Meetings 2020: Hot Spots

Meeting Planning

It’s the night before the big convention begins and upon entering your hotel room for the first time, a warm, welcoming light senses your presence. Seconds later, the curtains automatically open, displaying an expansive view of the city and nearby mountains. As if you have a tech butler at your beck and call, the television turns on, cueing up a list of automated controls to personalize your preferences, which are remembered every time you return…This isn’t a scene from some futuristic movie: All these amenities are currently available at Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas (pictured). “Aria boasts the most technologically advanced guest rooms in the country,” says Sandy Zanella, public relations director for MGM Resorts International, Aria’s parent company. “Every guest room features a level of personalized automation currently found only in high-end custom homes. Guest rooms are networked with fiber, offering matchless Internet connectivity and guest service.”

Another tech-savvy amenity at Aria is keyless locks, which utilize radio frequency identification (RFID) cards instead of conventional swipe cards. RFID technology helps reduce potential failure of room keys. Part of the massive CityCenter complex on the Strip, the AAA Five Diamond Aria has 300,000 sq. ft. of meeting and convention space and currently ranks as the largest building in the world with LEED Gold status. 

MGM Resorts International offers high density Wi-Fi throughout the public spaces in its Las Vegas properties, including Aria, Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Luxor, Excalibur, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay and The Mirage. Visitors can access quality Wi-Fi and superior opt-in services, including an interactive resort map at Bellagio, onsite restaurant beverage and dessert menu apps at select properties and onsite promotional offers.

Distributed Antenna System

The Marriott Marquis Washington, D.C., opens this month with fresh tech amenities, including a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) that allows for clear wireless signals throughout the hotel. The Marriott essentially has its own cell tower. Interactive LCD TVs in every guest room let guests stream content from mobile or tablet devices onto the TV screen. The hotel’s High Velocity sports bar features charging stations for phones, free Wi-Fi that doesn’t require a password, 36 large screen monitors and a ticker tape with sports scores.

Tech Cities

From world-renowned meeting destinations to college towns and state capitals, cutting-edge technology is a key selling point to entice and enhance group business.

Besides theme parks, the Orlando metro area is home to a $13.4 billion tech industry that features digital media, agricultural technology, aviation, aerospace and software design. With support from Visit Orlando, the region has become a meeting hub for such events as the 24th annual World Conference for Technical Service & Support that took place April 1-4 at Gaylord Palms Orlando and the FETC National Conference Jan. 28-31 at the Orange County Convention Center that brought together education leaders and tech experts.

Based on its penchant for all things tech, Columbia, S.C., refers to itself as “The New Southern Hot Spot.” The Columbia Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau has an award-winning mobile site and app that populates restaurants, attractions, etc. near attendees while they’re in the area. The CVB has an extranet channel to communicate with community partners and is linked to the electronic Bid Book. When hotels respond to meeting planner leads, it generates the Bid Book, creating an electronic planning process.

Columbia is home to IT-oLogy, a nonprofit collaboration of businesses, academic institutions and organizations committed to IT development. IT-oLogy also offers a theater with seating for 200, a technology classroom and a conference room. The South Carolina State Museum is undergoing a $21 million expansion project to create a cutting-edge STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) institution.

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