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Front Page » Top Stories » Microsoft Convention To Miami Beach Wooed With Meetingplanners In Wings

Microsoft Convention To Miami Beach Wooed With Meetingplanners In Wings


Written by on October 12, 2000

By Candice Ventra
Miami tourism officials are gearing up to play host to the most prestigious convention in the meeting-planning industry.

At the same time, Miami Beach officials are trying to seal a deal for a Microsoft convention that would bring 10,000 people into the area in 2001.

In hand is the Professional Convention Management Association, which will hold its 45th annual convention here Jan. 12-15.

That group, known as PCMA, will bring together nearly 4,000 convention and meeting planners representing most major national associations, said Mavie McHale, vice president of convention sales for the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The immediate economic boost of playing host to the meeting is put at $2.8 million, she said, and it could generate hundreds of millions in future convention business here.

"These people have influence on the decision of where future business will go," Ms. McHale said. "From a meetings-and-convention perspective it’s the most important audience we can ask to have."

A convention planner, she said, selects the city, convention center and hotel to host a meeting. A planner can authorize hotel packages and prepare a contract.

PCMA was last in Miami in 1965. Its most recent meeting was in San Francisco.

The association, Ms. McHale said, began with primarily meeting planners in the medical industry. But the group, which will soon move its headquarters from Birmingham to Chicago, has been expanded to encompass almost all industries and disciplines, she said.

January’s session will be at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Headquarters hotels include the Loews Miami Beach, the Fontainebleau Hilton and the Wyndham Miami Beach.

The convention, Ms. McHale said, will open with a reception at Bayside Marketplace.

"It’s important for us to show that there are many kinds of venues to enjoy in Miami," she said.

Tourism officials rate the meeting as important as the annual Pow Wow for travel planners that was held here last year. Pow Wow, which attracted more than 3,000 delegates and was rated as having an economic wallop of $7 million, is touted by industry insiders as the world’s most prestigious tour and trade convention. Bureau officials will contend to be Pow Wow’s host again in 2006.

Miami Beach also is bidding to play host to Microsoft’s international meeting in July 2001, said Michael Aller, Miami Beach tourism director.

He said meeting planners for the company were in town last week to evaluate facilities and hotels. Among them was former Miami Beach resident Spero Kafarakis, now senior director of events for Microsoft.

"The convention contract has not been signed yet," Mr. Aller said.

The Microsoft meeting is expected to bring its host city $40 million in business and more than 10,000 delegates, he said.

Microsoft executives, Mr. Aller said, will pick the convention’s venue soon.

"This would come right in the heat of our summer season," he said. "We are moving forward with our program of work to continue to make Miami and Miami Beach a year-round destination."