"Using a CVB is like using Wikipedia because I know I can get quick and reliable answers."
Karen Bradley Burnett is the Senior Director, Conference & Meetings with the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA). Her rewarding career includes working on both the planning and hotel sales side, including owning her own company, Sage Meetings and Events. Dedicated and loving her planning career, we asked what her dream job outside the industry might be, and she replied, “Truly, my dream job would be inside the industry, however, if I have to go outside, it would be interior designer extraordinaire.” In this blog post, Karen shares her experience working with CVBs and the value they bring in helping her in the RFP and negotiating process, and much more.
Suzzanne: How did you first become aware of the services CVBs provided?
Karen: The first time I reached out to a CVB was very early in my career when the hotel that was hosting my organization’s annual meeting finally informed the organization that they could not take direction from everyone on staff and that the organization needed to designate one person on staff as the hotel contact. I was not familiar with the destination so I reached out to the CVB for assistance.
Suzzanne: How has your relationship with all CVBs grown/changed over time?
Karen: I’ve been in the industry long enough to have seen CVBs in general grow from small underfunded offices to highly valued (in most instances) marketing and promotional representatives of the destination. Over the years, it’s been interesting to watch various cities whose elected officials finally understood the importance of convention business to the city and their tax base. That’s when the funding becomes available and exciting things start happening for that destination. Having worked on both sides of the fence—non-profits and hotel sales also gives me a multi-dimensional perspective and appreciation for CVBs.
Suzzanne: What do you most value about your relationship with LATCB/other CVBs in general?
Karen: LA is one of those cities that has truly embraced the importance of the meetings and conventions industry and has been making great strides in their development and commitment to the convention industry. What I value most is the assistance that CVBs provide in the RFP and negotiation process. In addition, the ability to tap into everything I ever wanted to know about a destination, is priceless.
Suzzanne: How would you describe the relationship? What would you compare it to?
Karen: My preference is to build relationships with the members of my external team and, almost without exception, I have found CVB representatives to also be relationship builders. As with anything, some CVBs are better than others. I have found the LA team to be extraordinary. Using a CVB is like using Wikipedia because I know I can get quick and reliable answers.
Suzzanne: What do you think is unique about the value they provide compared to other planning partners you might use?
Karen: The level of the services above and beyond that I rely on are, in my opinion, unique to CVBs and there’s no charge. I know all the 3rd parties in the industry and none of them do as good a job as a CVB. While they will tell you that their 10% doesn’t increase your hotel rate, it actually does.
Suzzanne: How do they make your job easier?
Karen: They provide so many one-stop services that save me time and effort. I would not want to have to go in search of all of their services.
Suzzanne: If you didn’t use a CVB, how would you replace their services?
Karen: Why would I not use a CVB? If CVBs didn’t exist, I would be spinning my wheels in internet searches.
Suzzanne: What would you like other planners to know about using a CVB?
Karen: CVBs are responsible for filling their convention centers and hotels. As a result, they are willing to work hard for you in order to get and retain your business.
Thanks so much to Karen for talking with us. If you have a great CVB story to share and would like to be featured, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you!