"A good CVB is a true partner, an extension of your staff, and can become a great resource about a destination."
Gretchen Bliss, CMP, is the Director, Meetings and Conferences for MGMA, Medical Group Management Association. Her varied multi-association background gives her a solid platform to speak from regarding resources and relationships she finds useful. Misty Brewer, CMP, CEM and Event Manger at the Anaheim Convention Center reports, “Gretchen is one of the most highly detailed clients that I have ever had the pleasure of working alongside. She has this great ability to make a person forget that they are actually “working.” Skill and personality! What a great combination. We hope you will enjoy Gretchen’s perspective here.
TERRI: First, can you tell me a little about yourself and your planning background?
GRETCHEN: I have been in the industry for over 14 years. I’ve had the privilege of working for four very unique associations in the Denver area. I started in the travel industry and quickly learned I enjoyed working with groups and planning events. I have been fortunate to work with people who believe in me and have allowed me to grow in my career.
TERRI: What’s the hardest/most challenging part of your job? What do you most enjoy??
GRETCHEN: The most challenging part of my job is continuing to provide memorable attendee experiences on a limited budget. However, I enjoy the challenge of coming up with ideas that do not break our budget.
TERRI: How did you first become aware of the services CVBs provided?
GRETCHEN: When I was doing research for a large citywide convention, I found my CVB sales contacts were instrumental in helping me gather the necessary information for our Board.
TERRI: What do you most value about your relationship with Anaheim OC VCB /or other CVBs in general?
GRETCHEN: The partnership I have with the CVB’s I have worked with cannot be replaced. Many times they are an extension of my staff and on occasion, I have formed true friendships with the people I work with at CVBs.
TERRI: How would you describe the relationship? What would you compare it to?
GRETCHEN: I compare the relationship to a partnership. They have my best interest at heart and want my association to succeed in their city. They are advocates for both my association and the city they represent, like a bridge that brings us together.
TERRI: When you reach out, what is your litmus test for a quality CVB partner?
GRETCHEN: A partner that is one step ahead of me and offers solutions to challenges I might not be aware of in their city. I look for someone who is honest and will not send me down the wrong path.
TERRI: What is most compelling to you about Anaheim/OC as a meeting destination? What do your attendees have to say about Anaheim OC as a meeting destination?
GRETCHEN: Anaheim/OC is a friendly, welcoming destination. It is easy to do business in. Our attendees love the ease of getting around, from the convention center to the hotels. It is a sunny, warm and inviting place to visit and do business in.
TERRI: Why did you choose not to go it alone on the internet, or go direct to hotel, when planning your meeting?
GRETCHEN: I’ve always said you don’t know what you don’t know. Having an expert in the city you are working in can provide you with information you are unaware of. They have a global picture of the destination and can provide well rounded information.
TERRI: If you didn’t use a CVB, how would you replace their services?
GRETCHEN: If I did not have the expertise of a CVB I would have to hire another full time staff member to help research destinations (hotels, airlift, convention centers, weather, etc.); gather quotes from hotels and centers, and provide marketing support.
TERRI: What would you like other planners to know about using a CVB?
GRETCHEN: A good CVB is a true partner, an extension of your staff, and can become a great resource about a destination. Without CVB support, I would not be as successful as I am as a meeting planner.