"We are your meetings concierge with trusted connections through our local businesses and services."
Janis, Sue, Juanita and Mike, all Sales Executives for the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau have taken a group approach and have all joined in our Q&A to share their own unique perspective about their coastal destination and the value found in using a CVB, and Destination Marketing Association International’s (DMAI’s) Terri Roberts enjoys their insights individually and collectively
This is a passionate, well-educated and energized team led by a can-do leader in Janis! They bring a wide range of knowledge and experience to assist planners in finding just what they are looking for in the coastal community of Eugene and beyond. So, if you are looking for a destination that is full of adventure and pride in serving you, look no further!
Terri: Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background in the CVB industry.
Janis: I’m so fortunate to have worked in several aspects of the meetings industry: As a corporate meeting planner, hotel director of sales and now Vice President of Convention and Sports Marketing with the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Convention Bureau. It’s helpful to have been in the other person’s shoes, as I’m able to understand different perspectives and help both clients and hotels move toward success.
Juanita: I have always been a detailed person. I have a strong background in finance and human resources, which has helped me in my role as a professional event planner. I joined the CVB five and a half years ago, which has allowed me to use my knowledge of the local venues in response to requests from clients. Mixing detail management personality traits, along with my love for events, allows the passion in my life to also be my profession. Most planners are not aware of my background as a professional meeting planner. So when I share that fact with them, they recognize that I understand their needs. While each event is different, there are common factors I can recognize. If you are a planner, you are creative!
Sue: I am a Convention Sales Manager for our CVB and have over eleven years’ experience in multiple markets, including sports. Prior to my position with Eugene, Cascades & Coast, I spent many years in the hospitality industry, first as a travel agent (in the days before computers) and ending with working in a luxury resort in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands.
Mike: My professional career includes a significant number of years in the service and sports industries, both in management of private and public athletic facilities as well as coaching in the collegiate ranks. I now have the unique opportunity to be working with planners and organizers of events that require my expertise in venue and site selection, attention to detail, and follow through.
Terri: What’s the best thing about your job?
Janis: Besides helping clients and working with our amazing sales and service team, what I love the most is mentoring the next generation of meeting professionals and supporting the meetings industry. I’ve served on the MPI Oregon Board for several years and regularly guest lecture for our local college’s meetings management program.
Juanita: The best thing about my job is that it is always changing. Each planner is looking for something different, and I have the privilege of showing them what we can offer. I once showed a planner snow for the first time! Seeing where I live through the eyes of someone else always helps me see something in a new way and I am greatly appreciative. The ability to travel for trade shows is also a good perk!
Sue: The best thing about my job is getting to use my abilities to match people and events with their personal interests and passions. I feel I’m a good connector, and I enjoy connecting planners and events with the people and things I know will best meet their needs.
Mike: It’s a rewarding experience for me to have the opportunity to work with a team of talented and enthusiastic professionals who pride themselves in meeting the needs of our members and clients on a daily basis. I also enjoy the unique challenges and scope of every project that helps to make each day different and exciting. The ultimate satisfaction is realizing our organization helps to make a positive impact in our community.
Terri: What makes Eugene, Cascades & Coast a great meeting destination?
Janis: Our tagline is “Real Adventures. Real Close” and that’s exactly what we offer. There’s so much to choose from – an urban, quirky, hip metro area in Eugene-Springfield, coastal meetings in Florence, warm and friendly Cottage Grove, which has won an “All-America City” award twice, and forested retreats in the beautiful Cascade Mountains. Our county covers over 4,600 square miles so there’s truly something for everyone. Planners we’ve worked with are delighted their delegates can meet in the metro area and be at the coast for dune buggy rides, links golf, or whitewater rafting on the mountain rivers in an hour. Because we have so much to offer, our convention services support is key. We help planners boost attendance by creating special web microsites, coordinating special activities and group discounts.
Terri: What is the one thing planners are always surprised to learn about Eugene?
Janis: Most planners have a sense of what Eugene is about: green, sustainable, university culture, fun, and quirky. What they seem surprised to learn is how easy it is to get here. The Eugene Airport offers direct service to ten cities, which means easy connections from virtually anywhere.
Juanita: We have no sales tax!
Mike: Probably the tremendous variety of attractions Eugene has to offer. Everyone soon discovers that our locations, venues, and people make up what is uniquely Eugene and what sets us apart.
Terri: How do you see the value you provide to planners as a CVB?
Janis: Because our services have essentially been “paid” in advance by the anticipated room tax collections from a conference, we can offer valuable service assistance to planners. We are your meetings concierge with trusted connections through our local businesses and services. We deliver on our promises and look for the unexpected to help curtail issues before they arise. We provide quality service from our initial meeting with you all the way until the event is over and you are on your way home. We listen to what you are saying so we can understand your goals, needs, and objectives.
We can also assist with marketing to help boost attendance, whether it’s through social media, your own microsite that’s linked back to our website or welcoming your group electronically at the Eugene Airport.
Juanita: We know the local concierges and can assist them with understanding who you are and what to expect. We are an additional contact so there is always someone available for you. You will often find someone from our staff at your event making sure that things are going as you envisioned. We listen to the social media chatter before and during your event and will make sure your attendees needs are heard and given a response.
Mike: CVBs can be the best in saving a planner time and resources, all with no strings attached. We offer information free of charge and are professionals in the industry. We are the local experts that are familiar with the area and can make reliable and meaningful recommendations.
Terri: What do you think are the advantages to reaching out to a CVB first when planning a meeting?
Janis: Although we offer assistance to a planner in any stage of their planning process, you miss out on some key services by not reaching out to the CVB first. If you connect with us early on, we can send out the sales lead (one stop), coordinate your site visit, and allow you to take advantage of the free promotion from our social media. We recently created a position solely dedicated to social media and PR for convention and sports, which can help planners with strategizing and leveraging their social and traditional media efforts.
Mike: CVBs can be instrumental in gathering all the local key players and can give a planner a real flavor of the destination. CVBs are a one-stop-shop for meeting planners to access local information, resources and partners.
Terri: What size/type of meetings best fit in your destination?
Janis: Our largest convention center space is 30,000-square-feet, but we’ve managed to creatively expand that to meet the needs of our larger conferences. Our performing arts center (Hult Center for the Performing Arts) is located right next door to the Hilton Eugene, our largest hotel, and the two venues routinely partner together to provide additional space: a 2,500-seat theater, 498-seat theater, breathtaking three-story glass atrium, and a studio space. We’ve also successfully hosted convention events at the new Matthew Knight Arena on the University of Oregon campus, which seats 12,500.
Our destination is also small enough for groups of 25 to receive personal attention and VIP treatment.
Terri: Can a planner of a small or a large meeting take advantage of your services?
Janis: We offer services to planners of meetings of all sizes. There are minimums in order to receive some services, such as a web microsite for the meeting.
Juanita: Yes, we love working with planners of all meeting sizes. Call us and let’s talk about how we can help you!
Terri: Why are your services free?
Juanita: We are primarily funded through a portion of the county room tax, which allows us to offer our services free of charge.
Terri: What motivates you to provide the excellent service you are known for?
Juanita: I am motivated to provide the best service possible because it is my personal work ethic. In my family we teach that you sign your name to whatever you do. With a desire to assist people as well as educate them about who and what we are, along with our beautiful community, it is a winning team.
Sue: I am motivated by my pride in our community, along with all of the special features we can offer. The Eugene, Cascades & Coast area has so many local experts in various fields of study that can benefit the entire community. I truly believe if you don’t look good, we don’t look good.
Mike: I always enjoy meeting and exceeding the expectations of clients and groups I work with, as well as helping to foster a productive and collaborative effort toward achieving their final goal. The motivation is seeing a successful event be recognized as being a meaningful addition to our community.
Terri: What would you like all planners to know about Eugene and the CVB?
Juanita: I would like others to know the staff of Eugene, Cascades & Coast are professionals. As professionals, we assist each other and support each other. So if a situation arises, we can confidently back each other up. We bounce ideas off one another and collaborate on projects. We are also very involved in our community. On any given week you can find one or more of us volunteering for an event or assisting with an organization. “Real adventures”…is more than a slogan. It is our lifestyle.
Janis Ross, CMP – Vice President of Convention & Sports Marketing
Sue Harshbarger – Senior Convention Sales Manager
Juanita Metzler – Convention Sales Manager
Mike Gaffaney – Sports Sales Manager