The Sunshine State Offers Something For Everyone
By David Swanson
Meeting planners and vacationers alike are sold on Florida. The numbers tell the story.
The state, which reopened faster than most following the peak of the pandemic, can boast of a booming tourism infrastructure. Last year, a record 137.6 million visitors (domestic and international) came to Florida, an increase of 12.9% over the year before.
Still, tried and true destinations continue to keep Florida front-of-mind for meeting planners — none more so than Orlando, which hosted 74 million visitors in 2022 and remains America’s No. 1 meeting and convention city.
“Florida, and central Florida in particular, is an ideal location due to its ease of access from a wide range of locations, both domestic and international,” says Marc Farrugia, chief administrative officer for Sun Communities, a developer of manufactured home communities and RV resorts. “Florida is a safe destination that has a booming housing market, offers rich cultural diversity and provides rich culinary experiences. Orlando has incredible options for shopping, whether it be great deals at any of Orlando’s several outlet malls, high-end shopping at traditional malls, or locating unique souvenirs from theme parks and resorts.” Farrugia notes that Orlando is a hospitality-focused city, an important consideration for meeting planners. “They live and breathe hospitality, they have the infrastructure to support transportation logistics for large groups, and they are incredibly well-equipped to host events of all types. There is no shortage of entertainment venues, unique dining experiences, themed resorts, high-end resorts, etc. Orlando literally has something for everyone.”
For a 750-attendee leadership conference held recently, Sun Communities chose the Universal Orlando Resort as host. “We have established a great relationship with the teams at Universal Orlando Resort and really enjoy the partnership. We work well together and having repeat events at this venue has made execution of our event more efficient. We’ve saved some expense, and the overall quality of our event increases each year because of the manner in which we can improve on prior years’ experiences,” says Farrugia, who adds that Loews Sapphire Falls is one of the best conference hotels/venues Sun Communities has ever used. Their Elevate Leadership Conference was just held there. “At the top of the list is the quality of service offered by the staff and the cleanliness of the property. Whether it be a smooth check-in experience with the front desk team, friendly catering staff supporting our meeting, or pleasant housekeeping staff, Loews Sapphire Falls shines above their competition from a service perspective.”
Farrugia notes that the meeting facilities at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort are well situated, easy to navigate, support the latest meeting technology, and offer reliable, high-speed internet. “Their event management staff is second to none,” adds Farrugia. “With more rigging points than most venues, we’re able to execute an event that leverages large-scale LED walls to create visually stunning general sessions. Through their partnership with on-site partner Encore, they can assist clients with bringing their vision to reality with amazing lighting effects, immersive sound, HD graphics, etc. The department heads consistently check-in with meeting planners to ensure client events are executed without hiccups.
Farrugia continues: “Loews Sapphire Falls Resort also offers wonderful dining options that are sure to appeal to all. Banquet menus feature locally-sourced ingredients and are designed by chefs with extensive culinary experience. They do a fabulous job of accommodating dietary restrictions and are laser-focused on ensuring guest expectations for quality food are met and exceeded.” Following their event, Farrugia says the company surveyed attendees and found the highest satisfaction levels with a conference across all venues used in prior years.
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