One of the many meeting rooms at the Colorado Convention Center.

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Meeting Planners Love the Colorado Convention Center

A Tier One City. Here are some prime examples of conventions that have had successful meetings in Denver.

SnowSports Industries America

SnowSports Industries America (SIA) is a non-profit trade association representing suppliers of consumer snow sports. For 60 years, their annual Snow Show has been the largest, most concentrated and authentic trade event in the snow sports industry. SIA agreed to an 11-year contract to stage the snow show at the Colorado Convention Center through 2020.

“The convention center itself is a very efficient operation,” says SIA President David Ingemie of his experience in Denver. “It's in a location of town where everything is walkable.”

The previous Snow Show venue, Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, was under one roof, but it was a notably big roof. “To get from your room at Mandalay Bay to the show floor was further than the Hotel Monaco,” says Ingemie. And the short walk outside is better than a stroll through a sometimes fetid casino. “You get fresh air every day.”

Another upgrade over Vegas: “There's not a gambling hall. It makes it much more efficient for work. We hear that from everybody.”

It's a 180-degree shift at the Colorado Convention Center. “Denver understands our business and what we do,” Ingemie adds. Workers at the convention center and surrounding hotels and restaurants “are all skiers and riders.”

The Snow Show dovetails into the On-Snow Demo, held most recently at Copper Mountain, where manufacturers let attendees test their wares on the slopes. That was likewise not feasible in Vegas.

It all adds up to an annual tradition for SIA in Denver. “We're working on an extension right now,” says Ingemie. “We all feel like we are home.”

"The Colorado Convention Center is a building whose design and features truly represent the characteristics of Denver itself, such as innovative, creative, beautiful, technologically cutting edge and with a friendliness all its own."

Sharon Sullivan, Leading Age


American Academy of Family Physicians

The Kansas City-based American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and its nearly 116,000 members are devoted to improving the health of patients, families and communities

AAFP held its convention in Denver in 2010, attracting 13,000 people, and a similar number is expected when the group returns in September 2015.

“Denver's a great match for us,” says Tom Pellet, AAFP director of meetings and conventions. He calls it “an ideal city” for events with 10,000 to 15,000 attendees.

Pellet says room rates and collaboration between the Colorado Convention Center and VISIT DENVER also lowers the price of the event. “It has to do with the package more than anything,” he explains. “When you look at the proximity of the hotels, the art museum, and the restaurants and nightlife, it puts everyone in tight proximity and it lowers your costs.”

And pedestrian-friendly means budget-friendly. “It's never more than a 10-minute walk,” says Pellet. “We don't have to do busing. That's a $100,000 cost savings.”

AAFP officials in 2010, “were concerned if people would go to Denver,” he adds. The fears proved unfounded. Pellet says attendance was solid and enthusiasm was high. “Our executive director came up to me and said, 'This is the best convention we've had in modern times. Book it right away – let's go again.'”



Washington, D.C.-based LeadingAge is a charitable organization focused on education, advocacy, and applied research that aims to expand the world of possibilities for aging. 

The 2012 annual meeting was held at the Colorado Convention Center and drew 9,000 attendees.

Sharon Sullivan, VP of conferences and sales, says Denver was selected because of a good experience in 2002, but 2012 was even better. “The difference was amazing,” she says. The 5,000-seat Bellco Theatre was a big part of it. “To be able to do a general session in there is unbelievable. That's very unique.”

The food from Centerplate “is like what you get in a five-star restaurant,” she adds, and the architectural aesthetics and public art are likewise standout. “The Blue Bear is amazing,” she says of Lawrence Argent's iconic “I See What You Mean” sculpture. “It's such a great symbol for the city.”

It's no surprise LeadingAge is coming back. “I immediately re-booked for 2022, because the experience was so fantastic -- I don't typically do that,” says Sullivan. “Literally, our comments from our members were, 'We could come here every year.'”


American Water Works Association

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) is the largest non-profit, scientific and education association dedicated to managing and treating water, improving public health and protecting the environment. 

This organization of 50,000 members has held more than 10 events at the Colorado Convention Center. Attendance runs more than 12,000 people at top events.

“I like the location, I like Denver and I like Colorado. Our members like Colorado,” says April DeBaker, director of conventions at AWWA.

DeBaker commends VISIT DENVER and convention center staffers, as well as city officials. “They don't say no,” she says. “They have solutions.”

Cooperation with the city makes for smoother events. “It makes it easy when you have specific needs for your event,” says DeBaker.

Another perk: “We like the fact that they're a LEED building,” says DeBaker. “That fits with our cause.”


The Risk Management Society (RIMS)

The Risk Management Society (RIMS) is dedicated to advancing the practice of risk management and has a membership of more than 11,000 professionals around the globe.

About 10,000 attendees came to Denver for RIMS' annual conference in April 2014.
“We were very pleased with attendance,” says Stuart Ruff-Lyon, director of conventions. “It was higher than it had been in several years.” International attendance was notably up, he adds.

The convention center layout is conducive to meetings and events. “It's got a really good design,” he says. “It's more stacked than spread out.” He also commends the “personal touch” of the artwork and calls the location “a huge win” for RIMS. “You really felt like you took over the city.”

The walkability “is the best I've ever seen,” he adds. “You can throw a rock from the front door to the Hyatt. It's pretty unique and special.”

“You can compare Denver to arguably the number-one convention destination in the United States – San Diego,” Ruff-Lyon concludes. “They both offer the whole package.”

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