"It depends on the CVB, but I have utilized many of their services, and it’s an added touch for a corporate planner to tap into a destination “wow” factor and an easy way to make an impression on internal staff and customers."
Robin Anderson, CMP, CCTE, CMM , Corporate Travel and Meeting Manager, T-Systems North America, Inc. shares her perspective about the value found in using a CVB, and Destination Marketing Association International’s (DMAI’s) Terri Roberts captures her insight.
Robin an experienced planner with over 20 years in the industry who plans between 20-30 meetings annually. She is passionate about achieving excellence in results as evidenced by her recognition as the 2009 “Member of the Year” by the 350-member Chicago Business Travel Association for outstanding leadership as the Education & Programs Committee Chair.
One of the things I appreciate most about Robin is she is a straight shooter! At a recent planner/CVB event, her insight was deemed extremely valuable to the audience due to her honesty and frank feedback. Robin has a way of expressing herself that is concise, to the point, and provides great clarity to meeting issues. We hope you find value in her thoughts about the Lisle Convention and Visitors Bureau, and always including CVBs as her meeting partner.
Terri: How did you first become aware of the services CVBs provided?
Robin: When I became a Meeting Manager in the early 90’s, we had three large conferences and aligned with the CVB’s to help us with services in their cities. Also, before the on-line sourcing tools, CVBs were our main source of sourcing. Currently, I manage a lot of small meetings using the Cvent tool, but I always copy my NSO and CVB on the lead!
Terri: What value do you see in bringing multiple partners to the table to help you plan your meeting?
Robin: This allows me to get the best bang for the buck. The more transparent things are between all parties the better the support. CVBs can’t help you directly negotiate, but they can be advocate for you in their destination and a trouble shooter for you when you run into a problem. I also appreciate the convenience factor. I align with CVBs because I have a year-end event I have to place in nine different cities. They know their city better than anyone else.
Terri: When you reach out, what is your litmus test for a quality CVB partner?
Robin: I want them to be honest with me. I want them to understand my goals and to be committed to the end result. The partner needs to be straight forward about the fit of my meeting in their destination, as well as the meeting culture of the city. That is what I look for. I understand they represent their hotels and venues, and I know they have to remain neutral with personal opinions, but I do need them to give direct input based on goals and objectives of my meeting, and indicate what will be a better fit for my specific needs.
Terri: What do you most value about your relationship with Lisle or other CVBs in general?
Robin: They have broad knowledge and their goal is to bring business to their destination. The CVB is an excellent resource because they have access to the many different businesses in their area with which a planner will need to interface.
Terri: Which specific services do you rely on?
Robin: I have primarily relied on CVBs for venue help and for the coordination of site inspections, as well as meet and greet services. It depends on the CVB, but I have utilized many of their services, and it’s an added touch for a corporate planner to tap into a destination “wow” factor and an easy way to make an impression on internal staff and customers.
Terri: What do you think is unique about the value CVBs provide compared to other planning partners you might use?
Robin: They know their area thoroughly. They are the destination experts.
Terri: What is most compelling to you about Lisle as a meeting destination?
Robin: It’s local and we have worked in this area for 20 years. Lisle has a good amount sleeping rooms and it is so convenient to express ways, both Chicago airports, and downtown Chicago as well. You get suburban prices, but still enjoy a great accessible spot for your meeting.
Terri: Why do you choose not to go it alone on the internet, or go direct to hotel, when planning a meeting?
Robin: It’s time consuming! I would never source direct through the internet. I think Cvent is the great tool to expedite the RFP process, but as I said, I copy my NSO and CVB when sending my eRFP. However, during the downturn, the corporate market was flooded with inexperienced planners. With layoffs, the job of planning meetings was often delegated to various administrative personnel who might not fully understand their options for resources and rely on the internet alone.
Terri: How do CVBs make your job easier?
Robin: They simply save me time. Who doesn’t need that?
Terri: If you didn’t use a CVB, how would you replace their services?
Robin: I would have to rely on a sourcing company and pay for those services.
Terri: What would you like other planners to know about using a CVB?
Robin: With a large or small meeting, a CVB is an excellent resource and should be part of your “team.” I would encourage planners to know who their contacts are in the cities they frequently plan meetings and start a conversation with the CVB about those meetings. You will find there is a tremendous amount of help available for free!