"Our roots are here in the suburbs, and thus ensuring the success of meetings held here goes beyond business for us, and you can count on expertise from locals who are vested in your triumph."
Courtney Pozo, Convention Sales Manager, Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau, shares her perspective about her historic destination and the value found in using a CVB, and Destination Marketing Association International’s (DMAI’s) Terri Roberts takes note.
Courtney proudly promotes and serves her region and brings the best of her local expertise to the SMERF planners she assists. She enjoys learning about their unique organizations as much as she does sharing with them all she knows about Valley Forge and how helpful a CVB can be to a planner as a true extension of their staff. With a destination rich in culture and many activities and special venues, it’s easy to help planners build a memorable program to suit their needs and deliver that something extra to attendees.
TERRI: Tell me a little about yourself and your background in the CVB industry?
COURTNEY: After graduating from East Stroudsburg University with a degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management I started with Doubletree Hotels in operations and then happily moved to the sales department after a couple years. I worked the Group Tour and SMERF market for the hotel and that is where I partnered with the CVB on several tradeshows and sales initiatives. This experience introduced me to a side of the hospitality industry I never considered. I really enjoyed promoting the entire region, so that is what lead me to a position at Valley Forge CVB, first in Group Tourism and then moving on to the meetings department handling SMERF markets.
TERRI: What’s the best thing about your job?
COURTNEY: Working with the SMERF and hobby market, I have the opportunity to learn about all types of organizations. I’ve enjoyed not only educating them on the great aspects Valley Forge area offers for their events but also seeing how excited the planners get when they learn how helpful a CVB can be in the planning process.
TERRI: What makes Valley Forge a great meeting destination?
COURTNEY: Valley Forge is a very affordable meeting destination compared to a center city location. We are a suburban location with the conveniences of a big city and still great hotel products. Valley Forge hotels offer lower room rates, taxes and free parking at all of our facilities. Yet, we are only 18 miles from downtown Philadelphia and 30 minutes from Philadelphia Int’l Airport. In addition, we have some unique settings for meetings. Several of our conference spaces are in sites of historic significance, giving meeting planners an opportunity for creating a unique event a memorable environment.
TERRI: What is the one thing planners are always surprised to learn about Valley Forge?
COURTNEY: Two things seem to generate a lot of positive reaction among our planners: that we are very close to Philadelphia and convenient transportation (air, rail, and highway). And that our area has a culture, arts scene, shopping, nightlife and dining options that go far beyond the deep history associated with Valley Forge National Historical Park. We are the site of the King of Prussia Mall, the largest retail space in the U.S. We house the newly opened Valley Forge Casino Resort. Our museum offerings include the artistry of craftsman Wharton Esherick, the natural paintings of John James Audubon and even the knockabout comedy of The Three Stooges.
Planners are always surprised about how close we are to Philadelphia and the abundance of convenient transportation. Philadelphia International airport is a 30 minute drive and since PHL is a major airport, reasonable airfare is available with many non-stop flights. For those driving we are easily accessible, with six major highways approaching from virtually every direction. The other factor enhancing the commuting experience to/from Valley Forge is that its surroundings are so lush and beautiful, added benefits to those arriving by car or rail from Philadelphia.
TERRI: How do you see the value you provide to planners as a CVB?
COURTNEY: The biggest value we provide is that our services are free. Planners can utilize the CVB as an extension of their planning team providing expertise knowledge on Valley Forge and updating them on “what’s new.”
TERRI: What do you think are the advantages to reaching out to a CVB first when planning a meeting?
COURTNEY: CVBs can save meeting planners a lot of time by directing them to the appropriate hotels that meet their needs. After learning their meeting objective, we can narrow down their selection very quickly. We also can advise them on area-wide events and special-interest, seasonal festivals and celebrations that they may want to plan their meeting dates around.
TERRI: What size/type of meetings best fit in your destination?
COURTNEY: We host meetings from small intimate retreats and board meeting to large conventions of 2,000 attendees at the Valley Forge Casino Resort. For consumer shows and tradeshows, we have the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, which offers 240,000 square feet and accommodates 1,200 tradeshow booths. For a planner who would like several hotels to select from, however, the ideal meeting size is 200–300 attendees.
TERRI: Can a planner of a small or a large meeting take advantage of your services?
COURTNEY: We welcome any size meeting in Valley Forge. Since my focus is the SMERF market, my meetings range from 50-person family reunions to 1,500-person religious convocations.
TERRI: Why are your services free?
COURTNEY: We are the dedicated marketing agency for Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and are funded by the hotel occupancy tax. With this tax and membership fees, we are able to market the region to all market segments.
TERRI: What motivates you to provide the excellent service you are known for?
COURTNEY: Having the opportunity to work with a client through the entire planning process and seeing the results of a successful event is very motivating. Also, knowing that each group the CVB brings to the region whether small or large is increasing the economic impact to the entire Valley Forge community from the restaurants, service providers, shopping malls, etc.
TERRI: What would you like all planners to know about Valley Forge and the Valley Forge CVB?
COURTNEY: Valley Forge has history, dining, shopping, culture and top-quality hotels and meeting facilities. Valley Forge CVB is here to partner with you and help point you in the right direction to select the best hotel for your event. We have a great Convention Services Department and Communication team that will assist detailing and promoting your event in all avenues. Valley Forge CVB partners with meeting planners from start to finish and ensures every event is a success. All our services are FREE, including a social media tool kit, promotional assistance and dining discount program.
The majority of our award-winning staff originates from the local area or has raised their family here. So we have a passion for the area and to see each meeting come back to Valley Forge again and again. Our roots are here in the suburbs, and thus ensuring the success of meetings held here goes beyond business for us, and you can count on expertise from locals who are vested in your triumph.