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CSPI Annual Meeting Addresses Key Issues Facing Centers & DMOs


Washington, DC – More than 100 industry executives gathered at the Convention Sales Professionals International (CSPI) Annual Meeting in February to discuss critical issues and trends facing venues and destination marketing organizations (DMOs). “It’s time for convention centers and DMOs to take action,” said Christine Shimasaki, managing director of Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI). “We need to be advocates for the value of events. The number of room nights generated may not be the best measurement, given the fact that so many exhibitors and attendees book around the block.”

She said one solution may be to measure total room demand – both inside and outside the block. “We need to better understand how to capture the total rooms sold vs. relying solely upon the contracted room block pickup as the measure to quantify the value of an event,” said Shimasaki. “This is something the industry is currently tackling and results are expected this Fall.”

Held at the Embassy Suites in Washington, DC, the annual meeting offered educational and networking opportunities geared toward empowering sales professionals in the use of groundbreaking, innovative and creative techniques to increase their collaborative sales success. In addition to addressing convention center trends, sessions focused on a variety of topics – including social selling, best practices for RFPs, free Wi-Fi and F&B trends.

Tracy Stuckrath, president & chief connecting officer, Thrive! Meetings & Events, discussed how to harness creativity to provide healthy, delicious and eye-catching F&B presentations while managing costs. Among the top food trends for 2014 she cited:

  • Local and sustainable product sourcing
  • Gluten-free options (no wheat, rye or barley ingredients)
  • Ancient grains (such as quinoa, amaranthmillet and sorghum)
  • Exotic and alternative meats (such as bison, rabbit, goat and pigeon)
  • House-infused drinks
  • House curing
  • Deli revival


“CSPI grew attendance by 15% from 2013 to 2014,” said Eric Blanc, director of sales, marketing, and convention services for the Tampa Convention Center. Blanc, who served as CSPI president in 2013, handed over the reins to Stacey Knoppel, director of sales and marketing for the Baltimore Convention Center, at the close of the meeting.

For more information on the event, including links to the attendee list, presentations and a photo gallery, go to:

Reach Eric Blanc at (813) 274-8422 or; Christine Shimasaki at (202) 835-4094 or; and Tracy Stuckrath at (404) 242-0530

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