It seemed particularly fitting that Meetings Quest-the longest-running series of educational and networking events for meeting planners-was relaunched during the U.S. Travel Association's National Travel and Tourism Week, highlighting the importance of meetings and events to the travel industry.
Now owned by Schneider Publishing, the parent company of Association News, the event was hosted by Visit Mesa in Mesa, Arizona, and included an opening celebration at the Mesa Arts Center that served as Arizona's Travel Rally Day. And rally it did: A story in the Arizona Republic said that hosting Meetings Quest might pay more long-term dividends in terms of luring tourism to the area than the comeback of Olympian Michael Phelps, which recently garnered international headlines for Mesa.
Meetings Quest attendees hold up signs in support of National Travel & Tourism Week.
Following the "Taste of Mesa" reception and tours of the center, Meetings Quest attendees were treated to a panel discussion with a number of tourism leaders, including Marc Garcia of Visit Mesa, Sherry Henry of the Arizona Office of Tourism, Debbie Johnson of the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association and Martha Sheridan, the chairperson of Destination Marketing Association International.
Panel discussion on the state of the travel industry. From left to right: Timothy Schneider, Martha Sheridan, Debbie Johnson, Sherry Henry and Marc Garcia
Steven Hacker, who serves as "The Association Doctor" columnist for Association News, facilitated the Meetings Quest Learning Labs, held at the Mesa Convention Center. With a focus on meeting planning technology and social media strategies for event organizers, the panels included industry experts such as LinkedIn co-founder Erik Ly of Presdo.com, Michelle Wyatt of Cadmium CD, Michael Barnett of InGo, Jacquelyn Wells of Marketing Design Group and Jake Zatzkin of the National Association of Broadcasters. Chris Waddell, the most decorated male skier in Paralympic history and host of NBC's coverage of the 2014 Paralympic Games, then inspired attendees with his keynote address describing his climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Networking opportunities at Meetings Quest included an afternoon-long tradeshow at the convention center and several social functions at the adjacent Phoenix Marriott Mesa.