"Yes we are here to assist with a meeting of any size. We pride ourselves in the fact that all clients are treated the same, regardless of the size of their group."
Crystal Morris, Executive Sales Manager, Columbia Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, shares her perspective about her destination and the value found in using a CVB, and Destination Marketing Association International’s (DMAI’s) Terri Roberts takes note.
Crystal has love, passion and a deep knowledge of the Columbia, SC region. She is eager to show planners all the destination has to offer! Her longevity with the CVB, along with her desire to build lasting relationships to partner with planners for top notch meetings, add to her success. After reading her reflections, I am sure you will want to put Columbia, with its big city attributes and small town personality on your meeting’s “must see” list.
TERRI: Tell me a little about yourself and your background in the CVB industry?
CRYSTAL: I am the mother of two boys, Josh & Jordan. I enjoy the lake, dancing and being with friends & family. I began working at the Columbia Metro CVB in 1990. I started my career as a secretary, then quickly took on the role of convention services manager. I was promoted to Sales Manager then Executive Sales Manager, due in part to my dedication to the job, willingness to learn, and my love of the Columbia, SC region.
TERRI: What’s the best thing about your job?
CRYSTAL: There are a lot of things I love about my job but I would have to say the best thing would be the people you meet and the relationships you build.
TERRI: What makes Columbia a great meeting destination?
CRYSTAL: Columbia is rich in culture, has great history, wonderful attractions, fabulous restaurants and night life, and we are centrally located in the Southeast. In addition to this, we have the only downtown convention center in South Carolina, and over 11,000 hotels rooms to choose from to execute the perfect meeting.
TERRI: What is the one thing planners are always surprised to learn about Columbia?
CRYSTAL: I would have to say most planners are surprised at what ALL Columbia has to offer. Whether it is visiting one of our nationally ranked attractions, kayaking on one of three rivers, sailing on Lake Murray, or attending a University of South Carolina sporting event, the options are diverse and unlimited.
TERRI: How do you see the value you provide to planners as a CVB?
CRYSTAL: The CBV’s value to a planner would be rooted in the fact that we know our city, hotels and meeting venues better than anyone. We work very closely with our local contacts and network with them regularly. We are also very knowledgeable about our attractions, history, arts, shopping, dining and destination amenities. We provide complimentary services including: gather request for proposals (RFP), preparing formal bids, site visit scheduling and more! This can save planners a tremendous amount of valuable time when looking for the best place to hold their meeting or event.
TERRI: What do you think are the advantages to reaching out to a CVB first when planning a meeting?
CRYSTAL: When a planner reaches out to a CVB first, they will receive expert local knowledge of the city, hotels, unique meeting venues, attractions and outdoor activities. The CVB will also be able to help them with catering companies, transportation quotes and various other services needed in pulling it all together.
TERRI: What size/type of meetings best fit in your destination?
CRYSTAL: We love working with groups of all sizes, but I would have to say a group utilizing 200 sleeping rooms on peak or up to 750 total rooms during the duration of the event would be a good fit for Columbia, SC.
TERRI: Can a planner of a small or a large meeting take advantage of your services?
CRYSTAL: Yes we are here to assist with a meeting of any size. We pride ourselves in the fact that all clients are treated the same, regardless of the size of their group.
TERRI: Why are your services free?
CRYSTAL: As with most CVB’s, the Columbia CVB is funded through a series of taxes that are collected through the county and City of Columbia. These taxes are paid for by visitors that stay in hotel rooms, visit our attractions, and eat in our restaurants. The sole purpose of providing these taxes to the CVB is to provide the organization funding to continue its mission of bringing out of town visitors to the Columbia region. It’s the ultimate pay it forward campaign!
TERRI: What motivates you to provide the excellent service you are known for?
CRYSTAL: I love working with people and developing strong relationships to help them have the best meeting possible while in Columbia.
TERRI: What would you like all planners to know about Columbia and the Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports, & Tourism?
CRYSTAL: Columbia, South Carolina is a growing metropolis. With over 800,000 residents in the Columbia region, it is a large city with a small town personality. The City is dedicated to providing its visitors with a fun, safe, and enjoyable stay in Columbia. With top ranked attractions, an abundance of outdoor activities, great meeting facilities, and more hotel rooms that you know what to do with…Columbia is a great choice for any organization. The Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports, & Tourism is here to answer any questions planners may have and tell you why Columbia, SC is the New Southern Hot Spot!