How the American Baseball Coaches Association Discovered a Perfect Convention Destination

by | Jun 8, 2017 | For Organizers

Nothing makes us happier than matching event planners with the best deal at the right place at the right time.

That’s exactly the case with Craig Keilitz, executive director of the American Baseball Coaches Association.

In 2015, Craig needed to find a replacement convention destination and hotel to host the 2019 ABCA Annual Convention, a four-day event that pulls in 5,000 to 6,000 attendees. The previously contracted venue — a resort in Orlando — was no longer going to work out. The ABCA needed to find an alternative venue fast.

Still, when Chris Merritt, director of Groups360’s meeting advisory division, and Ryan Morris, Groups360 vice president of sales, offered to show Craig a customized, curated list of alternative meeting destinations based solely on his major criteria, he was reluctant to accept their help.

“How in the world can they save us money?” Craig asked incredulously. “I felt we were already getting fairly good hotel rates. It was hard to imagine Groups360 could get us a better deal, while also tacking on a 10 percent fee.”

But Chris and Ryan were adamant about GroupSync — Groups360’s proprietary site discovery solution — and its capabilities. So, Craig dared them to prove it. He sent over the convention criteria, including exhibit size, the number of rooms, room rate and other details.

To Craig’s surprise, using GroupSync to search hundreds of destinations and thousands of hotels, Ryan and Chris uncovered several untapped potential destinations for ABCA’s 2019 conference that fit all the criteria. In fact, they even uncovered a convention destination that wanted ABCA so much they were willing to sweeten the deal — the destination offered credits to the master bill totaling $80,000 — just enough to cover ABCA’s hefty cancellation fee with the original Orlando venue.

“Groups360 did, in fact, get us better rates than we would have gotten on our own and helped us get into destinations we didn’t know we could get into,” says Craig. “Plus, they helped us with other aspects, like bringing down F&B costs, to take some of that danger away from us. It worked out tremendously.”

Chris and Ryan also helped the ABCA convention planning team find overflow hotels, an unexpected benefit for which Craig was grateful.

“When we’re in the heat of battle creating this convention,” he said. “The last thing we needed was to find 200 rooms and collect venue information and rates. Their help with that lifted this major burden off our shoulders.”

Beyond the great convention destination options that GroupSync is able to uncover, what Craig values most is the team’s all-encompassing knowledge of the hotel industry and their willingness to share it.

“It’s amazing the relationships that Groups360 has with hotels around the country. They can make asks that we wouldn’t even know to ask,” he says.

Chris and Ryan took the time to explain how to assess each proposal, including how to determine which were truly good or bad deals and which hotels needed the business on certain dates.

“Otherwise, I’d have no idea!” says Craig. “They’re an extension of my own team.”