SMERF meetings, comprised of Social, Military, Education, Religious and Fraternal groups, often get overlooked, but for destinations like Chattanooga, Tenn., they can mean big business.
The SMERF market is Chattanooga’s second largest market, after association meetings. That’s why Prevue spoke with Brian Murphy, vice president of sales at the Chattanooga Convention & Visitors Bureau, to find out what’s trending for SMERFs.
Social Media & Technology
With social media more prevalent than ever, the SMERF market is experiencing a synergy like never before. Connecting people with like interests only continues to get easier, which, in turn, translates to growth in the market. Murphy says that new technologies and search engines have also helped the SMERF planner be more educated on selecting a destination, hotel or venue.
Value still remains king for SMERF planners and their attendees. “The SMERF market is still ‘Old Reliable,’” says Murphy. “These groups are looking for ease of planning and value. They will host their events over non-demand periods.”
While SMERF groups are searching for value, they also want to be in a host city with an active convention core. That way attendees can venture out on their own to nearby restaurants, entertainment and retail. “[Chattanooga caters to this] by telling our story about all the great outdoor events, festivals, activities, offsite locations such as Southside social, shopping, attractions, pottery, glass blowing and art museums — all in a compact location (with walking distance or free electric shuttle of each other) and at a great value,” says Murphy.