"We are the Austin experts! We have relationships in our market that my clients can take advantage of if we get to work together."
We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Jim Doherty, Director of Eastern Regional Sales with the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau about the unique meeting destination of Austin, TX. There is so much Austin has to offer to planners and meeting attendees, and we found out first hand from Jim why Austin should be on your meeting destination radar.
SUZZANNE: What makes Austin a great meeting destination?
JIM: Attendees visiting Austin are afforded a completely unique destination that offers an authentic experience with high quality hotels and a state-of-the-art convention center. Visitors can enjoy our varied entertainment districts, which highlight our world famous live music scene and continually emerging culinary scene. There is always something new for attendees to experience when they visit.
SUZZANNE: What is the ONE THING planners are always surprised to learn about Austin?
JIM: In my experience, planners are always surprised by the quality of our convention center. Although there are plenty of quality convention centers out there, ours has great flexible space, is technologically one of the most advanced in the nation, and is surrounded by hotels and entertainment making it a completely walkable experience for attendees.
SUZZANNE: How do you see the value you provide to planners as a CVB?
JIM: We are the Austin experts! We have relationships in our market that my clients can take advantage of if we get to work together. Our team is out in the market every day, working with planners and we have the knowledge of creative experiences that existing clients have produced with great success. We love being able to share this knowledge to assist meeting planners in creating a memorable meeting experience for their attendees.
SUZZANNE: What do you think are the advantages to reaching out to a CVB first when planning a meeting?
JIM: Besides our in market knowledge and connections, when we work with a client from the beginning, the client can take advantage of our superb convention services team who can assist with marketing, event planning, and housing services once the meeting is booked. Our convention services team can assist with any size meeting and is no cost to our clients. A win-win for planners!
SUZZANNE: What size/type of meetings best fit in your destination?
JIM: From board meetings to larger citywides, Austin is ready to open its doors to just about any sized meeting. We have downtown and resort hotels that can handle any in-house meeting from 10-800 rooms. Our sweet spot for citywide groups utilizing our Convention Center is 2,500-3,000 peak. With these numbers, we can offer diverse room packages with minimal to no shuttles necessary, especially given the walkability of the city.
SUZZANNE: What are the latest developments/happenings/events in your destination you’d like to share with planners?
JIM: There is always something happening in Austin! Recently, the JW Marriott Austin opened in February 2015 with 1,012 rooms and the Westin Austin Downtown and the Sonesta Bee Cave Austin opened in July 2015 with 366 rooms and 195 rooms respectively. Opening in November 2015 is the Hotel Van Zandt with 322 rooms and the Hotel Granduca with 194 rooms. In summer 2017, the Fairmont Austin will open adding 1,068 rooms. All in all, nine additional hotels will open before the end of 2017.
SUZZANNE: Why are your services free?
JIM: Austin is committed to the meetings and event industry and we understand the importance travel/tourism has on our economy. This city has a one-of-a-kind culture and universal appeal, and we want to make sure people know about it. Our services are free to ensure it’s easy to book a meeting in Austin and that the event is successful.
SUZZANNE: What motivates you to provide the excellent service you are known for?
JIM: We love sharing all that Austin has to offer! We also want to make the process as easy as possible for the planner. There is nothing better than having a planner hold their meeting in Austin and for them to see what an amazing experience their attendees had.
SUZZANNE: What would you like all planners to know about Austin?
JIM: We are a city that has to be experienced in person. Once we get planners to our city, they understand the vibe of Austin and why their attendees have to experience that same vibe.