Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel

"We recognize the call for saving costs when meeting with customers, organization members or employees, and we are also acutely aware of the great overall importance to continue having meetings now and in the future," says Tim Newman, CEO of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. "According to leaders throughout the country, meeting personally with clients and employees makes even more sense now than ever . . . communicating and conversing leads to better team interaction and focus."

Convention services include a free welcome/transportation desk at the airport, information tables at your hotel or the convention center, VIP airport transportation, a PassKey room reservation system, and event planning for large groups.

For more information call (800) 722-1994.


Largest meeting venue: Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center - 142,500 sq. ft., including a 24,700-sq. ft., column-free exhibit hall and a 17,135-sq. ft. ballroom

Number of area guestrooms: 10,000+

"Columbia can be considered a cost-effective destination because of the first-class amenities we offer at an affordable rate," says Nicole Smith, director of media relations and publications for the Columbia Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau. "We've got a top rated zoo in the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden. Our Columbia Museum of Art and the SC State Museum have housed 'first in the U.S.' exhibits, and Edventure children's museum is the largest children's museum in the Southeast. . . . All of our many attractions are offered at great prices that don't break banks."

The list of places to see includes the Mann-Simons Cottage, the home of Celia Mann, a slave who walked from Charleston to Columbia after gaining her freedom, and the African American History Monument on the grounds of the South Carolina State House. Fans of the visual and performing arts can browse the City Art Gallery, see a play at one of the local theaters or attend a concert by the South Carolina Philharmonic. The Big Apple, a synagogue-turned dance club, is one of the city's most popular night spots.

Smith proudly points to the great bargains Columbia offers in lodging. "Our average daily rate for hotel occupancy is considerably lower than other second-tiered cities," she says. "In February 2009, Columbia's average daily rate was $71.11."

The Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center has been offering further savings for meeting groups through its summer rate program this year.

The Convention & Visitors Bureau will provide a free visitor information center for groups booking 75 rooms or more through the CVB. Other services include distributing RFPs, preparing and distributing news releases, and arranging tours.

For more information call (800) 264-4884.


Largest meeting venue: Dallas Convention Center - 1 million+ sq. ft. of exhibit space, 96 meeting rooms, a 986-seat arena

Number of area guestrooms: 70,000+

With free admission to several outstanding attractions and a variety of cultural amenities clustered together in the nation's largest urban arts district, Dallas is a prime location for cost-conscious travelers.

The African American Museum, where admission is free, boasts a major collection of Black folk art. Two other notable Black heritage attractions are the Dallas Black Dance Theatre and the Freedman's Cemetery Memorial, featuring a bronze sculpture by African-American artist David Newton.

The Dallas Arts District includes the Dallas Museum of Art, the Crow Collection of Asian Art and the I.M. Pei-designed Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, which offers free tours. At the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University, which houses a large collection of Spanish art, admission is free on Thursdays after 5:00 p.m. Art lovers can also stroll through the sculpture Garden at the Trammell Crow Center at no charge.

For history buffs, visits to the John F. Kennedy Memorial and the Farmer's Branch Historical Park are free. Other places to see the past preserved include the living history museum Dallas Heritage Village, the Dallas Holocaust Museum and the Sixth Floor Museum in the Texas School Book Depository Building from which the shot that felled JFK was fired.

Sports enthusiasts might enjoy watching one of Dallas' six professional sports teams at play or getting in some tee time at the Tour 18 Golf Course, which has replicas of 18 holes from 16 of the world's most famous courses.

With Dallas-Fort Worth International being the third busiest airport in the world, with about 1,600 flights per day, air travel to the city is easy. The Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) system of buses and light rail includes service to the convention center.

The Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau can help meeting and event planners with press releases, media contacts, discount coupons for local attractions, restaurants and shops, registration assistance, coordinating site inspections, housing assistance and putting together a personalized Web page to promote the event.

For more information call (214) 571-1000.

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