GREATER FORT LAUDERDALE
When the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB launched its new “Meet Sunny” meetings campaign in January, they highlighted the sun and fun activities and sunny service offered by hospitality partners educated by the CVB’s SunSational Service Training Program. Now in its 10th year, the free program offers cabbies, porters, bellmen and other CVB vendors training on how to provide superior service.
Another draw for groups, the region has some of the lowest average airfares in the country due to the volume of value-based carriers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Furthermore, the Global Business Travel Association ranked Fort Lauderdale as being the lowest business tax-burdened area in the U.S. for the third year in a row, with 5% hotel occupancy taxes.
“If you’re paying lower airfares and fewer taxes, there’s more money to visit the Everglades to see the alligators,” says Christine Roberts-Tascione, CMP, vice president of convention sales/services. “Or fish along 300 miles of waterways, walk along 23 miles of beaches and play on over 40 golf courses.”
Over $800 million is being invested in airport upgrades. A new 8,000-foot runway will allow jumbo jets to land for the first time near a new international terminal with 14 gates and expanded customs area. Existing terminals are getting new F&B outlets, floors and other features.
Roberts-Tascione says, “The expansion will create a seamless experience for travelers from the airport to the cruise port, which is also reopening four refurbished terminals. We hope it will be an incentive for groups to do pre/post stays when adding a cruise to the mix.”
For offsite dining, the upscale Royal Pig Pub and Grille 401 Las Olas opened in October. Grille 401 offers New American cuisine and a wine cellar. In November, the Bonaventure Golf Club reopened after a $2 million redesign. And Benchmark Hospitality acquired the 500-room Bonaventure Resort & Conference Center, presently undergoing an $8 million renovation.