Cathy Keller, Director of Sales, Omaha CVB, enlightens us with some unique insights about how Omaha offers planners a new choice when considering where to take their next meeting, and Destination Marketing Association International’s (DMAI’s) Terri Roberts is poised with the pen and eager to learn more.
I can confirm that Cathy is an energetic team player who makes it her mission to lead her team in Omaha to new heights. As I learned more from her, I found her enthusiasm for her city infectious. Having personally experienced eclectic Omaha many times during their famed College World Series, I urge you to read on. I know you will find many things to love about Omaha!
TERRI: Tell me a little about yourself and your background in the CVB industry?
CATHY: With more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, 23 years in the hotel business and 8 years as the Director of Sales at the Omaha CVB, I have had a rewarding and fulfilling career. Anyone who knows me would likely describe me as a high-energy person who thrives on the opportunity to meet people and establish life-long relationships.
TERRI: What’s the best thing about your job?
CATHY: It’s absolutely the people. The opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and to introduce them to our city is so rewarding. Plus, being able to work with such a dynamic group of people at the Omaha CVB, each with their own unique strengths, has taught me so much about successful team work.
TERRI: What makes Omaha a great meeting destination?
CATHY: It’s a fresh, innovative meeting destination that offers meeting planners a new choice. Omaha is centrally located, making it easy to get to for attendees from either coast. We’ve heard time and time again how easy it is to get around the city and how helpful people are – there is truly a Midwestern hospitality you feel the minute you arrive. Omaha offers an eclectic array of entertainment and attractions that appeal to a wide variety of interests, and offers some interesting off-site experiences – from the world’s largest indoor desert and rainforest, to Smithsonian caliber museums and beautiful nature trails. The Old Market Entertainment District is a great escape for meeting delegates – cobblestone streets lined with unique boutiques, restaurants you won’t find anywhere else, street entertainment and great pubs – all within walking distance from the convention center and area hotels. Oh yeah…we’re also known for mouth-watering, sizzling steaks and a ton of great restaurants.
TERRI: What is the one thing planners are always surprised to learn about Omaha?
CATHY: That cows are not roaming the streets. (See the last sentence above to find out where you will find the cows-it’s in the beef!) In all seriousness, planners are always surprised to see how much Omaha has grown in just the last few years – it’s a vibrant city that’s been called ‘a cultural hub’ of activity, offering amenities of a city twice its size, yet it still has a firm grasp on warmth and generosity.
TERRI: How do you see the value you provide to planners as a CVB?
CATHY: Our overriding goal is to make a meeting planner’s life easier. Our strategy for making that happen: asking the right questions, being extremely good listeners and then taking what we’ve heard and making a planner’s vision come to life. Omaha has a proven track record of doing just that – the CVB, convention center and Omaha hotels have great working relationships which makes it a whole lot easier for planners to do their job.
TERRI: What do you think are the advantages to reaching out to a CVB first when planning a meeting?
CATHY: CVBs are the destination experts and provide an invaluable service to planners by being able to present a city’s complete package. Think of us as the destination broker – a resource of everything that is available and the right contacts to make it happen.
TERRI: What size/type of meetings best fit in your destination?
CATHY: With over 13,000 hotel rooms in the Omaha area, there are a variety of different sized groups that will find Omaha a good fit. There are 40 hotel properties with meeting space located throughout the city. CenturyLink Center Omaha, the city’s 250,000 square foot convention center and arena, is close to more than 2,000 downtown hotel rooms and is connected via skywalk to a 600-room headquarter hotel.
TERRI: Can a planner of a small or a large meeting take advantage of your services?
CATHY: We are happy to help anyone who is planning a meeting, large or small. Once we understand your needs, we will produce a customized plan just for you.
TERRI: Why are your services free?
CATHY: Because we understand the value of meetings and believe that the better your experience is in Omaha, the more successful your meeting will be and the more likely you will be to return. Consider us the ambassadors of Omaha, here to assist you in planning a successful event.
TERRI: What motivates you to provide the excellent service you are known for?
CATHY: When you are sincerely passionate about the city, like we are, and you want others to see why, it’s easy to be motivated. Our goal is to anticipate and exceed the expectations of each and every visitor and create a memorable experience for them – how fun is that?
TERRI: What would you like all planners to know about Omaha and the Omaha CVB?
CATHY: WOW…the list could go on and on. For the sake of space, overall, we want planners to know that Omaha is one of those warm, friendly and vibrant places that you’ll remember after you leave because of the memories you created while you were here.