Discovering America’s First Resort Destination

Skift Take

Kelly Cavers, chief sales officer for The Palm Beaches, in a conversation about genuine hospitality, welcoming environments and the magic of what happens between the sessions.

Kelly Cavers has more than 25 years of hospitality industry experience. For the past eight years, she has represented The Palm Beaches, taking on the chief sales officer role in June 2022. She began her career in sales for United Airlines and applied the knowledge and contacts she gained there to The San Diego Tourism Authority and Choose Chicago. Kelly is involved with PCMA, ASAE, IRF, Association Forum, and the Above and Beyond Foundation Board.

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America’s First Resort Destination

Palm Beach County was America’s first resort destination. The iconic Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach was the start of it all. Other properties have come, such as The Boca Raton, but the welcoming attitude has stayed the same. For Cavers, it is clear that genuine hospitality is a way of life for everyone who lives here. The local community is always ready to welcome new visitors to the destination.

Genuine Hospitality

The Palm Beaches offers diverse communities and location advantages. Each one of the 39 cities and towns has unique characteristics. This allows the destination to welcome a variety of groups and events. Palm Beach International Airport, as well as the nearby Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports, facilitates convenient travel for attendees. Additionally, the Brightline high-speed rail connects Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, and now Orlando, making the destination an ideal choice for organizers.

Welcoming Environments

The Palm Beaches is comprised of 39 distinct cities and towns across diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. The local community works together to make the area accessible to all. It holds an Arts and Tourism Summit on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to educate its community and promote these values. It also shares resources, which make it easy for conference organizers and attendees to feel welcome. Additionally, it brands its meetings and conventions by activating its community to provide an elevated experience between sessions.

Making a Difference

Cavers wanted to find ways to provide support for people on the autism spectrum who attend conferences or are conference organizers. It does this through a partnership with the Els for Autism Foundation, founded by professional golfer Ernie Els, whose son is on the spectrum.

To begin, Cavers toured the facilities at the Els Center of Excellence, an ideal venue for events. They then met with the executive director to learn how to make gatherings welcoming and accommodating for people on the autism spectrum – such as providing dietary requirements and a sensory lounge. She also received training for staff in relation to sound, lighting, and other measures. In addition, she invited the EL Center to volunteer and work at meetings and events. Examples include guiding participants, assisting with registration, and filling bags. All of these efforts activated the community to create a more inclusive environment.

Between the Sessions

When Cavers asked customers what made The Palm Beachs stand out from other destinations, they advised us to focus on the experiences outside of the content. This led to the adoption of unique activities at the National Croquet Center and local coffee roasters like Oceania Coffee. These activities highlight the brand of being “the original, the one, the only” and emphasize the status as America’s first resort destination. Incorporating these features into sales tools helps the destination demonstrate its uniqueness.