Some 85 Florida DMOs, resorts, hotels and event suppliers played host to 67 planners at this year’s edition of Florida Encounter, Visit Florida’s annual fully-hosted show for qualified MICE planners.
The three-day event was held November 28-30, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs, Florida. It included educational sessions, one-on-one meetings and a range of networking experiences. It also provided attendees with the opportunity to check out the venues and properties in the Fort Myers-Sanibel Island region on the state’s Gulf coast.
Known as the “Official Meeting Show of Florida,” Florida Encounter has been bringing planners together with the state’s suppliers since the 1980s.
According to Susan Armstrong, Visit Florida’s corporate meetings manager, the event draws planners from across North America. “We also try to get an even split between association, corporate and independent planners and what we call intermediary planners—those would be Maritz, Helms-Briscoe,” she says.
Armstrong also explains that the intimate size of the event—it’s Visit Florida’s smallest show—means that it can be held in some of the state’s smaller markets. “One of the things that Visit Florida does is try to go across the state,” she says. “Last year we were in West Palm Beach. The year before we were in Kissimmee.”
Kate Chunka, Visit Florida’s director of industry relations and sales, adds that this ability to hold Florida Encounter in smaller markets is essential to introducing planners to the state’s diversity. “Just because you have one kind of meeting one year doesn’t mean you have to have the same meeting experience the next year,” she says. “It’s our job to make sure [planners are] aware of all the new attractions, all the new experiences, all the new meeting space. In the next couple of years, there’s some 800,000 square feet of new meeting space coming onboard [in the state].”
In addition, moving Florida Encounter to different markets also raises awareness of the exceptional airlift into the sunshine state. Chunka points out that Florida has 16 international airports. “It’s easy to get anywhere,” she says.
Florida Encounter 2019 will be held November 20-22, 2019 at the Sheraton Bay Point Resort in Panama City Beach. Visit www.floridaencounter.com for more information.