"I think it’s that the information they provide is more than a specific venue, but to the destination as a whole."
Sandi Hall, Vice President, Meeting Management at the American Bankers Association, shares her experience collaborating with CVBs to make her meetings an even better experience for attendees.
Suzzanne: First, can you tell me a little about yourself and your planning background?
Sandi: I’ve been at American Bankers Association for over 27 years and have worked on just about every aspect of the planning process! I really love what I do and have found that while I’ve been here a long time, things are always changing and evolving, and that makes my job a pleasure to come to every day. This industry is about relationships which makes it such a pleasure.
Suzzanne: What’s the hardest/most challenging part of your job? What do you most enjoy?
Sandi: I think the hardest part of my role is having to do more with less. We really have to be a “jack-of-all-trades” these days. But I love it, otherwise I wouldn’t have been here as long as I have!
Suzzanne: How did you first become aware of the services CVBs provided?
Sandi: We’ve been holding meetings in Palm Springs since 1988, and several years ago I was asked to serve on the Customer Advisory Board for the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau. It’s been such a wonderful experience and I’ve also been able to see the region in a whole new light.
Suzzanne: What do you most value about your relationship with the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau and/or other CVBs in general?
Sandi: They know their destination better than anyone else and provide a full-service experience – from selecting a site and throughout the actual meeting.
Suzzanne: How would you describe the relationship? What would you compare it to?
Sandi: It’s really collaborative. I love working with Michelle Morgan, Regional Director of Sales at the Greater Palm Springs CVB on our programs. She has a great pulse on the destination and is committed to our meetings’ success.
Suzzanne: What do you think is unique about the value CVBs provide compared to other planning partners you might use?
Sandi: I think it’s that the information they provide is more than a specific venue, but to the destination as a whole. They want you to come to their destination and have the best possible experience. They have the knowledge to suggest venues, vendors, and activities that fit the overall goal of the meeting.
Suzzanne: What is most compelling to you as a planner about the Palm Springs area as a meeting destination? What do your attendees have to say about Palm Springs as a meeting destination?
Sandi: I love holding meetings in Palm Springs as do the attendees. It has such a wonderful sense of arrival at the airport. In addition, beyond the destination being absolutely beautiful, there is a sense of calm when you are there. It’s equally a great destination for a meeting or on vacation.
Suzzanne: Why did you choose not to go it alone on the Internet, or go direct to hotel, when planning your meeting?
Sandi: It goes back to being a collaborative experience. I’ve been going to Palm Springs for Meetings for over 25 years, but it wasn’t until I started working with the CVB that I was able to experience all that the Palm Springs area had to offer.
Suzzanne: If you didn’t use a CVB, how would you replace their services?
Sandi: I’d be spending a lot more of my own time on the Internet researching. And even then, I wouldn’t know everything they know. They understand the unique offerings and destination demand factors better than anyone.
Suzzanne: What would you like other planners to know about using a CVB?
Sandi: I think that if planners want to get the most out of the destination, they should take advantage of the CVB and all of the complimentary services available to them that really add to the success of their meetings.