Forder. “Little Rock had a lot to show. This conference knows how to find good things that give us all a really good time.”

Little Rock welcomed SMMC for the second time in four years. The CVB wanted to demonstrate to meeting planners that their town was ideal for them.

“Our city is the perfect size to host small market meetings,” said Jennifer Jones, the CVB’s sales manager. “Most of these meeting planners’ groups can fit nicely into our downtown hotels and convention space.”

The next SMMC will take place October 2-4, 2016, in Huntsville, Alabama, nicknamed “the Rocket City” because of its close association with the U.S. space program.

“SMMC is a quality conference. We’ve had a lot of success coming to it,” said Bob Rogers of the Huntsville-Madison County CVB. “Any time you get meeting planners into your city, it’s a good thing. We think we have a lot to show. Over the years, when we get people to visit Huntsville, they book with us.”

Dan Dickson

Dan has been a communicator all his professional life, first as an award-winning radio and TV news reporter for two decades and then as a communications director for several non-profits for another decade. He has contributed to The Group Travel Leader Inc. publications since 2007.