Largest Microsoft meeting ever coming to Miami
By Sherri C. Ranta
Seattle-based Microsoft Corp. will convene its largest corporate meeting in company history at the Miami Beach Convention Center over 17 days in July.
About 11,500 delegates from around the world are expected to attend the Microsoft Global Briefing, an event expected to generate an initial $19.1 million in revenue, plus an unknown amount in lease agreements with the convention center and American Airlines Arena, officials said.
After waiting for weeks for final contracts to be approved and signed, officials at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau this week announced the elaborate summer booking for July 3-20.
Bureau President & CEO William Talbert said the Microsoft booking will be the longest-running corporate meeting held here in recent memory.
"The important things here are corporate, high-tech, upscale and in the summer. It's an absolute home run. This is as important a booking as the bureau has ever had," he said.
Founded in 1975 by Bill Gates, Microsoft Corp. is a global leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing.
Microsoft has about 40,000 employees worldwide and offices in more than 59 countries and regions. Net sales were $22.9 billion and net income was $9.42 billion in 2000, according to company reports.
Mr. Talbert said bureau officials are already talking with Microsoft about future business.
"I can tell you in July when Microsoft comes to Miami, we'll put our best foot forward. At the end of day, in sales, it's not about the first sale, it's about repeat business."
In addition to the Miami Beach Convention Center, the company also plans to use American Airlines Arena for a meeting.
Over two weeks, 11,500 Microsoft employees from around the world will travel to Miami and stay in 45 Miami-Dade hotels.
Spiro Kafarakis, Microsoft senior director of events, said he looked at other cities, including Las Vegas and New Orleans.
"We selected Greater Miami because it is a diverse, vibrant cosmopolitan destination. It has direct flights from cities throughout the world, an upscale hotel community, a state-of-the-art convention center and a wealth of options for special events and programs," he said.
About 30% of delegates will come from outside the US.
Miami's hotels and their high-tech offerings, such as dedicated data lines with high speed Internet access, were also factors the company considered when choosing Miami, he said.
In addition to business, Microsoft wants to be involved in local charitable events during its time in Miami, Mr. Kafarakis said. A fun run will likely be one event, he said.
"We're looking forward to the summer and hope the city of Miami comes away with a good feeling about Microsoft and our people," Mr. Kafarakis said.
The Microsoft booking is part of the bureau's push to increase summer bookings. Mr. Talbert said the bureau had its best summer last year and the Microsoft meeting is a great boost this year.
The convention sales staff, he said, began work on the meeting in late October and had presented a sales proposal to Microsoft within 72 hours after getting a tip from the Palm Beach County convention bureau.