officials eye Miami for global briefing
By Sherri C. Ranta
bureau officials are holding a collective breath as they await Microsoft Corp.'s
review of final contracts that would bring the software and Internet technology
giant's major international sales meeting to town.
Called the "creme de le creme" of the software giant's company meetings, the city that hosts this multi-day meeting can expect an estimated $20 million in business and about 11,500 delegates from around the world.
founder, Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates may also attend, officials
decision is expected within in the next week, said Microsoft Senior Director of
Events Spiro Kafarakis. Company and meeting planners still are negotiating for
various venues large enough to hold the group, including the Miami Beach Convention
Center and the American Airlines Arena, as well as rates at several hotels and
Mr. Kafarakis said company officials looked at Miami, Las Vegas, New Orleans and other major cities for places to stage the corporate meeting that will bring together employees from around the world for what is expected to be called the "Microsoft Global Briefing."
said the company is looking to the city that can give them the best opportunities
for venues, air travel and hotel accommodations. Various contracts with Miami
vendors are now under review by the company's attorneys, Mr. Kafarakis said.
city of Anaheim, CA, was hoping for the large meeting, but Microsoft officials
decided not to schedule the parley there, said Jack Readey, a convention sales
director at the Anaheim Convention Center. No contracts had been signed. Two smaller
Microsoft meetings are scheduled at the Anaheim center in March and July, he said.
Readey called the convention that Miami is trying to land the "creme de la
creme" of Microsoft meetings.
October 2000, Mr. Kafarakis and meeting planners visited Miami-Dade County to
evaluate meeting sites and hotels. At that time, Michael Aller, Miami Beach tourism
director, said the city that hosts the convention could expect as much as $20
million in business.
Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau President Bill Talbert said securing the Microsoft
corporate meeting is "by no means a done deal at this moment.
in the negotiation phase at this moment," he said. "We're getting closer.
Most of the pieces are together, but when you're 80% there you don't want to announce
the meeting come to Greater Miami, Mr. Talbert said, "this would be one of
the most important meetings we've ever had. It is a major meeting with a world-class
company. Microsoft is bigger than some countries in the world.
"The key is repeat business. We want them to find the experience so positive for their company that they want to have other meetings here."
Founded in 1975 by Bill Gates, Microsoft is a worldwide business leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. In 1986, Microsoft moved to Redmond, WA, and the company's stock was publicly traded.
has about 40,000 employees worldwide and offices in more than 59 countries and
regions. According to company reports for 2000, it has net revenues of $22.96
billion and a net income of $9.42 billion.
Mr. Talbert said Miami's location and destination are key reasons that attracted the company to South Florida.
as accessible a destination as there is. You can get here from any place in the
world Latin America, Europe, Asia.
the 11,500 delegates that could attend the convention, Mr. Talbert said he has
been told that as many as a third of them would be coming from Latin America.
getting close. This is a very professional company and a wonderful company to
work with," he said.
Microsoft decides to come to South Florida, this would be Miami's first large
Microsoft meeting, though the city has played host to other large conventions,
such as an international Kiwanis meeting last summer with 10,000 delegates, Mr.Talbert
had nothing of this magnitude before. We're excited," he said.
Mr. Talbert said officials at the Palm Beach County Convention & Visitors Bureau helped make Miami-Dade officials aware Microsoft was looking in the area.
Palm Beach and Miami bureaus frequently work together, said Benny Baez, vice president
of marketing for the Palm Beach bureau.
have a long history of working with Miami on a lot of things we don't compete
for," he said, citing previous Super Bowls in the area and a previous American
Airlines advertising campaign.
Baez said he received a telephone call from Microsoft officials last fall and
referred them to Miami because Palm Beach County does not have the larger facilities
the company needed. The 37 Palm Beach County hotels with meeting space have just
7,000 rooms available, he said.
landscape is changing in Palm Beach County, however. Workers will break ground
in May on the new Palm Beach County Convention Center near City Place in West
Palm Beach, expected to be finished in May 2003, Mr. Baez said.
Miami Beach, hotel representatives confirmed they have been talking with Microsoft
Hilton Resort spokesperson Lisa Cole said talks with Microsoft representatives
are ongoing and are not expected to be complete for at least another month.
Miami Beach Hotel representative Jeffrey Abbaticchio said the contract may not
be finalized for a few more weeks.
But, he said, "it looks really good."