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MCLEAN, VA (April 16, 2009) – Feedback at the Ninth Annual Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International’s (HSMAI) Affordable Meetings® Mid-America Exhibition and Conference at Chicago’s Navy Pier April 1-2 was upbeat despite the current economic climate.

“We heard from both exhibitors and meeting planners that there was a lot of quality business conducted on the show floor,” said Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHA, president and CEO of HSMAI. “It’s no secret that the travel community has been hit particularly hard during the current economic downturn. But we had a very positive show, and our attendees are hopeful that a turnaround is coming soon.”

Planners representing corporate, association and independent sectors visited 250 exhibitors representing hotels, resorts, CVBs, convention centers, airlines, conference centers, transportation companies, trade publications, DMC companies, unique meeting sites, software providers, entertainment companies, event rental companies, audio visual companies and other suppliers who service the industry.

“This year we scanned more people in one day than we did in two days last year,” said Jill Brown of Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater. “We have qualified leads and we reconnected with some old clients as well.”

“Attendees have been much more serious in this economy,” said Kevin Baker with the Westin Resort on Hilton Head Island. “People aren’t just walking around looking for free pens; they want to come in and get information and do business.”

The estimated 800 meeting planners that attended were still looking for reliable and affordable partners to help them produce high-quality events while working with smaller budgets. Many were searching for partners that could help them be more efficient in their own operations while seeking venues that offered value to their clients and delivered on customer service.

Attendees also benefited from the 25 educational sessions, many of which focused on budgeting issues, such as “Champagne on a Beer Budget: Food and Beverage Cost Cutting Techniques” or “Negotiating in Turbulent Times.”

In addition, all attendees were treated to a surprise appearance by Chicago Barack Obama impersonator Reggie Brown, who walked into Festival Hall to the tune of “Hail to the Chief” in the last few minutes of the networking luncheon Wednesday and then strolled the show floor meeting and greeting exhibitors.

As in years past, HSMAI also honored exhibitors with Affordable Meetings’ Booth Awards:

Best Booth Overall (for the outstanding creation of an effective, attractive environment that communicates their message.)

Peoria Area CVB – Best Single Booth

Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater – Best Multiple Booth

Best On-site Booth Promotion/Marketing (for original and effective promotional and marketing materials.)

Arlington Park Racecourse – Best Single Booth

Hilton Head Island Visitor and Convention Bureau – Best Multiple Booth


Other HSMAI Affordable Meetings® for 2009 include HSMAI’s Affordable Meetings® West, scheduled for June 10-11 at San Jose McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, Calif., and HSMAI’s Affordable Meetings® National and Event Technology Expo, set for Sept. 9-10 at Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

HSMAI’s Affordable Meetings® remains a top exposition and conference for meeting planners to attend each year.  For additional information and a complete program schedule, visit
About HSMAI’s Affordable Meetings® Mid-America

HSMAI’s Affordable Meetings® Mid-America once again offered attendees the opportunity to meet and do business with more than 250 exhibiting companies during a unique exposition that will showcase venues, products and services to help produce various types of meetings and events.  Year-after-year, the highly-acclaimed trade exposition is a main attraction for attendees looking to meet and network with knowledgeable suppliers who are determined to help produce valuable meetings and assist with purchasing decisions.  Exhibitors represent hotels and resorts, university conference centers, unique meeting sites, convention and visitor bureaus, transportation companies, trade publications, software and audio/visual businesses, and other meeting and convention suppliers. HSMAI’s Affordable Meetings® is owned and presented by the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International Americas region and managed by J. Spargo & Associates, Inc. Visit for more information.


HSMAI is the hospitality industry source for knowledge, community, and recognition for leaders committed to professional development, sales growth, revenue optimization, marketing, and branding. With a strong focus on education, HSMAI has become the industry champion in identifying and communicating trends in the hospitality industry, and bringing together customers and members at annual events, including HSMAI's Affordable Meetings®. Founded in 1927, HSMAI is an individual membership organization comprising more than 7,000 members worldwide, with 40 chapters in the Americas Region. For more information on HSMAI, contact the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International, 1760 Old Meadow Road, Suite 500, McLean, Va. 22102; (703) 506-3280; fax (703) 506-3266, or visit the website at


Media Contacts:

Rachel Rosenberg, Edelman Atlanta, 404-832-7711, 

Harper Cornell, Edelman Atlanta, 404-460-9661,

Also See:
Bernadette Dennis Appointed the New Managing Director of HSMAI Asia Pacific / February 2009

HSMAI Charters New Asia Pacific Chapter; Christine Toguchi, the Managing Director of HSMAI Asia Pacific in Singapore / November 2006

Six Month Old HSMAI Asia Pacific Names Leadership & Board of Directors, 2006 Agenda / March 2006

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