"I would highly recommend talking to a CVB when planning an event as they have great staff, and the network and resources needed to help the planning process."
Jay Inoue, Budget Director for Naka-kon Anime Convention shares some great insights on how a volunteer staff handles the logistics of planning and executing an annual convention, and Destination Marketing Association International’s (DMAI’s) Terri Roberts gets the inside track.
In my conversation with Jay, I quickly learned that his convention is unique and he and his all-volunteer staff are dedicated and savvy in their use of key resources. Having moved the convention to Overland Park two years ago, Jay feels the Overland Park CVB’s efforts have helped make the convention experience better for his attendees and they have the network and resources in place to aid his volunteer staff in planning. Read on to learn more from Jay’s perspective. We know there are a lot of volunteer organizations out there who can really benefit from connecting with the CVB in any destination!
TERRI: First, can you tell me a little about yourself and your planning background?
JAY: I am the treasurer of Naka-kon Japanese Cultural Education Association. Each year we organize the Naka-kon Anime Convention which is an annual 3-day convention that celebrates Japanese pop culture such as anime, games, art, cosplay, fashion, tradition, and music.
TERRI: How did you first become aware of the services CVBs provided?
JAY: We first got in touch with the Overland Park CVB about two years ago. That was when we began negotiating with the Overland Park Convention Center to move our convention to the city of Overland Park, Kansas. We had not yet worked with a CVB, since our meeting was small. We have been working with the Overland Park CVB the past two years. The first year we all had a learning curve as our convention is quite unique. As we all learned how to best work together, the second year our efforts were rewarded and all went smoothly and well.
TERRI: What do you most value about your relationship with Overland Park or other CVBs in general?
JAY: The people (staff) I think are what we value the most in our relationship with Overland Park and the CVB. I think we have been fortunate to work with great staff members that care about making our event a success and helping us where they can. In many ways, they are like a good neighbor; they are easy to work with, easy to talk to, and eager to solve problems.
TERRI: Which specific services do you rely on?
JAY: In a broad sense we rely on their network/communication. This includes:
- Developing press releases and getting in contact with the local media for coverage.
- Contacting local shuttle companies and organizing complimentary shuttle bus service for our attendees.
- Contacting local hotels and helping us obtain room blocks for our attendees.
- Contacting local businesses for deals/discounts for our attendees.
- Social Media support, such as Facebook.
- Contacting City of Overland Park Ambassadors to help run our registration/information desk.
TERRI: What do you think is unique about the value CVBs provide compared to other planning partners you might use?
JAY: CVBs seem to be a one stop network service that can help make the convention experience for our attendees better. From our stand point, their help is much appreciated since our convention is run entirely by volunteers.
TERRI: What is most compelling to you about Overland Park as a meeting destination?
JAY: The location has ample meeting spaces and hotel accommodations for large meetings and conventions. The convention center is conveniently located right off the Interstate Highway for easy access and not located too far away from Kansas City International Airport.
The immediate surrounding areas have plenty of restaurants and shopping and Overland Park is not located not too far from other tourist destinations like Kansas City. I personally like the suburb feel of Overland Park because it does not feel as busy or crowded like other big cities and downtown areas.
TERRI: Why do you choose not to go it alone on the internet, or go direct to hotel, when planning a meeting?
JAY: It is not possible to organize a convention our size and magnitude alone, especially when all our convention staff helps with planning during their free time. For our convention, we work with three entities: the main convention hotel, convention center and CVB.
TERRI: How do CVBs make your job easier?
JAY: They make our job easier because of all the services they provide for free.
TERRI: If you didn’t use a CVB, how would you replace their services?
JAY: Most likely we would have to do it ourselves, by contacting hotels, press, etc. directly when we and where we could. Working with a CVB that already has an established network in place and knows all the people and can start the conversation for us is a benefit and time saver. They can educate the vendors because they fully understand our needs and this takes a burden off our volunteer staff.
TERRI: What would you like other planners to know about using a CVB?
JAY: I would highly recommend talking to a CVB when planning an event as they have great staff, and the network and resources needed to help the planning process. The Overland Park CVB definitely helped make the convention experience for our attendees much better.