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The conference center is located at the Olympic Center on Main Street in Lake Placid. It’s hosted 74 total event days in its first year, according to Olympic Center Manager Denny Allen.
“The building has proven to be quite flexible,” Allen said. “All the systems are working to spec. We are having a little software issue with the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) program in a couple of the rooms, but the contractor is working with us and hopefully we’ll get those worked out.”
The conference center’s grand opening was June 21, 2011. The facility has more than 90,000 square feet of meeting and exhibition space, and a full-service kitchen that can feed up to 8,000 people. Groups like the Civil Service Employees Association and the New York State Snowmobile Association have held meetings at the center. It’s also hosted a visit by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and two visits by Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy.
While ORDA’s focus is managing the operation of the conference center, the visitors’ bureau is responsible for booking and marketing. Visitors Bureau President Jim McKenna says his organization is primarily concerned with developing a list of potential clients. “Through our means, we’ve actually identified over the last eight months 336 potential organizations coming to the area,” he said. “And we’ve started now to whittle down through that last.”
According to McKenna, Lake Placid has historically attracted a strong conference business. “But as we were out of it for a number of years, some of the other competitors have come up a bit,” he said. “So it’s sometimes a challenge getting them to drive that extra hour-and-a-half. Getting their site committees here is what we’ve been concentrating on, because once you get them here, it seems to play out a little bit.”
Six groups have already booked the conference center for 2013, and two more are preparing to sign contracts. McKenna says a few others have given him verbal positives, but no contracts. “Things are developing,” he said. “We’re keeping very good track and when people turn us down, we ask what the reasons are so we can start addressing those, because we do get those on a regular basis. Working with some of these groups today is not so much, ‘Yes, we have space available, come and get it and it’s yours.’ There’s a lot of logistics that we have to work out.”
Those logistics include finding lodging properties to accommodate groups of 300 to 400 people, and scheduling conferences in time blocks that don’t interfere with other big events. McKenna says once those issues get ironed out, the center sells itself.