That’s why a key focus of every Destination Marketing Organization is to provide attendance-building tools. Some of these tools are simple: Visitors Guides, maps, postcards, advertisements, logos and photography. Others are more complex and time-consuming: micro-websites, e-blasts and presentations. The key to attendance promotion is understanding what tends to work for each particular convention and using that information effectively.
An e-blast or viral video beckoning people to a given city is only effective for people who are truly plugged in. At the same time, a snail-mail letter from a city’s mayor may work well for a less tech-savvy group.
That’s why the first step of any attendance promotion effort should be research and discussion. Who is the target audience and what are their likes and dislikes? What has worked well in the past? Do prospective attendees need to hear about nightlife and recreation opportunities before they will commit to attend or is their participation largely based on the hotel’s price tag? Expert DMOs will ask those questions before offering a customized attendance promotion campaign.
Let’s take a look at the tools typically offered by DMOs:
- Every Destination Marketing Organization provides basic literature such as visitors’ guides and maps to educate people about the destination. Providing basic information about a destination is probably the single easiest way to cajole people who aren’t obligated to attend a convention. Most destinations also offer complimentary or low-cost brochures that provide a nice snapshot of the community.
- Many DMOs have budgets for small promotional tools such as stickers, lapel pin, lapel ribbons or giveaways that are an effective means of educating people about where the next convention will take place. These are most commonly used one or two years in advance of a convention.
- Promotional videos, photography, and even PowerPoint presentations are often available and may be used in presentations or in exhibit halls to capture the attention of convention-goers.
- DMOs can typically provide text for newsletters, e-blasts or magazine pieces. They can often provide large welcome gifts for drawings that reward registrants. They can create campaigns inviting people to come early and stay late. Also, they can provide a means to connect with media representatives in their region.
- Given the opportunity, many DMOs will send a representative to the previous host city to make a presentation or staff an exhibit booth touting the destination. This is often one of the most successful means of driving attendance.
The assistance provided by DMOs may be just the ticket for driving up attendance and helping meeting planners create a successful convention. So think about using your CVB as a resource to not only book your convention but to build attendance as well.