The Baltimore Buzz [Meetings Edition] - Summer 2016

July 2016

Survey Shows Innovation Is a Priority for Meeting Professionals 

Meeting professionals identify innovation in their events as a priority, according to a survey conducted by Visit Baltimore at the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Springtime Expo on April 28. The objective was to discover what the top innovation goals are in the industry and what may support or prevent them from coming to fruition.

Survey participants included meeting and event directors, managers, associates and senior executives. 70 percent work in-house for their companies or organizations, while 30 percent were independent meeting professionals.

Perceptions on Innovation

The survey not only polled this group on the importance of innovation in their overall objectives, but also their specific innovation aspirations when it comes to planning successful events. Results found that as meeting professionals grapple with a shift in attendee demographics, they are most frequently looking for ways to create more opportunities for education, networking and creative uses of technology to expand participation both on-site and virtually. The top areas where meeting planners are looking to innovate in the next three years are captured in the following chart: 

Three-Year Innovation Goals

Interestingly, and also aligning with a nationwide movement across all industries toward corporate and social responsibility, 18 percent of respondents are considering socially conscious and sustainable practices; offering service and volunteer opportunities; or awarding scholarships, fellowships or financial incentives as part of their meetings. It also appears that today’s fast-growing shared-economy market is being embraced by meeting professionals, with four percent considering adding alternative housing options, like AirBnB, outside of the traditional hotel block. 

Visit Baltimore conducted this survey to better understand and be able to respond to the evolving goals of planners. “We are seeking to foster conversation within the industry about goals and obstacles when it comes to innovations,” said Amy Calvert, senior vice president of convention sales and services for Visit Baltimore.

Among survey respondents, 40 percent said innovation is a priority, yet the majority of respondents cited financial and budgetary restrictions as the top constraint that keeps them from incorporating more innovation into meeting planning. These and other constraints are highlighted in the following chart: 

Innovation Constraints

74 Percent of Meeting Professionals Are Innovating

Despite the various challenges and constraints, meeting professionals are seeing successes. An encouraging 74 percent of respondents reported introducing new technologies or programming during the last 12 months to improve the attendee experience, citing specific elements including TED Talk-inspired presentations, virtual meeting capabilities, updated audio visual with larger screen sizes and higher resolution, a digital program guide with real-time information of session capacities, conference apps and live streaming. They also cited improvement to event logistics such as self-registration, “scan and go” registration, on-demand badge check-in and streamlined pre-event calls for proposals and itinerary planners.

“In addition to the meeting professionals’ driving influence on innovations, it’s important for us to fully understand and embrace the role that destination marketers can play in facilitating compelling tradeshows and events as demographics and emerging technologies impact meetings in these changing times,” says Calvert.

Recently named the 9th hottest U.S. startup city that isn’t New York or San Francisco by Entrepreneur Magazine, Baltimore is a rising leader in the tech industry and home to many innovative start-ups across several industries—many groups meet there for just this reason. Visit Baltimore recently announced that the Drupal Association has selected Baltimore for DrupalCon 2017. This win is a testament to the strength of the technology sector in Baltimore, and a site inspection tour of Baltimore's incubators and co-sharing workspaces like Beehive Baltimore, Spark and Betamore, helped the city to stand out among its competitors.

Visit Baltimore is an active member of the local business community, including local thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and industry executives and provides speaker recommendations, off-site and immersive event space recommendations and networking and educational opportunities. The full scope of Baltimore’s thriving creative class was highlighted in April 2016 by the recent innovation conferences—covering social, health, sustainability and creative innovation—that were part of Light City Baltimore, the nation’s first large-scale, light, music and innovation festival.

Applying the Survey Findings

How can meeting professionals and destination marketing organizations apply these survey findings to future events? Visit Baltimore will conduct phase two of this survey during the ASAE Annual Meeting and Expo from August 13-16. The results from the two surveys will culminate with an in-person, collaborative event or webinar, hosted by Visit Baltimore and ASAE, to discuss the findings and open a dialog on changes in the industry and the role of destination marketing organizations in enhancing the experience for future events. 

To learn more about the surveys and the event, please contact Amy Calvert, senior vice president of convention sales and services for Visit Baltimore at (410) 659-7331 or

Baltimore's Healthcare and Biosciences Industry

Some of the world’s most respected medical institutions and universities are found in Baltimore. The Greater Baltimore region is the world’s largest hub for medical research and discovery. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the University of Maryland School of Medicine are leaders in healthcare education, and our research facilities and local startups pave the way for a healthier future. See a snapshot of the healthcare and biosciences industry in Baltimore.

Baltimore Hotels: What’s New and What’s to Come

The Ivy Hotel
Opened June 1, 2015 in the historic Mount Vernon neighborhood following an $18 million restoration, is Baltimore’s first luxury boutique hotel. The brownstone building dates back to the late 1800s and in the 1980s, when it was a city-owned Inn at Government House, housed visiting dignitaries. The Ivy’s 18 guest accommodations – nine suites and nine rooms – each have a fireplace, a private bathroom, and character and charm all its own. Some feature balconies, and others have easy access to the boutique Ivy spa. Other amenities at the pet-friendly property include fine-dining restaurant Magdalena, serving modern American cuisine, conservatory, tea room, library, game room, breakfast room and music room with a piano belonging to the heirs of the late 1800s property’s owners. A ‘highly inclusive’ room rate includes breakfast, afternoon tea, WiFi, cocktails/wine, gratuities and the use of the hotel house car, an antique black London taxicab, for transfers within the city limits. Distance from Baltimore Convention Center: 1.4 miles

Hotel Indigo Baltimore
Opened in June 2015 following a $20 million renovation with 170 rooms in historic Mount Vernon. The original downtown building, a national historic landmark, was the first YMCA in Baltimore. The pet-friendly boutique hotel is minutes from the Inner Harbor and features 4,000 square feet of meeting space, close proximity to the Baltimore Convention Center and a convenient location near the Amtrak station, making it a great option for business travelers. Distance from Baltimore Convention Center: .7 mile

Hotel RL Baltimore
Opened in August 2015 in the Inner Harbor’s historic Keyser Building following a $19 million investment, is Red Lion Hotels Corporation’s first hotel on the East Coast and the first Hotel RL branded property for the Spokane, WA-based company. The Pacific Northwest-inspired concept is designed for millennials with an open pavilion-style lobby with tiered seating that is part café, part restaurant and part workspace lined with curated local art. Billed as an “upscale three-star” property, the 130-room hotel features TED Talks-style programming and, instead of a traditional restaurant, a large central bar serving food. Distance from Baltimore Convention Center: .5 mile

Joie de Vivre

The Wyndham Baltimore Mount Vernon Hotel has changed its name to Joie de Vivre and the hotel will close for renovations July 1. It is expected to reopen in early 2017. 
Distance from Baltimore Convention Center: 1.0 mile

Radisson Baltimore Harbor Hotel

The Baltimore Harbor Hotel has begun transitioning the north tower into the Radisson Hotels brand. The north tower holds 323 rooms. The owners and management team are working with other hotel brands on the south tower to find the best fit with the goal for it to become a second hotel.
 Distance from Baltimore Convention Center: 0.4 mile

Delta Hotel
A downtown warehouse is being converted into a Delta Hotel, a chain that was found only in Canada before Marriott purchased it in April 2015. The Baltimore location is five stories and will have 150 rooms and be managed by Crescent Hotels and Resorts with the opening planned for fall of this year.
 Distance from Baltimore Convention Center: 0.2 mile

Recreation Pier Boutique Hotel

Sagamore Development, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank’s development company, is converting a historic 100-year-old pier in Fell’s Point into a 128-room hotel to be opened winter 2017 and managed by Montage Hotels and Resorts. The original head house will be the hotel entrance containing the main lobby and bar on the ground level, with office space on the upper level. Two levels of guestrooms wrap around the existing pier with 60 percent of the rooms having views onto the harbor while the others look over an interior landscaped courtyard. The hotel will have three floors of rooms, a restaurant and a ballroom, and there will be an outdoor pool and bar at the end of the pier.
 Distance from Baltimore Convention Center: 1.7 miles

Canopy Baltimore Harbor Point
As the City’s largest downtown waterfront site yet to be developed, located between Harbor East and Fell’s Point, Harbor Point will be composed of 3 million square feet of office, retail, residential and hotel space on 27 acres. In the final phase of this development, a 156-room boutique hotel run by Hilton Worldwide will open in mid-2018. Canopy Baltimore Harbor Point will be a four-story hotel located atop a 12-story office building called Wills Street Wharf.
 Distance from Baltimore Convention Center: 1.4 miles

Baltimore’s Culinary Scene Draws Attention 

Baltimore's Culinary Scene

Visit Baltimore has launched a special webpage dedicated to the culinary scene in Baltimore. The page features culinary-specific content and event listings to help visitors decide where to go on their culinary adventures, as well as chef profiles and restaurant information to expand their knowledge of the city's offerings.

Visitors can’t get enough of Baltimore fresh, local and innovative dining options and the media is taking note. In the past few months, Baltimore has been called out in numerous major publications for its outstanding culinary scene. Check out these articles to see what else Baltimore is known for besides crab cakes (but of course our crab cakes are the best!). 2016’s Top Under-the-Radar Food Towns

Men’s Journal The 20 Best Hotel Bars in America (B&O American Brassiere)

OpenTable Blog Dig Your Claws Into 7 of the Best Crab Dishes in Maryland (City Café, Wit & Wisdom, Johnny’s) The Most Luxe Gold Cocktails, Dishes and Desserts to Celebrate Gold Month (Cinghiale, The Food Market)

Out Traveler The Drink: La Cuchara’s False Idol

USA Today Made in Baltimore: Flavors only found in Charm City

Renovated Baltimore Visitor Center Reopens

Visitor Center light installation

The Baltimore Visitor Center has reopened after undergoing its first renovation since opening more than 10 years ago. The center now features new touchscreen monitors that allow visitors to explore the city electronically and plan their visit, charging stations, informative panels sharing Baltimore's arts and culture, history, heritage and culinary scenes, and moveable brochure racks. 

Take note of the ceiling light installation that uses metal and glass to imitate sea grass and reflect light, created by artists Matthew McCormack and Jennifer Figg. New display cases will feature a rotation of art and artifacts from local museums every three months. 

In addition to offering a refreshed visitor experience, the Baltimore Visitor Center can now also be utilized as an evening event space with creative lighting and audio and visual capabilities. The space is 8,000 square feet with the ability to hold hundreds of guests for a sit-down dinner, cocktail reception or other event with a premier waterfront view.

Business Buzz

DrupalCon Coming to Baltimore in 2017: Visit Baltimore is pleased to announce that the Drupal Association has selected Baltimore for DrupalCon 2017. This win is a testament to the strength of the technology sector in Baltimore, and a site inspection tour of Baltimore's incubators and co-sharing workspaces like Beehive Baltimore, Spark and Betamore, helped the city to stand out among its competitors.

Baltimore in the News: Visit Baltimore is pleased to share recent coverage from LGBT publications that feature Baltimore. Passport magazine included Baltimore in a list of ideal locations for destination LGBT weddings. The best reasons to visit Baltimore were highlighted in OUT magazine and OUT Traveler, and OUT Traveler also featured The Ivy Hotel.

Centerplate General Manager Recognized for Excellence: Centerplate, the Baltimore Convention Center's food and beverage service provider, has honored Baltimore Convention Center General Manager Michael Barrett with the Centerplate General Manager of the Year Award. The award is based on a series of criteria including revenue generation, relationship building and employee morale, among others. Please join us in congratulating Michael on this prestigious recognition. We thank him for his continued dedication to providing excellent food and beverage experiences to our convention attendees.

Student and Youth Travel Association Confirmed for Baltimore in 2018: The Student and Youth Travel Association (SYTA) has selected Baltimore as the host city for the organization's 2018 Annual Conference, which will take place August 24-28, 2018. SYTA is the nonprofit, professional trade association that promotes student and youth travel. The SYTA Annual Conference is the premier marketplace for the student and youth travel industry to come together for networking, education and business trade meetings.

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