"Everyone is part of the process so that everyone is as intimate with your group and its needs as you are to ensure a successful conference."
Sally Noona, CMP, Director of Convention Sales and Teri Wiley, CMP, Sr. Convention Services Manager share their perspectives about their vibrant destination and the value planners can find in connecting to a CVB first, and Destination Marketing Association International’s (DMAI’s) Terri Roberts poses the questions.
Sally and Teri are both enthusiast destination professionals proud of their destination and the industry they have both dedicatedly served for years. In this blog, they give insight to the cohesive team in the Virginia Beach meeting’s community that comes together to service meeting planners and meeting attendees as well. The VBCVB has the whole city on speed dial and at your service.
TERRI: Tell me a little about yourselves and your backgrounds in the CVB industry?
Sally: I am a true CVB veteran. I have been working for the CVB world since 1984 and to this day, I STILL LOVE IT!
Teri: I have been working in the hospitality business for 30 plus years. I realized after 20 years on the hotel side that I wanted to have new challenges. Working in services was different, but still allowed me to work in the business.
TERRI: What’s the best thing about your job?
Sally: I have always shared with others that those of us who work in the hospitality industry and especially in the CVB world, are incredibly fortunate. We actually get paid to make sure visitors to our cities have a positive experience while learning, growing, re-connecting and working in our destinations. All the while, our efforts have a positive impact on the communities in which we live, adding to the vitality and sustainability of a community. Now how cool is that!?!
Teri: There are so many wonderful things about what I do every day, but if I had to name one thing it would be the people. Clients become your friends and a true bond is established as you work to make the meeting experience the best one possible.
TERRI: What makes Virginia Beach a great meeting destination?
Sally: Without question, it is our people who serve you! Every city has bricks and mortar (venues and hotels) but the real magic in any destination comes from the people who serve you. Our CVB hires for the servant heart, that passionate individual who is empowered to make it happen. And without question, this characteristic is recognized every time our planners come to town! The CVB Team (which includes the Center) is an advocate for your success.
Our award-winning LEED Gold Virginia Beach Convention Center is another great reason we are on the map – it is unlike most centers in that I like to call it “a living, breathing embraceable building” that promotes networking with all of its natural light, soaring glass and wood.
Teri: As Sally says, a building is a building, but our people and our passion make the difference. It is not only the CVB team but a whole community that comes together to service delegates and make them feel welcome in our city. From the arrival to the departure, extra steps are taken to ensure everyone feels the Virginia Beach spirit and that we appreciate the business.
TERRI: What is the one thing planners are always surprised to learn about Virginia Beach?
Sally: First and foremost, “seeing is believing!” On paper, our city may not look like the ideal model, but once here, planners see just how easy our package can and does work! Secondly, Virginia Beach is accessible – you can fly, drive or train in! We are centrally located on the east coast and a mere three hour drive from DC. Thirdly, we are an incredible cost-value for groups during the peak meeting times of the year, (i.e., a gallon of coffee at our Center is still under $40.00!) Lastly, Virginia Beach is not only the most populated city in the Commonwealth but we are also a thriving metropolitan area with a cool coastal vibe offering quality venues and great destination experiences.
TERRI: How do you see the value you provide to planners as a CVB?
Sally: Your CVB is your local expert on the City – saving you time, energy and offering you synergy as you plan events. We have your best interest at heart – if you win big, we win big! Therefore, why not work with the CVB who can assist you in ways you may never have imagined. We will tap you into our entire City!
Teri: We become an extension of your team. We are committed to being your consultant and help you navigate through the opportunities that are available in Virginia Beach.
TERRI: What do you think are the advantages to reaching out to a CVB first when planning a meeting? Tell me about you motto “having the whole city on speed dial?”
Sally: Our CVB Team truly offers expertise on how best to meet in our destination and has the connections and partnerships already in place for you to take advantage of – therefore, placing you on “speed dial” to the whole City!
Teri: The entire team is involved right from the start. You don’t just get one person who makes the sale and then moves on. Everyone is part of the process so that everyone is as intimate with your group and its needs as you are to ensure a successful conference.
TERRI: What size/type of meetings best fit in your destination?
Sally: Virginia Beach reaches a wide spectrum of size and types of meetings/events – from one hotel pieces of business that range from the very small to up to 700 people to meetings/events at our Convention Center, where we can easily manage an association for up to 2,800 people and a sporting event and/or faith-based group for up to 5,000 people. There are over 10,000 rooms citywide and depending on the group’s history, we fit many genres of meetings and events.
TERRI: Can a planner of a small or a large meeting take advantage of your services?
Teri: Our services are available to groups of all sizes and markets. We know every group is valuable and unique. We offer many free services on our website for any group to take advantage of from customized maps and postcards to images.
TERRI: Why are your services free?
Teri: We feel it is important to offer added value to our clients. With everyone’s budgets tighter we all need to work smarter and be better, so we redesigned our website to be very service friendly, personable and unique so that the planner can take advantage of our offerings.
TERRI: What motivates you to provide the excellent service you are known for?
Teri: The love of people. In addition, it is so rewarding to start the process with a planner who may “not believe” that Virginia Beach could accommodate their group with the uniqueness of our hotels and the center and then to develop the relationship & confidence throughout the planning process. Then when the group arrives and the incredible positive feedback we receive about the welcome, conference, the end result is rewarding and gratifying beyond words. It gives you the energy to work on the next one. Then when the repeat booking occurs it makes it all complete.
TERRI: What would you like all planners to know about Virginia Beach and the VBCVB?
Sally and Teri: There is not an “app” for what our team can do for you! Our entire Virginia Beach CVB and Hospitality community are vested in your success and are passionate about serving you. Our goal is to create exceptional meeting/event experiences every time based on your definition of success.