[Maritime Week / Bell Street Pier]


Technology, atmosphere key to attracting conferences

By Steve Rosen
General Manager, Bell Harbor International Conference Center

SEATTLE - Although construction of the Port of Seattle's Bell Harbor International Conference Center will be complete in June, excitement for Seattle's newest meeting landmark is continuing to build on a daily basis. Bell Harbor is the West Coast's most technologically sophisticated meeting venue. Its location and amenities make it one of the most spectacular choices for meetings and conferences. As a result, a number of major international conferences and events have been booked conferences which might otherwise not have come to Seattle.

The auditorium of the Port of Seattle's International Conference Center seats 250 people and offers full-service audio visual capabilities.

On June 17, 1996, Bell Harbor will officially open its doors for business and usher in a new era for Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. The national and international meetings industry has found a new port of call.

What is driving the excitement for Bell Harbor? Technology, location, and service.


As technology has revolutionized the business world, its effects have been just as dramatic in the meetings industry. Gone are the days of flip charts and overheads as the primary presentation mechanism. Today's presenter makes use of interactive displays, remote access connections, high-quality audio and video and real-time computer demonstrations. Bell Harbor has been designed and constructed with an infrastructure to meet today's needs as well as accommodate future advances in technology.

Each room is equipped with rear-screen projectors, modem ports, digital audio and T1 fiber optic cables. The T1 lines allow twice as much data to be transmitted twice as fast as traditional coaxial cables - standard in most other venues. This makes it easier for presenters to access the Internet or their company's network for real-time demonstrations. The rear screen projection ensures the highest quality for presentations involving slides or overheads.

In addition to the advanced audio-visual equipment, Bell Harbor is outfitted with the only built-in simultaneous interpretation equipment on the West Coast. Bell Harbor can accommodate up to six different languages at one time, making it ideal for the burgeoning international meetings industry. Already, two major conferences are making use of this capability. The Federation of International Gymnastics Judges (FIG) will make extensive use of this equipment in December when the FIG hosts more than 200 Olympics judges from 80 countries for a training session.

"Bell Harbor has everything we need, from services to the simultaneous interpretation equipment," said Bill Rotzheim of the U.S. Gymnastics Council (and a former Olympian). "Not to mention its location right on the water."


Crowning Seattle's Pier 66, also known as the Bell Street Pier, Bell Harbor International Conference Center offers a commanding and unobstructed view of the Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound, and Mt. Rainier. With more than 4,000 feet of deck space, rooftop access, and expansive views from each conference room, location has been a powerful draw for conference planners. Each conference room at Bell Harbor features natural light from windows facing west and south, as well as ceiling height skylights which brighten the room and contribute to a more lively environment. All of these elements separate Bell Harbor from other Northwest conference centers.

Bell Harbor is not alone on Pier 66. The conference center is joined by Anthony's Home Port restaurant, a 90-slip public short-stay marina, a salmon smoking facility and the Odyssey Contemporary Maritime Museum, which will feature hands-on interactive displays. A significant portion of the Bell Street Pier will be accessible by the public as well.


With a full time professional chef and catering staff, Bell Harbor is positioned to create another Seattle dining experience. While Northwest cuisine is the center's standard specialty, Bell Harbor will accommodate unconventional or international meals to meet the needs of the client. In addition to expansive cuisine, Bell Harbor features a built-in conference services center (with fax, copiers, and computers). A dedicated conference services staff will ensure success for any of our attendees and meeting planners. The center's phone system can even be set up to give meeting planners and VIP's their own voice mail box, so they can check messages via a personal voice mail system while at Bell Harbor.

Interest in Bell Harbor has been overwhelming. With nearly two months to go before opening, Bell Harbor has already tripled its pre-opening revenue goal and is more than half way to its first year revenue goal. This is particularly amazing since potential clients have not had a finished building to view. We are excited to see what will happen after the doors open and people have a chance to see and experience Bell Harbor.

What's most important, however, is that interest in Bell Harbor has gone beyond the Pacific Northwest. From the Olympic Gymnastic Judges training course, to the International Towage and Salvage Expo, the American Press Institute's Seminar on Effective Advertising, the Foundation for Medical Excellence Conference and Forbes Magazine Technology Symposium, Bell Harbor is drawing people to Seattle. The influx of conference attendees has a positive effect on the city as well. Using statistics provided by the King County Convention and Visitors Bureau, we estimate a total economic impact on Seattle of nearly $4 million. This includes revenue to hotels, restaurants, transportation companies, retail shops, business service companies and revenue to the state from hotel and other visitor taxes.

The addition of Bell Harbor to Seattle's meeting and convention industry will ensure that Seattle stays high on the list of preferred destinations for U.S. and international meeting planners. It will also help cement Seattle's reputation as a truly global city.

Steve Rosen is General Manager of Bell Harbor International Conference Center. He has more than 20 years in the hospitality industry, most recently serving as assistant general manager and director of food and beverage at the Pasadena Ritz-Carlton.

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Copyright © 1996 Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce.