"They (CVBs) see the big picture, and they have a wider sphere of influence and connections than most."
Terry Hamm, Director of the Texas Association of Student Councils, and her organization serve youth in the state of Texas developing leadership and promoting democracy as a way of life, as well as establishing and upholding high standards for local councils throughout the state. Educated at both Texas Tech and Baylor Universities, she is home grown and as real as it gets. She has a tremendous sense of humor…just keep reading! When I asked her to send along her photo to accompany her blog post, she sent one with and without wrinkles. How great is that? You won’t be able to tell which one we used, she is beautiful in both. She speaks here of her experience working with the Arlington CVB and the vast resources they provide her as she wears a myriad of hats in her organization. If you, like Terry, have a lot to get done and not that many hands to help…read on!
TERRI: First, can you tell me a little about yourself and your planning background?
TERRY: I do not have a background in planning, unless you are talking about high school graduation plans and college admission planning. After a short stint working in Legislative Reference Service at the Library of Congress, I taught junior high and high school English, speech, and leadership and was also a junior high and high school counselor. During my school career, I always worked with student council and later was both a Texas Association of Student Councils Leadership Consultant and Curriculum Specialist. I also was a Co-Director for high school National Leadership Camps. My planning experience has been on the job during the past four years and a great deal of it was done in a sheer panic mode.
TERRI: What’s the hardest/most challenging part of your job? What do you most enjoy? (as it relates to meeting planning)
TERRY: The most challenging part of my job is wearing the multiplicity of hats I have to wear. I manage everything from website content, newsletter content, membership recruitment, advisor mentoring, and event planning for our Advisors Workshop for 250, our Middle Level Conference for 1200, our two Advanced Leadership Workshops for about 250 each, our High School Annual Conference for 5,000, our State Steering Committee Retreat for 80, our national trip for 20, our eight four-night summer leadership workshops for about 2,000 total, our Student Leadership Class Curriculum Academy for 20-50, and our three board meetings. I am the voice of the Association, and I also work with our 21 Districts and any individual advisors who call, etc…. The details are challenging, and working with all those contracts, including speaker contracts, hotel contracts, and housing bureau contracts always makes me nervous.
I love seeing an event come together! I am so excited when an advisor or a student tells me about a project that was a success or personal success. (I miss being in a school and working with students every day.) They energize me. I want to empower others to achieve more so we make our world a better place. I like providing resources, training, and information for others, and I love seeing them excel. It’s all about what’s best for kids. I see TASC as making the world a better place – one student, one council, one school at a time.
TERRI: How did you first become aware of the services CVBs provided?
TERRY: My predecessor, who has been a wonderful mentor for me, gave me lots of advice. I have been extremely grateful he told me to join Texas Society of Association Executives, so that I have a platform for learning. He also told me the folks at the Arlington CVB, especially Joe Bedsole, would be a great support. He was right.
TERRI: What do you most value about your relationship with the Arlington CVB and /or other CVBs in general?
TERRY: I appreciate being able to call and say, “Help!” I have worked primarily with three CVB’s, but I have worked most extensively with Arlington. Joe Bedsole and Mary German from ACVB have been great teachers. Mary even gave me a list of vocabulary words and acronyms when I first met her. That list and Meeting Planning for Dummies have been invaluable. Joe has talked me through contracts and RFP’s. He has done board training for another association I work with, but most of all, ACVB has been a support when I have a crisis. We have to set our Annual Conference dates three years in advance, but we work with schools. When the Texas Education Agency changes their testing dates, we may have to change the dates of our conference as well. Joe has worked diligently with me, as have others at CVBs, to make dates work for us on more than one occasion. Our Annual Conference is the biggest event; had we not been able to move dates around, it would have been catastrophic for TASC. I appreciate that they look at this relationship as a partnership and really make every effort on our behalf.
TERRI: How would you describe the relationship? What would you compare it to?
TERRY: The CVB is like a big brother because they have our back.
TERRI: When you reach out, what is your litmus test for a quality CVB partner?
TERRY: I appreciate a CVB that takes the time to understand what a student organization needs. We are not like associations with just adult members. There are specific housing and travel arrangements that are unique to advisors traveling with large groups of students. They also understand that we work with kids’ money, money they earned in bake sales and selling t-shirts. We have to manage that money carefully.
TERRI: What do you think is unique about the value CVBs provide compared to other planning partners you might use?
TERRY: They see the big picture, and they have a wider sphere of influence and connections than most.
TERRI: What is most compelling to you about Arlington as a meeting destination?
TERRY: Arlington provides great value for us. There is a variety of price point in hotels. There are terrific entertainment venues from Six Flags to the Ballpark at Arlington to the Cowboy’s AT&T Stadium. They are close to both Fort Worth and Dallas which provide easy access to other options, and they are kid friendly. The Convention Center and the hotels understand us and work with us. And I have the support of the CVB.
TERRI: Why did you choose not to go it alone on the internet, or go direct to hotel, when planning your meeting?
TERRY: I have to work with about 15 different hotels when I am in Arlington. ACVB helps us pull them all together and works with us on the rare occasions when there is an issue with a hotel. The CVB is a one stop shop. They help with contracts, venues, sports schedules, discounts on car rentals and have held my hand through more than one crisis.
TERRI: If you didn’t use a CVB, how would you replace their services?
TERRY: I am not sure. I know I would spend a great deal more time in internet searches and making personal contacts. I probably would read Meeting Planning for Dummies even more!
TERRI: What would you like other planners to know about using a CVB?
TERRY: A good CVB is a remarkable support system. Arlington has taken the time to learn about TASC. They support us, and they have developed a real relationship. They take the time needed to do that. I love it that they are passionate about their city, that they partner with us, and that they care about our success. If you don’t use a CVB, you just added hours to your job. CVB’s are the “Siri’s” of the travel industry.
On a personal note, there are three people who have been instrumental in my surviving the past four years (in addition to the strong office personnel in our parent association TASSP): JJ Colburn, my predecessor and mentor, and Joe Bedsole and Mary German with the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau. Joe has always been available as a resource, an advocate, and a friend. He may have laughed at my lack of knowledge after a meeting, but he has never been anything but supportive. I do appreciate him. He is a role model as well. He is active in his career field, takes a leadership role in other associations, and shares his knowledge. He is an amazing public speaker as well.