The biggest answer to that question is Miami has an international appeal. My meeting has, from a physician base — out of the 12,000, about 6,000 are physicians — 70 percent of those physicians are from outside the U.S. So I’m looking for cities that have that appeal that’s going to bring an attractiveness for international attendees to come.Q. How do you see group business, convention attendance in the U.S. since the recovery from the recession?
I think 2009, 2010, things were either going down or they were flat. We are seeing an uptick in the last couple of years. A majority of the colleagues that I talk to, they’re seeing maybe a 5-10 percent increase in their attendance, which is a good thing.Q. There were issues about having conventions, especially for government, in places that were seen as resort destinations. Is that bias still there? Has that eased?
A few years ago, the government came out with this guideline: “Don’t meet in resorts,” talking about their own agencies not meeting in resorts. And then that’s a ripple effect, because all the organizations I worked with started doing the same thing. Hotels started to change the names of their properties, taking out the resorts. That’s changed.
I think a lot of the organizations are seeing the benefits of just having face-to-face meetings.Q. I don’t know if the idea of expanded casino presence in downtown Miami...would have an impact on a decision of a group like yours to come to a place. [Malaysia-based Genting Group bought The Miami Herald’s building for $236 million with plans to build a casino, hotel and retail complex; legislative approval is still needed.]
If the city puts in as many different outlets of entertainment, it helps any group. Our physicians, they like cities that have culture, so they like to go to the opera, they like to go to shows, they like to go to really good restaurants. But there are other groups that just want entertainment, so going and gambling or something like that will be entertainment. So I would say it would be a benefit for having many types of entertainment complexes because it gives them options to do many different things.
Miami Herald staff writer David Smiley contributed to this report.