Ross Powell is the Director of Group Sales at Explore Gwinnett, aka, Atlanta’s Gwinnett County Convention and Visitors Bureau. If you are not familiar with this area just outside Atlanta, I encourage you to read on. Not only does the Gwinnett area offer amazing amenities, planners will also find the area to be very cost effective, while still providing an amazing attendee experience.
SUZZANNE: What might we find you enjoying in the destination on your day off?
ROSS: I am a big fan of our 3,800 acre Stone Mountain Park. I enjoy everything the park has to offer including: world class golf, biking, hiking, gondola to the top of the mountain, many great restaurants, even an antebellum plantation filled with homes dating back to the Civil War. During the summer months I take our family to see the fantastic nightly laser show, shown on the side of the mountain, and best of all, it’s FREE!
SUZZANNE: What are a couple of your favorite places to dine or get a drink?
ROSS: I tend to go to our independent retail establishments. Our new FUMI Bar and Restaurant, as well as Breakers Korean BBQ are some of my favorites; definitely check them out when you are here.
Gwinnett is Atlanta’s northeastern metropolitan area, right along Interstate 85, making it very easy to get to from all over the country from either the airport or driving. Meeting planners find that it is also a very popular destination for groups looking for a cost effective convention complex close to Atlanta. For example, our area hotels are approximately 35% less expensive than downtown Atlanta.
Third party planners are increasing, therefore CVBs need to enhance their relationships in that direction. CVBs also need to assure that their relationships with their hotel partners is rock solid. Proactively they need to offer educational opportunities, hotel FAM’s, social media support, 1-1 mentoring with their sales teams, and even regular update meetings to validate that you are constantly working on their behalf.
We are one of very few CVB’s that have a full-time Education Director. Virtually every week we offer free opportunities for professional development and training to our hospitality partners. In addition, twice a year, we offer our GTAP program, Gwinnett Tourism Awareness Program. It is a certification series of 7-8 weeks that offers key County insights…government, history, things to see and do, convention center knowledge, restaurant knowledge etc. Any citizen can take the course. It is perfect for ‘new to the area’ sales people or GM’s.
We are very close to breaking ground on our new 300 room anchor Marriott Hotel. It will be connected to our arena and convention center, and will offer meeting planners a lot of options when considering our destination.
Thank you Ross for taking the time to talk with us today! We love hearing about the new things happening in your destination as well as some of the wonderful services you offer to meeting planners. CVB’s are a great resource to help find the best fit for their meetings and best of all…they are free to planners! Additionally, CVBs take the lead on educating hospitality providers in their community to ensure that planner’s needs are always met.
To find more information about Explore Gwinnett and 150 other top meeting destinations, visit www.empowermint.com.