Better meetings is what everyone in the meetings industry strives to achieve. And, although each segment (CVBs and NSOs and 3rd Parties) provides a different service and promotes a different product, all have come to realize that their internal goals will only be reached if the overarching goal is achieved: fulfilling the client’s needs. Happily, the industry has become sophisticated enough to know the best way to reach a common objective is through collaboration, not competition.
What does each partner bring to the site selection table? It’s important to have a clear understanding of the unique role that each plays in the process, whether for a citywide or a single hotel meeting.
- The CVB sells the destination, but that doesn’t mean indiscriminately offering up every hotel and attraction. Instead it is their responsibility to fully understand what the meeting planner requires in terms of space, budget, venues, local flavor and amenities, and then create the package that best fits the bill.
- The NSO sells a brand within potentially competing destinations, and must prepare their proposals to realistically meet the needs of the group. The NSO’s relationship with the meeting planner is continual because they have hotel product in a myriad of destinations; in fact in several chains the GSO – Global Sales Office – has replaced the NSO .
- Third parties represent the client and provide various aspects of meeting management. They are increasing their clout by expanding internationally and forming partnerships with other types of providers such as technology and management companies.
Regardless of how willing to work in concert CVBs, NSOs and 3rd party planners may be, the truth is it’s the meeting planner’s responsibility to set the parameters and exercise control. Communication, transparency and openness from the beginning are essential; problems and in-fighting occur when the partners are blindsided with after-the-fact information. Since you are driving the bus, what can you do to make the trip harmonious?
- Always be upfront about the fact that you are working with a 3rd party, and explain the extent or limits of their role and authority.
- Make your expectations clear, and let all the partners know where they fit into the process.
- Be transparent; all partners should have the same information.
- Stay informed about each partner’s activities on your behalf.
- Keep the lines of communication open.
Remember that everyone is working toward the same goal – the success of your meeting.