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Meeting Planners and Suppliers Bat 1000 at Bacara Resort & Spa for the January 2014 Elite Meetings Alliance

February 13, 2014 MICE No Comments Email Email

Elite Meetings International (EMI) wrapped up its January 2014 Elite Meetings Alliance (EMA) with high scores, high praise, and equally high expectations for resulting business between the meeting planners and suppliers in attendance.

The event, held January 26–28, 2014, at Santa Barbara’s Bacara Resort & Spa, combined a full slate of well-received education, two days of one-on-one appointments, and numerous opportunities for networking. Exit surveys revealed that 100 percent of meeting planners and suppliers intend to book business as a result of attending the EMA. Despite coming close to that figure at several previous EMAs, the 100-percent mark represented a new milestone for EMI.

A full day of educational sessions and meeting of the Elite Meetings Advisory Board preceded Sunday night’s official kickoff, where EMI CEO Kelly Foy presented highlights of 2013 and a preview of 2014. “It was an honor to welcome over 200 meetings industry colleagues to our hometown. We were fortunate to have a partner like Bacara Resort & Spa on board. They wowed attendees from start to finish – so much so that before leaving, 80 percent of the planners reported that they would book, or were very likely to book business with them.”

The Business
Over 1,360 appointments, made via FaceTime Appointment Scheduler, took place throughout the event. Many of the planners in attendance were attending their first EMA. Jessica Willbanks of Yardi was one such planner. When asked to describe the EMA experience she said, “I was beyond impressed by every aspect of the event. It was a great forum for making new business connections as well as learning more about what’s new in the industry. I look forward to future events!”

For hotelier Denise McConnell of Meadowood Napa Valley, the event proved successful as well. She said, “In comparison to your competition, EMA is a standout, polished event that provides qualified planners and top hoteliers a valuable arena to meet and establish relationships.”

The Education
Education sessions offering 7 hours of verified CMP credit, covered topics ranging from prickly contract issues to useful meetings technology, disaster preparation, and planning meetings abroad. The lunchtime keynote by Juliet Funt, presented by Speak Inc., offered another highlight. Her presentation entitled “The White Space: The Missing Ingredient in Your Technicolor Life” addressed a decline in creativity in an age of overload. Juliet’s humorous presentation left a lasting impression and lead to a new EMA buzzword, as attendees focused on finding more “white space” in their lives.

The Experience
Great partners played a huge role in the event’s success, beginning with Bacara Resort & Spa and their incredible team. The resort’s food and beverage presentations, provided in part by Foley Food & Wine Society and served in idyllic settings, added greatly to guests’ enjoyment. Behind the scenes the conference services team and Five Star Audio Visual made everything run smoothly. In addition to providing roundtrip airport transfers, Relevé Unlimited added elegance and entertainment throughout the evening functions. From Sunday night’s team-building Project Funway and Taste of Bacara Welcome Dinner – which brought local vendors from all over the central coast – to Monday evening’s festive Spanish-themed Night in Seville and unforgettable After Party hosted by Merryl Brown Events, the events within the event showcased the creative versatility of Bacara Resort & Spa and their phenomenal partners.

Additionally the EMA integrated a number of corporate social responsibility programs into the agenda. Throughout the event, Clean the World collected soap to recycle and redistribute to communities in need. Both Sunday night’s Project Funway and Tuesday’s activity, Sharks, Flowers, and Volunteers, directly benefitted the Dream Foundation, the country’s oldest and largest wish-granting foundation for adults battling life-threatening illnesses. Elite Meetings International donated $1,000 to Dream Foundation on behalf of Project Funway’s winning team. On Tuesday, attendees were able to tour the Dream Foundation offices and participate in their Flower Empower program. Working with Bacara Resort & Spa’s professional florist, groups transformed flowers from centerpieces used throughout the event into new bouquets. Afterward, they delivered their creations to a local nursing home. To see images from the event, click here.

The Future
The second EMA of 2014 will take place April 27–29 at Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Cancún Resort & Spa in Cancún, Mexico. It will mark EMI’s first-ever international EMA. The final event of 2014 will take place at EPIC Miami, a Kimpton Hotel in Miami, FL, August 17–19, 2014. To learn more, visit www.EliteMeetingsAlliance.com.

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