Anyone at Twilight Tunes on the courthouse lawn a couple of weeks ago likely noticed us. The CVB team was there with 15 VIPs, several of our hospitality partners and quite the impressive picnic listening to Gravity Feed’s tunes on a perfect evening under the trees.
We were out to make an impression. The CVB’s Director of Sales, Dana Lodge, had been planning every detail of that evening for weeks. Twenty red and blue lawn chairs were grouped together near the back of the several-hundred-person-large audience. Staff from Denton’s new SpringHill Suites stood ready to serve next to a draped table laden with cheese, crackers, fruit, veggies and a cooler full of assorted beverages. The property’s Director of Sales, Joe Lopez, nodded his approval of the setup and smiled grandly as the VIPs stepped off their chariot, Roadrunner Charters’ executive motorcoach. Dana and O’Reilly Hospitality Corporate Sales Director, Ronda Smith, herded the group to their party spot where our team and several Dentonites welcomed them to a very special #dentoning experience.
These VIPs are the first of many who will visit Denton in coming months eager to discover the sense of place that will surround our new Denton Convention Center. They are the board of directors of the Meeting Professional International DFW Chapter (MPIDFW). Dana worked diligently with our partners to bid for and win the opportunity to host their board retreat in Denton May 12-14. These 15 VIPs are uniquely special because of who they are, the businesses they represent, the Denton stories they now have to tell, and because they are the first.
These are the top echelon of the North Texas meetings industry, known individually for their quality management and leadership the world over. Among them, the kinds of positions they hold run the gamut of the business. Some represent large companies that exist to plan meetings for other companies. Others are part of companies so large they employ their own in-house planning team to handle meeting planning for their posts and clients around the globe. Still others own their own planning companies. Many of them do business internationally, but being based in DFW, the bulk of their meetings are booked in the North Texas region.
“These 15 professionals are the absolute best conduit for Denton’s entrée into the convention world,” Dana explains. “This is a brand new market for us, one where we have never really been on anyone’s radar because, until now, we’ve not had a venue large enough to me their needs.”
Validating Dana’s point are the simple demographics of this small yet significant group. Two of the 15 were University of North Texas alums who had not been back to Denton since they graduated many years ago. The other 13 had never been to Denton before the board retreat. “Denton has changed so much in recent years, and it’s paramount that respected industry leaders see who we are now. Their influence will open doors for us, put us on the meeting planning map,” she said.
Since the MPIDFW board retreat timing coincided with university graduation weekend in Denton when our city hotels were sold out, the group met and slept at Buffalo Valley Events Center, a CVB partner property with space, amenities and availability perfectly suited for their needs. The coming convention center is the hook that brought them here, so Ronda Smith gave a thorough hard-hat tour of the Rayzor Ranch Town Center site, equipping them with details so Denton is in their venue well-house. Planners shared that they are already working meetings with dates as far in the future as 2020 and beyond. There is nothing last-minute about the convention business which is why we must market Denton aggressively and now.
When they weren’t working, the VIPs were #dentoning. After their Twilight Tunes adventure, Hannah’s Off the Square treated them to some of Denton’s finest local cuisine. They squeezed in a premier ranch visit in the horse country and enjoyed an evening of campfire, s’mores and music by local singer-songwriter and Dentoning Expert, Dunashay Thomas. They also found time to dig a little deeper into local Denton eats at 940s and Beth Marie’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream.
Denton is a debutant in the meetings world. We are stepping out and into a brave new market for our city. Thanks to all of our hospitality partners mentioned above for sponsoring, investing and making us shine. The hosting venture was a tremendous success. After their great #dentoning experience, MPIDFW is celebrating Denton on their website and social media channels as the new kid on the block, original and independent. Denton is a place delegates are ready to discover.