ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.
Issue link: http://conventionsouth.epubxp.com/i/273697
⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ M A R C H 2 0 1 4 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 14 Strapped for time and resources, planners are seeking bureaus that offer a seamless, one- stop-shop planning experience where they can easily access a destination's network of suppliers. "The Huntsville/Madison County (Alabama) CVB was instrumental in our deci- sion to select Huntsville and the specific venues for our annual regional meeting," said Gary H. Moody, Wildlife Chief for the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, explaining that last year, Huntsville hosted the Southeast Federal Assistance Coordinators Meeting of 100 attendees. "Their willingness to organize information and contacts and to provide staff to meet with us on an initial visit was the deciding factor in our decision to select Huntsville as the meeting location." It's more than just being a resource for destination information, according to Yvonne Boyington, Vice President of Conventions for Huntsville's bureau. "When a planner contacts our office, we aim to eliminate any worries that they might have and to make the process easy. For example, our convention sales staff coordinates to eliminate each entity from contacting the planner, because we know how time consuming the process can be. We want to take on that responsibility so the planner doesn't have to. This also gives a unified front and eases their stress from having too many cooks in the kitchen." At the same time, Boyington says meetings require a team approach. "Let's face it," she said. "Without a team approach, it's close to impossible to produce that one-of-a-kind meeting experi- ence that will have attendees coming back for more." To better accommodate planners' need for assistance, more and more bureaus are work- ing at being less bureaucratic, and more cus- tomer-centric. According to 2013 data from the authority on convention bureaus, Destina- tion Marketing Association International, an increasing amount of destinations are "restruc- turing to better align their members and partners' goals with consumer needs." Planners like Jill Kidder with the Louisiana Community College and Technical System, say they want a one-stop-shop, well-con- nected bureau to help with meetings. She's found a partner with Baton Rouge's CVB. "Visit Baton Rouge is a meeting planner's one-stop shop from the very first request for proposals to the event wrap up report. We've worked with the Visit Baton Rouge staff for years and have always found them to be extremely professional and knowledgeable, and a lot of fun." Renée Areng, Executive Vice President of Visit Baton Rouge, banks on testimonials like Jill's and works hard to make sure her bureau is doing exactly what's required to keep plan- ners satisfied. Being a liaison can be an S P E C I A L F E A T U R E : O N E - S T O P - S H O P D E S T I N A T I O N S The one-stop-shop concept is nothing new. Walmart has built an empire around it with stores being an epicenter for prod- ucts and services so you can check off your to-do list fast. Similarly, the one-stop-shop destination concept brings together a city's meeting suppliers under the arm of the CVB. However, as many planners say they have experi- enced, not all destinations nor bureaus have mastered the process of providing one-stop service. Recent reader surveys issued by ConventionSouth show planners are increasingly frustrated by "inconsistent services of CVBs." Plug Into One-Stop-Shop Destinations 10-33 CS MARCH 2014_Layout 1 2/28/14 2:28 PM Page 14