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Conference planner: Reno-Tahoe branding works

John Seelmeyer

Diane Barnette sets up more than 200 meetings, conventions and training programs a year for judges and juvenile justice professionals at venues across the country.

But increasingly, Barnette says, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges finds that it’s most successful when it schedules meetings not far away from its offices on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno.

The reason? She thinks the effort to create a new identify for the Reno-Tahoe area as “America’s Adventure Place” is beginning to set roots in markets across the country.

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges sponsors three or four major conferences a year, and the group tries to bring at least one of them each year to either Reno or Las Vegas.

It’s working, for instance, to bring a 2,000- person national conference on juvenile justice to Reno in the summer of 2007.

That’s an easier sale than it was when Barnette began working as director of conference planning for the group more than 15 years ago.

Then, she says, conference-goers didn’t have a clear image of Reno.

Today, however, the professionals who are the market for the council’s programs understand the region’s brand.

They want to visit Lake Tahoe.

They know that the area offers a variety of outdoor activities.And commonly, Barnette says, they view the Reno-Tahoe region as a place for family activities.

As it works to bring its big conferences to the region, the council gets a further boost from its ability to deliver affordable hotel rates.

“People like to come here,” Barnette says.

“Our numbers always are good.”

The group’s annual Juvenile Justice and Probation Management Conference at South Lake Tahoe last month, for instance, drew a strong attendance of about 350.

Along with major meetings, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges draws a steady stream of judicial professionals usually, about 75 during any given week for classes at its facilities on North Virginia Street.

Barnette says the group works closely with the Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority as well as hotels including John Ascuaga’s Nugget, the Eldorado, Silver Legacy and Circus Circus.

She says the council’s mission education and research in juvenile and family law strikes a chord with the hotel managers.

“People in the hotel industry are really glad to be part of something that makes a difference in the lives of children and family,” Barnette says.”They feel that they’re connected to something that serves the greater good.”


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