MLB spring training, bark breaks & a benefit concert in Arizona’s Urban Heart outshined one group’s expectations.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices enticed about 4,000 attendees to meet in Phoenix last March for their annual sales convention with an early arrival option to attend Major Baseball League spring training. But the group found an impressive convention core that far surpassed the expectations of even the biggest baseball lovers.
The sales convention of the company’s real estate arm had always been held in Las Vegas and Orlando, and the company wanted to bring a new destination into the mix. Alan D. Shepherd, CMP and manager of global conference and meeting services for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, says Phoenix’s downtown, specifically its convention center, sealed the deal for the group.
And the event was held at the Phoenix Convention Center, with the adjacent 1,000-room Sheraton Grand Phoenix serving as the host hotel, but all of the other hotels in downtown were also booked for the event. Shepherd notes that the 170-room Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix Downtown was a hidden gem that had been converted from an old bank.
Bob Marley to Bark Breaks
While educational sessions and networking events were the main priority, the evening events are where Phoenix truly shined. The group held its off-site theme party at CityScape, a mixed-use downtown hub that spans two city blocks, located within walking distance of the convention center. A full buyout of the complex created the ideal setting for an “Urban Street Fair” theme. Food trucks linked up outside the main entrance, while attendees also had access to the complex’s various entertainment venues, including Copper Blues where stand-up comedian Bob Marley performed live. Even Lucky Strike gave attendees the option to practice their bowling or play a round of pool.
The closing benefit concert for the Sunshine Kids, a nonprofit that provides services to children with cancer, was another major highlight of the convention. Every year, the company calls out the top 10 real estate companies that raise the most money for the Sunshine Kids. Then, the band Train closed the show by inviting some of the Sunshine Kids on stage. It was a really special evening that gave everyone a good reminder of why they were all there.
No Weak Links
Shepherd adds that there was no weak link between the CVB, hotels and convention center—even the city’s free-of-charge ambassador program was very robust and well developed. The ambassadors worked with the event schedule to help guide attendees during breaks. After the evening theme party, there were also 10 or 15 ambassadors positioned along the route to help attendees get back to the hotels safely.
The convention services team was also accommodating with the group’s first puppy playpen on the trade show floor. Dubbed “Bark Breaks,” the program brought in animals from Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA, Arizona’s oldest no-kill animal shelter, to give attendees some furry love between sessions.
The overall takeaway for Shepherd’s group was so high that talks are already underway to bring the Berkshire group back to Phoenix next year. Expectations were far exceeded in Phoenix and that’s a good fit for the company.