Can a Meeting Pro Get a Break Around Here?

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How do you define “value”? Is it a new room under $100? Or a $100 dinner that’s worth every penny in terms of the experience. Either way, DMOs are going out of their way to show you where and how to find the highest ROI/ROO for your next event.

SEATTLE
If you haven’t been to Seattle in a while, be prepared for a shock—reverse sticker shock, that is.

“We’ve had a 25% growth in hotel rooms over the past five years, which has added an insurance factor,” says Tom Norwalk, President/CEO of Seattle CVB. “A lot of our hotels have been aggressive with each other year over year. We have felt the economic pain just like everyone else, and this has resulted in planners finding tremendous values regardless of the time of year.”

Outside its hotels, Seattle offers a bevy of alluring attractions at attractive prices. “We are not a cookie cutter kind of city that has a lot of national chain venues and attractions,” says Norwalk. “Some of our top attractions are relatively inexpensive and sometimes even free.” Case and point: Pike Place Market.

“The market just celebrated its 100-year anniversary and it’s one of the country’s most unique open air markets. It’s a free experience and we often set up group events there.”

Drive one mile north and you’ll find yourself another great attraction for just $15 a head: the Experience Music Project.

“The Experience Music Project is uniquely Seattle,” Norwalk says. “It offers all hands-on exhibits, and groups absolutely love it. Many of them book private events there and the venue can accommodate up to 3,000 guests.”

The Seattle Art Museum, or SAM, is another one of the city’s prized cultural centers, which opened in 2007.

“SAM is a well-kept secret. It is a phenomenal venue and a hot place for small meetings,” says Norwalk. Adding to the value, a healthy dose of new venues include the expansion of the Washington State Convention & Trade Center. “In July, we opened a new conference center across the street from the convention center,” says Norwalk. “The new center has 71,000 sf of group space and can be used as a stand-alone facility or a group add-on to a convention center meeting.”

INDIANAPOLIS
While Indianapolis has always been considered an affordable destination with good access for groups, the city’s exponential growth in meetings infrastructure is now making it affordable for significantly bigger groups. Don Welsh, President/CEO of Visit Indy, arrived on the scene in 2008 to lead the surge.

“I was blown away,” says Welsh, about his first impressions in town. “Indianapolis was right at the beginning of a $3 billion investment, which included a new airport, Lucas Oil Stadium and plans for a convention center expansion.”

This year, everything is coming to fruition.

“We’re getting ready for the Super Bowl in 2012, we’ve opened a new airport, the Colts are in their third season at Lucas Oil Stadium, and the Indianapolis Convention Center expansion opens in January. The idea that we are a small Midwest town just couldn’t be further from the truth.”

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