"A CVB wants you to have the best experience in their city so you come back! That translates (at least should) to a partnership that helps you succeed in all aspects of planning your meeting."
Catherine Mills, CMP is one busy meeting planner. As the Director, Annual Meeting & Council on ADA (American Dental Association) Sessions, she is responsible for overseeing the planning and execution of the ADA annual meeting. The meeting rotates throughout the country and attracts upwards of 25,000 attendees. Read on to find out how Catherine takes advantage of CVB destination consultants to help her achieve unique meeting experiences for her attendees.
SUZZANNE: What’s the hardest/most challenging part of your job?
CATHERINE: What I find most challenging, I also find most rewarding, and that is working with our volunteer members. It can be challenging coordinating it all, yet rewarding in all that they bring to the event.
SUZZANNE: What do you most enjoy?
CATHERINE: I enjoy brainstorming with creative people on how to do the same things differently – and seeing them work! I also enjoy the partnerships with association members and vendors and seeing everyone’s hard work come to fruition in a great meeting.
SUZZANNE: Outside the industry, what is your dream job?
CATHERINE: I have my dream job outside the industry – mom to my daughters Ainsley and Kieran!
SUZZANNE: How did you first become aware of the services CVBs provided?
CATHERINE: My first job in the industry I was enlightened on what CVBs were and what they provided.
SUZZANNE: What do you most value about your relationship with Destination DC/other CVBs in general?
CATHERINE: I really value the relationships that have turned into friendships. But even with that aside, the professionalism of the DC staff from sales and service to leadership is truly one of the best teams out there. They bring knowledge, influence and creativity to solutions we have needed.
SUZZANNE: Thinking about Washington, DC, if you’ve met there in the past, what are some of the unique attributes that the destination was able to bring to your meeting?
CATHERINE: Meeting in our nation’s capital has multiple unique attributes no other city can offer. The history and austerity that comes with being in the same place as the White House and Capitol Building, the Smithsonian museums, Embassy Row…I could go on but there is so much to highlight to attendees in DC and Destination DC did a great job in helping us market the city to our attendees.
SUZZANNE: How would you describe the relationship? What would you compare it to?
CATHERINE: It’s a true partnership. A CVB wants you to have the best experience in their city so you come back! That translates (at least should) to a partnership that helps you succeed in all aspects of planning your meeting.
SUZZANNE: Which specific services do you rely on?
CATHERINE: I rely on a CVBs relationship with their hotel community, DMCs, city government, etc. With a meeting that travels to a different city every year, I need to rely on the people who deal with these entities on a daily basis to help solve issues and provide the best service to my attendees that I can.
SUZZANNE: What do you think is unique about the value they provide compared to other planning partners you might use?
CATHERINE: Other planning partners are typically laser focused on one general area – a hotel, a special event, A/V needs and production…a CVB has the unique ability to help provide an overall experience of the whole meeting to my attendees.
SUZZANNE: If you didn’t use a CVB, how would you replace their services?
CATHERINE: If I couldn’t use a CVB, I would be using the Internet or going direct, both of which can be very time consuming and not as efficient as using CVB services.
SUZZANNE: What would you like other planners to know about using a CVB?
CATHERINE: CVBs have the expertise, knowledge and relationships with those in their city I need to know to make my meeting the best it can be. With a large citywide meeting like mine, I can’t do it without them. But even the services offered for smaller meetings can be invaluable – help with registration and housing, marketing…they can act as a pseudo meeting contractor without the hourly price tag!