All Posts
Meetings on the Rise in the Sunshine State
News • Miami Beach

Meetings on the Rise in the Sunshine State

Dana Young, president & CEO of Visit Florida, says domestic visitation to the state is up 6% from 2019 levels. And, in spite of continued restrictions on international travel at the time, estimates are that 1.1 million international travelers visited Florida in Q2 of 2021 — an 854% increase over 2020. “Florida tourism’s skyrocketing growth in Q2 2021 is an incredible achievement for our state’s economic recovery and underscores the effectiveness of Visit Florida’s marketing,” Young says.

While those numbers aren’t specific to meetings and conventions, we had no trouble finding groups to verify that in-person meetings are back in the “Sunshine State” — at times in new ways.

Changes Taking Place

A Vase Filled With Purple Flowers On A Table

In-person meetings are back in Miami, too. In early fall, an association group of 750 financial and insurance professionals met for an incentive program at Loews Miami Beach Hotel. Joe Fijol, DMCP, and principal, ETHOS Event Collective, says COVID-19 has created many changes in the meeting planning process — including where groups meet. “We’ve needed to rethink meetings from start to finish,” Fijol says. “[Such as] adjusting our planning and operating procedures for things like transportation, seating, off-site experiences, hotel check-ins, registration and dine-arounds. Today, we must carefully manage expectations, as details often change from planning to execution. In terms of destinations, COVID has changed how planners make selections. In fact, the meeting [at Loews Miami Beach Hotel] was moved from an international destination as they could no longer travel out of the country.”

Travel is still a powerful incentive. “The client polled attendees to gauge interest and concerns, and found most wanted to travel,” Fijol says. This meeting was fully in-person, and Fijol adds that he’s seeing interest in virtual meetings declining dramatically compared to even six months ago. “Most companies are looking for our assistance to meet responsibly in-person,” he says. He adds that the group chose Miami for its weather, cultural offerings and outdoor activities. “Miami,” he says, “is a top destination for meeting and event planners because it always offers something new and cutting edge. It has A-list appeal, an array of unique cultural experiences and an energy that creates excitement the minute attendees land.”

Also key was Miami’s flexibility, given that the client had trouble finding availability for a group of its size on short notice. “Miami and The Loews Miami Beach were able to make accommodations,” Fijol says. He also has high praise for the [Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau]. “The [GMCVB] offers a great way for planners to get a high-level view of any destination and determine the best fit for their group. For this program, they provided real-time information about local COVID-19 cases and changes to restrictions,” Fijol says. “As this meeting was moved to Miami from another destination, up-to-date information was critical for the three months leading up to the event. Additionally, Miami’s weather and large number of open-air venues, restaurants and experiences make it easier for groups to socially distance. Moreover, Miami has the appeal of an international destination with its unique range of cultural experiences.”

Read the full story in Association Conventions & Facilities Magazine