As an association management company, successful outcomes for our client meetings and conferences are often the result of partnerships forged across many industries. One such partnership that our organization places high value on is that with local convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs) in destinations that are being considered or have been selected to host our client events.
There are a plethora of resources available to planners in support of the skills necessary to execute a successful meeting, but few of them combine destination knowledge, local expertise and connections to leverage in-market relationships. CVBs offer a wealth of resources and are the experts of their destinations, making a planner’s job more efficient.
“I not only use the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow.” — President Woodrow Wilson
A CVB’s role is to promote the long-term development and marketing of a destination, focusing on convention sales, tourism marketing and services to meeting planners and leisure travelers. They work with groups of all sizes and are a go-to resource for helping to connect with the right venues and businesses for successful events. In the initial phase of planning, they can also advise their customers about potential conflicts related to other events, major construction projects in the city and traveling into the destination. Especially helpful for long-term planning, CVB’s have a great understanding of which development projects are in the pipeline that could be an asset to an event.
AMPED recently engaged Destination DC, the local CVB in Washington DC to assist in the planning process for one of our client’s large citywide conferences taking place in 2020. This event will draw 12,000 attendees worldwide and use over 6,000 rooms on peak night — quite a large undertaking, even for our experienced planning staff! Meeting in our nation’s capital has multiple unique attributes no other city can offer. Here are a few valuable way in which we partnered with the CVB to assist us in the initial planning process:
Request for proposal distribution
Instead of doing research ourselves in an unfamiliar city, we sent our RFP to the CVB and asked them to distribute it to all hotels that would be willing to host the event based on specifications like location to convention center, meeting space requirements, hotel room accommodations and guest room rates. Their sales team understood the value of this meeting to the city and served as our advocate to the hotel community. They prepared a detailed RFP which generated over 30 responses from hotels interested in working with us.
After committing to hold the meeting in DC, we were ready to conduct a site visit to become familiar with the destination, visit potential hotels and meet with vendors. The CVB saved hours of planning by coordinating our itinerary for four days, including transportation to and from the airport, meeting with convention center staff, touring 15 hotels and off-site venues, showcasing area restaurants and arranging a city tour to see the highlights. Additionally, CVB staff arranged for multiple vendor interviews to assist us in our decision to find and work with the best suited partners based on our service requirements. In the end, the CVB staff provided us with undivided attention for our trip and arranged this visit with our priorities and needs at the forefront.
There are many other valuable ways to use the consultative services of the CVB to help succeed in other aspects of planning. They include services such as:
• Marketing of the conference
• Supply of promotional materials such as their visitors guides
• Printing and mailing services
• Sponsorship assistance
• Discount coupon programming
• Social responsibility
• Customized attendee website
• Housing and conference registration
• On-site staffing
• Access to image galleries
In summary, a good CVB is a true partner, an extension of our staff, and can become a great resource about a destination. CVBs want events to be successful in their city and engaging them as a strategic partner from the beginning helps puts us on a great path to success.