Small Market Meetings

MAY 2017

The Newspaper for Smaller Cities, Facilities and Planners.

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May 2017 11 Off-Peak Perks Off-Peak Perks Popular attractions, such as River Street, are making Savannah a year-round destination. M any travelers shy away from popular destinations during the offseason, often because of harsh weather conditions or the closing of seasonal attractions like water parks and ski resorts. But for meeting planners, offseason means substantial savings on hotel rooms, meetings space and transportation, making it worth- while to work around a few small drawbacks. To gain insight on the subject, we spoke with city representatives from Scottsdale, Arizona; Savannah, Georgia; and Anchorage, Alaska, who provided several key incentives for why planners should skip the crowds and cash in on great deals next time they book a trip. Take Advantage of Better Rates A better term for offseason might be "discount season," since the diminished flow of traffic usually leads to reduced hotel and room rates, which is ideal for groups on a budget. "Temperatures may rise, but prices go down," said Kelli Blubaum, vice president of sales and convention services at Experience Scottsdale. "Planners will find that most of the hotels offer really attractive meet- ing packages, which can include anything from waived resort fees to reduced room prices." Some destinations, like Savannah, may not promote a particular peak season or offseason but still feature better prices at certain times. "When people are specifically looking for offseason destinations, what they're really saying is that budget is priority," said Jeff Hewitt, senior vice president at Visit Savannah. According to Hewitt, the city shifted its focus from season to pattern after its offseason became virtually nonexistent. "We were very purposeful in developing festivals and events during shoulder season, and as the shoulder seasons got wider, the offseason got narrower," he said. Now, the city works to provide clients with the best options to suit their needs, which are not always contingent on cost. "We ask people their preferred time of year, and if people say first week in March, we give them a few different options with better deals," said Hewitt. "The best value proposition we have is a Sunday arrival and a midweek departure, but every city is different." To find the most ideal time frame to visit a destination, Hewitt advised planners to communicate with local tourist organizations about their expectations and be willing to adjust the framework of the trip. "Flexibility is the key to finding your best price points," he said. Enjoy Different Seasonal Activities Offseason can carry a negative connotation, but in many cases, it is an opportunity for groups to experience unusual seasonal highlights, By Savannah Osbourn Slow season for destinations can mean great deals on meetings Courtesy Visit Savannah

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