Successful Meetings sat down with officials from the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Greensboro Area CVB to learn just what's cookin' in the Deep South. Here's what they had to say:
President & Chief Executive Officer
Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau
Q. What is new in your city that would be of interest to meeting professionals?
The Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal opened in May. The new terminal creates a 40-gate international complex that delivers nonstop service to more than 80 destinations in 55 countries. This is a significant addition to America’s busiest airport, which provides nonstop service to 155 domestic cities.
Atlanta is constantly adding new development to its downtown area. The National Center for Civil and Human Rights and the College Football Hall of Fame will both break ground this year, and the Atlanta Streetcar is already under construction. These will be great additions for visitors to the city.
Q. Has there been any change in the city’s room inventory?
There are 94,000 hotel rooms in the metro-Atlanta area, including 10,000 in the downtown area alone. Over the past few years, some of Atlanta’s biggest convention hotels including the Hilton, Hyatt Regency, Marriott Marquis and Westin have undergone major renovations totaling more than $200 million.
Q. What makes Atlanta a premium destination for meetings?
Georgia is a right to work state, giving meeting planners optimal flexibility in choosing contractors. Atlanta’s convention corridor offers 10,000 hotel rooms, all within walking distance of the fourth largest convention center in the country. In addition to our convention center, the city also has numerous meeting and event spaces such as the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola, and America’s Mart.
Q. What surprises meeting attendees who come to Atlanta?
For people who haven’t been to Atlanta in the past few years, they are typically surprised in by the substantial new development, walkability and vibrancy of the city. Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood continues to provide the best shopping experience in the Southeast. In addition to the top retail names, our dining scene has experienced tremendous growth. Atlanta has more than 700 Zagat-rated restaurants and is home to 12 former Top Chef and Iron Chef contestants.
President/CEO, Greensboro Area CVB
Q: What is new in your city that would be of interest to meeting professionals?
The area’s largest facility for conventions, meetings, sports and entertainment events is the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, which offers more than a half million square feet of event space and can easily accommodate groups of 20 up to 23,500. The Complex has three new areas that have opened within the last year that include The Terrace, a new 12,900 square foot banquet facility located adjacent to the Greensboro Coliseum and War Memorial Auditorium that can accommodate up to 450 for a banquet and 800 for a cocktail reception.
The Greensboro Aquatics Center, a 78,323 square foot state-of-the-art facility, and the White Oak Amphitheatre with a seating capacity of 7,666, both opened last summer.
Q: Has there been any change in the city’s room inventory?
Currently Greensboro has 87 hotel/motel properties offering a total of 9,559 sleeping rooms. Of these 87 properties, 15 are considered full service properties offering onsite meeting and dining facilities (3,532 rooms), and 72 are rooms only properties (6,027 rooms). Thirty-three of the 72 properties do provide limited meeting space and account for 2,896 rooms. A new Hampton Inn & Suites, with 109 rooms, is scheduled to open this summer near the Greensboro Coliseum Complex.
Q: Tell me about your organization?
The Greensboro Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (GACVB) is an independent, non-profit governmental authority whose mission is to aggressively market Greensboro's assets, maximizing economic impact while providing excellent visitor service. Guilford County ranks third in the state in travel and tourism expenditures, with over $1 billion generated in 2010 and more than 11,000 people employed in travel-related jobs.
Q: What’s on the horizon?
•The Sheraton is currently undergoing a $30 million state-of-the-art renovation.
•We’re getting ready to do a $24 million improvement at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex that will include new padded seats, widening of the arena concourse, and additional parking.
The Greensboro Area Convention & Visitors Bureau has just launched a new referral incentive program - Club G. The program is designed to help us reach more meeting and event planners that are not familiar with our product and all the free services that the GACVB offers.