In this issue

Meeting planners can look forward to exciting and innovative transformations in the industry during the coming year. The January issue of Smart Meetings highlights new developments in decor, technology, food and beverage, and other areas. One feature focuses on cutting-edge culinary offerings at business banquets, while another explores new approaches to staging government meetings. Columns cover a wide variety of topics, including how meals can be used as team-building experiences and how planners can keep themselves in tip-top mental shape. Readers also will want to check out articles about exciting and unique meeting options available in several areas, including The Big Island of Hawaii, Maui, Miami, Dallas and Fort Worth, Northern California and Southern California.

Smart Meetings is a publication tailored for you, the meeting planner professional. We focus on locations in North America, including Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, with special quarterly supplements about planning abroad.

Proceed with Caution

“The meeting is the tip of the iceberg, but what goes on behind the scenes, underneath the water, is so mammoth that people who aren’t involved cannot fathom how much there is to do and how many different traps you can fall into,” says DeAnn Hartman, CMP, meeting and event planner for the Association of…

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Hotel Chefs to Groups: Bring it On

In the storied days of yore, F&B service at meetings was a mass-production offering that yielded the classic dreaded choice: beef or chicken (and later fish or vegetarian). The results were often as flat as the inquiring voice. To the planners’ rescue come bold new ideas that give pop to any event—often at prices that…

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2013 Roadmap

Staying on the cutting edge is an implicit part of a meeting planner’s job description. Wowing attendees and getting them to return year after year requires knowing what’s hot, next and new. At the same time, satisfying stakeholders and CEOs demands that you understand the most efficient, cost-effective ways to do business in the current…

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Event Recap: Working Hard at the Hard Rock

While the rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia adorning the walls of the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego provided a music-themed backdrop for The Smart Mart on Nov. 8, it wasn’t the Pete Townshend guitar or Deep Purple drum kit that made Smart Meetings’ one-day gathering a truly rockin’ event. The attendees kept the beat by moving…

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More SoCal Hotel Renovations

As I wrote in our January 2013 story about Southern California, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with happenings in busy SoCal—but we can certainly try. In addition to those covered in the story, here are some more recent hotel renovations planners should be aware of. (Know of any we’re missing? Let us know!) West…

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How to Breeze Through Airport Security

Let’s face it: Getting through airport security is a drag. But there are ways to make the process a little less painful and reduce your chances of getting pulled aside for additional screening. The following tips come mainly from the Transportation Security Administration: –Get a “checkpoint friendly” laptop bag: The TSA’s requirement to remove laptops…

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All the Buzz: Planners Weigh in on Industry Trends

For our January issue, we talked to leading experts about the top trends to watch in 2013, but we wanted to get input from planners themselves, who are experts in their own right. Their main concerns should come as no surprise. F&B is a big interest, with an emphasis on healthy, fresh and tasty food.…

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Q&A: Robyn Lynn

Q: What makes Triomphe and Iroquois Hotel group catering services special? A: Rather than utilize a standard banquet style menu, we focus on a seasonal and local ingredients along with a fresh take on the French-American genre. Being a small property, we are able to create unique food experiences for our guests. The menus change…

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Planning Tips from Caesars Entertainment

Amy Allen, director of marketing for Caesars Entertainment, recently helped plan the company’s 10th educational experience. As we covered in our January 2013 issue, this memorable event brings together elite meeting planners to learn about the organization’s diverse offerings. Not a planner by trade, Allen says learning the planning ropes has taken time and effort.…

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Around the World in 80 Hotels

Whether it’s the ambience of antique decor, interest in a past era or the story of a notable former resident, there is something about historic hotels that captures the imagination of travelers. Despite people’s innate interest in these locations, historic properties are constantly under threat from development and neglect. In order to help preserve these…

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Unconventional Convention Fare

Savvy planners have discovered that the traditional convention center caterers who once did a serviceable but uninspired job have been overrun by innovative chefs, some of whom left careers at fine eateries. And major food service suppliers at large facilities are putting together creatively themed F&B programs to match an event’s objectives or attendee interests.…

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Q&A: Charles Ahlers

In addition to Anaheim, Calif., Ahlers’ 40-plus year career in the industry has taken him to CVBs in Oakland, Calif.; Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; and San Francisco. Ahlers served as chairman of the board for Destination Marketing Association International during 2000–2001 and was named Supplier Partner Honoree at the PCMA Education Foundation Dinner in April 2008.…

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Snapshot of ASAE's Tech Conference

If Reggie Henry, chief technology officer for ASAE, had his way, the organization’s annual CIO Summit and Technology Conference & Expo would have a much longer name. “I wish we could call it the Conference for Technology and Marketing and Membership and Other Things,” Henry says. His reasoning: Technology affects everything, and a more comprehensive…

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Digital Divas

Few things energize an event more than a live band—guitar riffs, drumbeats and a singer’s voice simply command attention. Then again, there’s always an element of risk when hiring a live act. Entertainers can be divas, ask for outlandish perks, perform on their own schedule and challenge attendees’ eardrums. Enter Atmosphere Media and its High…

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Education: Staying in Tip-Top Mental Shape

It goes without saying that you’ve heard the axiom “learn something new every day.” In this industry, you do that more often than not—what with updates in technology, adjustments in the economy and a constant shift from what’s hot to what’s not, there seems to be something new to conquer every day. Thank you, Dr.…

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Team Building: Eat, Drink & Team Build

It’s both easy and fun to bond over a quality shared meal and drinks, especially when there’s an element of interactivity. While F&B has long been used to foster networking, a handful of programs are taking the concept to new heights, integrating salsa-making, grape-stomping, pizza-tossing, cocoa-refining and more. We assess a few standout options to…

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Case Study: A Sin City Meeting to Remember

The event: The Caesars Entertainment Educational Experience, which brought together 300 meeting planners, members of the media and Caesars staff from across the nation Nov. 8–10, 2012, to experience the company’s eight-hotel Las Vegas portfolio, learn during educational sessions and form valuable business connections. The venues: Attendees were spread out among the company’s hotels on…

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New & Renovated: 3 Fresh Big-Brand Hotels

Sheraton New Orleans Following a $50 million revitalization project, Sheraton New Orleans now features a fully transformed lobby, guest rooms, Sheraton Club Lounge, meeting facilities and public spaces. The project was completed just in time to celebrate the hotel’s 30th anniversary, and as a result, special offers for meeting planners will be available through the…

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Top 5 CVB Apps that Go Beyond the Norm

At this point, the vast majority of convention and visitor bureaus in the United States have released an application for smartphone or tablet. In iTunes and Android app stores, you can find mobile software with information on destinations ranging from Colorado Springs to Carrollton, Ga. And for the most part, they all follow the same…

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Green Scene: Eat with Purpose

Your groups can dine on the freshest seafood available while maintaining a thoughtful approach to sustainability. Seafood Watch is the remarkable program run by the Monterey Bay Aquarium (a stellar event venue on its own) in Monterey, Calif. The program offers recommendations for which seafood is safe and sustainable to consume, as well as which…

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