Last year, Northstar Meetings Group's inaugural Small and Boutique Meetings event brought together suppliers and planners looking to elevate their gatherings for groups of under 100 people. This year, the event will be held twice: in July in Franklin, Tenn., and in November in Tucson, Ariz.
"As a destination home to many intimate and charming meeting spaces, we were thrilled to participate in the inaugural Small and Boutique Meetings event last year," said Maureen Thornton, president and CEO of Visit Franklin. "As host city for the July 2023 event, we are excited to welcome planners and fellow suppliers to Franklin to experience our unique and memorable spaces for themselves."
The first time this hosted-buyer event was held was last July at the Westin Poinsett in Greenville, S.C. The meeting, which was sold out on the supplier side, emphasized the increasing demand for smaller events and meeting spaces.
"It was nice talking to vendors who weren’t showing me their 10,000-square-foot ballroom for a group of 30," said Drew Hirsty, director of marketing at Penn Global Marketing.
Suppliers are eager to meet this market’s demands. In fact, 221 boutique hotels were nominated for the 2022 Stella Awards, a dramatic increase over prior years. Winners of the annual awards program, which celebrates excellence across all segments of the meetings industry, were announced in November.
Last year's event included free time to explore Greenville, with activities sponsored by Experience Columbia, S.C., with options such as a bike ride through Falls Park, a spirits tasting at a local distillery and a tour of three breweries.
Additional sponsors of Small and Boutique Meetings included host property Westin Poinsett; Visit Greenville, S.C., which sponsored all dinner receptions and breakfasts; Essential Bodywear, the gifting and merchandise sponsor; Daytona Beach Area CVB, the registration sponsor; and OneSpartanburg, which hosted several planners on a post-event FAM trip.
"The Westin was incredible, the agenda was wonderful, the Embassy Suites was great, and you put together some of the best vendors I can say I have seen for many years," said Laurie Malcolm, national meeting and events coordinator for Stanley Steemer. "This was my first Northstar event and I truly hope I have many others."
Following are more highlights of Small and Boutique Meetings. Visit our extensive roster of upcoming events for more information or to register your interest as a hosted buyer or supplier.