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Creating a Lasting Impression on Attendees

Q&A with Dana Ecker, Director of Convention Sales at Explore La Crosse.

Scenic views, welcoming locals and affordable meeting options are just a few things that come to mind when considering a meeting in La Crosse, WI. With its recent hotel developments and upcoming renovation and expansion to the La Crosse Center, now is a great time to consider the area for an upcoming meeting or event. Dana Ecker, the Director of Convention Sales takes us through how the team at Explore La Crosse can help create lasting memories for attendees.

What makes La Crosse a great meeting destination?  

Dana: La Crosse’s location on the Mississippi River, in the shadow of the 600-foot Grandad Bluff, gives this small town an unbeatable backdrop. Each year, La Crosse attracts more than 2 million visitors as people across the globe are attracted by the natural beauty and recreational opportunities offered by the upper Mississippi River area.

What is the one thing planners are always surprised to learn about the La Crosse area?

Dana: La Crosse’s central location between Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin makes it an ideal spot for regional events. The downtown area has recently undergone a $1 billion renovation. Currently, the La Crosse Center, which is located on the Mississippi River, is planning a $49 million dollar renovation and expansion.

What might we find you enjoying in the destination on your day off? 

Dana: La Crosse is part of the “Driftless Region” which is an area that has never been touched by the glacier. This area is known for its steep hills and hidden valleys, rocky bluffs and fast-flowing streams – a stunning 24,000 square mile landscape island once surrounded, but never touched by the giant sheet of ice. This makes for a plethora of silent sports, from kayaking to biking, hiking, fishing or for me just taking a stroll through Riverside Park.

What advice would you give to a planner who hasn’t worked with a CVB before?

Dana: Working with a CVB will make your planning much easier. We are local experts and highly engaged in the community. We can easily lead you in the right direction with hotels, conference space, restaurants, tours and other services like providing nametags, speakers, shuttles and registration assistance.

What do you see trending in the meeting’s market? How is your CVB proactively addressing this trend or staying current?

Dana: Meeting planners are looking for experiences! More and more they are looking for creative events that will make a lasting impression. This could be local tours, themed events or taking one of their meetings to a unique location outside the typical conference walls. The CVB staff can help suggest creative ways to make your meeting stand out.

How does a planner benefit from consulting with you prior to sending out their RFP?

Dana: By connecting with us before the RFP is sent, we can find out what the goal is of the meeting and offer suggestions on taking a basic meeting to new heights by recommending creative ideas outside the box of the typical RFP format.

What’s the latest news, developments, or events in your destination you’d like to share with planners?  

Dana: In the last few years we have opened an additional five new hotel properties downtown and plans are currently underway to renovate and expand the Convention Center.

What differentiates your destination from your competitive set?

Dana: La Crosse offers everything that a larger market would offer; we have an airport, Convention Center, ample parking, 2,500+ sleeping rooms, many within walking distance from the La Crosse Convention Center and all at a fraction of the cost of what the larger markets would charge. In addition to that, we have an award winning historic downtown and scenic beauty with a WOW factor that meetings attendees will not soon forget.

Plan you next meeting in La Crosse, WI. Leran more here.