"We personalize every interaction and design our services to meet the needs of the meeting professional."
Scott White, CEO of the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau shares a little bit about his destination and its unique meeting offerings with Suzzanne Ravitz from Destination Marketing Association International.
Scott began his CVB career over 16 years ago and has been in Palm Springs for over four years and he loves every minute of it! Palm Springs is the perfect fit for Scott not only professionally but personally as well. His love of golfing, hiking, and culinary delights are a perfect match for what Palm Springs offers its residents and visitors alike. From dining at a hip downtown restaurant, to golfing at one of the nine area resorts or taking a hike in the nearby mountains, in Palm Springs, everyday can be unique!
Suzzanne: What’s the best thing about your job?
Scott: Representing a destination that is recognized globally and where every day is different. Our events are incredible; one minute we are welcoming Hollywood with our International Film Festival, next we might be hosting PGA Pro’s at the Humana Challenge or watching international tennis stars at the BNP Paribas Tennis Tournament or listening to incredible music at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival.
Additionally, our destination is currently going through a wonderful renaissance where the energy and vibe is incredible. It really energizes you to be more creative and innovative. I couldn’t imagine a better time to be here. We have dozens of projects in the pipeline and can’t wait to share them in the near future!
Suzzanne: What makes the Greater Palm Springs area a great meeting destination?
Scott: The destination has remained committed to keeping the resort lifestyle in perfect balance. All of the surrounding cities work together to ensure the Greater Palm Springs brand is not just a message. It is a reality. You won’t find high rise buildings, which can block the mountain views or city lights that can block out the stars. I describe it as being on an island, the atmosphere and sense of place is so unique and special.
Once you experience holding a meeting here, you will understand. We are a natural oasis with one of the country’s largest aquifers and are surrounded by three mountain ranges, two of which get snow in the winter. Groups and their attendees love the experience our destination has to offer. Our hotels and resorts all work well together to provide a professional and unique environment and we have a lot of loyal clients that come back often and a team of professionals that are committed to going above and beyond the needs of our groups.
Suzzanne: What is the one thing planners are always surprised to learn about the Palm Springs area?
Scott: That we have an international airport with all of the legacy carriers including: American, US Airways, United, Delta, Alaska, Virgin, Westjet (Canada) Air Canada, Sun Country and Allegiant. Additionally, our airport was voted one of the most stress free airports in the country and has set records for passenger traffic, ranking us 9th last year in growth (2014 vs. 2010). And it keeps getting better. This past year we added Delta from Minneapolis, United from Houston, Virgin from New York, and Air Canada from Vancouver.
And if I can add one more… we have over 14,000 rooms and every major brand. Ritz Carlton opened in May of last year in Rancho Mirage and Kimpton is breaking ground on a new hotel in downtown Palm Springs.
Suzzanne: How do you see the value you provide to planners as a CVB?
Scott: We personalize every interaction and design our services to meet the needs of the meeting professional. We are happy to source one hotel or a dozen and will customize every aspect of the process to meet their needs. Our CVB sales team has decades of industry experience and destination experience and go beyond finding your dates and location. Additionally, we will fly qualified clients in and take them on a personalized site inspection coordinated by our Destination Services department.
Suzzanne: What do you think are the advantages to reaching out to a CVB first when planning a meeting?
Scott: The CVB understands the destination best. Our team is involved locally and we can help ensure the client’s goals are achieved as well as help avoid any issues, such as large community events. We also have great relationships with our hotels and the surrounding area and can assist with all aspects of their meeting.
Suzzanne: What size/type of meetings best fit in your destination?
Scott: We have multiple tiers; our Convention Center is located in downtown Palm Springs and is surrounded by over 2,500 rooms and we have hosted groups with over 6,000 delegates. We also have nine resorts, ranging in size from 884 to 215 and dozens of select service style hotels. Additionally, Palm Springs has a lot of independent boutique hotels that are very unique with rich architecture and history and are great for small groups to take over or include in your citywide program.
Suzzanne: Can a planner of a small or a large meeting take advantage of your services?
Scott: Definitely, we work with groups of all sizes, from 5 people to 5,000. In 2014 the CVB booked over 300 groups with over 27,000 delegates.
Suzzanne: Why are your services free?
Scott: We are an agency specifically created by the destination to help generate awareness and assist organizations with conducting business in Greater Palm Springs. Our number one priority is the customer and their successful experience. Tourism is the number one industry in Greater Palm Springs and employs over 46,000 people and generates over $4 billion to the economy.
Suzzanne: What motivates you to provide the excellent service you are known for?
Scott: I have a lot of pride, as a CVB we represent our entire destination and it is important to all of us that we are not only respected for our actions and programs locally, but internationally. I grew up in this business and learned from some of the best. If we can’t do it right, we shouldn’t do it all. I guess you can say I am a mash up of the traditional using modern technology.
Relationships will always be the most important and we will also put an emphasis on having positive relationships with our customers. Social media is important, but it will never replace the benefits of working with someone face-to-face. We want our staff out on the road meeting with our customers and learning about their goals and objectives.
Suzzanne: What is the “One Thing” you would like all planners to know about the Palm Springs brand and working with Greater Palm Springs for their meeting needs?
Scott: Our brand revolves around the word “Oasis.” Our brand “Modern Meeting Oasis” reflects the balance of having modern meeting facilities in a destination that is dedicated and committed to providing a true resort experience. From our international airport to our nine cities and world-class hotels & resorts, the diversity and opportunities to produce a very memorable event for your group is only limited to your creativity. If you are creatively challenged, we can help with that as well!