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15-PNO-1581 Meetings Today January_FINAL.indd 1 12/15/15 3:01 PM MEETINGSTODAY.COM 43
Well past the quarter century mark, Florida Encounter still hasn’t lost its shine. Now in its 34th year, the popular appoint-ment-based tradeshow between meeting planners and
state tourism industry reps took place from Nov. 30
to Dec. 2 at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort,
though some delegates stretched those days to include
post-show fams to Daytona Beach, the Space Coast and
One of those attendees was Fiona Knight, owner and
senior consultant for Fiona Knight Consulting Services, a
Toronto-based events and project management firm, who
was attending Florida Encounter for the second time.
“I have clients in the U.K. and Canada as well as all over
the globe who visit and meet in Florida,” she said.
Knight was one of 86 planners from corporate (26%),
association (22%) and third-party (45%) firms, with
SMERF and government planners making up the balance.
On the supplier side were representatives from 93 Florida
destinations, hotels/resorts and other meeting services.
In addition to
transacting business, attendees
were treated to
a number of special events, including an appearance by
Cheryl Cecchetto, owner and president of Los Ange-les-based Sequoia Productions. A veritable event planner
to the stars, Cecchetto has produced the Academy
Awards Governors Ball and the Primetime Emmys Governors Ball, among other glittering events.
Also speaking at the conference was Lucas Boyce, director of business development and legislative affairs for
the NBA’s Orlando Magic, whose personal story follows
a trajectory from being born to a drug-addicted teenager
to serving in communications and public relations at the
Among Boyce’s many quotable moments during a
keynote address was this: “At 210 degrees, water is just
hot; at 212 it beings to boil. Live at 212 degrees.”
When they weren’t conducting business on the trade-
show floor or being
inspired by speakers,
the many perks
of staying at the Omni Amelia Island, whose expansive
property includes a “village” of shops, restaurants and
nightspots. Also on-site is the Amelia Island Club, where
Walker’s Landing hosted the closing dinner. The rustic
barn-like structure easily accommodated about 200 for a
typical Southern-style boil.
The resort also is a quick shuttle ride away from
historic Fernandina Beach, whose quaint downtown area
is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and at
the time of Florida Encounter was decorated to resemble
a Victorian Christmas.
Meanwhile, the bulk of the program was held at the
Omni’s 80,000-square-foot conference center, with
attendees enjoying a huge pool deck, fitness center,
three golf courses and the Atlantic Ocean between
Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2015
Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort
By Lisa Simundson
ON SCENE Florida Encounter THE