Smart Meetings Magazine recently did an excellent article on the wine country fires from the perspective of meeting planners. The article covered our decisions at Zephyr Conferences in addition to stories on the Silverado Resort, Safari West, and the Napa Valley Film Festival.
Here is the portion of the article about Zephyr Conferences:
In the Words Of A Planner
Allan Wright, owner of Zephyr United, organizes the Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference annually on behalf of Zephyr Conferences. This year, it takes place Oct. 23–25 at Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa in Santa Rosa, which has 170 guest rooms and almost 15,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. He described his post-fire return to wine country.
“We had two meetings scheduled in Santa Rosa for November 2017, a month after the fires: the Wine Bloggers Conference and the Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference,” he says. “A few days after the fires started, we started getting emails and phone calls from our attendees, asking if the conferences would be canceled. Quite a few of the messages we received implied it would be risky and even inappropriate to hold our meetings, since the locals were having to deal with the crisis. We discussed canceling both meetings.
“However, every local we spoke with—our hotel, Sonoma County Tourism, locals on our advisory boards—provided us a united message that Sonoma County was not closed for business and, in fact, wanted us to come and support them with our conferences.
“We made a public statement a few days after the fires started saying that our meetings would proceed as scheduled, which they did. We did experience a drop in registrations, which had a big impact on us, but nothing compared to what the locals had to suffer through. [We] ended up addressing the fires in our content at both conferences. I remember one person in the audience coming up after a session on the fires and crying because he had lived through the fires and was so emotional that we were addressing it.
“We decided to return the Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference to Santa Rosa this year, in part to support the local area again. One year later, one would never know the fires had even happened.”