Florida Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus
Need help deciding where to hold a business meeting? Check out this site's listing of dozens of local convention and visitor bureaus around Florida.
The state's official travel planning website has a wealth of information about destinations and accommodations.
Track Your Flight
A real-time tracking system lets you check the status of specific airline departures and arrivals worldwide. You can also check for weather delays at the departure and arrival airports or the general flight delay status for 46 major U.S. airports."It's a hotel market right now, not a client market," says Patty Magalnick, president of Perfect Meetings and Conventions, an Orlando meeting-planning company. Magalnick says the meetings business is finally back to pre-Sept. 11, 2001, levels. That's a good sign for Florida's hotel industry, but the trend may make it difficult for small groups of 25 to 200 to book hotel meeting space at a reasonable price.
Here are some tips:
"Bundle up." Work with the same hotel or hotel chain on more than one meeting, advises Magalnick. If your business is hosting out-of-town visitors, use that chain for the overnight rooms. "You build a relationship with that hotel chain or salesperson. You'll get more for your money," she says.
Be flexible. When possible, give the hotel a choice of dates. Sometimes if you shift the meeting by only a day or two, you'll get the hotel space you want at a price you can afford. Don't think that you'll automatically get a better deal with an "off-season" meeting in the summer, however, says Magalnick. Off-season in Florida is a thing of the past.
Put it in writing. Although it may seem easier to check with hotels by telephone, you'll get better results if you create a detailed request for proposal. Include your specific requirements on the expected number of attendees, room setup, food and beverage and audio-visual needs.
Consider smaller hotels. A small business meeting might get lost in a large convention hotel. Smaller boutique properties may offer a better fit.
Get help. A third-party professional meeting planner will do all of the legwork, including identifying a site, negotiating a contract and managing the meeting. Typically a planner charges a management fee and/or a percent of the total meeting bill.
Miami: The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau reports that in 2004, 15% of domestic visitors to Miami and the beaches traveled there for business; 11% of Miami's international visitors were business travelers.
Tampa Bay: The area hosted 435 meetings with 226,171 attendees in 2004, according to the Tampa Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Orlando: Ten million visitors went to Orlando for business in 2004, according to the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Business travel accounted for 22.1% of all domestic visitors. Fifty-seven percent of business travelers were in Orlando for a convention or group meeting, while 43% came for routine business purposes.