With established meeting enclaves of the West such as Las Vegas, Seattle and San Francisco often grabbing the spotlight, it can be a challenge for other locales in the region to capture their due mindshare from meeting planners.
Here are five up-and-coming Western destinations that are striving for some time in the spotlight, and are worth a second look when selecting a site for a meeting.
Home to Provo and Brigham Young University, the Utah Valley has long been a popular destination for vacationers seeking to explore Utah’s great outdoors and pioneering history. Now, superb new meeting venues and transportation options have bolstered its standing as a meetings magnet and drawn substantial new industry to the area.
“Utah Valley has seen tremendous growth this past year and is continually flourishing with its new infrastructure and transportation,” says Charlene Christensen, director of services at the Utah Valley CVB. “Several corporations, such as Adobe, National Security Agency, Overstock.com and others recently established a significant presence in Utah Valley with new buildings, offices and jobs.
“Additionally,” she continues, “the new Frontrunner line connecting Salt Lake to Provo, direct Frontier Airline service into Provo Airport and the anticipated 50-acre Outlets at Traverse Mountain shopping center make Utah Valley an even more convenient and ideal location for any meeting.”
And that’s without even mentioning the gleaming Utah Valley Convention Center. The eco-friendly new facility is located just 45 minutes south of Salt Lake City in historic downtown Provo. The LEED Silver-certified building offers 83,578 square feet of meeting and exhibit space, including an elegant Grand Ballroom and rooftop garden with sweeping views of the Wasatch Mountains.
Ample lodging is also on hand, with more than 1,300 hotel rooms available in downtown Provo. The aforementioned Frontrunner line, running from Ogden to the Utah Valley—and making transportation easier between the SLC airport and Provo—is projected to open this December.
Like the Utah Valley area, Eugene has built upon its reputation as an appealing leisure escape—enhanced by nearby natural lures that abound in the Willamette Valley—to gain footing as an enticing events haven. And once again, a convention facility deserves substantial credit for the locale’s re-made reputation.
“The addition of Matthew Knight Arena, which opened in January 2011 with seating capacity for 12,500, has opened up new opportunities for large conventions to meet in Eugene,” says Janis Ross, vice president of convention and sports marketing for Travel Lane County. “Faith-based conferences in particular have found this new facility ideal for their event needs.”
Ross also touts the region’s large, and still-growing, lodging landscape.
“The Eugene-Springfield metro area has seen new hotels open in the past year: Hilton Garden Inn in 2011, and Inn at the 5th, a luxury boutique hotel, which opened in February 2012,” Ross says. “With over 4,000 guest rooms in the metro area and a reputation for hosting major events, like the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials, our community knows how to take care of delegates and visitors, from transportation to housing to a wide range of activities.”
Ross also says the region, like much of eco-focused Oregon, prides itself on sustainability. And the area couldn’t be more accessible to attendees, she adds.
“Convenient air access via the Eugene Airport includes direct flights from nine major Western cities: Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix-Mesa, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Portland and Seattle,” she says. “And our conference hotels all offer complimentary airport shuttle service.”