If you asked 15 people about Birmingham as a city, the majority might expect to find a “little hole in the wall,” sleepy southern town. They might hold true to the myth that southern cities just aren’t broad based enough to be a meeting destination unto themselves, if you don’t have business that takes you there. Sure there’s Dallas, Atlanta, maybe even Charlotte, but these “sexy” southerner’s reputations hold their own in the meetings market as meeting worthy destinations. I’m here to tell you, don’t buy in!!! If you hold on to this misperception, I guarantee you, you’ll be missing something great to offer your attendees. Birmingham deserves a closer look for your next meeting.
Something we always hear from first time visitors to Birmingham is that they never realized the beauty of the area. With the foothills of the Appalachians as a backdrop, the city is laid out on lush rolling hills, and it’s not just pretty…it’s pretty great to meet here.
The Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport handles more than100 flights daily and is a short seven-minute drive from downtown. With more than 15,000 guest rooms in the area, planners can choose from a variety of affordable lodging. Our largest hotel, the 770 room Sheraton Birmingham, will be connected via sky walk to the newest addition to Birmingham’s meeting scape—a new 298 room Starwood managed property scheduled form completion in the first quarter of 2013. With this addition, we will have 1000 rooms within walking distance of the Convention Center. In addition there will be a upscale entertainment district with a variety of restaurants, retail and nightclubs all within walking distance of the hotels and convention center. That’s a serious meeting WOW!
Alabama’s largest meeting facility, the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC), is a pleasant surprise for first-time delegates in the city; meeting facilities are all in one complex. The BJCC Exhibition Hall’s main floor covers 220,000 square feet. The facility has 100,000 square feet in 74 meeting rooms, and includes a 19,000-seat Arena, a 3,000-seat Concert Hall and a 1,000-seat Theater.
That this Southern city has its own cosmopolitan personality is another eye-opener to visitors. Should you have us pigeonholed as serving only barbeque and fried pies, just remember that Birmingham is home to “the Oscars of dining” with James Beard Foundation winners and nominees.
Wine enthusiasts will want to take home souvenirs from the Alabama Wine Trail, especially delicate peach wines. The city has also become something of an art colony with recent openings of new art galleries of every sort. Galleries near the downtown area give art collectors wide options on paintings, sculpture, jewelry, ceramics, fine art and funk art. Vulcan Park and Museum has the world’s largest cast iron statue and a spectacular view of the city. The Birmingham Museum of Art has one of the finest collections in the Southeast, and the story of Birmingham’s role in the long march to civil rights is told at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the focal point of the city’s Civil Rights District.
Fans of all sports enjoy the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame Museum. And speaking of sports, some of the best golf on earth can be found at Birmingham’s two challenging courses along the state’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. Barber Motorsports Park has been hailed around the world as one of the best race courses in existence. The adjacent Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum houses the country’s largest collection of vintage motorcycles.
With the state’s largest meeting facility, ample lodging choices, and entertainment for all to enjoy, Birmingham continues to grow in popularity as a convention host. The Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau offers a complete selection of convention services—from registration assistance to guest activities—to ease the responsibilities of meeting planning. And most of the services are free. So, in the end, it is diversity that is this city’s greatest strength and strongest appeal. And it is this city’s charm and amenities that bring delegates back time and again to meet in Birmingham.