Current as of September 25, 2018.  Please check back for updates!  

The Symposium sessions will be held at the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center2020 Clean Water Drive, Buford, GA  30519. Symposium Lodging at the Courtyard by Marriott Atlanta Buford Mall of Georgia, 1405 Mall of Georgia Blvd, Buford, GA 30519 and Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Atlanta Buford/Mall of Georgia, 1355 Mall of Georgia Blvd, Buford, GA 30519Transportation from the hotels to the Wednesday evening event will be provided.

Wednesday, December 5th

Time Session
9:00am - 5:00pm Registration Open (Main Lobby)

Welcome & Opening Remarks (Blue Planet Room)

10:15am - 11:15am

General Session: Planners, Attendees and YOU! (Blue Planet Room)

Terri Roberts (Destinations International)

Meeting planners care about attendees.  Attendees care about destinations.  Destination sales professionals hold the key to unlocking all the destination has to offer to enhance the meeting experience.  Using The DMO and the Future of the Meetings Industry and the Decision to Attend Study, both published in 2017, we will examine success metrics and destination expectations of both planners and meeting attendees.  We will also explore how important destination brand appeal is to both planner and attendee decision making and establish tools to sell the destination experience in an articulate and meaningful way.

11:15am Break 
11:30am - 12:30pm

11:30am – 12:30pm   General Session: Meeting Professionals & Tour Planner Panel Q & A (Blue Planet Room)

What’s important to their attendees / Understanding the Decision Process / RFPs best practices 

12:30pm  LUNCH
1:45pm - 2:45pm

Afternoon Breakouts (3)

1. To Service or Not to Service: Sales & Services Case Studies

Best Practices in Personalized Guest Services

Itinerary Building: from large conventions to small corporate retreats (case studies of fun off-site venue use)

Housing Bureaus


2. Sales - RFP Challenge - How Planners & Suppliers Get to Yes

Planner expectations of the role of the CVB, and the CVB/Hotel relationship during the RFP process       

Understand issues and trends that impact hotelier and meeting planner negotiations, and how CVBs may assist

3-5 planner tips for being more successful as a CVB sales manager (sales skills)


3. Communicating your Sales Team needs to Marketing Department

Exhibit Booth best practices / effectiveness

Promo items

Contributing to Meetings Media planning

Meeting Planner Guides – Print vs. Digital 

3:00pm - 4:00pm

Breakouts (4)

MARKET SEGMENT Roundtables (3) 
SMERF/Reunion/Wedding, Association/Corporate/Government, Sports/Festivals & Events 

Group Tour 

Motorcoach and interest specific (continue with tour planner from earlier 11:30 general panel)

4:15pm - 4:30pm  General Session: Wrap Up Day 1

Transportation from Hotels to Historic Downtown Lawrenceville                                                               

6:00pm - 7:00pm

Extended Happy Hour - Sponsored by Explore Gwinnett CVB                                                 

Historic Downtown Lawrenceville                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

7:00pm    Dine Around - Historic Downtown Lawrenceville Square                                                                                                       
8:30pm - 9:30pm  Transportation loop to Hotels                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     


Thursday, December 6th

Time Session
8:00am - 10:30am Registration Open (Main Lobby)
8:30am - 10:00am

General Session / Interactive workshop: Turning Site Inspections into Site Experiences (Blue Planet Room)

Terri Roberts (Destinations International)

The clinical checklist nature of an inspection can be transformed into the personal sensory nature of an experience when the sales professional is armed with an expert understanding of organization, meeting and planner intelligence.  Only then is it possible to build a narrative that propels the planner to truly imagine the meeting at the property and within the destination.  Unlike selling a product that is used repeatedly to build satisfaction and loyalty, selling and delivering an experience requires a more sophisticated set of skills.  Together we will study the most common transactional behaviors (10 Stupid Things We Do to Mess up Our Site Inspections) we lapse into time and time again and understand how to transform them with an undeniable WOW factor.  

10:00am  Break
10:30am - 11:30am

General Session: DMO and Community alignment Panel (Blue Planet Room)

How does your DMO work to increase the conversion ratio? ...Understating what pieces of business your lodging and convention center partners want and when they want to consume it. How to poll and use what hoteliers and meeting facilities expect, and their target goals, to help set sales plans and strategies. 

Extensions of our team: Obstacles and successes working with your convention centers and accommodations sales teams - including tips on tools such as CVENT

 11:30am - 12:45pm

Break for Grab & Go Boxed Lunch - working Breakouts!

 11:45am - 12:45pm

Afternoon Breakouts (5)

1. Strategy: Plan your Work and Work your plan … continued from General Session

(OPTIONAL - BRING YOUR SALES PLAN for breakout review)

Developing and implementing your plan, goals/measurables, budget

Developing your Travel & Trade Show Calendar

2. Communicating Economic Impact

Best practices in promoting value of meetings/group business with partners, stakeholders, media, and local government

3. MARKET SEGMENT Roundtables (3) ... continued from Day 1 
SMERF/Reunion/Wedding, Association/Corporate/Government, Sports/Festivals & Events 
1:00pm - 1:15pm

Closing Remarks - Adjourn