Prevue asked Eileen Forrow, Visit Florida’s vice president of sales & marketing, her thoughts on Florida for 2011. Q: How does Florida’s natural beauty and mild climate add value to a meeting or incentive? A: There’s no doubt that “Destination Matters.” Where you hold your meeting is as important as the program content. Having your meeting or incentive travel event in Florida means you’ll have a bright, sunny setting with attendees who are happy to be here, motivated and more productive. The Sunshine State is understandably proud of our beautiful beaches and world-famous weather, which offer a destination where productive, inspired employees can be at their best, resulting in higher ROI and business growth when the meeting is over. Q: How do the many different group activities available in Florida contribute to a program’s value? A: Florida boasts an immense and diverse collection of meeting and convention facilities, from premier properties to sand-in-your-shoes casual, each of which is located near one or more of the Sunshine State’s world-renowned attractions. That allows groups to build a winning team or relax with various activities such as boating, fishing, ecotourism and all things aquatic. On land, championship golf courses and world-class spas abound. Florida also offers a large selection of green-certified properties and socially responsible activities throughout the state. Q: At what times of the year can planners traditionally secure the best deals? A: Florida is budget-friendly year-round and seasonal values make it easy to stretch your meeting dollars. For those interested in holding their meeting in the northern part of the Sunshine State, the best values will be during the winter months (excluding holidays), followed by spring and fall. In central and south Florida, summer will offer the best value, followed by spring and fall again. September is traditionally a value month with kids returning to school and families getting back into a routine. Q: Does a beachfront location necessarily mean a hotel is expensive? A: Absolutely not! With 825 miles of beaches and 1,260 miles of coastline to choose from, Florida offers a wide variety of beachfront accommodations to meet the needs of any meeting or incentive group. Keep in mind that smaller meetings often have even more options, due to the size and flexibility of the group. Q: Do a significant number of attendees combine their meetings with extended pre/post trips? A: Definitely, and can you blame them? Florida is a state that lives for tourism. Given the Sunshine State’s exceptional tourism hospitality, unparalleled activities and attractions, convenient air accessibility and unsurpassed budget-friendly value, there’s little wonder meeting attendees invite their friends and family along to experience a memorable Florida getaway as part of their business or incentive travel planning. It’s good business to do business in Florida—choosing the Sunshine State means you are providing your employees with not only a breathtaking setting for your meeting, but a world-famous destination for them to enjoy during their free time as well.