Brandy Evans | Special to BIZ. Magazine
The Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau bid on the 2022 Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) Central States Chapter Conference – and won.
About 40 travel media and other travel professionals are expected to attend the conference Feb. 23-27, 2022 at Sam’s Town Casino and Hotel. Conference attendees will go on city tours and visit local attractions, restaurants, shopping districts and more. They will cap-off the conference with a Mardi Gras closing party during the Krewe of Gemini Mardi Gras Parade, Feb. 26.
“We’ve been interested in having our conference in Shreveport-Bossier for some time, since well before the pandemic,” said Chez Chesak, board member for SATW and chair of their Central States Chapter. “It’s a region rich in history and culture that offers a plethora of story ideas for our members, but even more so during Mardi Gras!”
The convention industry is starting to pick up since the pandemic. Research conducted by Destination Analysts suggests that there will be major changes to the meetings industry in the next three years. Of the 528 meeting planners surveyed for this research, 61.9 percent said they expect convention and visitor bureaus to increase the number of services, incentives and “hot dates” programs offered to attract meeting business to their destinations.
The Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau currently offers up to $3,000 in incentives to meeting planners who bring new business to the area and utilize hotel rooms. The Louisiana Office of Tourism also offers a Lagniappe Program that includes a complimentary seafood reception and local entertainment for groups.
“These tools help us to stand out in a very competitive field for meetings and groups,” said David Bradley, vice president of sales for the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau. “We are starting to see more groups book our destination and my team is busy meeting with planners to generate conventions for 2022 and beyond.”
Other future changes to the meetings industry include how planners choose destinations. Of those who anticipate destination selection changes, the most common changes cited were a shift towards safety, more space, outdoor venues, and accessibility by car. Planners will be looking for destinations “that have COVID under control or better market how they have it under control.” Paired with feelings that airlift will decrease in the next three years, planners are also shifting towards destinations that are accessible by car for their attendees.
That’s great news for Shreveport-Bossier since many of its conferences originate from a 300-mile radius.
“We feel poised to capitalize on the new demands and interests of meeting planners,” said Stacy Brown, president of the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau. “The meetings market is an integral part of our tourism mix, and my team is doing everything in their power to increase the number of meetings and economic impact to our community.”