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Wed July 31, 2013
Business

Shreveport-Bossier courts meeting planners through trade show

The convention business hit the skids during the Great Recession. Now, with gradual signs of economic recovery, Shreveport-Bossier convention and tourism officials want to attract larger meetings to the area.

Plans for the Rendezvous South trade show were unveiled at the Shreveport Convention Center, which saw a decline in bookings during the economic downturn.
Plans for the Rendezvous South trade show were unveiled at the Shreveport Convention Center, which saw a decline in bookings during the economic downturn.
Credit Kate Archer Kent

The Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau will be bringing in 35 meeting planners later this year to participate in a new trade show that is billed as a one-stop shop for booking a destination.

Shreveport is partnering with five Southern cities that have convention centers managed by SMG. Together, they’ll court meeting planners for a three-day conference called Rendezvous South. Sam Voisin manages the Shreveport Convention Center and is one of the organizers. He spoke Tuesday about the challenge of bringing in events.

“You’ve got to get creative. You've got to do things that you haven’t done before in times you’ve never seen before,” Voisin said, at a press conference debuting the event at the Shreveport Convention Center.

Most of the meeting planners on the invite list have never been to Shreveport, according to Stacy Brown, president of the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau. She finds that it's difficult to get one-on-one time with meeting planners at large trade shows. She said this one will be smaller and hotels, convention centers, and tourist bureaus will all be at the table to work with the select meeting planners.

“It’s a small, intimate group of highly qualified planners, with well-prepared destinations who can solve their problems," Brown said.

Brown said  it will cost about $80,000 to put on this event, which will be somewhat offset through participation fees from the other cities involved, including Baton Rouge and Kenner, La., along with Irving, Texas, Savannah, Ga., and Jackson, Miss. The trade show is set for Dec. 2-4, with a total of 100 people expected to be in attendance.