My career in the industry began at SmithBucklin, plenty of years ago, and that’s where I learned the value of the CVB partnership, regardless of the size of your meeting. The variety of services available from CVBs is so comprehensive, that’s why they are still one of the first resources I look to when doing research on destinations, whether it’s for a future meeting or something already booked. Many CVBs have re-tooled themselves over the years as the industry and the economy has evolved. The reality of CVBs as Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) is one I truly believe helps better define their role. Total destination marketing better defines what they do, especially for those planners who are unsure about how to enlist their valuable resources. Hopefully, this change in mind set will help sustain the real value of the CVB/DMO well into the future.
NYC and Company has been a solid partner from the “get go” in my career. After leaving SBA, I went to the first of 3 stand-alone associations I’ve worked for in my career. That’s where I was able to book business in NYC on a regular basis and get a feel for how they operated. It was great to see that a world famous city like New York had an organization like NYC & Company who really understood the business and recognized they did need the client/customer. They valued our business, and worked to help the hotels understand our value too…even though we met in December of every year-when group business isn’t as important due to the wealth of transient/holiday business.
I’ve recently had the opportunity, at AAPD, to place a NYC 5000 Meeting in New York and to see it come to fruition. It’s the largest meeting we’ve had to date, based largely on the draw of the destination, in my opinion. So my relationship with NYC & Co. changed drastically, and for the better, as we transitioned from a single hotel meeting, to booking multiple properties and venues. NYC & Co. was a true partner in every sense of the word as we re-negotiated contracts that had been signed in 2003 and before our meeting had grown in size. They helped me reach out to the hotel community and explain our situation. All the moving parts involved with re-locating the meeting would not have been as successful had NYC & Company not been involved. I truly appreciate the value of their relationship and their willingness to work with me and the hotels to make sure the meeting was a success…and it was in every aspect!
CVBs, including NYC & Co., help you better explain the value of your business to the business community where you plan to host your meeting. They express this value not only in the ROI directly related to your meeting, but also in the additional spend other organizations may bring in smaller related meetings and individual spend of the attendees! That’s of huge importance as I negotiate. I’ve worked with multiple types of groups, from database users, to attorneys, to surgeons and other medical professionals…so needless to say, with all different types of budgets and spenders. It helps to know you have a partner on your side to help everyone involved truly understand the value of your business. I look at all my vendors as valued partners to me, my team and organization, and I believe the CVB partnership is one of the most important.
One of the biggest values CVBs bring is the amount of time they save me and my staff. From a marketing perspective, enlisting their services makes a difference. Whether it is the information available on their web site, to having them attend our trade shows, to the additional marketing and promotional materials made available, all are valuable resources. I can get promotional copy to use in my own marketing pieces, garner their help with email marketing campaigns, and onsite assistance too. CVBs have helped me source smaller meetings at boutique properties where we might not have a national sales representative. And of course, providing access to their member partners is wonderful leverage….sometimes it seems like I don’t take advantage of this enough, but the possibilities are endless.
At the end of the day, it’s all about the people and the relationships. In New York, Jerry Cito, First VP of Convention Development, has been fantastic. He makes himself available and he is someone I always think of as a true professional. I’ve known Rachel Nocera, Regional Director, National Accounts, since I started at SmithBucklin and am excited to have the opportunity to work with her again now that she represents NYC & Co in the Midwest market.
CVBs are a one-stop shop for sourcing many products/services from hotels, DMCs, restaurants, transportation, tours and a number of other offerings. The marketing and promotional aspect, as well as their research role would not be easy to replace and would require a lot more resources from our association. I would like all planners to know what an invaluable resource a CVB is to help save time and money in planning a meeting/convention. Be sure to enlist their help from the initial dates/rates, and availability to negotiations, to promoting the meeting, to helping you create marketing materials, to building your attendance, and of course, to re-book the meeting! CVBs even help build support from local members to help sell the city to your own Board and/or CEO, when needed. I’m not sure I have ever been told “no,” by a CVB (well, besides availability) and I believe they pride themselves on going above and beyond for their clients. Who doesn’t need a partner like that?