"I think the CVB represents the whole picture of a destination, instead of just one venue or hotel."
Lisa Fall, Director of Conventions & Meetings with the Texas Association for Health, PE, Recreation & Dance recently shared her experience working with convention & visitor bureaus (CVB) and specifically, the Frisco Convention & Visitors Bureau and how cultivating a relationship over time with a CVB is truly one of the best investments a planner can make.
SUZZANNE: What’s the hardest/most challenging part of your job? What do you most enjoy?
LISA: The most challenging part of my job is to provide the best services for our members on a very small budget. Including getting the best hotel rates, facility fees, meeting fees etc. that meet their school budgets. The most enjoyable part of my job is working with our TAHPERD members and getting to know them on a very personal basis.
SUZZANNE: Outside the industry, what is your dream job?
LISA: I honestly feel like I have my dream job!
SUZZANNE: I love hearing that!
SUZZANNE: How important is the destination in your attendee’s decision to attend your meeting?
LISA: The destination is important as it relates to the facility fees and hotel rates that we can negotiate.
SUZZANNE: Fees and rates are definitely a driving factor as is the destination. In fact, according to the “Decision to Attend Study 8 in 10 of prospective attendees report that the destination/location factors into their decision.
SUZZANNE: How did you first become aware of the services CVBs provided?
LISA: When I started working for TAHPERD in 1999, I definitely realized the value of working with CVB’s and all of the many services they provide.
SUZZANNE: What do you most value about your relationship with Frisco CVB/other CVBs in general?
LISA: The most valuable aspect about our partnership with the Frisco CVB and all other CVB’s that we work with is the personal relationships we have cultivated with the sales and service staff over the years, which ultimately helps us when we are trying to negotiate a deal that is a win-win situation for both the city and TAHPERD.
SUZZANNE: CVBs not only build strong relationships with planners, but they also develop significant relationships with industry partners within their own destination, allowing them to really partner with planners to create a successful meeting outcome.
SUZZANNE: Thinking about Frisco, what are some of the unique attributes the destination was able to bring to your meeting?
LISA: One of the attributes our attendees love about holding our Summer Conference in Frisco is being able to attend a Frisco Roughriders baseball game if there is a home game scheduled over our conference dates.
SUZZANNE: Can you share a specific time when your CVB partner came to the rescue in a difficult situation?
LISA: In 2006, our Annual Convention was going to be in Fort Worth. That was the same year the Omni was being built and many hotels downtown closed and we lost all of our contracted rooms except for the ones we had at our headquarters hotel, and even that block was cut in half. We were unable to secure additional rooms with the downtown Fort Worth hotels due to the rates so we had to go to the outer parts of the city to more affordable hotels. The Fort Worth CVB paid for the cost of our shuttle transportation to all of those hotels, which was a huge help to us!
SUZZANNE: How would you describe the relationship you have with the CVB? What would you compare it to?
LISA: The relationship we have with all of the CVB’s we work with is truly a partnership and a friendship.
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?
LISA: I think some planners feel like unless their meetings are of a certain size, it would not be beneficial to work with CVB’s and use their services. My advice to planners is to make the CVB their first point of contact when they are sending RFP’s. I feel going through a CVB is like one-stop shopping, which saves a planner a lot of time. I would also advise a planner to truly cultivate and maintain relationships with a CVB representative even if their city gets out of a rotation, you never know, when it could come back in!
SUZZANNE: That is so true, and what is so great is that CVBs work with planners on any sized meeting of 10 rooms or larger. In fact 80% of meetings are 100 rooms or less on peak. These meetings are the foundation of the meetings industry. No meeting is too small or too big to take advantage of their help!
SUZZANNE: What do you think is unique about the value CVBs provide compared to other planning partners you might use?
LISA: I think the CVB represents the whole picture of a destination, instead of just one venue or hotel.