As a sign of how the deepening economic slump has impacted the meetings industry, stalwart destinations like Las Vegas and Orlando have seen declines in group business this year (see May 19 MN cover story and June 16 MN, p. 28).
Major destinations like Atlanta, too, have seen a softened short-term meetings market. The Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau recently staged a two-day sales blitz at the Georgia World Congress Center involving sales representatives from the city's meeting hotels and targeting the corporate meetings market.
"The big conventions side of the business is moving right along, but short-term corporate activity has softened, and that will continue this year," Mark Vaughan, the ACVB's executive VP acknowledged. "Where we are short is groups of less than 1,000 attendees. We are targeting corporate planners with opportunities in the next 18 months."
Set up with 20 phones in a GWCC office, city and hotel reps conducted the calls over two (morning and afternoon) shifts across two days. They updated potential clients on development around town—including the massive $138-million "reinvention" of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis—the New World of Coca-Cola, and the Georgia Aquarium.
"We made over 3,000 calls at the Congress Center and got 600 requests for more information, as well as 11 leads, which was 11 more than what we had," said Vaughan.
"We also called some customers, thanking them for their business."
Vaughan said the ACVB will have additional marketing efforts, including hosted familiarization programs for potential meeting buyers from overseas, and a late-July fam for travel media.
"International traffic is growing at trade shows here, and Delta's expanding international airlift," he said. "We'll also be attending more international industry shows."
Originally published July 7, 2008