Arts and Hospitality: Creating Partnerships in Cultural Tourism in Miami

Posted by Laura Bruney, Jul 15, 2014 0 comments

Laura Bruney Laura Bruney

This piece by Laura Bruney of the Arts & Business Council of Miami was originally published May 30, 2014 on their blog,

The reality of a "divide" between the arts and direct and profitable partnerships with business and specific industries is certainly not a new topic. What is new, however, are ways that arts and businesses are utilizing their unique resources to bridge that separation and move towards a collaborative economic model. It’s about connecting resources to facilitate spontaneous and dynamic alliances.

George Neary, Vice President of Cultural Tourism for the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, links the two entities in innovative bonds. He explains, “The arts and hospitality industry provide a perfect example of how working with the arts creates profitable outcomes for both partners. The arts are a billion dollar industry in Miami and cultural tourism is a lucrative market. We are the new go-to destination for the arts. Hotels and restaurants in the know are reaching this rewarding market with arts packages, promotions, and encounters. Collaborations are the key to gaining a competitive advantage.”

The Arts & Business Council of Miami, in conjunction with the Bureau, hosts an annual Breakfast for the Arts and Hospitality Industry to explore these alliances. The 10th annual event was held in April at the Hotel InterContinental in downtown Miami. The goal of the breakfast is to bring together Miami’s most influential minds in arts and travel to meet, connect, and seed the building of new partnerships.

Wendy Kallergis, President and CEO of the Greater Miami & Beaches Hotel Association, explained the value of connections with the arts. “Hotels are always looking for opportunities to fill their rooms. Cultural tourists spend more money and stay longer at a destination. Research has shown that one in three tourists attend an arts event or performance while traveling. Pairing hotel nights with tickets to festivals, performances, and museums makes perfect marketing sense. Creating memorable insider experiences like private museum tours and meet the artist opportunities for a hotels most coveted guests is gainful and advantageous for both and inspires innovative and valuable relationships.”

In front of almost 150 hospitality and arts executives, Greater Miami Convention & Visitor Bureau VP George Neary opened the program. He set the stage with exciting information about the Bureaus new “It’s So Miami” marketing campaign that will feature Miami’s cultural community in many promotions and the recently unveiled Insider Guides that will include cultural experiences.

Robert Hill, General Manager of the InterContinental Miami talked about the hotel’s commitment to the arts as a valuable resource. The hotel hosts almost half a million people each year, who pass through the grand lobby and are captivated by The Spindle, an iconic sculpture by Henry Moore that dominates the space. The hotel’s artistic vision has been given a 21st century synergy with a recent renovation that includes design and technology installations throughout the public space. The hotel’s Digital Arts Program is becoming an integral part of Miami’s creative evolution, fostering and promoting the artistic assets of the community by working with local artists and groups. A pop-up store in the lobby celebrates Miami’s renowned street art scene with featured artists and programming from the renowned Wynwood Arts District.

According to Christine Corson, Marketing Communications Manager at the hotel, "The InterContinental Miami takes our commitment to the arts seriously. The urban core of Miami is embarking on a new landscape that blends arts and culture in a way that has never been done before, through use of digital art and technology advancements. We strive to continuously shed light on and promote the local arts community through our involvement with the Arts & Business Council and other groups to create innovative arts events, digital displays and exhibits."

The ingredients for successful partnerships were discussed by featured keynote speakers. Leann Standish, Deputy Director for External Affairs at the stunning new Pérez Art Museum Miami, talked about the impact of the much publicized opening festivities for the museum during Art Basel in December. Countless travel media have written glowing reviews and created priceless visibility for Miami’s cultural community around the world. The museum has become a “must see” for the millions of visitors that come to Miami each year and has created new buzz for our destination. Gillian Thomas, President and CEO of the Frost Science Museum, talked about the economic stimulus the new science museum will have when it opens adjacent to the art museum in 2015.

The synergy of these two world-class cultural venues, located on the bay with sweeping water front vistas, will be a game changer for downtown Miami. Museum Park–which will include the two museums, a sculpture park, and the Knight Arts Plaza–will bring locals and visitors away from the beach to the central core. Museum executives are working with the Bureau and downtown hotels and restaurants to maximize and leverage opportunities. Profitable partnerships include special museum packages for downtown hotel guests, promotional coupons distributed at area restaurants for BOGO museum tickets, and outreach with bars and nightclubs. The cruise industry is also involved creating special opportunities for cruise passengers to spend an extra night in Miami to experience the downtown arts community. A shuttle to ferry passengers from the cruise port to nearby Museum Park is also being explored.

Airlines are also interested in showcasing Miami to visitors. The final speaker of the morning was Dr. Yolanda Sanchez, Director of Culture and Arts for Miami International Airport. The site specific art designed for the new terminals has won awards and provides a beautiful back drop for airport guests. The integrated art provides an impressive first impression to the traveling public. The airport also hosts changing art exhibits to create quiet moments and contemplation in one of the world’s busiest travel hubs.

As the sun continued its morning ascent and the hustle and bustle of the city just outside began to quell, a microphone was passed around the room to allow everyone a chance to introduce themselves and state who they would like to connect with. This was when the real magic happened. As the breakfast concluded, the room was abuzz with representatives from arts organizations bridging the divide and seeding potential partnerships with the hospitality participants. Everyone one was mixing, meeting and starting new conversations. It was amazing to witness community togetherness. The spirit of collaboration filled the inspired crowd and this was the perfect conclusion to a dynamic event.


Our blog salon on Unique Business Partnerships this week is generously sponsored by Drexel University Online.

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