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Providing Unique Services to Meeting Planners

Q&A with Luke Wiggins, Meeting and Convention Sales Manager, Visit Rogers

With the rise of interest in smaller to midsized meeting destinations, Rogers and the Northwest Arkansas area are ready to welcome attendees as only they can. With fantastic outdoor opportunities and proximity to some of the largest companies in the country, the team at Visit Rogers leverages their destination knowledge to ensure attendees leave with a lasting impression. Luke Wiggins, Meeting and Convention Sales Manager highlights  how working with Visit Rogers can help planners throughout the planning process.

What makes Rogers and Northwest Arkansas a great meeting destination? 

Luke: Rogers is an up-and-coming destination in the Ozark Mountains, located in the Northwest corner of the state. Rogers offers the chance to experience a hidden gem that may not have been on your attendee’s radar, but will surprise them with all there is to explore. Whether it’s shopping at the boutiques in historic downtown Rogers, riding one of the top mountain biking trails in the country, exploring the world-class Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, enjoying fantastic culinary experiences, or experiencing top-notch fishing and water sports at Beaver Lake, there is something for everyone.

What is the one thing planners are always surprised to learn about Rogers and Northwest Arkansas?

Luke: The size of the area is always a surprise to planners. Northwest Arkansas is home to over a half-million people. With the success of Walmart, Tyson Foods, and J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Northwest Arkansas has seen a mass influx of people moving to the area for jobs at one of the 1,400 corporations with offices in the region. We are currently the 14th fastest-growing metro area with 34 people moving here each day.

Planners are also sometimes surprised to learn the size of our largest hotel property, Embassy Suites Northwest Arkansas – Hotel, Spa & Convention Center. It features 125,000 square feet of flexible meeting space along with 400 guest rooms. Another three hotels are nearby the convention center offering an additional 340 guest rooms for overflow.

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

Luke: I enjoy hiking the Ozark Mountains at Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area, enjoying a beer at one of the great local craft breweries, and showing my family and friends around my new home in Rogers and Northwest Arkansas.

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

Luke: For a planner that has not worked with a CVB in the past, a great place to start is by checking out what services are provided. While we are all local experts, our services can vary from destination to destination. With a quick phone call, you might find that they offer a service that is very helpful or just a nice touch for your group. Additionally, the services are often complimentary.

A unique service offered here in Rogers is access to our talented graphic designer to make pre-event promotional pieces for your group. It is one of a variety of attendance-building services we offer.

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

Luke: Planners are paying attention more than ever to what expertise is available in a destination. They want to know how they can be supported and how to amplify their meetings content with CVB assistance.

We have several groups that were attracted to Rogers and Northwest Arkansas for this reason. Whether it is getting speakers from Walmart, Tyson Foods, or J.B. Hunt, or simply getting in their backyard to try to start and build a relationship.

We are also fortunate to have the University of Arkansas in Northwest Arkansas. The University has strong Agriculture, Business, Architecture, and Law programs that draw meetings here. They have a wealth of experts in a variety of fields that are doing some incredible research. Right next to the Embassy Suites Northwest Arkansas—Hotel, Spa, & Convention Center is World Trade Center Arkansas. Arkansas is not only home to eight Fortune 500 companies that do business internationally, but also contains very strong agriculture and manufacturing sectors. The World Trade Center is home to experts that know the ins-and-outs of trading all over the world and strategies to help businesses increase their international dealings.

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

Luke: With the large corporate presence in the region, our market can behave in a unique manner. I can help ensure planners get the best possible responses by advising dates to avoid, preferable patterns, and can speak about Visit Rogers’ incentive funding program.

In addition to helping planners with sales sourcing, I’m also the services manager that works with groups during their planning process after selecting the destination. If I am involved during the initial sourcing, I can let the planner know about the abundance of experiential opportunities along with unique offsite venues, which for some plays a big role in site selections. Then when it comes time to plan, I am already up to speed on your event allowing me to better understand and anticipate your needs.

What differentiates your destination from your competitive set?

Luke: Accessibility. While Arkansas is in the south, our location in the northwest corner of the state puts us in the center of the country. Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport has the major carriers and has over 50 direct flights each day to 15 cities, which is more than some cities with populations twice the size.

Plan your next meeting in Rogers, AR. Learn more here