Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Issue: June/July 2008
Unique Spaces As Meeting Places
By: Michael Bennett

"Wanna get away?" The tagline of the now famous Southwest Airlines commercial accurately describes the feelings of many conference attendees I've spoken to about the locations and venues of their annual gatherings, tradeshows, meetings and conventions. Going to Hawaii, the Caribbean, Las Vegas or some great warm weather destination, while a great diversion, isn't enough.

Meeting planners know their attendees are demanding more. Sitting in an over air-conditioned room, surrounded by four walls that often feel suffocating, fidgeting on hard chairs that we spend the entire session squirming in search of the least uncomfortable position, is not the most desirable environment.

A simple change of venue can increase turnout and add to the experience of those in attendance. Yes, you are there to conduct business, but wouldn't it be nice to offer your attendees a change of pace - something different, an extra level of comfort. We all know it's the little things that make all the difference.

I recently attended the Travel Professionals of Color conference. Most of the conference was conducted onboard a cruise ship navigating the waters of the Gulf of Mexico headed for the Yucatan Peninsula and Cozumel.

With two full days of travel before arriving at a port-o-call, the ship provided the perfect backdrop for an information-fulfilled adventure on the high seas. Conference attendees were well rested and fully engaged in the numerous workshops, without the distractions of home, office and those pesky cell phones - although some of us, me included, managed to stay in touch with our offices with cell phone plans that included overseas calling features. It was the perfect mix of business and pleasure.

Breaking away from the traditional meeting space was a welcome respite for these travel professionals and just might be the recipe to spice up your next event. If cruising doesn't work for your group how about one of the Disney theme parks or a special museum? Below are some of our recommendations for unique spaces as meeting places.

DISNEYLAND - Anaheim, CA

They call it "The Idea Place" for a reason. Disney's Meeting Specialists work closely with meeting planners from around the world to create unique experiences for those special group functions, meetings and events. They will assist you in identifying your core meeting objectives and the return on those objectives. This is the time to let your imaginations run wild and create those wonderful meeting experiences with a recognized world leader in fun and entertainment.

Disneyland has over 2,200 rooms spread across three resorts and if that's not enough space for your particular gathering, there are plenty of hotels in the immediate area that can accommodate your needs.

Disneyland offers over 186,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and several special offerings to host theme parties and team building activities. An added value to the Disney experience is the Disney California Adventure Park, located right next to Disneyland. Take a look at Stage 17, located in the Hollywood Pictures section of the park. It has over 10,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and enough seating to host receptions for up to 900 people. It has proven to be a hit among meeting planners and conference attendees.

Interested in some unique Disney activities, Disney theme party packages include being an "extra" on a movie set and 'Soarin Over California' an aviation theme party. And of course don't forget that great southern California weather - its perfect for year-round events. It all adds up to that magical experience you simply call Disney.

For more information contact (714) 520-7079 or disneylandmeetings.com.

WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT - Orlando, FL

It's difficult to find the right words to convey the magnificence that is Walt Disney World Resort. This is the ultimate destination for the meeting planner. Why? Everything is in abundance - hotel rooms, meeting space, entertainment options, nightlife, restaurants, shopping and numerous options most of us can't even think of.

Disney allows you to create one-of-a-kind private events for your groups at one of their many theme sites within Walt Disney World Resort. Here are just some of your choices for theme parks within the resort: Epcot Center, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, Downtown Disney, Disney's Wide World of Sports and Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park.

If you are looking for the more traditional meeting space Disney has plenty to choose from; Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa with 40,000 sq. ft., Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resort with 73,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, and the largest of Disney's resorts is Coronado Springs Resort with 220,000 sq. ft of meeting space and a 60,000 sq. ft. ballroom.

The Disney Institute Program is the place to experience the business behind the magic that makes the world's premier resort the dynamic place we've all come to know. The Institute can enhance those corporate gatherings by offering core programs based on quality, service, leadership, people management, loyalty and organizational creativity.

The Disney Institute can customize a learning experience to fit your group's goals and objectives and set up some very unique team building activities.

For more information contact (321) 939-7211 or disneymeetings.com.

NATIONAL COWBOYS OF COLOR MUSEUM - Fort Worth, TX

The National Cowboys of Color Museum and Hall of Fame offer the visitor a complete historical perspective of the people that built the American West. This museum was started to acknowledge the contributions of Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, European Americans and African-Americans. Many of the stories you'll see and hear about in this museum have been untold before now.

There are exhibits on the Tuskegee Airmen, the Buffalo Soldiers and numerous cultural workshops and student interactive activities. Hall of Fame inductees include rodeo great Bill Picket, former Pittsburg Steeler Hall of Famer Mel Blount and Mary Fields - known to many students of history as Stagecoach Mary, the first African-American woman to work for the United States Postal Service.


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