Meeting Unique & Traditional Meeting Needs

Whether it’s visually transforming a hall or spreading out over several floors, there’s space for every type of conference.

What happens when you bring together nearly 600 companies that specialize in making signs to a conference that draws almost 20,000 attendees? Tons and tons of signage at every angle and on every inch, showing off what the International Sign Association is all about.

“We wrapped anything that we could humanly wrap [with signs]—the floors, the walls, everything,” said Brandon Hensley, ­ COO of Sales and Marketing for ISA. “We wrapped some ­columns inside the concourse at Mandalay Bay that had never been done before.”

Even the windows and parking lot pavement of the Las Vegas Strip resort were covered in signage during the group’s 2013 annual conference, Hensley said. But that sort of flashy visual is expected for an association like his, and needed to capture the attendees’ attention.

“To move people from behind a computer screen or their smartphone into a face-to-face environment, you have to create an experience,” he said. And Mandalay Bay’s collaborative spirit helped his group pull it off.

“It’s a lot of us leading them and pushing the envelope and saying, ‘No one’s ever done this before,’ ” he said. “Their willingness to say, ‘OK, let’s see what we can do,’ it’s a little unique in that way, as an event, and requires more of a backand-forth with the building.”

What ARIA presented in terms of its very modern, sleek and functional meeting space was two ballrooms across from each other that were then surrounded by individual breakout rooms, all in one area. The convenience to delegates was that they didn’t get lost, and they could move quickly from one area to the other. The very compact, usable, functional meeting space was one of the things that attracted us to ARIA. — Tom Anderson, CMP, Director of Conferences and Events, Technology Services Industry Association

But not all meetings need show-stopping graphics at every turn. The International Franchise Association’s annual conference simply needs space. And lots of it. “Our unique challenge is that we are space hogs. We use up a lot of meeting space,” said Debra Moss, IFA’s Vice President of Operations. The event includes several general sessions, 20 concurrent breakout sessions, 80 roundtable discussions, and the “Taste of Franchising” food fair, where members can show off their branded food products. The food fair alone requires 30,000 square feet.

For the upcoming 2015 conference planned at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, the group is taking over all three floors of a conference center. In total, MGM Grand has 602,000 square feet of meeting space. “It will make a huge difference in not having to worry about other groups being in there,” Moss said. “MGM Grand does have a lot of space, which is one of the reasons we went there in the first place.”

Groups like Hensley’s and Moss’ account for just two of the 22,000 meetings and conventions in Las Vegas annually. As groups like theirs get larger, the MGM Resorts properties are adjusting to provide even more meeting space. In April 2014, Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino announced that it is adding another 350,000 square feet of exhibit space, taking the total to more than 2 million square feet. The $66 million expansion is scheduled to begin in late fall 2014, with new exhibit space available in August 2015 and anticipated completion of all spaces in January 2016.

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