ConventionSouth

MAR 2013

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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T H E C V B I S S U E ! Meetings Palooza 2013 Have High Expectations For CVBs BY MEMPHIS CVB PRESIDENT/CEO KEVIN KANE The rules of our world have fundamentally changed. Thereʼs more pressure than ever to be brilliant and creative, often with less resources than before. As a meeting planner, every day you make hard choices on what to support and what to eliminate when searching for the perfect meeting venue. You are called upon by your clients as the destination genius. You have exceptional abilities and insight to find the not-so-obvious solutions. You look at something that others are stuck on and get it unstuck. You always seem to find a way to make something work that wasnʼt working before. The same is true for Destination Marketing Organizations or CVBs. In a hypercompetitive market, cities are competing for visitors and tourism spending at record paces. To be successful, a CVB needs genius. It needs talent that has the ingenuity for new thinking and a new way of getting things done. As economic generators for their cities, CVBs present the opportunity to offer tourism-related amenities for the meeting plannerʼs needs. They have the ability to arm you with information and tools that will make you unique, highly sought after and indispensable to your meeting clients. The CVB is your destination consultant. From the beginning, an efficient CVB should understand the clientʼs vision and goals. Serving as a destination consultant, the CVB is a one-stop-shop for all destination-related information. Instead of working with multiple contacts at multiple venues, the meeting planner can stay efficient with one contact. Whether youʼre looking for creative off-site venues or unique tours of the city, the CVB should help you research and schedule them all—free of charge. A CVB should also have a deep understanding of putting a groupʼs needs first. After all, weʼre in the hospitality industry, 10 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ MARCH 2013 and customer service is everything. A DMO sales person should realize that itʼs crucial to understand the clientʼs vision so that key goals are reached at the organizationʼs meeting. Therefore, expect the CVB contact to assist you throughout the planning process, not just during the booking stage. CVBs should focus on groups of all sizes—not just large conventions. Itʼs important to remember CVBs exist to generate visitors and tourism spending in their respective city. That includes leisure visitors, tour and travel groups and meeting business of all sizes. Taking a big picture approach, they are experts at identifying key market segments and determining the best locations where groups can build and host a successful meeting. Budgets vary among CVBs, but many still invest heavily in site inspections and FAM tours. Itʼs only going to get more competitive in attracting meeting and convention business because driving delegate attendance has become increasingly challenging. Every year, CVBs are offering unprecedented amenities ranging from rent subsidies to elaborate opening receptions. Expect to see more meetingrelated incentives to help offset costs like complimentary Wi-Fi and free board meetings. Going forward, CVBs must stay updated on the latest meeting trends, which cover everything from technology, environmentally sustainable meetings and new uses of social media to boost attendance growth. Finally, at the heart of a relationship between a DMO and meeting planner, youʼll find both should share a passion to exceed expectations. As meeting planners and DMOs, we are provocateurs, original thinkers and people who care. Working together, both parties can bring their genius to work and flourish, which will benefit the meeting attendee, meeting planner and the destination. ■ "CVBs must stay updated on... technology, environmentally sustainable meetings & social media."

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