In my experience, the CVB is like an experienced workforce because they anticipate an event planner’s needs and can meet them with confidence.
Mary Ellen Tracey is the Associate Director with the National Automotive Finance Association (NAF Association). She started working with her husband, Jack Tracey, the Executive Director of NAF Association, over twenty years ago. In the beginning, they outsourced the management of the annual conference, then after a few years assumed total management of the annual meeting and the other meetings and events throughout the year. Although their planning staff is small, they know they can rely on the help of Visit Plano for planning assistance and firsthand knowledge of the destination.
Mary Ellen recently talked with Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) about her experience working with CVBs and the value they provide.
SUZZANNE: What’s the hardest/most challenging part of your job? What do you most enjoy?
MARY ELLEN: Covering all the bases with a small staff is most challenging for me. I would say that I most enjoy the tasks related to conference management, particularly coordinating all matters related to our exhibitors and sponsors.
SUZZANNE: Outside the industry, what is your dream job?
MARY ELLEN: I would love working in a library.
SUZZANNE: How did you first become aware of the services CVBs provided?
MARY ELLEN: I first became aware of CVB services during a site visit to the hotel we were considering. The hotel representative mentioned their partnership with the local CVB (Visit Plano) and talked about the support they provide to meeting planners and the destination as a whole.
SUZZANNE: What do you most value about your relationship with Visit Plano/other CVBs in general?
MARY ELLEN: We have a small staff, therefore the CVB is a wonderful resource and the personal assistance they provide is an enormous benefit to us.
SUZZANNE: Thinking about Plano, Texas, when you met there this year, what were some of the unique attributes that the destination was able to bring to your meeting?
MARY ELLEN: The biggest draw we see when we have a meeting in Plano is the wide range of restaurants and bars within easy walking distance, giving our attendees options beyond the hotel.
SUZZANNE: How would you describe the relationship? What would you compare it to?
MARY ELLEN: In my experience, the CVB is like an experienced workforce because they anticipate an event planner’s needs and can meet them with confidence.
SUZZANNE: Which specific services do you rely on?
MARY ELLEN: Thinking of my most recent experience, I relied on hands-on support from a CVB staffer with a calming, can-do attitude during a very hectic preparation period. I have since learned of additional services that can be provided to reduce the workload of the registration and badging process. I’m excited to utilize those services next year!
SUZZANNE: What do you think is unique about the value they provide compared to other planning partners you might use?
MARY ELLEN: The CVB services were offered without fees and contracts.
SUZZANNE: How do they make your job easier?
MARY ELLEN: They are experienced in all areas of destination management and can provide firsthand information.
SUZZANNE: If you didn’t use a CVB, how would you replace their services?
MARY ELLEN: I would probably have to use many different sources, but they would not be as knowledgeable on the resources available in the immediate area.
SUZZANNE: What would you like other planners to know about using a CVB?
MARY ELLEN: It is an efficient time saver with positive results!