Powerlist: Meeting perspectives

Powerlist: Meeting perspectives

BY BRANDON SAWYER

A conversation about the event-planning industry with sales directors from McMenamins and the Portland Art Museum.

Susan Profile HelicopterSusan Truax
Director of Sales,
McMenamins

Oregon Business: What are your most popular venues for business events? 

Susan Truax: Kennedy School is the most popular, and it has been since we opened the doors. It’s right there in Northeast, so it’s really easy to get to. It also was the first hotel we had where all of the guest rooms had private baths. Edgefield is also really popular, considering it’s close to the airport, its size. It has the largest number of production facilities: the winery, brewery and distillery; the gardens; two golf courses. And the Grand Lodge has been growing in popularity. We can attribute a lot of that growth to the business world out there. Intel continues to grow, and Nike helps us out a lot. The fourth one is the Old St. Francis School in Bend. It’s a great space for higher-level executive retreats. A lot of people want to go over there and get some work done, but then play on the golf courses or go up on the mountain. I’d say it’s a hidden jewel. 

OB: Are a growing number of your business events from companies outside the Northwest? 

ST: Our primary base is still people within the Northwest. We have had a couple of interesting events lately where there have been different mergers and acquisitions. They’ll bring the execs from those companies out here just to show them the ropes, and we’re a pretty popular venue to showcase the region. It’s really nice to have people come from the Midwest or wherever, and meeting people on a local level.

OB: Does private-event business seem to be growing in Oregon? 

ST: I think things like Portlandia are helping put us on the map, so I do think it’s growing in Oregon in general. We definitely experienced a drop in private events during the recession. Every year it gets a little bit stronger. I think 2014 … will bring us back to pre-recession times.

OB: Do you have a strategy for hosting more business events? 

ST: We’re always looking at adding more properties. We have two projects that we don’t have on a timeline now, but they’re both up in Washington. There’s the Elks Lodge in Tacoma and the Anderson School in Bothell. We’re always looking at adding different amenities. We revamped our catering menus to have healthier options. We’ve been … looking at adding more wellness options to the meeting packages. Two of the properties have spas onsite so we can already offer things like chair massage. But moving forward, we’re trying to [offer] activities like yoga, or tai chi, or group meditation and mindfulness, or educational activities centered around nutrition, so people feel like they’ve been taken care of as an individual while they’re at their work retreat or meeting.