"The two biggest value statements are that using a CVB can save you time and money……plain and simple. We exist to make your planner jobs easier."
Joe M. Bedsole, CTA, Director of State and Southwest Associations, Arlington CVB is a standup guy! He has a great reputation in the Texas State Association marketplace and its tight knit group of planners and association executives. It’s easy to see why he is so well thought of amongst his colleagues. Home grown, he works with pride and passion. Keep reading for more insight on the value of working with the Arlington CVB and all the destination has to offer meeting attendees.
TERRI: Tell me a little about yourself and your background in the CVB industry?
JOE: I’m a native Texan, grew up in Austin, Texas and have lived all over the state. I started out working as a lifeguard at a hotel in San Antonio during college, and then I spent 17 years working full time in hotel sales -ten of those as a hotel director of sales & marketing. I worked for hospitality companies like Doubletree Hotels, Fairmont Hotels, Interstate Hotels and Marriott Hotels & Resorts. In 2007, I transitioned over to the CVB side of the business and have been with the Arlington CVB ever since. I spent over a year working in our headquarters office in Arlington before relocating to open the ACVB’s first ever Austin based satellite office. I work with Texas and Southwest based associations and state government – Austin (being the state’s capital city) is home to majority of these organizations.
TERRI: What’s the best thing about your job?
JOE: I’m drawn to the idea of marketing an entire destination as we do in convention bureau work and I have some great customers to work with. The people who work for Texas state associations are truly fun to work with and are a very appreciative group. I have many good friends that started out as clients and I wouldn’t trade those friendships for the world. In addition, having the job of bringing in conventions to our city, which will in turn bring business to our hotels, our convention center and our attractions is also rewarding.
TERRI: What makes Arlington a great meeting destination?
JOE: Arlington is unique in the state of Texas as it has a “visitor’s pedigree”. It’s not a downtown area or suburban corporate park area that’s based on the weekly business traveler. Arlington is a 24/7 destination that offers convention attendees, families and visitors great sports teams, theme parks, world class attractions and a wide variety of affordable lodging and meeting space. Over 50 years ago, Arlington became the home of the very first Six Flags Over Texas theme park and the Texas Rangers Baseball team arrived in 1972- generations of Texans and visitors from all over have grown up with fond memories of visiting Arlington for family vacations, including myself! When you consider this history, you’ll see that this city and the people who work and live here truly do have the visitor’s pedigree-we have years of experience entertaining visitors. You’ll find it’s who we are, it’s what we do and we stand ready to greet our future guests to guarantee they have an outstanding experience in Arlington!
TERRI: What is the one thing planners are always surprised to learn about Arlington?
JOE: I think many planners are surprised about the amount of ways to save money for their conferences. Airfare is inexpensive due to our geographical location (in the middle of the country) and most of our hotels also offer free airport shuttle to/from DFW airport. All of our hotels offer free surface parking and many feature large lots convenient for SUV’s, oversized vehicles and bus parking. Through the Arlington trolley district we have complimentary area trolleys for hotel guests to all of our major attractions and another ‘special’ free trolley offering exclusive to convention groups based on room nights in the city. In addition, our ACVB convention services department offers many complimentary services for groups that have their conventions in the city.
TERRI: How do you see the value you provide to planners as a CVB?
JOE: I guess the two biggest value statements are that using a CVB can save you time and money……plain and simple. We exist to make your planner jobs easier. How, you ask? Consider the following ways using a CVB can save you and your staff time: collecting city bids, coordinating site visits, housing, securing overflow hotels, welcome letters, coordinating off site events, quick access to your contacts, and pre and post activities and the list goes on. Those are just a few great ways to save time through using your CVB. But how about the saving money part? Time is money and the association executive’s time can be leveraged by creating a partnership with a CVB. Many of the products and services of CVBs are completely complimentary. We can help you look at the city’s convention calendar and identify value dates during “off times” or navigate away from large special events when everything is booked full. Also consider these value added options: destination promos and emails, micro sites, competitive bids from the cities hotels, CVB sponsored incentives and rebates, help with area venue and transportation bids, discounts at area merchants on shopping, golf, tours, game tickets and theme parks- just to name a few.
TERRI: What do you think are the advantages to reaching out to a CVB first when planning a meeting?
JOE: You have the advantage of getting a full bid from the entire city, if you’re only using a meeting website, rep firm or an NSO chain rep you may only be getting bids from the actual hotels they represent and not all of the options in the entire destination or geographical area. A CVB offers a unique perspective on the destination that can be very helpful to an organization’s decision makers/meeting planners. A CVB will know how to market the destination. The staff may have experience with groups that are similar in profile and CVBs can guide planners to hotels that might be more willing to negotiate on rates. Also, based upon their insider’s knowledge, they can uncover hidden local gems for meeting managers — facilities that few out-of-towners are even aware exist.
TERRI: What size/type of meetings best fit in your destination?
JOE: We welcome groups of all types and sizes. The Arlington Convention Center is 90,000 square feet of column free meeting and exhibit space all on one level connected to our convention center hotel. As a city we can offer 1,600 committable rooms in full-service and select service hotels. Our attractions offer interesting options for a variety of convention groups, for offsite and after hours activities, Texas Rangers baseball games, college or NFL Cowboys football, games, family theme parks, golf, museums, and several outdoor event spaces and sports fields.
TERRI: Can a planner of a small or a large meeting take advantage of your services?
JOE: Yes, there is no minimum or maximum to who can take advantage of our CVB services when planning a meeting in Arlington. All are welcome.
TERRI: Why are your services free?
JOE: Our services aren’t free, but they are free to our clients. Our funding is sound thanks to the community’s belief in and commitment to the value we bring to our clients, and in return to the value those clients deliver to our community. The excellent service we provide to the hundreds of meeting organizers with whom we work each year is a large factor in their success, and in turn is something we can talk about as a key decision point with prospective clients. Of course we encourage all of our clients to get engaged with us as early on in their planning process as possible, so that they can see the benefit of the full scope of our services.
TERRI: What motivates you to provide the excellent service you are known for?
JOE: I was told by my parents at an early age to take ethics and pride into consideration when doing any job you’re tasked with, and have found those words to live by. In addition, it’s a great asset to have a sense of humor and enjoy what you do- It’s a fun job working with fun people and fun customers in a great city!
TERRI: What would you like all planners to know about Arlington and working with the Arlington CVB for their meeting needs?
JOE: When the need arises to meet in the north Texas/DFW area, Arlington represents a great opportunity to host your conference right in the center of it all. I would say to all planners that the CVB is ready at all times to help them out, it’s time for you and your association to start saving time and money for your organization’s budget- so pick up the phone and call or email us. We also have other avenues through our website to submit RFPs and get the meeting and convention planning process started. In addition, our full staff contact information can be found at www.Arlington.org or on our destination profile at empowerMINT.com and I can be reached directly at Joe@Arlington.org.
Last, but not least, keep in mind that the Arlington CVB is an amazing resource. The Arlington CVB can offer an entire membership of companies who are willing to bid for your business; CVBs offer a significant value.