"Working with a CVB is really just like an extension of your meeting team. They are a fabulous and expert resource for the destination of your meeting."
Meet Sarah Bolm the Associate Director, Meetings and Travel for the American Bar Association. Sarah shares her experiences working with CVBs and the value they bring to her meeting planning process with Suzzanne Ravitz of Destination Marketing Association International.
SUZZANNE: What’s the hardest/most challenging part of your job? What do you most enjoy?
SARAH: I struggle with the confines of strict budgets and trying to explain the state of the industry and rising prices to my internal clients. What I enjoy is mentoring new planners in the industry and teaching them some of the things I have learned over my 21 years as a meeting planner.
SUZZANNE: Outside the industry, what is your dream job?
SARAH: I would love to own and operate a small safari lodge in Tanzania.
SUZZANNE: How important is the destination in your attendee’s decision to attend your meeting?
SARAH: It is very important. Many of them are tight on time, so direct flights are important often, or if the attendee has a law firm in the destination or a client, that is helpful too.
SUZZANNE: How did you first become aware of the services CVBs provided?
SARAH: My first experience with a CVB was years ago when I was on a site/pre-planning visit in Nashville. Our Nashville CVB Rep was very involved in the site, taking us to off-site venues and restaurant options. I have been utilizing them ever since.
SUZZANNE: What do you most value about your relationship with the Washington DC CVB (Destination DC)?
SARAH: There are many things I rely on from Destination DC. Currently, I really rely on their assistance in securing hotels for our meetings. Washington DC is getting increasingly difficult to find space for our meetings. Our CVB reps are very helpful in finding hotel options that may not normally participate in citywide conventions, etc.
SUZZANNE: Thinking about Washington DC, what are some of the unique attributes the destination was able to bring to your meeting?
SARAH: Washington DC is a great destination for our meeting. For the ABA, it is always helpful that the government agencies are there to participate. Additionally, the destination has all of the amenities our attendees expect such as excellent restaurants, off-site activities and top notch meeting facilities.
SUZZANNE: How would you describe the relationship you have with the CVB? What would you compare it to?
SARAH: I have a very good relationship with our DC Sales Manager. Working with Alex and the CVB is reassuring. You know that there is someone on the ground in DC that knows you and your business, and will look out for you. She is an expert on the destination and I find that a great comfort.
SUZZANNE: Why do you think some planners choose not to use CVBs? Do you think their concerns are valid from your experience? How would you advise planners to create a beneficial partnership with their CVB?
SARAH: I think many are misguided and think that there is a cost associated with working with the CVB. I would encourage planners to work with CVBs to see how truly beneficial it can be.
SUZZANNE: What do you think is unique about the value CVBs provide compared to other planning partners you might use?
SARAH: Their services are free and they represent the whole city and its vendors, so they can be impartial.
SUZZANNE: What would you like other planners to know about using a CVB?
SARAH: Working with a CVB is really just like an extension of your meeting team. They are a fabulous and expert resource for the destination of your meeting.