Experience Real and Authentic Grapevine at WEC20

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Experience Real and Authentic Grapevine at WEC20

By Rich Luna | Dec 9, 2019

There’s something apropos about MPI planning its World Education Congress (WEC) 2020 in Grapevine, Texas.

Back around the mid 1840s—for you non-Texans, this would be about seven years after the Battle of the Alamo—Sam Houston, president of the Republic of Texas, sent word to the American Indian nations in North Texas that he wanted to meet to propose a treaty of “peace, friendship and commerce” and to cease fighting between the Texas settlers and the tribes.

Houston and his fellow Texans gathered at Tah-Wah-Karro Creek, also known as Grape Vine Springs. Representatives from the Delaware, Chickasaw, Waco, Tawakoni, Keechie, Caddo, Anadarko, Ionie (or Hasinai), Biloxi and Cherokee nations joined, and the meeting concluded with the signing of the Treaty of Birds Fort.

“Grapevine, you see, has always been a meeting ground, a place where people come together, a place where people meet,” says Grapevine Mayor William D. Tate.

Grapevine, and the Gaylord Texan Resort, will again be a face-to-face epicenter when meeting professionals from around the world come together for MPI’s signature education event November 3-6.

Grape Vine Springs, named for the wild grapes that grew in the area, would become Grapevine in 1907, and the city has since built a legacy as a meetings and leisure destination. Nestled between Dallas and Fort Worth, Grapevine is quintessential Texas, with a thriving main street and a growing meetings sector, all at the northern doorstop of one of the largest airports in the world, Dallas Fort Worth International.

“People come to Grapevine because they want to see Texas,” Tate says. “Main streets are dying all across America, but ours is thriving. People love coming to see a piece of Americana and that’s what we have, and it’s real, it’s authentic.”

“People come to Grapevine because they want to see Texas,” Tate says. “Main streets are dying all across America, but ours is thriving. People love coming to see a piece of Americana and that’s what we have, and it’s real, it’s authentic.”

Tate knows a thing or two about Grapevine. His grandfather was the town’s first night watchman and his father served as mayor. Tate, still spry at 77, followed his father’s footsteps and is now one of the longest serving mayors in Texas—he was first elected in 1973 and has served in the office for 43 years.

Under his leadership, and in conjunction with the Grapevine CVB, Grapevine is all about meetings and events. The city—the self-proclaimed “Christmas Capital of Texas”—

is the site of the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, the city’s Glockenspiel, 80 boutique shops, an urban wine trail, restaurants and artisans. It is also home to GrapeFest, the largest wine festival in the southwest U.S.—attracting 15 million visitors and generating a US$2.4 billion spend annually. More than 12,000 people are employed in the hospitality industry, the city’s top employer, and the meeting and event business is a source of pride for residents.

“A great place to visit must first be a great place to live,” says transplanted Australian Paul W. McCallum, executive director of the Grapevine CVB. “Meetings is our business. It’s the No. 1 revenue generator and the No. 1 employer. It is our business, and to that end, we really put a full citywide focus on it. Everyone in the city knows it and embraces it, not because they have to, but because they want to.”

The meeting space and hotel rooms have helped bring such notable conferences as the American Business Association, Connect and Travel Media Showcase to Grapevine.

Brady Closson, deputy executive director of the Grapevine CVB, says you would be hard-pressed to find a city of 50,000 with the meetings assets of Grapevine.

“It’s no coincidence that we are in this position,” he says. “Our high occupancy rate is a testament to our product, our location and our city leaders—who had the foresight and vision to go after these opportunities.

“North Texas is healthy, but we’re not resting. We’re going to continue to go after things that make sense.”

It’s been a strategy that has paid big dividends. The second-biggest coup after Sam Houston’s meeting was convincing the Gaylord brand to build its Texas resort in Grapevine, with the property opening in 2004. The brand had been looking for a spot in Texas and was considering Houston and Dallas before selecting Grapevine.

“They wanted authentic Texas and they found it here,” Tate says. “That was a game changer for us.”

The Gaylord Texan, situated on 125 acres at the southern tip of Lake Grapevine, has 1,814 guest rooms and nearly 500,000 square feet of flexible pre-function, meeting and exhibit space. The property has four ballrooms and 100 meeting and breakout rooms. The Gaylord recently completed a $120 million expansion, adding 300 guest rooms and 86,000 square feet of meeting space. All will be home base for MPI’s WEC in November. In addition, the live-music venue the Glass Cactus, which overlooks Lake Grapevine, will be the site of the MPI Foundation’s Rendezvous event.

With the Gaylord, the city has more than 1 million square feet of meeting space supported by 20 hotels, seven of which are full service, for a total of 5,750 guest rooms. That will change next summer when Hotel Vin, a boutique Marriott Collection Autograph hotel, opens with 120 rooms.

The construction project also includes Grapevine Main, a $105 million public/private, transit-oriented development project that will feature a 38,000-square-foot expansive outdoor plaza and a 42,000-square-foot, five-story rail station surrounding the hotel. Access to Grapevine Main will be enhanced by TEXRail, a 27-mile commuter line that will connect Grapevine to both the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and downtown Fort Worth.

“This new chapter in Grapevine’s story will be an exciting time to watch history happen before your eyes,” Tate says. “Grapevine Main is an incubator for the tremendous growth Grapevine is set to experience in the coming years.”

The rail station will feature architecture reminiscent of 19th-century grand rail stations of America and will contain modern amenities, a market, entertainment and food hall experiences, meeting space, offices and community event space. When guests enter the Great Hall in the Rail Station, they will be greeted by majestic, 40-foot ceilings. The Great Hall will also feature Harvest Hall, with a unique combination of shops, dining and beverage options.

The 38,000-square-foot expansive outdoor plaza will be large enough to accommodate 3,500 guests, and will be home to the Peace Circle project, a public art component that will feature 11 life-size bronze figures of Sam Houston and the 10 American Indian chiefs/leaders who gathered at Grape Vine Springs.

Joe Thompson, director of sales for the Grapevine CVB, says the city’s meetings amenities help considerably in selling the destination to meeting planners.

“That’s the greatest part about it,” he says. “I’ve seen the pride each member of our sales team has. They believe in the product and they’re hungry to sell it. I’m not saying we don’t have to work hard, because we do, but knowing what we have here makes selling Grapevine a little easier and a lot of fun.”

“It’s all about the people,” adds Kimber Foster, director of marketing and brand management for the Grapevine CVB. “Grapevinians always go above and beyond to help our visitors. It’s what really sets us apart.” 

The Perfect Setting for WEC 2020

Authentic events depend on the authenticity of their location.

That’s why Grapevine, Texas, is the perfect setting for WEC 2020. It turns the notion of “Texas big” on its side and shows the genuine hospitality of the Lone Star State. Through modern, vibrant event education—combined with the unique charm of Grapevine—we’ll demonstrate what it means to produce the authenticity that people crave from meetings and events.

The food will be sourced locally—and locally flavored—and the sights, sounds and sensations will not only make you smile, they’ll be delivered with a smile from the friendliest, most genuine people on the planet.

The result is a memorable, authentic experience unlike any other—which is exactly what attendees expect from WEC.

Register for WEC Grapevine at mpi.org/wec.



Rich Luna

Rich Luna is Director of Publishing for MPI and Editor-in-chief of The Meeting Professional.