"A CVB is like a really great concierge at a hotel - because they have incredible knowledge, experience, and expert recommendations based on exactly what you are looking for."
Jenna Bisesi, Senior Sourcing Sales Executive, MEETINGS EXPERT team with American Express Meetings & Events, a division of American Express Global Business Travel, has pretty much spent her entire career in the hospitality and meetings industry, and she wouldn’t have it any other way! Today, Jenna shares with us how she utilizes the free resources convention & visitors bureaus (CVBs) offer, how the relationships she builds with her CVB sales professionals help her save time, and provide her with expert destination knowledge. She loves how partnering with CVBs can positively affect the overall attendee experience!
SUZZANNE: What was your first industry job?
JENNA: My very first job in the hospitality industry was when I was 14, working as a hostess at a Chinese restaurant in Salem, Oregon. My first “real” meetings industry job, or the start of my career in this industry, began in 1997 when I started as Executive Meeting Manager at the San Diego Princess Resort (now Paradise Point Resort & Spa in San Diego).
SUZZANNE: What’s the hardest/most challenging part of your job? What do you most enjoy?
JENNA: There are so many great hotels, resorts and destinations. The hardest part is narrowing down the search, but after really identifying the needs and history of the clients, and getting insight from my CVB representative, it makes it much easier. I think my favorite part of my job is that I truly enjoy helping my clients, and developing long lasting relationships with the fantastic people I work with.
SUZZANNE: Outside the industry, what is your dream job?
JENNA: I can’t think of a thing I’d rather be doing at this point of my career. This industry has some of the best people I’ve met, is fun, and every day is different from the day before. I’d also say that the ability to travel to great places for conferences and the feeling like I am making a difference for my clients is gratifying, so I’d say I’m pretty lucky to work in a career that I love!
SUZZANNE: How did you first become aware of the services CVBs provided?
JENNA: I first became aware of the CVB when I worked in hotel sales in San Diego. I worked closely with my CVB counterparts, which was really helpful because of their expertise and assistance with the customers for site visits.
SUZZANNE: What do you most value about your relationship with CVBs in general?
JENNA: I really value their expertise and venue recommendations most. Not every hotel or off-site venue is the right fit for every customer and you can only learn so much from what is found on the Internet. CVB sales professionals are destination experts and they have a real pulse on what is happening in their destination. I love that I can call my CVB reps for specific, more helpful information that is tailored for my client’s specific needs.
SUZZANNE: How would you describe the relationship? What would you compare it to?
JENNA: A CVB is like a really great concierge at a hotel – because they have incredible knowledge, experience, and expert recommendations based on exactly what you are looking for.
SUZZANNE: Which specific services do you rely on?
JENNA: Mostly their knowledge of real-time information on hotels, venues, as well as their members have typically been “vetted” in some fashion, so I can feel confident that the recommendations they provide are for quality venues and services. They also know what events are happening in their destination, major renovations, and other destination demand specific information that saves me time from having to try and track down that information myself.
SUZZANNE: What do you think is unique about the value they provide compared to other planning partners you might use?
JENNA: CVB’s have expert knowledge, insight and information specific to their cities, that other planning partners may not know. They may also know of hotel need patterns, Hot Dates, and/or high volume dates in their city to avoid.
SUZZANNE: How do they make your job easier?
JENNA: They make my job easier by narrowing the search for hotels, as well as providing insightful information about hotel or venue renovations, exciting new openings that may be on the horizon, and getting me into immediate contact with the right salesperson at each of the hotels I am searching.
SUZZANNE: If you didn’t use a CVB, how would you replace their services?
JENNA: I can’t imagine not using CVB’s!
SUZZANNE: What would you like other planners to know about using a CVB?
JENNA: They are a valuable resource and one that should always be included in the RFP process. Additionally, I’d let planners know that CVBs are not competitors to other planning services or partners, but just great resources that complement the planning process and help ensure a successful event in their destination!