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
M A R C H 2 0 1 4 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 15 ungrateful position, but Areng says her staff "pride themselves in making meetings a breeze." And, she notes, it's not just about being willing to help, but providing real resources and technol- ogy. "VisitBatonRouge.com has a featured area just for planners," she explains. "RFPs are captured directly into our database and then shared with qualified hotels, all over a dedicated extranet. Planners and hoteliers can communi- cate directly, or we can coordinate the delivery of information. It's the choice of the planner. Our hotels and attractions continually update their information to be shared on the extranet and VisitBatonRouge.com." A Houston neighbor, The Woodlands seeks to improve its services to groups. Stefanie Romero, Group Sales Specialist with The Woodlands CVB, says the bureau is implementing a new Customer Relationship Management—or CRM—program this year that will streamline the destination's meetings management process. "With this new CRM program, hotel partners will be able to respond to leads with updated information about the client's needs at the tip of their fingers." While CVBs are evolving to provide better, more encompassing services to groups, here are some simple steps you can take to ensure that you're working with one-stop-shop, well-connected destinations. Team Up With An Advocate Jason Outman, director of sales for South Carolina's Columbia Metropolitan CVB, says one-stop- shop CVBs work with local partners on behalf of planners. They do this through communicating the client's needs and obtaining proposals for the services offered, including hotel bids, transportation costs, meeting facility charges and special event venues. "The Columbia CVB also acts as the political liaison, scheduling local govern- ment figures to deliver greetings or speak at the event of the planners' choosing. In addition, we assist the planner in coordinating extra-curricular activities." Hand Off The RFP Process Representing Jefferson Parish near New Orleans, Linda Maher, director of sales for the Jefferson CVB, Inc., says her staff inquires about the particular specifications of the confer- ence in the initial phase. "During this conversa- tion, the CVB offers to contact member ➤ "Let's face it, without a team approach, it's close to impossible to produce that one-of-a-kind meeting experience that will have attendees coming back for more." —Yvonne Boyington, Huntsville/Madison County CVB 10-33 CS MARCH 2014_Layout 1 2/28/14 2:29 PM Page 15