Arizona, the Spanish interpretation of an Aztec Indian word that means “silver-bearing,” has a splendor and peacefulness all its own. For many corporate meeting and event professionals, executing a memorable gathering, small or large, simple or elaborate can depend on the venue and locale. Luckily, Arizona offers a plethora of splendid options, complete with wonderful accouterments that surprise and delight corporate meeting attendees at every turn.
For corporate meeting attendees heading to Scottsdale, AZ for an event, it all starts with accessibility. Scottsdale is just a 15-minute commute from the nearest international airport (Phoenix Sky Harbor) and offers all the services and amenities expected of a premier meeting destination.
A global food & beverage company based in Purchase, NY, recently held a corporate meeting at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort & Villas. According to Lisa Swartz, CMP, conmeeting services consultant for Meeting Services Outsource Specialists, in Rye Brook, NY, the corporate gathering was a human resources meeting with 350 attendees. The previous year, they held a similar meeting, but broke it up into three different regions over three different dates in three different hotels.
“We selected Scottsdale for several reasons,” Swartz said. “First, it was easy to get to. There was a lot of lift going into the Phoenix airport, and not a long trip from the airport to the destination. The second reason was we were invited for a site inspection to look at several off-site venues for our second night, and Scottsdale had great facilities. All three that we looked at were varied and there were plenty of choices. Lastly, the reason we chose Scottsdale was because The Scottsdale Plaza Resort itself was a great fit for our meeting space needs.”
Experience Scottsdale set up the site inspections for the food and beverage company and they were made aware of an incentive they offered — to bring a meeting to Scottsdale in the form of a credit to the corporation’s master bill based on the number of attendees that actually stayed.
“So that was also a very big plus,” Swartz said. “We also held our meeting in June, which most would say is not a good time to go to Arizona because of the heat. However, if the CVB works with you and the venue you select, the supplier uses all within their power to make things seamless and comfortable, and the temperature is not a concern. We moved people with buses. We had people walking outside of the property to get to the meeting space, back to the rooms, and in fact, we utilized a tent space that normally would not be used at that time of year. The hotel promised and delivered to have it air-conditioned in time for our first night’s event. So, remember, almost anything is possible with a stellar partnership. My recommendation is that planners take advantage of all resources available, including the experience of local staff, seasoned sales and convention services staff. These coupled with your own planning skills will come together to have a fantastic experience in Scottsdale.”
Each year, Medtronic also hosts a series of meetings in Scottsdale at various hotels and venues. Katie Fugina, CMP, senior principal strategic meeting planning specialist, professional relations at Medtronic, in Mounds View, MN, said that Medtronic’s meetings range in size from 30 to 200 attendees.
“The last meeting we held was at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia. We have a great relationship with this hotel and are always impressed by the on-site experience,” Fugina said.
So why do Medtronic’s meeting planners repeatedly select Scottsdale for corporate events? Quite simply, Scottsdale is a draw for attendees. As Fugina explained, the weather and beauty of the Sonoran Desert is impressive. The Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport has excellent air lift, so it is an easy, direct flight for most attendees. Once they land, most venues are a quick 20-minute drive.
“For planners, the quality and quantity of hotel options with large meeting spaces, outdoor dining options and great air lift, makes Scottsdale an ideal destination,” Fugina said. “Most times of year, you don’t have to worry about flights being canceled or delayed due to the weather.”
Scottsdale has proven to be a top destination for meetings, being centrally located with many flight options across the country, making it an easy flight for attendees.
“For medical meetings, many hotels offer pharma menus and group rates that will keep your meeting compliant,” Fugina said. “For other meetings, there are so many activities to keep your guests busy, such as golf, spa, hiking, shopping and dining. Regardless of your meeting type, Scottsdale delivers.”
Madison Breuer, event planner and junior account executive at Serendipit Consulting in Phoenix, AZ, had the privilege of planning an event in Scottsdale for their client DermaCrush Medical Aesthetics based there and its president and medical director Marie Baker FNP-C, last fall to celebrate the company’s three-year anniversary.
“We had around 100 attendees, and I worked closely with the DermaCrush team to execute this event,” Breuer said. “The event entailed various product and treatment discounts, a Waffle Crush food truck, drinks, charcuterie, live music, a raffle, a step and repeat with a balloon arch and photo booth props, gift bags, a custom-designed cake by Nicoleta Lesan, and industry partner tables featuring SkinMedica, Solta Medical, Alastin, SkinCeuticals, Galderma and Upneeq.”
The corporate event team was fortunate enough to be able to use the spacious parking lot of the DermaCrush facility, allowing for an outdoor event that is ideal for an expansive event of this kind.
“Arizona was a natural choice for our event since DermaCrush Medical Aesthetics is located in the state,” Breuer said. “Arizona presents a host of advantages for corporate meeting planners and attendees alike. The state’s winter weather, such as during the time of our event, provides a welcoming backdrop for events. With many people also escaping colder climates during the winter, Arizona offers a larger audience eager to participate in events.”
For planners considering hosting an event in Arizona, Breuer said that it’s essential to have a comprehensive understanding of the state’s laws and regulations. Depending on the nature of the event, planners may need to secure liability insurance, obtain liquor licenses and ensure that any staff serving alcohol has their Arizona Title 4 Alcohol Certification. Additionally, compliance with fire code requirements is critical for ensuring the safety of attendees.
Another popular location in Scottsdale is the AAA Four-Diamond rated Talking Stick Resort. Not only does it offer the excitement of gaming and live entertainment that attendees crave but it is also home to more than 100,000 sf of flexible meeting space.
Corporate meeting planners can make the most of attendees’ time by taking advantage of all the activities Scottsdale has to offer. Attendees can enjoy guided kayak excursions to the Lower Salt River or customized dinner-in-the-desert experiences for groups large and small with a full gourmet meal, craft cocktails, live music and unforgettable Sonoran Desert settings, like the base of the Superstition Mountains.
Old Town Scottsdale offers seven Arizona wine tasting rooms featuring wines produced in the Willcox, Verde Valley and Sonoita wine regions of the state. Attendees can get a taste of award-winning local wines using the Scottsdale Wine Trail map.
Scottsdale also continually reinvents itself with new venues ideal for corporate meetings and events. Privado Villas at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is a new boutique hotel within a hotel. Consisting of residential-style luxury suites set apart from the 65-acre main property, Privado Villas offer a private entrance and reception area. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess has more than 316,000 sf of overall meeting space.
Another new choice is Hilton North Scottsdale at Cavasson, which opened last year.
This full-service hotel is ideal for corporate meeting attendees thanks in part to its expansive event center, as well as indoor and outdoor meeting spaces.
For corporate meeting planners looking for private event venues in Scottsdale, two event spaces include Mick’s Place of Scottsdale, a large unobstructed space, and Elevate Hangar, which features two side-by-side hangars with plenty of interior and exterior spaces.
Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia will be completing expansive renovations later this summer to all of its meeting spaces.
The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch has undergone a comprehensive multimillion-dollar enhancement, which is the largest in the property’s 50-year history.
Opening later this year, the Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley, The Palmeraie will feature hotel rooms with private entrances, detached casitas, bungalows and oversized suites spread across 20 acres, with plenty of stunning views of Camelback Mountain. The new resort will include two large ballrooms and several meeting rooms, many of which will feature natural light and floor-to-ceiling windows.
Looking ahead, Caesars Republic Scottsdale will open its first non-gaming hotel in the U.S. early next year and will feature a unique interior meeting space with sliding glass door opening to an expansive event lawn.
Also, corporate meeting planners can watch for the opening of the rebranding of the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch to Grand Hyatt Scottsdale Resort & Spa next year. This rebranding will include extension renovations to the resort’s indoor and outdoor meeting and event spaces.
Additionally, Experience Scottsdale offers a variety of FAM opportunities each year, along with our Site See & Fly Free promotion, which allows associations to pick up airfare expense for qualified planners. This program encourages them to experience a customized site inspection and see firsthand what makes Scottsdale a top meetings destination. They work closely with their clientele to understand the individual needs and match them with the right businesses and resources in the destination to meet those specific needs.
Tucson is a unique destination with great food, approximately 325 days of sunshine and great opportunities to connect with nature, local culture and people. As a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, home to James Beard Award winners and celebrity chefs, the options for delicious dining are endless.
Attendees can connect with colleagues during a desert hike among the thousands of Saguaro cacti in Saguaro National Park or over a tasting tour in Tucson. Attendees can experience the indigenous and Mexican influence on local culture firsthand by visiting attractions like Mission Garden and Mission San Xavier del Bac, a historic Spanish Catholic mission on the Tohono O’odham Nation reservation.
In addition, with 233,000 sf of meeting space and three performance venues, Tucson Convention Center has the size and flexibility to accommodate your event needs. Plus, with the wide range of meeting spaces available on-site at various Tucson hotels and wide-open outdoor spaces at every turn, the meeting opportunities in Tucson plentiful.
Jessica Byerly, director of events for the home furnishings division and the Carolinas at Bridge Tower Media in Minneapolis, MN, recently orchestrated the company’s annual Furniture Today Bedding Conference at the JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa. They hosted 300 people from around the world.
“Our event rotates from the West Coast to the East Coast, and this year, we selected Tucson,” Byerly said. “The region was beautiful, with limited chances of rain, and provided the ability to host our attendees in a unique environment that offers so much beauty, warmth and hospitality. The JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa is a great property and the team at Visit Tucson was absolutely a planners dream to work with. The hotel was roomy and offered the space and footprint for a large group without it feeling like a large group. Defiantly watch for the rainy season. We were fortunate to not be in that season, just a little warm.”
Byerly highly recommends fellow corporate meeting planners conduct a site visit at their chosen venue and think about ways of incorporating airport shuttles.
“Work with Visit Tucson on excursions,” Bylerly said. “Our group did not do them, but had so many requests to include them in the future. There is really so much to offer in the area.”
For planners looking for a renovated space, Omni Tucson National Resort recently completed a multimillion-dollar transformation. The resort offers more than 25,000 sf of meeting space.
Looking for a big city to hold your event? Phoenix offers plenty of the resources that planners need, including luxury resorts, lush golf courses, easy airlift, a thriving arts & culture district and plenty of options for restaurants and other entertainment.
When planning an event for the Scottsdale-based Hospitality Performance Network Global (HPN), Brynn Mehrkens, vice president of global accounts at HPN Global, often turns her attention to Phoenix.
“I have held many events in Phoenix, ranging from 10 people all the way up to 2,500 people,” Mehrkens said. “The smaller events were held at various hotels in Phoenix and Scottsdale, while the larger events were held at the Phoenix Convention Center, with room blocks at neighboring hotels. Some of the events were corporate events, others were association and nonprofit events. I have held a few government and educational events in Phoenix as well.”
The Phoenix Convention Center offers nearly 1 million sf of meeting space, perfect for a large event.
Mehrkens emphasized that Phoenix is such a great destination for meetings and she always recommends Phoenix as a destination when planners are looking for city ideas.
“The city has so much to offer, and there is such a wide range of hotel options in multiple price points,” Mehrkens said. “Downtown has such a vibrant restaurant and nightlife scene. It’s very accessible, has great airlift and is a safe city for meetings as well. It has a great convention center package, with several hotels within walking distance of the convention center. The center is very manageable too, unlike some large convention centers that can be overwhelming for groups that are just transitioning to a convention center as the in-house options are limited. The service at the hotels is superior to other cities. I can always count on my meetings going well in Phoenix.”
For other corporate planners considering Phoenix, Mehrkens would recommend doing site visits.
“Engage the CVB because they are the best in the business and will help you experience the city firsthand to see all they have to offer,” Mehrkens said. “They can help you navigate options and find the best possible fit for your meeting.”
Tempe is unique in the corporate meetings space for several reasons. The city offers the conveniences planners and attendees are looking for when it comes to seamless airport access which is about 4-miles away. Additionally, the region offers a wide variety of hotels, ranging from four-star properties to business value accommodations.
Tempe’s compact and walkable downtown makes navigating a Tempe itinerary a breeze. Inviting streets are lined with a wide variety of dining options.
This year, Tempe welcomed Omni Tempe Hotel at ASU to the city’s portfolio of hotels, which has 36,000 sf of meeting space. Mark Phillips, chief operating officer at LamontCo in Miami, FL, recently held a corporate customer event at the Omni Tempe, which included 175 attendees.
“I selected Tempe because I had successfully completed a 1,200-person event two years ago,” Phillips said. “Tempe Tourism makes it so simple to plan a meeting from small to large and it actually feels like the city personally welcomes each group.”
Phillips advises planners to think outside the box, and work with hotels and Tempe Tourism to develop your program.
“Your attendees will love all the options the city offers from places like Culinary Dropout to the ASU stadium,” Phillips said. “The city truly appreciates the business. You will not be forgotten. Every event we have had there has felt like the event was the most important event they have ever had.”
In addition to being conveniently located near two major airports, Mesa offers an after-hours walkable downtown district that corporate meeting attendees have come to love. Historic Downtown Mesa is a unique hub made up of artists showcasing their talents, an eclectic array of vintage shopping and award-winning dining. In the heart of Downtown Mesa sits The Mesa Arts Center, the largest arts center in the Southwest. This venue holds ample space to host any performance, arts class or cocktail hour for your event.
Julie Haushalter, CEO of White Oak Lavender Farm & The Purple WOLF Vineyard in Harrisonburg, VA, and vice president for the United States Lavender Growers Association, when looking for a destination for the association’s conference, found Mesa to be an ideal location.
“Our organization was seeking a site for our national members conference,” Haushalter said. “The lovely team at Visit Mesa made it an easy choice for our planning committee by offering online orientation materials, an on-site tour and education about conference venues, lodging and the many activities this region has to offer attendees. Our attendees loved the area, found it accessible to the airport, appreciated the high-quality lodging, great food and the numerous activities readily available in the area.”
For those outdoor aficionados in the corporate group, Mesa sits close to the Tonto National Forest and Superstition Mountains with plenty of outdoor recreation available. Corporate meeting planners can take the fun outside of the conference room and into the Sonoran Desert. C&IT