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 Your Relationship Status With CVBs In a recent survey of meeting planners, ConventionSouth found that 20 percent of planners are not using CVBs, and even the ones who do use their services have experienced various challenges. So we wanted to clear the air about what CVBs in the South are doing today to best serve groups. In this town hall session both meeting planners and CVBs voice their thoughts in an open exchange about their working relationships and what CVBs can do to make planners "love" them even more. Sean Johnson, the director of Marketing for the Tupelo (Miss.) CVB, says he doesnʼt understand why some meeting planners do not use the services of CVBs because the bureaus are specifically designed to help planners at no cost. Among the assitance to planners provided by the Tupelo CVB, at no cost, a staff member will work with meeting planners and attendees to help them experience the destination and attractions. ■ Meg Slentz Nagy, the president of Florida-based Meetings To Order Inc., says she uses CVBs for the majority of meetings and events she plans for the purposes of destination research, vendor recommendations, site inspections and promotional materials. Meg rates CVBs strongly in most categories but says some are no longer offering site inspections or familiarization tours and some share her RFPs with hotels or venues that are not a good fit for her events. "One of my biggest frustrations with CVBs is having their local members contact planners with every service imaginable," she said, adding that she works hard to communicate "clear expectations" to the CVBs she works with. ■ Nancy Millar, director of the McAllen (Texas) CVB, says itʼs her staffʼs goal to make meeting planners happy and one of the ways they do that is to properly assist them with the RFP process. Nancy says the CVB works to eliminate much of the plannerʼs leg work when sending out RFPs and to eliminate planners having to be inundated with calls from suppliers. "Many planners are surprised by the big benefits to using our CVB, including eliminating multiple contacts when working with various hotels and venues during the proposal process and instead, having one point of contact at the CVB to field all the calls and questions that hotels and venues may have." Nancy also said the CVB will provide qualified groups with a free margarita reception to provide attendees with the distinctive flavor of the area. ■ Alexandra Murphy with Atlantabased Meetings Expectations Inc., uses CVBs for all the meetings that she helps to plan and gives CVBs high marks when it comes to paying attention to her small meetings, but says her "biggest frustration with CVBs is when they donʼt establish contact with me before blasting out the RFP to all hotels—they need to understand the event first." "I donʼt want to waste a plannerʼs time or ours," said Dean Miller with Visit Fairfax (Va.) CVB, explaining that he wants planners to be honest about their needs and heʼll be honest about what his destination can provide. "I get a real sense of what a planner is really looking for. What is going to make their meeting successful—beyond great rates and great service." ■ M A R C H 2 0 1 3 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ 11

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