(EUREKA SPRINGS, ARKANSAS) – With the much anticipated opening of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art destination meetings are picking Northwest Arkansas for their annual gatherings and bundling in the museum as an off-site activity. With industry indicators telling us that the days of the large mega-meetings have gone the way of bag phones and wooden pointers. The meeting planners of today are more focused on the niche, planning smaller destination-oriented meetings that include compelling activities to ensure high attendance. These are meetings often held within the region, offering great scenic beauty, unique meeting spaces, professional catering, spa services on site, with the availability of great dining, signature activities and golf or fishing.
Eureka Springs AR, chosen by the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s as one of “America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations” can deliver on all of these points to those within the ellipse formed by the cities of Tulsa OK, Kansas City MO, Springfield MO, Little Rock AR, Fort Smith AR and the nearby Northwest Arkansas “540 corridor” that includes Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville. Eureka Springs is less than 35 miles from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art as well as being located near three lakes and two rivers.
“Many think of Eureka Springs only as a romantic, fun, wedding and family vacation destination with great scenery and lots of things to do,” said Jodie English, Director of Sales for Eureka Springs’ Crescent Hotel, “but savvy meeting planners see Eureka Springs as a place where their group can fulfill all the goals and objectives of their meeting while offering where the meeting is being held as a perk.”
English stated that meeting planners who choose Eureka Springs have told her, “We enjoy the feeling that our ‘little meeting’ is treated as ‘huge’ here. We are made to believe that we are a ‘big fish’. When we are the sole meeting in the hotel we also get special attention from everyone from the front desk, to catering, to the housekeeping staff, and so on. Our delegates like this VIP feel.”
Planners have told English that the smaller venue also allows for greater networking among delegates and vendors while the resort atmosphere of the community and close proximity to significant attractions helps build attendance.
“Some statewide meetings, for example, where delegates have to come from all corners of Arkansas are more apt to come to a Eureka Springs meeting just because they love this town. Those planners now bundle fishing on the white river with afternoon trip to the museum and they can count on increased attendance just on that one fact alone,” English explained.
But any meeting planner will tell you that if the “meat” of the meeting is not rewarding, the “appetizers and dessert” don’t mean a thing. Having this knowledge, hotels, like the ones who English represents –the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa and the 1905 Basin Park Hotel- have gone to great lengths to ensure that food service is at the highest level, guest rooms are well appointed and twenty-first century technology is ever-present in each and every meeting room no matter how quirky and quaint the space might be.
“At the Basin Park Hotel, for example, one of our most popular meeting rooms is The Atrium, a room designed out of four exterior walls in the center of this horseshoe-shaped building and capped with a glass ceiling,” said English. “We made sure that we had all of today’s technological needs in place just as if the hotel had been built yesterday rather than 100 years ago.”
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Other meeting locations like the Basin Park’s Ozark Room and Barefoot Ballroom and the Crescent’s Crystal Dining Room, Faculty Lounge and Conservatory have also been “wired” for today’s meeting needs.
“The Conservatory at the Crescent also brings the outdoors indoors with three sides of wall-to-wall windows and a double-door that leads out to the Boardwalk and Gazebo. It keeps delegates from feeling like they are encased in blank room in Anywhere USA plus a chance to step outside in natural beauty. All of our meeting rooms offer similar ambiance,” English noted.
When it comes to outside-the-hotel meeting activities, English pointed out that some of the more popular Eureka Springs activities chosen by today’s meeting planners include spa visits; shopping; golf; trout fishing on the White River and historic, architectural and artistic sojourns on the Arkansas Art Trail (arkansasarttrail.com) to such places as the numerous working local art galleries, structural phenomena as Thorncrown Chapel, natural beauty of the Buffalo River – National Park Region and The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, located less than an hour away from Eureka Springs.
“Why are more and more meeting planners choosing a destination meeting in Eureka Springs?” asked English. “The answer is simple it is the style of meeting that successfully meets the needs and parameters of the meeting, the meeting’s sponsor and the meeting’s delegates. And isn’t that what every planner is in search of?”
For more information on a Eureka Springs destination meeting, one may go to www.arkansasmeetings.com or for The Crescent Hotel at www.crescenthotel.com.