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Convene Reinvents Conference Centers



Convene Reinvents Conference Centers by Introducing a New Paradigm for Productive and Collaborative Off-site Meetings; Brand Transformation Underscores Commitment of Supporting Enhanced Collaboration

NEW YORK -- Convene (formerly Sentry Centers), a progressive developer and provider of specialized conference spaces and integrated services for off-site professional meetings, has introduced a new paradigm for how space and services can be designed to increase user productivity, collaboration and enjoyment.

The company's research focused on the misalignment of the physical workplace, and in particular conference centers and meetings rooms, with the way workforce behaviors, needs and preferences have evolved over the past decade.

"Beginning in the fall of 2011, we initiated a research process that completely deconstructed the concept of a professional meeting and reassembled all the components and best practices in a smarter framework that truly enhances meeting participants' experience, productivity and enjoyment. This is the new paradigm we are introducing today," said Christopher Kelly, co-founder and principal, Convene.

Based on its insights, the company developed 24 principles to align culinary, space design, service and technology to support more successful meetings, conferences and collaborations.

"Our product and sense of purpose stem from a clear understanding of clients' needs and objectives without regard to any pre-existing industry standards. We employ a human-centered design process that asks, observes and engages clients to clearly identify their needs so that space and services can be created to support their success," said Mr. Kelly.

Convene was founded in 2009 by Mr. Kelly and co-founder and principal, Ryan Simonetti. In the three years since opening its first urban conference center in Manhattan, the company has expanded to three locations with combined space of 110,000 square feet, making Convene the largest dedicated off-site meeting provider in New York City. The conference sites can accommodate groups ranging from eight to 300 people. Convene has already served close to two-thirds of all New York-based Fortune 500 companies. The company's workforce has grown to nearly 100 people, while its revenues exceeded $15 million in 2012. The company plans to double its capacity in the next 18 months to accommodate client demand locally and within the region.

"After operating as Sentry Centers for our first three years, we are unveiling a completely new identity under the Convene brand. Our transformation is much more than just a new name. It is the materialization and full blown implementation of a new set of best practices that have been in process since September 2011," said Mr. Simonetti. "This process started with research and focus groups that identified the company's stakeholders and their preferences. What followed was a retooling of every department, service and client touch point to be more acutely aligned with our clients' business objectives. The changes required our reshaping our organizational structure; building out of space differently; rethinking our pricing, technology offerings and menus; and even caused us to adopt more articulate and accurate language."

Corporate identity and branding services were provided by Designvox, a brand experience, multimedia and marketing communications agency based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Convene has its own meeting production team, culinary service - delivered by executive chefs in custom-built kitchens; and technology services and specialists. Its in-house service specialists oversee every aspect of meeting planners' needs including day of program complimentary limousine pick-up service. Every detail has been thought through - ergonomics, furniture, meeting storage, and more - in order to create the most productive meeting outcome and to meet clients' strategic objectives.

A Research-based Approach

Convene partnered with intentional design consulting firm, The Bromberg Group, whose principal Joyce Bromberg is one of the leading authorities in workplace environments. She is the former director of research for Steelcase and has more than 30 years hands-on experience in setting the standard for how employees interact with their work environment.

"Joyce oversaw the research and reengineering process that addressed how convenient location, state-of-the-art/infallible technology, seamless culinary service, amenities and wireless device recharging stations could transform static professional meeting rooms into active spaces for the most effective professional meetings," said Mr. Kelly. "Her findings were so profound and critical to the new direction of our company that now she is a head of strategy and research for Convene."

The DNA of Convene's new paradigm is defined by 24 principles that instruct every aspect of its product and services to deliver more enjoyable and productive collaborations. The new brand standard is materialized in the company's physical space design, service delivery and technology allocation that all work in concert to host an evolved user experience to serve the needs of today's workforce.

"No one aspect of the equation carries our user experience. Rather, it is the combined influence of every detail, service consideration and design element that work in concert to systematically produce successful collaboration," said Mr. Kelly.

Convene has three conference sites in Manhattan including 730 Third Avenue (Midtown East), 810 Seventh Avenue (Midtown West) and its newest location, 32 Old Slip (near Wall Street).

For more information about Convene, visit