Rachel Benedick, Vice President of Sales and Services, Denver Convention and Visitors Bureau shares some great insights about the mile high city, and Destination Marketing Association International’s (DMAI’s) Terri Roberts gets the inside track.
Any conversation with Rachel is sure to be as fresh and personable as the amazing destination she represents! Rachel is one of those exceptionally rare individuals who always seem to respond with “YES…and then, what’s the question?” She leads her expert sales team and incredibly supportive hospitality community with passion to ensure planners are supported to deliver first rate programs and events in Denver and are in turn, eager to return.
TERRI: Tell me a little about yourself and your background in the CVB industry?
RACHEL: I came to Denver in 1995 after I graduated from Michigan State University. My goal was a PhD, and I ended up with a Masters in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in marriage & family – PERFECT for sales right??? I started with Westin hotels and then was hired by VISIT DENVER in 1998, while working on my masters. I worked my way up the sales chain, most recently becoming the Vice President of Sales & Services in April 2009. I have a dog, Inkka, who is the love of my life, and when I’m not selling Denver, I’m hanging out with her! I grew up in Traverse City, Michigan, where my parents still live (the Cherry Capital of the world) and have a twin sister who lives in Chicago.
TERRI: What’s the best thing about your job?
RACHEL: The best thing about my job is that I feel we make a difference each and every day and we have an incredible hospitality community that is very supportive. What we do creates jobs and provides economic impact for our city. Each and every day is different and exciting! I believe 100% in what I’m selling: I live, eat, sleep, and breathe this city and it’s fun to sell what you love!
TERRI: What makes Denver a great meeting destination?
RACHEL: Where should I start? Denver is a great meeting destination because we are easy to get to, and have the 5th busiest airport in the country, 11th in the world. We also have all the necessary ingredients of a great convention city; top 3 rated convention center, fantastic hotels, affordability, and we are safe and offer great service, too. We also offer a plethora of meeting options. You can meet in the mountains, you can meet at an urban resort located in our metro area, you can meet downtown…we have a hotel and a facility that can accommodate your every meeting need. Lastly, we have great destination appeal with great shopping, dining, nightlife, arts and culture, eclectic neighborhoods, and sports/recreation.
TERRI: What is the one thing planners are always surprised to learn about Denver?
RACHEL: We are one of the most walkable cities in the US and it’s easy to do with 300 days of sunshine.
TERRI: How do you see the value you provide to planners as a CVB?
RACHEL: The value we provide is one-stop-shopping, destination EXPERTISE, creative ideas, marketing support, cost savings, and the list goes on. The value we provide is saving you time and money.
Additionally, we can help you drive attendance to your next Denver meeting.
TERRI: What do you think are the advantages to reaching out to a CVB first when planning a meeting?
RACHEL: WE are the destination experts. WE know the market. WE have the relationships. WE have the resources, and WE share a common goal with the meeting professional. You want more attendees and WE want more attendees.
TERRI: What size/type of meetings best fit in your destination?
RACHEL: Any and all – honestly we have a fit for whatever meeting you are looking to plan, and we have associates that can help you with a meeting for 10 people or tens of thousands of attendees.
TERRI: Why are your services free?
RACHEL: Our city appreciates the importance of conventions and tourism; after all it is the second largest industry in the city and state. Therefore, our city and our members fund our organization through taxes and membership fees, so we can offer you complimentary services. Our stakeholders know the more meetings we book and the more we “wow” and rebook…the more successful everyone is from a bottom line perspective!
TERRI: What motivates you to provide the excellent service you are known for?
RACHEL: As a DMO there is little we have total control over, but one thing we do control is the relationships we’ve built to serve you. Half our goal is to get you to say “yes” to Denver, the other half is to knock your socks off when you come to Denver! At the end of your meeting, we hope you are compelled to do two things: Number one, decide when is your next opportunity to meet in Denver and number two, tell every other meeting planner you know just how great our city is and how much your attendees enjoyed our destination. We know in the meetings industry your reputation is everything, and it’s riding on us!
And we also know that excellent service-from the airport to the hotel to the restaurants to everything else in between-shapes the impression people have of Denver. So, we work hard to provide great service at every level so your attendees know their business means a lot to our city.
TERRI: What would you like all planners to know about Denver and Visit Denver?
RACHEL: We are a relatively new and attractive convention city and in a short period of time we are ranked in the top of all cities for hosting the greatest number of exhibitions. According to Watkins National Planner Survey, we are one of three cities to rank in the top ten in all the important categories of what makes a great convention city.
At VISIT DENVER, we are celebrating our 103 anniversary and we don’t rest on our laurels – our goal is to amaze you!