This year's show marked an impressive eight percent increase in meeting planners with 1,755 attendees, who were able to participate in an extensive program of 37 educational seminars led by prominent industry professionals - including presentations by 13 new speakers -addressing pertinent issues facing the meetings industry today. Educational topics ranged from the basics of meeting planning to marketing ideas, logistics, web resources, and communications skills as well as hot technologies, time management, leadership strategies, and other seminars relevant to today's meeting planners. These free comprehensive educational topics offered attendees the opportunity to acquire expert insight, new ideas and inspirational advice, helping them to produce more successful, cost-effective meetings.
A highlight of the show was a high-energy, interactive general session on negotiating critical issues in hotel contracts. Attendees heard from two attorneys - Barbara Dunn, Esq., Attorney and Partner, Howe & Hutton, Ltd., St. Louis, MO representing meeting planners and Lisa Sommer Devlin, Esq., Attorney, Devlin Law Firm P.C., Phoenix, AZ, representing hotels - about the reasons behind the thinking of both planners and hotel representatives when they engage in the negotiating process. Edina Lessack, President, Meetings and Events, USA, in Chicago, IL moderated the session and attendees walked away with valuable information sure to impact their future business dealings.
A core component of the event was the exposition featuring 592 booths with 474 exhibitors representing hotels and resorts, university conference centers, unique meeting sites, convention and visitor bureaus, transportation companies, trade publications, software and audio/visual businesses, and other meeting and convention suppliers.
In addition to an excellent selection of destinations, hotels and services at all price points, the National trade exposition featured a Speaker's Booth where meeting planners liaised with industry experts, and the HSMAI's Affordable Meetings(R) Bookstore, a one-stop shopping source for attendees for the most up-to-date publications and resource materials focusing on the needs of meeting planners at every level of experience.
A significant change in this year's HSMAI's Affordable Meetings(R) National was a shift in trade show hours to 10:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. each day, which was exceptionally well-received as it allowed planners to get an early jump on the show floor. This year, $10 worth of lunch coupons was offered to all exhibitors and attendees compliments of HSMAI.
The HSMAI Affordable Meetings(R) concept was created in 1990 to provide a business exchange for planners and hospitality sales executives and suppliers in challenging times. Today, that formula is as relevant as it was a decade ago as it offers cost-effective solutions, ideas and tactics for meeting planners.
'We were very pleased at the impressive turnout at our recent Affordable Meetings(R) event in Washington, D.C. Offering buyers and suppliers the opportunity to network and establish relationships at our trade shows is truly priceless,' said Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHA, president and CEO of HSMAI.
'Furthermore, the free educational component offering 37 seminars was a huge draw for planners, especially because of the caliber of our presenters and innovative topics they discussed,' he added.
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