Florida Meetings: Let the Sun Shine

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Florida Meetings: Let the Sun Shine

By Michael Pinchera | Mar 1, 2021

One full year into the pandemic, Florida stands out as a destination that’s moving ahead with some in-person events while embracing safety guidelines and bolstering its offerings. Here are some highlights of the latest developments from four parts of the Sunshine State. 

Daytona Beach

“To help highlight the strong commitment our meeting hotels and venues have to the safety and health of their guests, we recently launched our We C.A.R.E campaign,” says Linda McMahon (MPI North Florida Chapter), director of group sales, Daytona Beach Area CVB. “Meeting hotels and venues are producing video content to help clearly communicate their programs and the commitment they have to supporting the success of meeting and convention planners.”

With the We C.A.R.E. campaign, which began in January, the CVB sends out weekly videos to engage with industry professionals in a way that feels personal and conversational while sharing their partners’ safety messages.

“I noticed that everybody’s safety message seemed the same—they all kind of ran together,” McMahon says. “There was nothing wrong with their messaging, but I wanted to have something that stood out a little more.”

Brainstorming with her team, they came up with the We C.A.R.E. campaign: “Committed to your safety, Accountable for your success, Receptive to your needs and Excited to welcome you.”

“We’re all going after the same business and we’ve got to keep those relationships and continue to connect with people.”

The videos range from professional, polished content to clips shot on mobile phones. What matters most, McMahon says, is to get their partners’ voices out there and keep communications flowing. Collecting the videos under the We C.A.R.E. umbrella helps accomplish that.

“It’s really about the people,” she says. “We’re all going after the same business and we’ve got to keep those relationships and continue to connect with people.”

Because of the pandemic, her team had the time to conceptualize and launch the campaign—a luxury that won’t exist once things fully open up.

“However, we’ve now created a model that we can adjust based on what’s happening in our business and make sure that we always stay in touch,” McMahon says.

The Palm Beaches

Situated north of Fort Lauderdale and Miami, The Palm Beaches accounts for several dozen towns and cities featuring 47 miles of Florida’s gorgeous Atlantic Coast beaches.

“Meetings are critically important to tourism in Florida,” says Kelly Cavers, senior vice president, group sales and destination services for Discover The Palm Beaches, the area’s CVB. “This year we’ve had to pivot and adapt and are implementing changes that allow for safe and exciting meetings in person, virtually or in a hybrid style. We understand that meeting planners and destination service managers are becoming digital event strategists in this day and age and now more than ever recognize the need for planners to partner with sales services teams to help adapt to the hybrid or omnichannel event model.”

Cavers is confident her team can still wow attendees with unique, in-person experiences while following necessary safety guidelines.

“Meetings are critically important to tourism in Florida.”

“With health and safety top of mind this year, GBAC STAR accreditation has never been more critical,” she says. “Last year, when everything changed, we recognized this and worked with our community to implement the highest of safety standards through every level of the customer journey in The Palm Beaches.”

As a result of these efforts, The Palm Beaches became the first U.S. destination to receive GBAC STAR accreditation for its airport, convention center and attached convention center hotel. Additionally, it’s the first Florida destination to pursue GBAC STAR accreditation on a destination-wide basis.

“This has helped build visitor confidence and continues to be a focus,” Cavers says. “Each community partner is leaning in, helping one another go through the accreditation for the greater good of the destination.”


The busiest meeting and event destination in Florida continues to grow, with major projects being completed right now and in the pipeline.

Caribe Royale Orlando, Central Florida’s largest all-suite convention hotel, is getting even bigger this year. In August, the company announced a US$125 million phased renovation that will include a total renovation of all of its one-bedroom suites, the addition of a 50,000-square-foot grand ballroom and a new lobby for a dramatic arrival experience. The ballroom and the first tower of renovated suites are expected to be completed this spring, bringing the property’s total meeting space to more than 220,000 square feet.

The Evermore Orlando Resort is a comprehensive redevelopment of the 1,100-acre Villas at Grand Cypress resort complex that borders Walt Disney World, slated to open in summer 2023.

When complete, the resort will offer a total of 10,000 guest rooms and more than 150,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor event space. The first opening phase will include nearly 1,500 bedrooms spread across standalone homes, villas, apartments and hotel guest rooms. The hotel, the Conrad Orlando at Evermore, will have 433 guest rooms, 40,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, a spa and multiple dining options including a rooftop experience.


In the Florida Panhandle, the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort opened its new luxury Hotel Effie Sandestin last month, a move that had been delayed due to the pandemic.

The 250-room hotel features 20,000 square feet of meeting space—including a 13,000-square-foot ballroom—and the only rooftop pool on Florida’s Emerald Coast.

“Beach-to-bay accommodations, shopping, dining and championship golf have attracted visitors from all around the globe,” Sara Becnel, VP of development and general manager of the resort, said in a statement. “We are thrilled to pair these resort amenities with the luxurious, yet approachable offerings at Hotel Effie.”

Photo courtesy Discover The Palm Beaches.



Michael Pinchera

Michael Pinchera is an award-winning writer and editor for The Meeting Professional as well as a speaker, technologist and contributor to business, academic and pop culture publications since 1997. Read more of his work at www.whatmemeworry.com.