New Hosted-Buyer Event Addresses Growing Appeal of Small and Boutique Meetings

Northstar's inaugural meeting connected planners and suppliers in this key niche market.

A rooftop dinner was one of the highlights of Northstar's newest event. Photo Credit: Ketara Gadahn for Studio Alani

Nearly 100 attendees gathered at the Westin Poinsett in Greenville, S.C., July 17-19 for Northstar Meetings Group’s inaugural Small and Boutique Meetings. The hosted-buyer event brought together hotels and destinations — from Vail, Colo., to the British Virgin Islands — with meeting planners looking to elevate their small meetings.

The meeting, which was sold out on the supplier side, emphasized the increasing demand for smaller events and meeting spaces. During the height of the pandemic, small meetings were the most prevalent types of gatherings, revealed NMG’s ongoing PULSE Survey (download the latest results here).

“It was nice talking to vendors who weren’t showing me their 10,000 square-foot ballroom for a group of 30,” said Drew Hirsty, director of marketing at Penn Global Marketing.

Suppliers are eager to meet the group market’s demands. In fact, 221 boutique hotels were nominated for the 2022 Stella Awards, a dramatic increase over prior years. Winners of the annual awards program, which celebrates excellence across all segments of the meetings industry, will be announced in November. 

The event included free time to explore the city of Greenville, with activities sponsored by Experience Columbia, S.C. Options included a bike ride through Falls Park, a spirits tasting at a local distillery or a tour of three breweries. 

Additional sponsors of Small and Boutique Meetings include host property Westin Poinsett; Visit Greenville, S.C., which sponsored all dinner receptions and breakfasts; Essential Bodywear, the gifting and merchandise sponsor; Daytona Beach Area CVB, the registration sponsor; and OneSpartanburg, Inc., which hosted several planners on a post-event FAM trip.

In response to the high level of interest and participant feedback, Northstar will host Small and Boutique Meetings twice in 2023. Visit our extensive roster of upcoming events for more information or to register your interest as a hosted buyer or supplier.

"The Westin was incredible, the agenda was wonderful, the Embassy Suites was great and you put together some of the best vendors I can say I have seen for many years," said Laurie Malcolm, national meeting and events coordinator for Stanley Steemer. "This was my first Northstar event and I truly hope I have many others."

Following are more highlights of Small and Boutique Meetings. Photos can be downloaded here, with credits to Ketara Gadahn / Studio Alani.

Day One

The inaugural Small and Boutique Meetings was hosted at the Westin Poinsett in Greenville, S.C.

Essential Bodywear welcomed attendees with a gifting experience.

The opening reception was sponsored by Visit Greenville, S.C.

Day Two

Stinson Ferguson, a litigation attorney in Spartanburg, S.C., spoke about the importance of work-life balance and setting boundaries.

A bike ride through Falls Park was one of the activities enjoyed by the group.

Other attendees went on a tour of three local breweries.

A rooftop reception rounded out day two.

Day Three

Patricia Byrd from One Spartanburg, Inc. shared a video about her destination.

Meeting planners met with suppliers during one-one-one appointments. Tyler Runyon, ATL Airport District CVB (right), meets with Elizabeth Letson, Liberty Fund, during one-on-one appointments.

The farewell lunch, sponsored by Visit Greenville, S.C., consisted of Southern comfort food like fried chicken and macaroni and cheese.