Black Meetings and Tourism

March/April 2012

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the Needs of Your Meeting or board meeting. Back in the day, organizing those occasions was more of a Meeting It's time to decide which destination and venue to book for your next event, conference, convention routine task - make some phone calls, prepare an agenda, assemble the minutes, reports and documents and put them all in a neat little binder. That was then, this is now. Meetings have taken on a life of their own. A lot more LONG BEACH,CALIFORNIA Long Beach is going through a major transformation. And, according to Iris Himert, senior VP of Sales at the Long Beach Convention andVisitors Bureau, there are lots of rea- sons for meeting planners to make the city their next meeting destination. "One of the reasons is because we have a state of the art convention cen- ter that has undergone $20 million in renovations," says Himert. "We trans- formed our center into a truly hotel feel, instead of the coldness of a con- vention center." Long Beach is getting spruced up from top to bottom. Transformations include more than $55 million in hotel renova- tions and more than $75 million in hotel and convention center renovations The Hyatt has spent more than $30 million in renovating everything from its guest rooms to the suites, corridors and more. By DARLENE DONLOE details are involved in making them a success. Bells and whis- tles aside, what meeting planners need to be armed with is information, information and more information. This column aids meeting planners in their decision-mak- ing process by providing vital information on specific destina- tions. Highlighted in this column are Long Beach, California; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana and Virginia Beach,Virginia. The Long Beach Marriott has spent more than $10 million in renovations that include meeting rooms, ballrooms, bath- rooms, the fitness center, elevators and more. For three years, The Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center has been undergoing an upgrade to provide a more sophisticated look with a boutique- style ambiance.More than $20 million has been spent to upgrade furniture, seating, carpeting and wall coverings. All 3,000 seats were replaced in the Terrace Theatre. The Long Beach Transit Gallery, (for- merly the 1st Street Transit Mall) which serves an average 20,000 commuters daily, underwent a $7 million renovation. Paired with a recent renovation of the Promenade walkway offOcean Boulevard, about $11 million is being spent within three blocks from the Convention Center to provide walkable access for visitors downtown. HIGHLIGHTS The city of 500,000, which hosts the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach each year, has a number of popular attractions, including The Queen Mary and the Aquarium of the Pacific. Shoreline Village, located in Rainbow Harbor, is a must visit.There are unique shops, offshore water sports, restaurants and loads of entertainment for people of every age. For information: info@shore- BEACH IS REALLY FLY Flying into Long BeachAirport is now a thoroughly modern experience. The Long Beach Airport is also currently undergoing a $136millionmodernization. Plans are underway for a new parking structure, ramp improvements, gates and a concourse with a central garden. The project is scheduled to be complete in 2013. There are three major airports within 30 minutes of downtown Long Beach. They include:LAX,which is about 20min- utes north; Long Beach and JohnWayne Airports, which are both about 30 min- utes away. Himert's message to meeting plan- Long Beach City Skyline 18 ners is to "Take a look at us, visit us and see for yourselves. See what kind of destination we are. We are a shin- ing star in the convention business.We take service to another level." Black Meetings & Tourism March/April 2012:

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