For meeting professionals who are looking for opportunities to maximize ROI, Synchronicities unites three destinations for a coast-to-coast, year-to-year knowledge transfer and partnership that ensures the best deal possible, consistent service, and customized attendee engagement opportunities that deliver bottom-line value.
Synchronicities is an unparalleled solution among three cities that are equally committed to making your meetings more successful. Focus groups and surveys helped inform us about the combination of value and resources that is important for your meetings and your attendees. Synchronicities is based on that input.
Click on the city overviews below to learn more about our partner cities and what they each have to offer and when you are ready, contact us and discover how we can provide a seamless, easy and consistent solution for your future meetings.
Financial Booking Incentives
Book with Synchronicities and a customized financial incentive package will be created to best affect your bottom line. The more cities you book, the more lucrative the financial offerings will be.
Enhanced Marketing / Attendance Building
Optimal attendance is the goal for every meeting. That’s why we work to support your strategy through an enhanced marketing campaign. In addition to customized destination marketing tools, Synchronicities works with you to identify key audiences and need areas to build attendance across the three cities.
Seamless Knowledge Transfer
The Synchronicities partners work together to seamlessly transition your event across destinations. We share profiles, convention center reports, programs and key learnings from prior years to make your job easier. We can even send service representatives to gain firsthand experience at each of your Synchronicities meetings in preparation for the next.
Customized Welcome Program
When you’re in a Synchronicities city, we roll out the red carpet with an enhanced welcome program that makes attendees feel right at home. Welcome programs are customized to best fit your needs. Examples include hotel signage, welcome desks at the airport, welcome banners, buttons, hats, and even customized discount programs.
I would definitely recommend this to any of my peers. If it’s the right fit for their meeting then I think it’s a great value… The benefit is the savings to our bottom line.
Heidi Prange, CMP | Director of Meetings & Exhibits at Society of Toxicology
The knowledge transfer between the three cities in Synchronicities is seamless. It just happens behind the scenes, which makes my job easier!
Mauren Goodson | Executive Director at National Postal Forum
Anaheim remains one of the nation’s most popular meeting destinations for its world-class facilities and venues, metropolitan vibe, renowned dining and entertainment, nearby beaches and year-round Southern California sunshine and 70-degree temperatures.
Located in the heart of Orange County, the Anaheim Convention Center is the West Coast’s largest exhibition hall, spanning 1.8 million square feet, including safe, outdoor event plazas, 99 meeting rooms and over one million square feet of exhibit space. Attendees can get the campus feel with 11 hotels (4,829 rooms) within 1/4 mile of the ACC and 42 hotels (9,109 rooms) within a walkable 1/2 miles of the ACC.
San Antonio gets to the heart of meetings with exquisite culture, world-class dining, authentic venues, diverse hotels, and a convention center all connected by the expanded 15-mile River Walk, also known as “the world’s largest hotel lobby”. With a compact and walkable downtown, plus 300 days of sunshine a year, the only time you’ll need to catch a ride is to and from the airport.
And to top it all off in 2016, the already impressive Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center underwent $325 million in upgrades and expansion, transforming it to feature 514,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space, including 86,500 square feet of column-free multipurpose space and a new 54,000 square foot ballroom.
Baltimore may be the easiest city in America in which to hold your meeting. It’s easy to get to and easy to get around. With one-third of the U.S. population within easy traveling distance, you have a large market from which to draw your attendees. Our distinguished venues are the perfect fit for any size gathering, whether it’s a major trade show at the 1.2-million-square-foot Baltimore Convention Center or a cozy crab feast at a waterfront seafood restaurant.
And once they are here, they’ll discover that our first-class hotels, fabulous restaurants, cultural attractions, historic neighborhoods, nightlife, and sports venues are all “just two feet away” from the Baltimore Convention Center and the famed Inner Harbor.
Synchronicities is a partnership that delivers what meeting professionals and attendees want most, an unbeatable combination of value and resources. The partnership assists professionals in achieving their specific business objectives by offering customizable options based on the needs of individual meetings. This personalization is the foundation of Synchronicities, along with a seamless knowledge transfer between the three cities, and a united services and marketing platform.
Through the program, customers have the opportunity to book an annual meeting that rotates through each destination, capitalizing on the sharing of knowledge between each city’s sales and service teams. It’s a unique proposition for professionals who want to deliver an exciting new destination for meeting attendees while also maximizing time and money.
“We as cities have come together to offer additional levels of service and resources that impact the attendees experience as well as customer’s bottom line,” says Amy Calvert, Senior Vice President of Convention Sales and Services for Visit Baltimore. “From the meeting professional standpoint, it comes down to saving them time and not having to educate each city on the basics, elevating the conversation and collaboration.”
Destinations in Sync
“When we began this partnership, we chose to officially ‘launch’ Synchronicities with an one of our strategic partner organizations, IAEE (International Association of Exhibitions and Events),” Calvert says. “Being the first destination of the Synchronicities rotation to host IAEE Expo! Expo!, we really wanted to make a splash and leave a lasting impression of the power behind Synchronicities. It’s about helping to create an overall successful customer and attendee experience.”
To accomplish this goal for IAEE, Visit Baltimore formed a host committee and invited the senior vice president of strategic events from Anaheim to join as part of the committee and yearlong planning process. Mindy Abel participated in all of the planning meetings and had an opportunity to learn about the group’s expectations and needs through each step of the process. This full immersion in programming and marketing allowed the organization to move to the convention the following year in Anaheim with a huge advantage.
The concept of “seamless knowledge transfer” sharing is beneficial on several fronts, particularly when it comes to saving time. A meeting professional can eliminate the introductory conversations and move on to highly customize dialogue about how to help each customer achieve their strategic objectives. In most cases, liaisons from all cities are on-site for pre- and post-meeting briefings as well as the event itself, ensuring a smooth transition from year to year.
“There are financial benefits in addition to the seamless knowledge transfer,” Calvert adds. Post-convention reporting is shared between all cities, including a robust detail report and economic impact data. This information lends itself to potential cost-savings when certain redundancies are identified. Modifications can be made based on performance in one city, ranging from upgraded categories of hotel rooms required to small necessities like coffee and Wi-Fi.
Calvert also notes one outside-the-box benefit of Synchronicities: The three destinations can easily take cues from one another in connecting clients with the local community.
“I know San Antonio and Anaheim are doing great things with clients in terms of programs that support corporate social responsibility,” she says. “At the Baltimore Convention Center, we have a program Diversion by Donation, as well as other sustainability efforts, having worked collaboratively to achieve our APEX Certification.”
Among the sustainability initiatives introduced in Baltimore is a composting program that takes paper waste to the urban gardens in the city. A second giveback program partners with the teachers’ exchange to donate leftover cardboard and paper materials from conventions.
“At the end of the day, those initiatives matter,” Calvert says. “This is one area where Synchronicities cities continue to look, to explore partnerships through the community impact opportunities.”
Exploring Charm City
“I think one of the interesting pieces about the cities aligning is beyond the obvious commitment to meetings and conventions business and the geography element,” Calvert says. “Really, it’s how we complement one another on the experience of a destination. There are so many elements to that—the culinary story, the arts, the history, the culture as well as serving as a conduit to local resources and our respective knowledge economy.”
An East Coast port city, Baltimore has enjoyed exciting development over the last 10 to 15 years in those key areas. Dozens of museums and concert halls like the Baltimore Museum of Art are committed to introducing cutting-edge programming into historic venues.
The culinary space is especially noteworthy, with leaders like Atlas Restaurant Group’s Alex Smith spearheading the city’s rise into dining notoriety. In June 2018, eight chefs from his Baltimore restaurants hosted a dinner at the James Beard House in New York, showcasing creative flavors from local restaurants like Loch Bar and The Bygone.
“Once you’re here, it’s a very walkable footprint,” Calvert adds. “The walkability is important because it speaks to the attendee experience—they don’t have to get cabs or buses.”
A highly accessible city, Baltimore is located just 10 miles from downtown. Major airlines, including Southwest, service the city with more than 700 flights daily. Transportation into the city is simplified with an Amtrak rail line coming through the city center, along with an interstate along the east coast.
But the beauty of Baltimore’s modern reinvention is that the small-town, historic character wasn’t lost in translation. The incredible waterfront architecture remains a strong foundation for the next generation of visionaries to build the city’s future.
“Baltimore has so much history, great neighborhoods to explore, a hip urban appeal and we also have this mindset of innovation and grit and determination,” Calvert says. “You can’t appreciate it until you’re sitting in a cafe adjacent to the one of our many hotels, overlooking this beautiful harbor. It really does have something for everybody.”
Every convention destination has hotel rooms and meeting space—it’s just par for the course, says Mario Bass, vice president of sales and services at Visit San Antonio. What helps a city stands out as a meeting destination is a combination of cultural experience and thoughtful service.
As attendees look for that full package, meeting professionals are tasked with deciding what provides more value: a new destination every year or establishing a history with a service team to make each subsequent event better than the last.
In 2014, three cities formed a collaborative partnership as a solution for meeting professionals seeking the best of both worlds. “We’re really trying to understand what’s important to the customer,” Bass says.
The Synchronicities program, offered by Visit San Antonio, Visit Anaheim and Visit Baltimore, allows professionals to save money, save time and share knowledge in a three-year annual meeting cycle.
“One thing that all three of these cities share is that they really support visitors, the visitor experience,” says Synchronicities client Scott Craighead, CEM, vice president of exhibitions and events at the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE). “They’re so involved, actively engaged, throughout the entire planning process.”
Benefits of Synchronicities
“This day and age, everybody is busy and everything needs to be done at the speed of light,” Bass says. “The power of Synchronicities is being able to transfer knowledge seamlessly between destinations.”
Once the first event in a Synchronicities cycle is booked, the service teams begin a stream of constant communication that keeps key stakeholders within each city looped in for maximum efficiency. Visit San Antonio often flies into Anaheim or Baltimore, a collaborative strategy useful during both the planning stages as well as post-event. The team conducts a thorough debrief to eliminate redundancy, reviewing everything from personnel resumes to banquet orders to identify areas for improved efficiency.
“There’s a financial value add to it and there’s a residual value add [to Synchronicities],” Bass says. “You’re not going to have to recreate the program when you get to the next destination. We’re able to start fine-tuning rather than fixing any issues that are out there.”
Because Synchronicities allows the teams to build upon past successes, the focus remains on ways to enhance each subsequent event, particularly the visitor experience. Bass cites the IAEE, which completed its cycle of destinations with its 2017 event in San Antonio, as a group that utilized the program to its fullest extent.
“We’re constantly in the pitching and receiving state of information to understand what’s important to the customer, … and for IAEE, it was really about unusual outdoor space,” Bass says. “The four walls and a ceiling doesn’t necessarily do it anymore.”
With that in mind, the Visit San Antonio team identified key elements of the 2016 IAEE event in Anaheim that were highlights for the group, such as use of a 36,000-square-foot grand plaza to host a food truck dinner and concert reception. Drawing on the popularity of that event, they took advantage of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center’s location along the water to add a twist to the 2017 outdoor opening reception.
“Anaheim obviously gave a world-class destination, so in San Antonio we wanted to utilize the … River Walk backdrop,” Bass says. “We call it the world’s largest hotel lobby because visitors are meeting and greeting each other right down the banks.”
The San Antonio Experience
Synchronicities partners each offer something different for meeting professional that helps the city shine. “There’s got to be some quality or experiential aspect, something that resonates in terms of providing an experience,” Bass says. “If you’re coming to San Antonio, you’re coming for the warm-hearted, authentic culture and history.”
The River Walk, which stretches approximately 15 miles, is one of the city’s best representations of this differentiating factor. Anchored by the convention center in the heart of downtown, the historic walking path can be explored via bike, kayak or passenger river barge. To the north, the Museum Reach provides conference attendees with access to spots like the Japanese Tea Gardens, the San Antonio Museum of Art and The Witte museum.
A hot spot in the Museum Reach area of San Antonio is the Pearl, a shopping, dining, and entertainment district that has undergone an incredible transformation in recent years. Once the site of the historic 22-acre Pearl Brewery that dates back to 1883, the mixed-use space now tops the lists of must-visit destinations for major publications like Conde Nast Traveler. In addition bringing James Beard Award-nominated chefs to the area, the Pearl introduced locals and visitors alike to San Antonio’s first food hall, The Bottling Department.
At the south end of the River Walk, the Mission Reach offers a glimpse into San Antonio’s storied past. The five mission complexes along the San Antonio River basin are a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site, built in the early 18th century by Franciscan missionaries.
Their existence today is a reminder that San Antonio is a city that embraces its history along with welcoming new developments like convention center, which recently completed a $375-million renovation and expansion.
“What is going to be the lasting memory for an attendee when they leave the city of San Antonio, Anaheim or Baltimore?” Bass asks. “[Through Synchronicities], we want to give customers a better understanding of not just the platform of where you’re going to host the meeting, but what we can do to make it special.”
Every year, a new locale awaits for meeting professionals charged with finding the next great convention destination. But with the excitement of a new city comes the challenge of managing a maze of details from coast to coast.
“They’re looking to rotate their meetings from east to west, and west to east,” explains Junior Tauvaa, CTA, senior vice president of sales and services for Visit Anaheim. “Part of that is they want to engage all of their members, all of their attendees, all of their community, in different parts of the country. We know that’s what meeting professionals want to do—the question is, how can we help in making it easier?”
Three years ago, the heads of three cities’ destination marketing organizations had an idea that would become one of the first partnerships of its kind.
“We got together with Baltimore and San Antonio and said, ‘Can we make it easier by offering them a package?’” Tauvaa says. “They’re already rotating their meetings; can we package our destinations together to make it easier?”
Thus, Synchronicities was born.
A Coast-to-Coast Meeting Solution
Through Synchronicities, Anaheim, San Antonio, and Baltimore created a three-year package solution for meeting professionals that delivers value pricing and consistent service from the East Coast to the West. Information across all three destinations is shared to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy for the client. In addition, Visit Anaheim welcomes members of the next destination team to join in on the actual planning.
“They work alongside us so they have firsthand experience of what we’re trying to create,” Tauvaa explains. “The goal is to be able to carry that on from Anaheim to the next city, so hopefully it reduces the amount of work a meeting professional has to do to bring the following destination up to speed.”
Each destination provides a unique experience, ensuring attendees will never be bored. In Anaheim, a year-round temperate climate allows professionals to take full advantage of the expansive campus and its outdoor plazas for networking mixers and other post-convention events. As the largest of three Synchronicities destinations, Anaheim also has the largest exhibit facility on the West Coast with the 1.8 million-square-foot convention center.
What’s New Around Town
Over the last year, the city has made major strides in revamping and refreshing its offerings for convention attendees. Most notably, the Anaheim Convention Center underwent a 2017 expansion to add 200,000 square feet of flexible space. “What that does is allow us to have multiple groups in our destination and also maintain some of our mega shows,” Tauvaa says.
The expansion—Anaheim Convention Center North—incorporates functional and aesthetic elements that benefit meeting professionals. A main-level plaza directly connects the space to the existing arena, while the second floor has more than 3,400 linear feet of movable walls to accommodate configurations of up to 35 rooms. Rounding out the new features are 1,350 integrated parking spots and a 10,000-square-foot balcony on the upper level that offers a front-row view of Disneyland® Park’s nightly fireworks display.
The city also celebrated the groundbreaking of the new luxury Four Diamond Westin resort on the convention center campus in late 2017. “The addition of the Westin hotel gives a high-end property that allows meeting professionals to put their executives or VIPs in a different environment than they have the rest of their attendees,” Tauvaa says. “It’s an opportunity to [welcome] corporate groups … that require that level of hotel service.”
When it comes to post-convention activities, Tauvaa is quick to mention the newly expanded and relocated House of Blues®, which is within walking distance of ACC at its new home on the second level of Anaheim GardenWalk.
“When you start to think about what attendees want to do, often they’re at meetings all day at their conventions, but after hours they want to get out and really experience the destination,” he says. “The House of Blues® gives us another thing that attendees can experience and also for exhibitors that want to do VIP events for their customers.”
Whether an organization begins or ends a meeting rotation in Anaheim through the Synchronicities program, they’ll enjoy a close-knit campus feel with 42 hotels within a half-mile of the convention center, a metropolitan landscape with dozens of walkable restaurants and nightlife, and the seamless integration of services as they move on to the next destination.
“That’s the value proposition that we’re offering to clients,” Tauva says. “We give them peace of mind in terms of working with three destinations, but also the ease of being able to transfer intelligence, history, and the experience from one destination to the next.”
Junior Tauvaa Chief Sales Officer
Mario Bass Chief Sales Officer
Kireem Swinton Vice President of Sales & Customer Experience