By: Lily Etemadi
Florida welcomed a record 106.3 million out-of-state and international visitors in 2015. Nearly 6.2 million of them traveled to the Sunshine State to attend a meeting, conference or trade show. Meetings visitors stay an average of 3.3 nights and spend nearly $120 more per day than leisure travelers. This represents an economic impact of $1.2 billion in hotel night stays alone.
To accommodate these visitors, Florida boasts 12 million square feet of hotel meeting space. There are currently 384,000 square feet under construction and another 1.4 million in the planning stages. Clearly, the meetings industry is big business in the Sunshine State and VISIT FLORIDA has created a host of programs to reach this vital market.
Florida Encounter is VISIT FLORIDA’s signature event for the meetings, conventions and incentive travel industry. This highly-regarded appointment-only tradeshow showcasing Florida suppliers is designed to match qualified meeting professionals from target markets with meeting destinations, properties and services. Maintaining a true one-to-one ratio between buyers and suppliers ensures that appointment books are as full as possible for all attendees. To learn more, go to FloridaEncounter.com.
VISIT FLORIDA’s Meetings & Travel Trade team coordinates and hosts innovative “Very Important Planner” events in top domestic markets where a high concentration of meeting professionals are located or headquartered, such as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago and New York. These in-market events include up to 12 industry Partners who help co-host unique and memorable networking opportunities that allow attendees to build relationships and share information about their products and services.
Through our partnerships with key meetings industry organizations such as Meeting Professionals International, Professional Convention Management Association, IMEX America and Connect, VISIT FLORIDA is able to offer Partners several participation options and sponsorship-share opportunities at their appointment-based shows and marketplaces targeting meeting professionals. These options include stand sharing, meal sponsorships, in-room gifts, registration bag inserts, e-marketing to planners and even speaking opportunities.
VISIT FLORIDA has also created a Cover Your Event insurance program that offers supplemental coverage for costs directly related to re-booking a meeting or convention should it be displaced due to a named hurricane. This ensures your clients can plan their meeting with confidence and take full advantage of Florida’s venues any time of the year. To learn more, go to FloridaMeetings.com.
To take full advantage of discounts on meetings programs and engage with visitors through VISIT FLORIDA’s multiple marketing channels, join as a Marketing Partner at VISITFLORIDA.org/join. If your property has designated meeting space, you can have a listing on FloridaMeetings.com, a resource for planners looking to book their next meeting in Florida. To enroll today, call the VISIT FLORIDA industry hotline at 877-435-2872 or email partner@VISITFLORIDA.org.
Lily Etemadi, is VISIT FLORIDA’s Manager of Meetings and Travel Trade.