In spring 2010, Kansas City hosted the Society of Government Meeting Professionals' annual meeting. Below is a case staudy on how the KCCVA staff and SGMP staff worked closely together to deliver an outstanding meeting experience.
Hosting a conference of meeting and event planners is about the most difficult task any destination can have. Not only do attendees seek to learn, network, and enjoy themselves during the event, but they also cast a judging eye towards the local hospitality industry’s offerings and service to determine whether their own meetings would flourish in the destination.
Kansas City accepted this challenge in May 2010, when it hosted the Society of Government Meeting Professionals’ annual meeting. Mark Harvey, program and events manager for SGMP, says that the KCCVA started off on the right foot by being proactive from the moment the contract was signed. “Their support services all throughout the process were terrific. The staff was alongside us every step of the way, and delivered on everything they promised. That friendly Midwestern attitude was always present, too.”
- To start, KCCVA created materials designed to pique the interest of SGMP members in both the meeting and the city, in order to maximize attendance. For instance, KCCVA sent out a series of expertly designed, customized e-mails that showcased the city’s outstanding meeting/exhibit space, the plethora of restaurant, nightlife, and entertainment options, and the proximity of venues to each other. The result: Record attendance for SGMP, with more than 400 planners and 500 suppliers coming to Kansas City. “I definitely think the customized e-mail campaign drove our attendance to new heights,” Harvey says.
- Next, KCCVA took the initiative to plan and execute the opening reception at the Midland Theatre, a stunning venue that’s been refurbished to its original 1927 grandeur. “The CVA basically did the whole event, and I give them full credit for its success,” Harvey adds. “They even handled the transportation to and from the theater. They made my job a lot easier.”
- What’s more, the opening event “brought people out of the Crown Center complex and into the downtown area’s entertainment area, the Power and Light District, giving them a chance to experience a different environment. And the best part was that it’s actually quite close to the Hyatt and Westin properties at the Crown Center, which were our main hotels.
- This fact made the many affiliate and supplier parties that surround the conference a smash hit. “There are so many receptions and special events that we don’t even have a closing event,” Harvey says. “And of course, the most frequently used area for those events was the Power and Light District. You could really sense the excitement among our attendees once the day’s business had ended--there were several things going on every night.
- As for the meeting itself, “The Crown Center had an interesting variety of space offerings,” adds Harvey. “We used it for our exhibit day and tech fair, and then we used the hotels for our educational sessions. But you’d never know that the Crown Center is even separate from the hotels, because the transition is seamless.”
In the end, the response from SGMP’s members to the Kansas City conference has been “overwhelmingly positive—honestly, we’ve been blown away by it,” says Harvey. Michael Hopkins, coordinator of the General Service Administration’s 1,400-attendee FedFleet Conference, is one of those happy attendees.
“My conference went to Kansas City many years ago, and attendees said that there was nothing to do after the sessions ended each day. They were bored,” Hopkins remembers. “But I was so pleasantly surprised when I saw the city during the SGMP conference. There are plenty of restaurants and nightlife, and the opening event at the Midland Theater was fantastic! And from a geographic perspective, you can’t get any better—it’s the most centrally-located city in America. We will absolutely consider Kansas City for our future meetings.”