PHOENIX (Dec. 1, 2009) — More than 20 meeting professionals representing over $30 million worth of annual meeting and convention business will spend the three days considering the possibilities in Greater Phoenix, the only destination they are holding this event in 2009.

Representatives from SmithBucklin, the world’s largest association management and professional services company, will be the guests of the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau and downtown hotels today until Friday. These specialized visitors will get a firsthand look at the new Phoenix Convention Center, downtown Phoenix’s major hotels, and more than a dozen resorts throughout Greater Phoenix — all of which present versatile venues for conventions and meetings.

“It is also important to recognize that Greater Phoenix hosts hundreds of meetings each year related to industries targeted by the economic development community, a value added opportunity for those efforts as well,” said Steve Moore, President of the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Founded in 1949, SmithBucklin provides full-service management services to trade associations, professional societies, corporations, government agencies and nonprofit organizations. It annually manages 815,000 conventions, events and meeting attendees, and has offices in Chicago, Washington D.C., St. Louis and St. Paul, Minn. These cities serve as the headquarters of thousands of corporate and government associations — most of which, per their bylaws, hold annual meetings that can be potent economic stimuli for the cities chosen to host them.

“SmithBucklin is sort of to meeting planners what Microsoft is to software engineers,” said Kevin Kamenzind, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at the Greater Phoenix CVB. “They are a major player in the meetings industry, and getting the chance to show them our new convention center and meeting-friendly hotels and resorts is a real coup for the Valley.”

The 20 SmithBucklin professionals who are in Phoenix this week manage associations and meeting groups that boast more than 21,000 potential meeting attendees. These attendees could occupy nearly 12,000 guest rooms and spend over $30 million during their stays in Phoenix.

The SmithBucklin group will be treated to a 2-hour, behind-the-scenes tour of the Phoenix Convention Center, which recently emerged from a $600 million expansion that tripled the size of its meeting and exhibit space. The new convention center’s architecture is inspired by the colors and angles of the Grand Canyon, and its LEED-certified environs include rooftop solar panels, chairs made of recycled car batteries and seat belts, and a water-harvesting garden that converts condensation from the building’s heating and cooling system into water for landscaping.

The meeting planners will stay at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix and Wyndham Phoenix Downtown, and attend a function at the 1,000-room Sheraton Phoenix Downtown that opened in October 2008. Beyond downtown Phoenix, the planners will explore the meeting facilities at 13 full-service resorts in the mountain-shrouded metropolitan area.

“Meeting and convention business is an economic driver for our community, and this is an excellent chance to showcase Greater Phoenix’s attributes to some of the top meeting planners in the country,” Kamenzind said. “We can’t possibly show the SmithBucklin folks everything we have to offer, but we’re certainly going to give them lots to think about.”

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