The American Bar Association held a technology seminar in March 1997 at the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston. About 75 people attended. According to the Bar's meeting planner Lanita Thomas, Charleston was chosen as the site because that's where the committee chair lived. But the event worked out so well, "We would love to go back," she comments. "It was wonderful. The service was top-notch, the people were friendly--the Southern hospitality. And we liked the historic aspects of the city."

Some of the sessions were held on the campus of the College of Charleston, where a reception at an historic home was also held. Getting to Charleston posed no difficulties, Thomas adds, noting that one speaker, who was on a tight schedule, had no problems getting in and out of the airport on a timely basis.

Last August, Kiwi Products brought 85 people to its national sales meeting at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in Pinehurst, NC. Pat Oxenford, Kiwi's executive secretary, sales, says the event was highly successful--from the time drivers, dressed in green plaid golf shirts, knickers, and tams, picked them up at the Charlotte airport, to the final golf tournament, when more than half the attendees participated.

Oxenford says that Pinehurst Resort was chosen for the meeting because of the prices and services offered. "The staff were so helpful in the planning, from the meals to leisure activities," she comments. "We had a magic show, and they were very accommodating about all the props, they met our AV needs, and even delivered gifts to the attendees."

There was a themed dinner every night, and the most popular one featured croquet. The resort has two large tournament courts and a pro on staff, who gave instructions during the evening. "We had a real high level of participation," Oxenford says. "Months later, people were still talking about it."

After Penton Publishing's 1997 spring educational conference at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte was so successful, they returned to the city six months later for the fall conference. There were 150 attending in April; 300 attended in October.

"People liked the city--there were things to do, it was clean, there were good restaurants," observes director of events Gina Redinger. "It was a manageable city to get around in, the people were friendly, and it was affordable once you got there." Redinger was originally attracted to Charlotte as a site because of recent improvements the city has made and because it has a good reputation for working with planners.