Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau

Rid Yourself Of Convention Guilt

June 25, 2010


The notice arrives in your in-basket. The annual convention, or quarterly board meeting, or corporate retreat, presence mandatory. You can picture it already - walled in with no windows for days on end, PowerPoint overload, your family calling each evening to complain about you never being at home. While the water parks in Wisconsin Dells were built with the vacationer in mind, they've evolved to take on an even nobler cause - rescuing business travelers from the blahs and turning those same frequent meeting goers into heroes with their kids.

The success of the water park craze in Wisconsin Dells created a new opportunity for local business owners - the chance to become a destination for meetings and conventions. Brilliant really, given how time-stretched so many Americans are these days, struggling to find a balance between work and family life, never taking all their allotted vacation days. So businesses, especially the water park resorts, strategically expanded, with conference and convention space, world-class spas, championship golf courses, luxury condominiums and larger-than-most suites, and great restaurants.

So who is the typical target for this water-park-turned-meeting-place strategy? Meet Mark Paget. He's a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and current executive director of the Wisconsin Dental Association, which represents 3,000 dentists throughout the state. Mark has planned meetings in Wisconsin Dells, as well as having signed up for meetings held in the community that were planned by others. Whenever possible, his wife and three kids, ages 15, 13 and 11, tag along, happy for some quality time with Mark and some quality time in the water parks.

"It's definitely an advantage for me and members of my associations, especially those with young families, to combine business with pleasure," explained Mark. "I've attended meetings at the Kalahari and Chula Vista and have a meeting coming up in June at the Wilderness." So what does Mark's family do while he's tied up in meetings? "The boys love to golf, and all three can't get enough of the water parks. My wife likes the water parks too. She likes to relax poolside with a good book.

We asked Mark were we would find him after a day of meetings. "I try to catch up with the family at the water parks. I've even tried the surf machine at the Kalahari. I didn't do too badly, no injuries, but my kids still made fun of me. We make it a point to try all the water park rides.

Mark could easily be considered one of the early adopters of this combo meeting/vacation trend as evidenced by this quip: "We've been coming to the Dells long enough that the kids are starting to reminisce about past trips. They sound like old-timers, starting their stories with, 'Remember when' and finishing up talking about the new rides that have been added since they last visited.

As an aside, it's worth mentioning that the Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort and Chula Vista Resort have seen such a success in hosting conferences that they've both recently decided to add to their meeting space. Glacier Canyon Lodge at the Wilderness grew by more than 31,000 square feet with the addition of another banquet room, more breakout space, a business center and outdoor banquet space. Meanwhile Chula Vista Resort added 15,000 more square feet of conference and flexible meeting space.

And with that news, this story is adjourned.

Wisconsin Dells annually hosts in excess of 5,600 meetings and conventions, anywhere from a small meeting of 10 up to a large conference of more than 1,000. The Visitor Bureau even has staff dedicated to this particular area of travel.


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Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau

701 Superior Street, PO Box 390
Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965-0390
(800) 223-3557
(608) 254-4293 (Fax)

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