"I value the vast wealth of knowledge about their respective areas and their strong business relationships with their members and stakeholders."
Karen Knox, CMP, CMM, Meetings Manager, SDO Client Engagement, Allscripts Healthcare Solutions, Inc. shares some great insights and tips on the logistics of planning and executing successful meetings, and Destination Marketing Association International’s (DMAI’s) Terri Roberts gets the inside track.
It’s clear that Karen brings great depth and knowledge to her position and has a lot to share with her planning peers. Her active industry participation, along with her diverse background, qualifies her as a great sounding board and advice giver. She has found great value in working with Chapel Hill CVB and if you are looking for an affordable destination where suppliers go out of their way to serve you, read on!
TERRI: Tell me a little bit about yourself and your planning background.
KAREN: I am a seasoned planner with extensive experience in association and corporate meetings and events, as well as, corporate incentive travel programs. I owned a small catering company for a short time, and have a bachelor’s degree from Georgia State University in Hotel, Restaurant, and Travel Administration with an emphasis in meeting planning and I am a CMP & CMM. I have managed the corporate meeting functions in a department of “1” up to a team of “8” throughout my career.
Additionally, I have been active in several industry trade associations throughout the years which include MPI, FICP, and SITE.
TERRI: How did you first learn about the benefits of working with a CVB?
KAREN: Actually, the importance, functionality, and benefits of the CVB were part of the academic curriculum taught in my degree program! From my first months as an intern, to my senior year in college, I realized the great value, knowledge base and partnerships CVBs can provide.
TERRI: How long have you been working with Visit Chapel Hill? How has your relationship with them grown/changed over time?
KAREN: I started working with the Chapel Hill CVB about 14 years ago…just as soon as I started in the meeting planner position at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC). Over time, our relationship has become more valued, trusted and appreciated, as I depend on them to have the latest industry knowledge and “the word on the street” with area updates and happenings.
TERRI: What do you most value about your relationship with Visit Chapel Hill or other CVBs in general?
KAREN: I value the vast wealth of knowledge about their respective areas and their strong business relationships with their members and stakeholders. CVBs can provide a more robust experience and add a 360 view to my itinerary and logistics planning, serving as the repository of other corporate clients’ activities, trends, and experiences. CVBs work with a wide range of clientele, and because of this can offer many variations on that one “must do” activity which will ensure a successful outcome for both the attendee and my budget!
TERRI: Which specific services do you rely on?
KAREN: Recommendations/information on area vendors is #1! I also appreciate their knowledge of the lesser known venues and alternative meeting spaces. I depend on the CVB to be an advocate for my business with their area members and stakeholders.
TERRI: What do you think is unique about the value CVBs provide compared to other planning partners you might use?
KAREN: The CVBs are not paid by the vendors! Most CVBs are funded through their local government to support the area, not just specific or select vendors. The CVB can offer nonpartisan information and work to bring my business to their area – without the influence of “what about my cut?”
TERRI: What is most compelling to you about Chapel Hill as a meeting destination?
KAREN: Well, we love the convenience to our corporate campus, but beyond that…Chapel Hill offers a wide variety of meeting options for all budget price points in a relatively compact, easily accessible area. From full service hotels for those meetings that require a large amount of meeting space, robust food and beverage offerings, and overnight sleeping rooms to boutique hotels with more intimate meeting settings, even state-of-the-art executive conference centers, Chapel Hill has them all! I also love that the area vendors work together to bring business, not just to their respective properties, but to the Chapel Hill area as a whole. There is support for each other’s success, as well as the success of the program. Chapel Hill is a destination that encourages an extended stay once the meeting has concluded, with their award winning culinary options, unique events, and great “small town” charm.
TERRI: Why do you choose not to go it alone on the internet, or go direct to hotel, when planning a meeting?
KAREN: The CVB provides a far more personal opportunity to exchange information and ask questions. It’s a bonus that I personally know many of the CVB teams. I can get immediate feedback and alternatives offered on the spot. Again, no vested interest in one particular property/vendor over another while providing a full range of options, at all price points.
TERRI: How do CVBs make your job easier?
KAREN: They save me SOOOOOO much time in researching logistical support for my meetings. They can also provide a snapshot of events over my program dates to ensure my meeting, dates, and location will work well together.
TERRI: If you didn’t use a CVB, how would you replace their services?
KAREN: I would tap into my trusted venue sales staff – those who know the area well, have been in their positions for a while, and will shoot straight when I ask the tough questions. I’d rather work with my CVB though!
TERRI: What would you like other planners to know about using a CVB?
KAREN: Get to know them and use them for the extensive area knowledge of their respective destinations. Share the full scope of your program and be open to their suggestions on marketing, logistics and other event elements – they know what their area does best! Working with a CVB is easy – just pick up the phone!