give out 1,200 recognition awards.”
Primerica worked with Visit Indy to
slightly rejigger the convention schedule
they’d become accustomed to in Atlanta.
An extra general session was held in Lucas
Oil Stadium; and on “Hierarchy Night”
when all the sales teams confer as groups,
60 simultaneous meetings were held in the
convention center and four nearby hotels.
The excitement later spilled out onto
the street (Indy’s Georgia Street, by coin-
cidence) for a big street festival with food
trucks and lots of entertainment.
At Political Odds
Idaho hasn’t traditionally been a go-to
meetings destination for national events,
but Boise recently made a $48 million investment in its convention center, increasing exhibition floor space to 88,000 square
feet. And before it even opened, the Boise
Convention & Visitors Bureau got a call
from a group — larger than any it had
ever hosted — that needed a replacement
venue 11 months out.
The Council of State and Territorial
Epidemiologists (CSTE) was slated to hold
its June 2017 annual convention in Raleigh,
North Carolina. But the CSTE found itself at
odds with the North Carolina state law (since
amended) requiring people to use bathrooms
based on the gender on their birth certificate
rather than the gender they identified as.
“We’re a scientific/professional develop-
ment group, but many of our members
are state and local employees,” says CSTE
Director of Operations Beverly Christner.
“And a lot of the states and cities where our
attendees were coming from — especially
New York City and Los Angeles — had re-
strictions on traveling to North Carolina.”
Christner says the travel restrictions on
CSTE members probably would have de-
flated attendance at a Raleigh meeting by
30 to 40 percent. She notes that since North
Carolina changed its “bathroom law,” CSTE
will return to Raleigh for a future meeting.
But for this year’s convention, she had to
leap into replacement mode. CSTE had pre-
viously met in Boise, way back in 2004, but
at the time, the epidemiologists group was
much smaller (about 500 attendees) than
the 1,526-attendee block that it is today.
“It was key that CSTE reached out to
us based on a previous relationship that
Beverly Christner had with our senior
sales manager, Lisa Edens,” says Boise
Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive
Director Carrie Westergard.
Even though it had been 13 years and a
lot had changed on both sides of the plan-
ner/venue equation, Christner and Edens
were still in each other’s contact list, and a
positive history helped give Boise a leg up
on at least two other cities in contention.
The Boise CVB sent out bids to local hotel
properties in mid-July 2016, about the same
time Christner arrived for an initial site
inspection. In September 2016, Christner
returned for a second site inspection and an
executive board meeting along with CSTE
Executive Director Jeff Engel, and local epi-
demiologist members of the council.
In October of that year, the convention
was confirmed, and 13 hotels — including
three brand-new properties with a collective
total of 400-plus rooms — were contractu-
ally on board.
Christner offers kudos to the Boise team.
“We’re now at a point where we are planning this meeting three years out,” she says.
“You don’t want to be in a position where
we were, but Boise made the process much
less painful. It’s a great city that’s very service oriented, and I think a lot of people
would be surprised to see what they have
to offer.” ; Questions or comments? Email
Read about why second-tier cities are getting a
second look at successfulmeetings.com/Second Tier
Cities like Pittsburgh offer big-city attractions, infrastructure, and venues
with a more personal touch than a major metropolis might offer