Convention bureau reserves meeting, hotel space for '04, '05 Microsoft events
By Frank Norton
Microsoft is eyeing Miami Beach for its 2004 Tech Ed conference, seen as a consolation prize by local tourism executives after the software giant moved its larger Global Briefing from Miami to New Orleans, citing space needs.
The smaller meeting, staged by Seattle-based Microsoft for corporate clients, could attract 10,000 visitors booking 43,000 room nights. The 10-day event could pump $13 million into the economy, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The bureau, negotiating Microsoft's return since its '01 visit, has reserved space in July '04 and '05 at the Miami Beach Convention Center, adjacent Jackie Gleason Theater and about 25 hotels, said Barry Moskowitz, vice president of sales at the bureau.
"They've approached us several times but we haven't had the space available," Mr. Moskowitz said. "Getting this conference will be a matter of fitting the square in the round hole."
According to Los Angeles-based Conference Direct, handling Microsoft's conferences, the Global Briefing outgrew Miami.
"Due to the size and production elements of that event, you really need a dome stadium rather than an arena," said Mike Ditter, Conference Direct regional vice president.
Mr. Ditter said production needs point to Atlanta, New Orleans and Toronto - all with dome stadiums as likely cities for the Global Briefing. Since coming to Miami in '01 with 11,500 attendees, that event has grown to 18,000 attendees, he said - too big for the 19,600-seat American Airlines Arena since staging requirements would block the view from a third of the seats.
Mr. Moskowitz said Microsoft first decided to meet in Miami because of its "diversity, energy, colorfulness and vibe.
"They're a fascinating account to have in terms of magnitude and production value."