Explore St. Louis: Hometown Hero – A case study on keeping meeting in St. Lous

Molly Hackett manages her St Louis meetings, conferences and events down to the smallest most minute detail. And that’s after she entices them to St. Louis in the first place.

Yes, it’s the people, its central location, lack of traffic, the wide variety of hotels, greenspace, authentic dining options, and the iconic Arch that this fair city has to offer, to name a few highlights. But sometimes, the ‘AHA moment’ comes down to the price of a gallon of coffee. Or, hot water for those who prefer tea.

“Believe it or not,” Hackett said, “it’s hard not to be surprised at how affordable St. Louis really is for a convention group. We talk about overall costs such as food and beverage and room rates, for example. And if your budget is of concern, as it is for all groups, it’s hard not to look at St. Louis because we offer a strong financial incentive in terms of affordability. And that can even come down to the cost of a gallon of coffee, which can be dramatically higher –sometimes double — in other cities. Saving an average of $50 per gallon is a significant savings.”

With more than nearly two decades of meeting planning expertise, Hackett, owner of Nix Conference and Meeting Management, handles the planning, communication, on-site details, virtual logistics and financial oversight for every event so that convention directors arriving here can focus their attention on their program content and attendees. She works closely with Explore St. Louis and area hotels to lay out the welcome mat to provide the necessary space to make it all happen.

As meeting trends come and go, Hackett’s continued success at attracting business to St. Louis has been unwavering through the years, even in light of the tumultuous pandemic months when the meeting world suddenly switched to virtual space. Just in the last few months, she has already booked nearly a dozen organizations for events in St. Louis that are set through 2023, with others looking even beyond that.

Hotspot hotels that work well for Hackett’s groups typically include the Sheraton Westport Chalet Hotel St. Louis in the County and downtown’s Hyatt Regency St. Louis at The Arch, both of which are located in the midst of walkable attractions, dining and entertainment options day and night, as well as the scenic Westport Lake and Mississippi River.

“The perception of St. Louis among our convention guests is that we provide them with a place filled with warmth and hospitality,” Hackett said. “Guests always comment on how nice everyone is here – from the moment of their arrival at the airport to their event and all places in between. They continually comment on the fact that St. Louisans always greet them with a smile and say hello. And for someone arriving from out of down, whether by road, rail or air, that goes a long way in making them feel welcome here and wanting to come back.”

That, and the price of a Cup of Joe.