We (CVBs) are destination experts and are an asset to a meeting planner. We strive to make planners' jobs easier as well as educate them that our services are free.
Ava Pope, is a 25 year veteran in the hospitality industry and has been the Director of Sales, with the Greensboro Area Convention & Visitors Bureau for over 14 years. Recently, she sat down with Suzzanne Ravitz of Destination Marketing Association International to share how Greensboro strives to bring first-class services to meeting planners, as well as how her destination loves to bring southern hospitality to all of its visitors.
SUZZANNE: What makes Greensboro a great meeting destination?
AVA: It’s so easy to get to! With our central location on the east coast and along the interstate corridor, Greensboro is a convenient destination by plane, car or rail. Interstates 40, 85 and the future I-73 and I-74 converge in Greensboro, and Piedmont Triad International Airport offers non-stop daily flights to and from cities across the United States.
SUZZANNE: What is the ONE THING planners are always surprised to learn about Greensboro?
AVA: No matter the season, Greensboro offers a pleasant climate and warm-spirited Southern hospitality. Add an outstanding collection of golf courses, shopping venues, gourmet restaurants and eclectic eateries, energetic nightlife, sports museums, galleries and festivals to the mix and it’s easy to see why Greensboro has the winning combination for your meeting or convention.
SUZZANNE: What concerns/complaints/frustrations are you hearing from planners lately? How do you think the services CVBs provide support them specifically?
AVA: I think some planners aren’t aware of the value CVBs bring to the table. We aren’t trying to take their jobs away from them by doing what they can’t do for themselves. We are destination experts and are an asset to a meeting planner. We strive to make their jobs easier as well as educate them that our services are free for planners to utilize.
SUZZANNE: What size/type of meetings best fit in your destination?
AVA: Greensboro can really handle just about any size/type meeting. We have an ample amount of spaces that can accommodate a small board meeting all the way up to a convention that seats 22,000+. No matter your size, we have you covered here in Greensboro!
SUZZANNE: What are the latest developments/happenings/events in your destination you’d like to share with planners?
AVA: There is always something happening in Greensboro. The most recent is the Sheraton Greensboro Hotel at Four Seasons/Koury Convention Center has completed their $30 million dollar renovation. They have renovated all 985 guest rooms and 250,000 square feet of meeting space (and it is all under one roof – a meeting planners dream).
SUZZANNE: In what way do you think CVBs are most misunderstood by planners? What one planner perception would you like to change about CVBs in general?
AVA: I think CVB’s are misunderstood by the meeting planner and they do not realize the following is true:
- Our services are free because they are paid for by those vested in tourism in our destination.
- We are here to assist and not take away from their relationships with hotel sales reps
- We work with third party planners just like we work with the meeting planner
SUZZANNE: What do you think are the advantages to reaching out to a CVB first when planning a meeting?
AVA: The Greensboro CVB offers numerous free services to our planners/event organizers that they should really take advantage of when going through the planning process. Some of our free bureau services include:
- Pre-convention planning (site inspections, preparation and presentation of competitive bids, multimedia presentation for meetings, sporting events and group tours, etc.)
- Program assistance (sample tour itineraries, welcome letters and/or address from key area officials, suggestions on guest speakers and event entertainment, spouse programs, sightseeing tours and children’s activities, signage at airport, key hotels and meeting facilities, secures foreign language interpreters, court reports and parliamentarians, contact for information for local event service providers)
- Destination Literature (complimentary visitor brochure, area guides and ploy bags, videos and DVD’s showcasing area attractions)
- Computerized housing bureau – available to groups utilizing multiple properties
- Registration Assistance
- Publicity and Promotion
SUZZANNE: What motivates you to provide the excellent service you are known for?
AVA: Greensboro is known for our warm-spirited Southern hospitality and we love to welcome our guests with open arms.