At my first association job, we were trained to use the CVB. Now it is just part of our culture.
I marvel that there are still planners out there that don’t work with CVBs. I am stunned to hear there are people who aren’t aware of the tremendous asset. CVBs are like your local Yelp! Being locally based, they know what works and doesn’t work, and they may, if they understand your group, help give you another set of opinions to consider. But unlike Yelp, the reviews are not from individuals, but from pros in the meetings business. It’s the job of the destination CVB to understand meetings, the ROI of meetings, and to give you more focused answers to your questions.
I recently sat on an advisory board with heavy pharmaceutical planners. They just don’t think of using a CVB. They already have it in their head where they think the meeting should go…and that’s. o.k. If I know I need a blue shirt at Brooks Brothers, why look at Nordstrom? However, CVBs can provide a wealth of other off-site and event resources, so it’s worth looping them into the process, even if the meeting location is predetermined.
Some may wonder if as a membership organization, the CVB is equally as interested in serving planners as they are their hotel and venue members. I understand. The good news is, people who pay dues to a CVB are focused on the CVB’s mission. If you have a problem with any member the bureau refers, you can go back to the bureau to help resolve the issue.
This is perfectly illustrated, for instance, in our relationship with the Wichita CVB. The people are terrific. Part of it is just the Midwestern work ethic. I find they will work tirelessly to get things done. We had an issue with parking in a really high demand period during our meeting. The Wichita CVB did some very proactive things to resolve the issue with competing entities. It was a great example of how the city of Wichita can host multiple events, both local and convention related, in their center complex and no one is slighted.
We have always had a great relationship with our CVBs. Their knowledge of the city and what is happening, that may or may not have an impact on our business, is vital. Because they are the on the ground resource, they can tip or point things out to you, once they understand your group dynamics. They’re great for fostering innovation, too. We all get into the rut of doing the same thing over and over. Our customers accept it, but don’t like it. A good bureau person can help open doors to new experiences for you to create for your attendees. Their product knowledge of the center and hotels is also key. We also rely on the CVB’s to give us a “heads up” on relevant emerging or developing information from that destination.
If you are not using a CVB’s offerings, then you are failing to take advantage of an additional resource for your members. You can spend hours on the internet finding the information, but when you have a chance to talk to a live person on the phone you hear the hesitancy in their voice, the enthusiasm, and also the things they don’t say…that pretty much says it all! You’re not doing your job fully presenting all the options to your delegates, without the valued assistance of the CVB in the destination you are considering.