The Power of Connecting in Person
By Beth Buehler
The power of connecting in person is real! Destination Colorado Meetings is all about bringing people together. Over the past 30 years, the nonprofit organization has united hotels, venues, destinations, destination management companies, activity providers, transportation and audiovisual companies, caterers, and more to make the business of planning meetings and events easy in Colorado. Destination Colorado Meetings also has provided a united way to promote Colorado as a destination well-suited for groups and brought the meetings and events industry together for trade shows, educational sessions, customer appreciation events, and pure fun.
At the heart of it all lies the power of connecting in person, and no time made this more obvious than at the height of the COVID pandemic. It was hard not to be together—all of the sudden that conference or business meeting you attended annually was terribly missed! And groups became creative in finding ways to meet outdoors, and it’s a trend that hasn’t stopped.
Case in point is Destination Colorado Meetings’ member and planner event held at Coors Field in downtown Denver in tandem with a Colorado Rockies baseball game. Held for the third year in a row, the Aug. 2 event was particularly special this year as 2023 marks the 30th anniversary of both the organization and the Colorado Rockies.
Destination Colorado Meetings held an outdoor pregame board meeting on The Rooftop before welcoming attendees to a pregame reception hosted by Limelight Hotels. At the top of the third inning, everyone reconvened for Beer 30 and a beverage courtesy of Ace Express Coaches. More than 150 people attended the gathering, and planners were eligible to win a commemorative Colorado Rockies jersey in a drawing. The registration cost included game tickets, the activities, and $20 in concessions at any of the Coors Field food and beverage outlets.
“Letting people be together without an agenda is what makes this event successful,” says Kelly Layton, executive director of Destination Colorado Meetings.
Hosting Events at Sports Venues
The power of connecting in person is especially evident at Colorado’s sports venues such as Coors Field—even if a game isn’t in session! Destination Colorado Meetings held its most recent Colorado Meetings Showcase in December at Infinity Park Event Center, which is part of the Infinity Park rugby complex in Glendale near Denver.
The Denver area also is home to Empower Field at Mile High that hosts the NFL’s Denver Broncos, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City where MSL’s Colorado Rapids play soccer games, and Ball Arena, home to the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and National Lacrosse League Cup’s Colorado Mammoth. Colorado Springs has Ed Robson Arena, Weidner Field and UCHealth Park, while Loveland is the location of Budweiser Event Center (soon to be renamed Blue Arena) at The Ranch Events Complex. Boulder and Fort Collins have impressive university football stadiums, Folsom Field and Canvas Field. All have meeting and event spaces that can be booked.
The energy and backdrop of sports venues also attract attendees, especially when there is a game or happenings that tie well into the atmosphere. For Destination Colorado Meetings, hosting a trade show and event at sports venues has been easy due to working in tandem with partners and venue staff, Layton notes.
History of Destination Colorado Meetings
Just as rich history often lays the groundwork for a successful sports team, it’s also true for a nonprofit organization.Destination Colorado was founded in 1993 as a collaborative tourism response to the Tabor Amendment, which passed in 1992 and limited the amount of revenue Colorado could spend and retain. Due to the Tabor Amendment, Colorado became the only state to eliminate its tourism marketing efforts when the $12 million promotion budget was totally eliminated in 1993 and didn’t restart until 2000.
“With the attitude of ‘may all ships rise,’ destination marketing organizations, hoteliers and related suppliers banded together to stay competitive and top of mind in promoting our state to the group business marketplace, both internationally and domestically,” says Ellen Collins, immediate past president of what is today known as Destination Colorado Meetings.
“Our organization has always stood for we rather than me,” she adds. “Friendships have been made with a positive spirit and camaraderie while elevating the awareness of Colorado with group meeting planners.”
Pat Lee was the organization’s first president and one of the founders. In the early days, meetings were held monthly at El Rancho Colorado restaurant in Evergreen and many of the early participants would travel in from mountain and Front Range communities. Suppliers and planners looked forward to attending the annual Colorado Meeting Showcase, originally known as the Front Range Trade Show. Today the event moves around to different venues and attracts about 300 attendees and features more than 60 exhibitor booths, but it was first held at Chewy’s at Cherry Creek Shopping Center, where Lee worked.
Over the years, the organization has continued to demonstrate the power of connecting in person. “Our educational and networking programming has always received high marks for tapping into current trends and hearing from thought leaders and planner panels,” Collins says. “Our Customer Appreciation Event with 50/50 supplier and planner participation has let us experience the spectacular beauty around the four corners of our state and everything in between.”
This year, the Customer Appreciation Events will be held in Colorado Springs on Sept. 28-29 and based at The Broadmoor. Congratulations Destination Colorado Meetings for three decades of bringing meetings and events to Colorado and connecting in person again and again!
Top Photo: Destination Colorado Meetings’ 30th anniversary event at Coors Field, photo by Christie’s Photographic Solutions.
Colorado native Beth Buehler has been editor of Colorado Meetings + Events magazine for 18 years, helped launch Mountain Meetings magazine, and is on the team that introduced Southwest Meetings + Events this summer. She has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado.