Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information and Resources for Travelers
Meetings & Conventions

Meetings & Conventions

Central Florida’s Polk County is Perfectly Positioned for Your Next Conference or Meeting

Located in the geographic center of Florida, Central Florida’s Polk County offers a relaxing locale where your delegates can get down to business. Situated directly between Orlando and Tampa, Polk County is easily accessible from two major international airports.

Central Florida’s Polk County offers the following options for Meeting Planners:

  • 900,000+ Sq. Ft. of Event Space
  • 100,000+ Sq. Ft. of Event Space at the RP Funding Center
  • 6,800+ Hotel Rooms
  • 3,200+ Hotel Rooms within 5 Miles of the RP Funding Center
  • 7,000+ Vacation Condos & Homes

Expert staff at Visit Central Florida is dedicated to giving you complete meeting planning assistance for your next retreat, board of directors meeting, training session, conference or reunion.

Sound good? Let’s get your meeting on the books. Contact Al Snow, our Tourism Sales, Meetings and Events representative at 863-551-4718.

Why Central Florida?

Ease of Transportation

Located in the geographic center of Florida, the region offers a variety of transportation options for attendees and vendors:

  • Most meeting venues and hotel properties are located less than 40 minutes from two international airports (Orlando International and Tampa International), which offer direct flights from hundreds of international and domestic destinations. Charter flight access for planes ranging from corporate jets to commercial airliners is available through the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport.
  • A major transportation hub, Polk County is known as the “Crossroads of Florida” due to its proximity to the key east/west and north/south highways in the state.
  • Close to the major metropolitan cities of Orlando and Tampa, without the big city traffic headaches.
  • Short drives to all of the attractions that may entice attendees to turn their travel plans into a “bleisure” trip with their families, but far enough away that those same attractions are not a distraction during your meeting sessions.
    • Less than 30 minutes to Walt Disney World Resort
    • Less than 40 minutes to Universal Studios, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens
    • Less than 50 minutes from the Gulf and Atlantic Coast beaches

Meeting Facilities

Central Florida offers one of the widest ranges of meeting facilities in the Southeast and meeting planners will find the distinctive venue solution for events of all sizes and budgets. The region’s largest meeting venues include a newly renovated 100,000 square foot convention center, an award winning four-star golf resort with more than 25,000 square feet of meeting space, to a 2,700 acre expo campus that is home to the largest convention held annually in the state of Florida.

Looking for something a little unique? Why not host your meeting or offsite event at the largest dude ranch east of the Mississippi, or amongst exotic animals at “One of the Ten Best Safari’s in the US” or amongst the colorful blooms at one of Florida’s original tourist attractions.

Need help making that tough decision on the perfect venue; be sure to visit our meeting venue pages.

Cost Savings

Tightening budgets and rising costs are ongoing issues that conference and meeting planners are faced with every year. The perpetual dilemma is how do you improve on your last conference and make next year’s event bigger, better and more entertaining, with the same, or smaller event budget? Central Florida’s Polk County has several distinct cost-saving advantages when compare to other destinations:

  • All conference centers and meeting venues are non-union
  • The variety of accommodation offerings allows for planners to choose host properties that meet all attendee budgets
  • Accommodation rates that are 10-30% less than beach destinations, theme park resorts or major metropolitan cities.
  • Smaller market equates to lower cost of goods, services, entertainment and food and beverage pricing.

Accommodation Variety

With more than 7,000 hotel rooms and another 7,000 professionally managed vacation rental homes, Central Florida’s Polk County can meet the accommodation needs of most events. If your group prefers major hotel brands within close proximity or even a few steps from our convention center; we have exactly what you need. Does your corporate group require a four or five star experience with a spa for post meeting relaxation; we can help with that. Looking for a unique boutique hotel that is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, that overlooks one of the picturesque lakes in “downtown” Lakeland; we have you covered. Do you have a group that has a sense of adventure and is looking to try glamping under the stars; we have the luxury teepee for you!

Things to Do

Before the Keynote Address, or after the Closing Reception, Central Florida’s Polk County is jam-packed with fun things for your attendees to do and see. The region offers something for everyone, including Florida’s newest attractions, LEGOLAND Florida Resort and Safari Wilderness. Visitors looking for inspiration in creative works often visit the largest one-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture at Florida Southern College, or immerse themselves into the exhibits at the Polk Museum of Art.

Central Florida’s Polk County is home to some of the best preserved natural areas in Florida with 554 lakes, 37 nature parks and preserves – spanning more than 25,000 acres of environmental lands. With 120 trails covering more than 375 miles, the trail systems of Polk County provide nearly limitless opportunities to admire the region’s beauty on foot, by bicycle, while paddling or on horseback. Known as the “Largemouth Bass Capital of the World” outdoors enthusiasts looking for bragging rights try to land a trophy class bass on one of the area’s abundant lakes.

Despite the small town look and feel of the region’s town and cities there is a growing culinary scene that is a revelation to new visitors to the area. Lakeland’s Brazilian Gastropub, Post 9 was named the Top New Restaurant in Florida in 2017 and within two blocks of the city square attendees will find restaurants featuring steaks, pizza, sushi, Cajun, BBQ and Mexican fare, to name a few. Artisanal brewers are making their mark on Central Florida with Winter Haven’s Grove Roots Brewing Company’s tasting room utilizing locally sourced citrus, in addition to, Lakeland’s Brew Hub, which offers a unique co-operative brewery that brews craft beers for several different partner brewers, offering as many as 30 different craft beers on tap.

Our Services

The Visit Central Florida team offers a comprehensive list of complimentary services to assist in the planning, promotion and execution of your successful meeting. It does not matter if you have 20 or 2,000 attendees, your event is important to us and we are fully committed to making it a success. Whether it is our financial incentive program that assists in making your budget go farther, or working hand-in-hand with our accommodations and meeting venues to help coordinate and implement your vision. We are the local extension of your conference planning team, and we can provide that inside connection to our destination, its unique places and its people.

Other destinations may purse the large marquee events such as major professional championships and large conventions that draw thousands of attendees, leaving the smaller meetings and conferences to play second fiddle. In our community your event takes center stage and you are the star of the show. Contact us for even more reasons why Central Florida’s Polk County is the ideal destination for your next meeting!

Meeting Planner Services

Visit Central Florida’s Pledge to the Success of Your Event

Visit Central Florida is your partner in planning and executing a successful conference.

Let us serve as your local advocate and shoulder some of the burden of planning your event—our services are always complimentary

Personalized Attention

  • Our hands-on convention/meeting staff will partner with you throughout the planning and execution of your event
  • Our pledge is that you will not be handed off or passed along to several different staff members or departments

Destination Expertise

  • We’ll help you discover and execute authentic experiences
  • RFP distribution to only qualified meeting venues, accommodations and off-site event locations
  • Recommendations for the ideal off-site venues, golf courses, restaurants and       attractions for your event
  • Source reliable suppliers for services needed for event execution (transportation, caterers, rental equipment, etc.)

Safety and Security

  • Customized emergency and crisis management plan developed for your event(s)
  • Facilitate planning meetings and event participation by local police, fire and health care providers

Community Liaison

  • Your direct connection to civic, political, education and industry leaders
  • Oversee the collection of support and welcome letters, guest speaker requests and locally sourced entertainers
  • Strong network of nonprofit organizations for social responsibility projects
  • Develop spouse/guest itineraries and opportunities for attendees to extend their   conference stay for an unforgettable bleisure experience
  • Destination branding and welcome signage, street banners, merchant discount programs, etc.

Site Inspection Services

  • Facilitation and planning of FAM and site selection trips
  • Development of trip itinerary and confirmation of all appointments, venue site visits and supplier meetings
  • Staff-escorted venue and site visits
  • Travel expenses provided (based on event size)

Attendance Promotion

  • Discount ticket packages to theme parks and attractions throughout Central Florida
  • Digital media and social media promotions
  • Provide assets to promote the destination including photography, videos, web banners,   customized web landing pages, maps, destination guides and custom destination    collateral
  • Public Relations outreach, media messaging, joint press releases, etc.

On-Site Services

  • Coordination of Central Florida Diplomats of Tourism (DOTS) and volunteer groups for:
    • Registration support
    • Meet-and-greet services
    • Welcome desk/hospitality
Location

Central Florida’s Polk County

Perfectly positioned for your next conference or meeting

900,000+ Sq. Ft. of Available Event Space

6,600+ Hotel Rooms

  • 10+ new projects in development adding 900+ rooms

3,000+ Hotel Rooms within 5 Miles of the Lakeland Center

7,000+ Professionally Managed Vacation Condos and Homes

Ease of Transportation

  • <40 minutes to two international airports
  • Little to no big-city traffic headaches
  • Geographic center of Florida and a transportation hub

Cost Savings

  • Affordable accommodations
  • Non-union conference facilities
  • Low cost of goods, services and entertainment

Close to All the Attractions—Far Enough That They Are Not a Distraction

  • <35 minutes to Disney
  • <40 minutes from Universal and Busch Gardens
  • <60 minutes to Gulf and Atlantic beaches  

100,000+ Sq. Ft. Lakeland Center

  • $14 million renovation underway
  • New meeting spaces with maximized flexibility
  • Improved pre-function, informal and non-traditional meeting spaces
  • Enhanced guest experience

Epitome of Exclusivity—Streamsong Resort

  • 22,000+ sq. ft. conference center
  • 216 luxurious rooms
  • Unique grotto inspired full-service spa
  • Two top-20 “Best Resort Courses” in the US
  • Highly acclaimed restaurants

New Winter Haven Conference Center and Field House

  • Currently in design phase
  • Estimated completion late 2018 or early 2019
Venues

SpringHill Suites by Marriott Lakeland

Exterior of SpringHill Suites by Marriott Lakeland hotel building and pool area

Address: 511 W. Lime St.
Lakeland, FL 33815

Phone: 863-413-1700

Staybridge Suites Lakeland West

Exterior entrance of Staybridge Suites Lakeland West

Address: 3855 Don Emerson Dr.
Lakeland, FL 33811

Phone: (863) 225-2886

Hampton Inn & Suites Lakeland-South Polk Parkway

King suite at Hampton Inn & Suites Lakeland South-Polk Parkway

Address: 3630 Lakeside Village Blvd.
Lakeland, FL 33803

Phone: (863) 603-7600

TownePlace Suites by Marriott Lakeland

Kitchen area of suite at TownePlace Suites Lakeland

This all-suite hotel features full-size kitchens, pillow top mattresses and complimentary WiFi.

Address: 3370 US Hwy 98 N
Lakeland, FL 33805

Phone: (863) 680-1115

Group Activities

Everything you need to host a memorable event

Extraordinary Venues and Unforgettable Adventures

Experiences, not Express Lines

  • Sun ‘n Fun Expo Campus
    • 2,700 acres
    • 270,000+ sq. ft. of indoor space
    • Home of the largest convention in Florida—200,000 attendees
  • Fantasy of Flight
    • 62,000 sq. ft. of indoor space
    • Aviation museum
  • Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium
    • $40 million renovation completed 2017
    • Several hospitality and event venues
    • Winter home of the Detroit Tigers
  • Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture
    • Florida Southern College
    • Largest one-site collection of his architecture in the world

Authentic, not Animatronic

  • Safari Wilderness
    • Named “10 Best Safaris in the U.S.”
    • 260+ acres
    • 14,500 sq. ft. of indoor space
  • Bok Tower Gardens
    • 150+ acres of gardens
    • 12,000 sq. ft. of Indoor space
    • 6,400 sq. ft. outdoor kitchen and edible garden
  • Westgate River Ranch
    • 1,700-acre western-themed “dude ranch”
    • 10,000 sq. ft. of indoor space
    • Weekly rodeo and numerous outdoor activities
    • Accommodations range from hotel rooms to cabins and glamping

Fresh Local Flavor, not National Chain Fare

  • Growing culinary scene of down-home eateries specializing in
    • Farm-raised beef, pork and poultry
    • Fresh seafood
    • Craft breweries
    • BBQ
    • Enchanting fine dining
    • Wide variety of ethnic offerings including Cajun, Asian, Indian and other cuisines

Lakes and Trails, not Blacktop and Traffic 

  • 40 golf courses
  • 550 freshwater lakes
    • Trophy bass fishing in the “Largemouth Bass Capital of the World”
    • Paddling trails and limitless kayak and canoe opportunities
    • Paddleboarding, flyboarding and waterskiing
  • 390+ miles of trails
    • Hiking
    • Mountain biking
    • Cycling and multi-use
  • Outdoor paradise
    • Circle B Bar Reserve — one of the “51 Great Places to See Wildlife”
    • 11 environmental preserves
    • 5 wildlife management areas
    • Two state parks and one state forest
    • Hundreds of parks, gardens and green spaces

Unlimited possibilities limited only by your imagination!

There is never any charge for our services.
Financial incentives available based on room nights generated.
Start planning your next major event in accessible, affordable Central Florida.

Our Team

Conventions, Meetings and Events

Al Snow

Convention, Meeting and Event Representative
863-551-4718
CONTACT

Elizabeth Lineberger

Client Services Coordinator
863-551-4710
CONTACT

LEARN & DISCOVER

5 Hidden-Gem Kid Attractions Near LEGOLAND Florida

5 Hidden-Gem Kid Attractions Near LEGOLAND Florida

LEGOLAND Florida Resort in Winter Haven is one of the best Florida attractions for kids ages 2-12. The 145-acre theme...

See Details
Spend a Weekend in Winter Haven

Spend a Weekend in Winter Haven

We just published a video on YouTube showing how much fun a weekend in Winter Haven, FL can be for...

See Details
Spend a Weekend in Lakeland

Spend a Weekend in Lakeland

We just published a video on YouTube showing how much fun a weekend in Lakeland, FL can be for you...

See Details
email signup

Subscribe to

EMAIL LIST

Join our email list and stay up to date with all the great things happening in Florida’s Sweetest Spot.