Veteran Planners Flock to HSMAI's MEET Mid-America

More than 800 meeting planners attended MEET Mid-America, the first show in its 2012 MEET series of events, the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) reported this week. Of those, 70 percent had seven or more years of planning experience, and more than 65 percent plan more than 10 meetings a year, "making HSMAI's MEET a key place for suppliers to exhibit and connect with top planners," according to show organizers, who said association and corporate planners made up the bulk of attendees.

"We were very pleased with our first HSMAI's MEET Mid-America event in Chicago," said HSMAI President and CEO Robert A. Gilbert. "Planner registration for MEET Mid-America was up more significantly from last year, and we saw increased participation with our MEET Concierge, who pre-schedules appointments for planners and exhibitors."

The show, which took place April 3-4 in Chicago, included more than 500 appointments that took place over two days between planners, hotels, destinations, meeting venues and suppliers. Among the hotels and brands that exhibited were Hyatt Hotels & Resort, IHG, Hilton Hotels Worldwide and Marriott International, as well as destinations such as Las Vegas, Chicago, Detroit, Denver and Long Beach. Among the attendees, meanwhile, were top-level planners from Ernst & Young, Maxvantage Meetings, the American Bar Association, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Microsoft and Smithbucklin, among others.

A re-imagined, re-named and re-branded version of HSMAI's signature series of "Affordable Meetings" conferences and exhibitions, the MEET series — which stands for Meetings, Events, Education, Technology — debuted in September 2011 with MEET National. Key components include an educational program known as MEET University, which replaces traditional classroom-style learning with hands-on workshops that include case studies, peer-to-peer roundtables and "Top 10" stations; a "reverse trade show" buyer appointment expo known as TEEM Up, where exhibitors visit and meet with planners, instead of the other way around; a MEET Exhibitor Concierge, which assists exhibitors before, during and after the show with appointment setting, sales and marketing; and a virtual extension of the two-day conference called MEET On, the purpose of which is delivering MEET educational content to a wider audience and connecting exhibitors with planners "365 days a year."

Remaining HSMAI's MEET shows this year include HSMAI's MEET West (May 30-31, Anaheim, Calif.) and HSMAI's MEET National (Sept. 5-6, Washington, D.C.). For more information, visit