"Going to the CVB first saves time and energy, and also gives you access to important event support and connections that are available at a moment’s notice."
Jim Kissinger, Vice President of Sales, Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau, shares his perspective on the value of partnering with your Convention and Visitors Bureau, with Terri Roberts from Destination Marketing Association International.
Jim began his hospitality career in hotel sales in Los Angeles, Monterey and Orange County. He joined the AOCVCB in 1984. His long tenure there speaks to not only his expertise in the marketplace, but the many, many relationships he has passionately cultivated serving his customers. He has served on the board of HSMAI and was once chapter president. He is currently on the WACVB board and has previously served as chairman. He’s an industry icon, with a stellar reputation gained from dedicating himself both personally and professionally to our industry.
TERRI: What makes Anaheim a great meeting destination?
JIM: Located in the center of Southern California, Anaheim benefits from a huge drive market of about 20 million people and is accessible through four local airports. Anaheim has terrific weather year-round and a great facility in the Anaheim Convention Center, which is the largest convention center on the West Coast. Anaheim also has a diverse housing package that is particularly convenient for larger conventions. Top it off with the variety of things to do in the destination and the emerging dining scene, and you’ve got the total package for meeting planners and their attendees. It’s a great destination to have people come in early to have a little fun before their meetings, or to stay late and even bring their family along for a little post-convention vacation time.
TERRI: What is the one thing planners are always surprised to learn about Anaheim?
JIM: Sometimes planners do not realize the scope of what Anaheim has to offer as a convention city or as a destination, or how easily Anaheim is set up to work for large conventions. Anaheim is a great leisure destination with nearby offerings such as Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm and great beaches; but the campus aspect of the Anaheim Convention Center – particularly with the addition of the Grand Plaza – allows meeting planners to also utilize a vast expanse of outdoor space for receptions, dinners, and entertainment all within a safe and easily walkable campus.
TERRI: How do you see the value you provide to planners as a CVB?
JIM: The Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau is a one-stop shop for meeting planners. The AOCVCB has been around for more than 50 years and brings not only a long-standing relationship with surrounding hotels and restaurants, but also a team of dedicated and experienced professionals that know the area businesses and how to put packages together to meet any need.
TERRI: What do you think are the advantages to reaching out to a CVB first when planning a meeting?
JIM: The CVB is the leading destination expert organization, and as such, has the knowledge and experience to ask the right questions. Going to the CVB first saves time and energy, and also gives you access to important event support and connections that are available at a moment’s notice.
TERRI: What size/type of meetings best fit in your destination?
JIM: Ideal groups are between 4,000-5,000 rooms peak with about 20,000-25,000 attendees. Of course, we handle smaller groups and larger groups of up to about 95,000 attendees in the instance of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), a private trade event that converges on Anaheim and the surrounding area each January. With the upcoming expansion, the convention center will have an additional 200,000 square feet of flexible space that groups of any size can utilize.
TERRI: Can a planner of a small meeting take advantage of your services?
JIM: Large or small, we can help just about anyone’s meeting needs. From small seminars in a hotel venue, to mid-sized board meetings in an airport or resort setting, up to those conventions requiring the largest convention center on the West Coast, the AOCVCB can assist planners with events of any size.
TERRI: Why are your services free?
JIM: The AOCVCB is a nonprofit organization and is primarily funded by the Tourism Improvement District (TID), which serves as a means of providing the necessary resources to enhance tourism activity and increase hotel room stays. The more successful the hotels and surrounding businesses are, the more the destination grows and thrives.
TERRI: What motivates you to provide the excellent service you are known for?
JIM: I’ve been with the AOCVCB for nearly 30 years and I love helping people create the perfect environment for their attendees, no matter how unique. Our team has the experience and knowledge to assist meeting planners and put them in contact with the right people to ensure their meetings and events are successful. It is very satisfying to help someone make clear decisions in booking their event in Anaheim and Orange County. We provide a great service in putting it all together for the client. We are here to assist clients from beginning to end to ensure repeat visits.
TERRI: What would you like all planners to know about Anaheim and the Anaheim OC CVB?
JIM: Anaheim is a great city to do business in. We have a world-class product in the Anaheim Convention Center, which is continually evolving to meet ever-changing needs. For example, the seventh expansion project will begin construction in September, giving meeting planners an additional 200,000 square feet of flexible meeting space to work with. The destination gives attendees a lot to choose from to entertain clients or just enjoy during their visit. The AOCVCB has the tools to help you have the best convention or event possible. Give us the chance to help you put on a great convention, and you won’t be disappointed. It’s what we do best.