Over the past few years, one particular venue has emerged at the forefront of popular meeting locales for the Mississippi business community: the award-winning Hilton Jackson at the corner of Interstate 55 North and County Line Road.
“Service is the main reason why we stay so very busy,” said Karen Cadle, director of marketing for the Hilton Jackson. “From every line level person to every executive team member, each employee of the Hilton Jackson is focused on service to our customers, and we all truly understand that our success is built upon the success of the meetings and the clients that do business with us, whether it’s a luncheon buffet, an executive board meeting or a multi-day conference for 500.”
Even though Cadle declined to disclose specific financial information, she said revenues have grown significantly year after year.
“We’ve got a lot to be thankful for in the cities of Jackson, Ridgeland and Madison,” she said. “We’ve got some pretty aggressive economic development going on, from private development to public projects. There’s a lot of hard work going on by a lot of people to bring growth and development to our area. And of course, we’re in an excellent location at the hub of much of that activity. Plus, we aggressively get out there ourselves and solicit business from states surrounding us. We participate in trade shows. We host events. We underwrite events. We’re constantly out there working with our economic development partners, trying to bring more business to Mississippi as well. “
The Hilton Jackson features 30,000 square feet of ADA-compliant meeting space including 17 meeting rooms, six executive boardrooms, two amphitheatre rooms, high-speed wireless Internet connectivity, onsite audiovisual service, online requests for proposals and an event planner on staff.
“Hilton’s Event Planner Program is one of just a few programs nationally that incentivizes corporate meeting planners to book their meetings at the Hilton Jackson,” said Cadle. “As part of the ‘double dip’ program, airline miles and award points are awarded for parts of their meetings. It’s another way for us to say thank you to our customers.”
Among its many awards, including Hotel of the Year locally for several consecutive years and being recognized for its cuisine by prestigious national publications, the Hilton Jackson was named Hilton Hotels Corporation’s 1998 Newcomer of the Year for hotel conversion and property renovation.
When it reopened as the Hilton Jackson October 3, 1998 after nearly of year of transformation, the hotel, which originally opened in 1984 as the Plaza Hotel, added 300 rooms to the metro Jackson hotel market, plus more than 25,000 square feet of meeting, exhibit and banquet space for up to 1,200 people. The hotel continuously upgrades its property, such as recently replacing the carpet in its 8,100-square-foot ballroom and incorporating higher thread count sheets and more luxurious linens in all guest rooms.
Huntington’s Grille recently received Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence for the second consecutive year. The restaurant is awaiting word from Wine Enthusiast for a similar award for the second year in a row. A few of the restaurant’s creative dishes are sweet potato chips with jumbo lump crabmeat and the innovative “rock ‘n’ roll” appetizer that allows restaurant-goers to cook thinly sliced beef tenderloin tableside.
Hilton Jackson got a high-profile boost when President George W. Bush held a two-hour meeting there in 2002. Cadle recalled that, by the time he arrived, more than 200 staffers had logged hundreds of hours, leaving no stone unturned. In preparation for the event, Cadle collaborated with five divisions of the White House on a weekly, then daily basis: the advance staff, security department, communications agency, operations and media. “This was the most intricate and complicated event I’ve worked on,” she recalled. “I commend the White House folks for being so organized.”
Since then, there have been multiple presidential visits to the Hilton Jackson. “Thank goodness the White House is a good customer of ours,” said Cadle. “We have their needs down to a science now.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at Lynne.Jeter@gmail.com.