Cvent’s Tampa meeting planning guide is an extensive city guide for Tampa meeting planners. Sunny, warm weather and tropical flora and fauna set the stage for visitors to be welcomed by Tampa's friendly, fun-loving citizens. Encompassing a 600,000- square-foot waterfront convention center, 20,000 hotel rooms, 190 hotels and more than 100 unique Tampa event venues, this city is an ideal location for Tampa meeting planning professionals to consider for conferences and conventions. With a large international airport, AMTRAK service and several public transportation options available, guests will have no trouble finding convenient and affordable travel to and around the city.
Expecting to enter its final phase in 2013, the Tampa Riverwalk is one of the newest destinations in the city, conveniently connecting the Florida Aquarium and Channelside Bay Plaza to the History Center, Marriott Waterside and convention center. Named one of the top 25 art destinations in the U.S., according to American Style magazine, Tampa is proud of its cultural heritage, which can easily be incorporated into Tampa meeting planning. Tampa's public art collection is made up of more than 100 works of art. Art work is dispersed amongst buildings, parks and streets, including Bayshore Boulevard, which is the site of a 145-foot-long mosaic tile mural dedicated to the history of Tampa in addition to one of the most scenic roadways in Florida.
Planners would be remiss not to incorporate dining into Tampa meeting planning. Formed by many small, diverse communities, this multi-cultural city is the location of some of the best Cuban, Spanish and Italian restaurants around including Columbia Restaurant, the largest Spanish restaurant in the world. Its proximity to the coast also makes it a hotspot for restaurants serving fresh, local seafood. Reserve a table at Oystercatchers and sip on a buttery chardonnay while overlooking the sparkling blue Bay and watching birds at the adjoining bird sanctuary. Choose from an array of perfectly prepared fresh fish including grouper, tuna, snapper, swordfish or salmon. As is the case with most dining establishments in Tampa, dress is not jeans casual, but not extravagantly upscale either.
Tampa is both affordable and ripe with activities to entertain visitors of all ages. Area attractions include Lowry Park Zoo, Busch Gardens and the Museum of Science and Industry, which houses the largest children's science center in the nation. Any sports fan - whether football or hockey or baseball - can root for one of Tampa's home teams in what Sporting News Online ranked as the 14th best sports city in the country. Fashion aficionados will enjoy high-end retail shopping comparable to that of larger metropolitan areas at International Plaza, Bay Street and WestShore Plaza. Many of the top U.S. beaches can be found in the Tampa Bay area such as Clearwater Beach, Madeira Beach, Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores. Golfing, boating and fishing are also popular outdoor activities.
Five main industries form the main contributors to Tampa Bay's economy: service, retail, insurance, finance and real estate. Several Fortune 1000 companies call Tampa home, including OSI Restaurant Partners, parent company of Outback Steakhouse and Bonefish Grill, WellCare Health Plans, Inc., and Raymond James Financial. Tampa acts as the 7th largest port in the United States and is the largest tonnage port in Florida. Almost 50 percent of all seaborne trade that passes through the state of Florida is handled by Tampa's port. Tampa is also the port of call for several notable cruise lines, ranking second only to Miami in terms of Florida cruise travel. Holland America's MS Veendam, Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas and Carnival's Legend Inspiration all make Tampa their port of call.
With a population of just over 346,000, Tampa makes up a considerable portion of the second largest metro area in Florida, referred to as the Tampa Bay Area. The Tampa Bay Area, comprised by the Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater metro areas, is home to nearly 2.7 million residents.
Meaning "stick of fire" in the language of a Native American tribe originally inhabiting the area, Tampa likely got its name from the lightning strikes often seen in the region. Tampa had a largely uneventful history as a small fishing town until the late 1800s, when Henry B. Plant expanded his railroad line to the city, connecting it to the country's railroad system. Trade in to and out of the city flourished, as did the tourist industry, especially after the construction of Plant's extravagant Tampa Bay Hotel. The railroad's construction also encouraged Vicente Martinez Ybor to move his cigar manufacturing company to Tampa, which in turn caused an influx of Cuban and Spanish immigrants, followed by Italians, to settle in Ybor City, once known as "Cigar Capital of the World." Today, this National Historic Landmark characterized by brick-lined sidewalks, beautiful old architecture, wrought iron balconies, quaint shops and more than 60 Latin inspired restaurants attracts more than 30,000 people on weekend nights. Tampa's Latin Quarter hosts numerous festivals throughout the year including Fiesta Day, Ybor City Arts Fiesta, Guavaween and Gasparilla Film Festival. Notably, Latinos account for about 10 percent of the city's total population.
It's easy to overlook Tampa in favor of Florida's larger cities such as Orlando, Miami and Fort Lauderdale, but what Tampa lacks in size, it makes up for in its wide-range of unique family activities and cultural opportunities. Spend an afternoon riding the thrilling coasters at Busch Gardens Africa or exploring more than 20,000 aquatic plants and animals from around the world at the Florida Aquarium. Catch a Tampa Buccaneers game at Raymond James Stadium, followed by a bite to eat at one of the colorful, historic Cuban eateries in Ybor City. Enjoy a selection of Broadway performances at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, the largest performing arts complex south of the Washington D.C. Kennedy Center, or visit one of Tampa's other cultural centers dispersed along the Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa. Culture and fun are very much alive in this vibrant and dynamic waterside city.
The city's coastal location offers year-round warm weather that is perfect for enjoying one of its 165 parks and beaches. It is Florida's largest open-water estuary and home to over 200 species of fish and 25 species of birds. A vivacious urban scene and modernized downtown district complement Tampa's scenic outdoors to make it easy for any visitor to experience the best of Florida's sunshine, lush wildlife and thriving cultural scene.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Tampa enjoys a subtropical/tropical climate, consisting of warm, wet summers and cooler, dry winters that last from October to February. The average high temperature is 82°F, and even in the winter the temperature remains warm with an average low of 63°F. Tampa generally sees about 46.7 inches of annual rainfall.
Because if its location on the Gulf Coast, Tampa is at risk for hurricanes, although it has not experienced a direct hit since 1921. September is the month with the highest probability for hurricanes during the season, which runs from June 1 to November 30.
Tampa has an agreeable climate year-round, but the best time to visit is during the late winter to early spring when temperatures are mild and precipitation is low.
Tampa Convention Center
Located on the waterfront in downtown Tampa, this 600,000-square-foot Tampa meeting facility offers 200,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 36,000-square-foot ballroom and an additional 84,000 square feet of flexible public space. As one of the larger Tampa meeting facilities, the center also features 36 breakout rooms, 10 of which are waterfront. For outdoor events, the Riverwalk, 14,600 square feet overlooking the water, and the Garden, capable of seating 500 people, are available.
The convention center's blue and coral décor reflect the laidback style of the area, and several large windows offer stunning views of the Tampa Bay waterfront and invite plenty of light indoors. A 20-story Embassy Suites opened next door in 2006 and is connected to the center by a skybridge. Convention center amenities include an on-site business center, audio visual services, catering of banquets for groups of 60 to 13,000 by ARAMARK and 24-hours-a-day security. The center is also wi-fi ready. A 450-space garage offers sufficient parking with an average rate of $1.60 per hour and a maximum of $9.50 per day. Five additional garages are located within four blocks from the center, ranging from 140 to 2,600 spaces.
Tampa Bay Times Forum
401 Channelside Drive
Tampa, FL 33602
Total Meeting Space - 660,000 Sq. Ft.
Tampa International Airport (TPA)
Approximate taxi fare: $24.25 USD
Located six miles west of the central business district of Tampa, the Tampa International Airport ranks 27th among North American airports and saw nearly 19 million passengers in 2006. The 3,300-acre airport has 59 active gates and over one million square feet of airside terminals. The airport traces its history back to the Drew Field Municipal airport, a general aviation facility, which was leased to the U.S. government for 25 years. The airport was given its current name in 1952, and in 1971, the $85 million new terminal complex opened. Resembling a spoked wheel, the first-of-its-kind in design, the new complex consists of separate airside terminals attached to one central landside building. Tampa International was also the first to use fully automatic people movers, which connect the terminals to the central building.
Voted the best airport in the U.S. and the 3rd best in the world in 2003 by Traveler magazine, in addition to number 1 for quality out of all major U.S. airports according to a 2007 Zagat global airlines survey, passengers flying through Tampa International are sure to enjoy the stop. A public art program established in 1998 enhances the traveling experience. Permanent exhibits include Art of the 60s and 70s, a collection of restored murals from Tampa's Peter O. Knight Airport, and 63 copper, nickel, silver and bronze bird sculptures.
Tampa International Airport has approximately 20,000 parking spaces and offers free shuttle service from the economy garage. A monorail, the world's first to be operated completely by computers, also connects to the short- term parking. A Marriott Hotel attached to the airport has 295 guest rooms.
Airline carriers serving Tampa International Airport
Tampa Union Station was built in 1912 and reopened in 1998 after $2.5 million spent in purchase and renovations. The station, which saw nearly 80,000 passengers in 2007, serves the Palmetto and Silver Service AMTRAK trains, traveling between New York city, Georgia and Florida. The station is open daily from 8:15 am to 6:15 pm.
With ridership reaching 1.07 million in 2007, the HART line is one of the most popular and convenient ways to travel around Tampa. Buses travel 33 local routes and 16 express routes to various locations around urban parts of Hillsborough County. One-way cash fares are $1.50 for local routes and $2.50 for express routes. Fare cards are available in one-day unlimited passes on local and limited express routes for $3.25, in three-day unlimited rides visitor passes for $9.75, and 20-ride passes on local and limited express routes for $30.
Also operated by HART, the In-Town Trolley is a pleasant way to see and travel the city's most popular spots. Trolleys operate on a purple and a green line. The purple line travels from Marion Transit Center to Southern Transporation Plaza/Harbour Island, making stops that include Tampa City Hall, the Tampa Convention Center, the Tampa Museum of Art and the Tampa Theatre. The green line travels from the Performing Arts Center to the Channel District, making stops that include the Florida Aquarium and Garrison seaport. Purple line trolleys run every 10 minutes Monday through Friday from 6:00 am to 9:00 am and 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Green line trolleys run Friday through Saturday from 6:00 pm to 2:00 am. In-town trolley fares are the same as the HART bus line fares.
The first electronic streetcar lines in Tampa were built in 1892, and now electric streetcars are back, providing a unique and scenic way to travel in the city. A 2.4-mile route with 10 stops travels throughout downtown, Channelside and Ybor City. The TECO line is expected to add a 1/3-mile extension running north on Franklin Street that will connect 35,000 people to every major downtown parking facility.
The streetcar system runs three vehicles: the air-conditioned standard car, the open-air Breezer car and the Birney car, a fully-restored streetcar from the original Tampa line. The Birney car is available for special event rentals.
Streetcars run every 15 to 20 minutes Monday through Wednesday from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm, Thursday from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm, Friday from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, Saturday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm and Sunday from noon to 8:00 pm. Streetcars run every 30 minutes Friday and Saturday from 1:00 am to 2:00 am and Saturday from 9:00 am to 11:00 am. One-way cash fares are $2. Fare cards are available in a one-day unlimited ride fare card for $4 and a three-day unlimited ride fare card for $9.75. Exact change is required.
Several taxi companies serve the Tampa area, including Yellow Cab, United Cab and A-1 Taxi. Travelers must call taxis to schedule or request a pick-up, except at the airport, where they can be found at the baggage claim area, or at special events. Taxi pick-up areas are also located in Ybor City near Centro Ybor. Sample taxi rates at Yellow Cab are $2 for the first 1/2 mile plus $0.45 for each additional 1/2 mile.
Several rental car services are available to travelers in Tampa. Avis, Budget, Dollar Car Rental, Hertz, Enterprise and Thrifty Rental Cars all have rental counters at the Tampa International Airport in the baggage claim area. Alamo, E-Z Rent A Car, National, Payless, Specialty Auto Rentals and U Save Auto Rental of Florida are located off the airport.
Approximate Taxi Fares from Tampa International Airport
Photo Credit : Tampa Bay & Company
Earn up to 100,000 Marriott Rewards and Great Extras in Tampa Bay
When you hold your meetings and events at participating Renaissance and Marriott hotels in Tampa Bay, you also hold the rewards. Earn up to 50,000 Marriott Rewards points per event. Plus, if you book on our 2012 Value Dates you double your rewards up to 100,000 points per event. Whether it's a conference, business meeting, or social event, you'll qualify for points any time you book ten or more guest rooms for at least one night. And don't forget...in addition to our rewarding events offer each hotel has its own special group offer to ensure an unforgettable meeting.
Interested in placing a promotion? Call Cvent for information on advertising opportunities at 1-866-318-4358.