Tracy Becker, Global Account Executive, ConferenceDirect, opens up about her partnership with CVBs to strengthen her local expertise in any destination, and Destination Marketing Association International’s (DMAI’s) Terri Roberts sits down to take notes.
My interview with Tracy was insightful, as she offered up her unique perspective on involving destination partners to best serve her clients for free! And why not go it alone…I asked? Plain and simple, you will find Tracy a PEOPLE person who values the connection of creating relationships and the tangible accountability that comes with working with someone you know. She has found a friend and valued meeting partner in Mary Brown, National Sales Manager, at the Richmond Metropolitan CVB. Please dive into Tracy’s findings and see what you might find to fit your own meeting needs.
First, can you tell me a little about yourself and your planning background?
I am a Global Account Executive with ConferenceDirect, a full service meeting planning company. I began my career in the hospitality industry in 1989, working in hotels and resorts in various capacities. After 10 years, I made the switch to the “other side” and joined ConferenceDirect. I have the distinct pleasure of working with a wonderful, diverse client base: corporate, religious, fraternal, education and association. The size of the meetings I book for my clients ranges from small Board Retreats to city wide conventions.
How did you first become aware of the services CVBs provided?
I have been working with CVB’s since the 90’s when I was first in the hotel business. I typically reach out to a CVB when I have a city wide convention or multiple hotel piece of business. I find that working with them helps to streamline the process and their knowledge and expertise, especially in cities that I am not familiar with, makes the process much easier.
How long have you been working with Richmond Metro CVB? How has your relationship with them grown/changed over time?
I began working with them in early April 2011. My client was interested in having his convention in Richmond, and was going to be in the area later that month on business. I contacted the CVB, sent out an RFP and they pulled everything together for a site later that month. Over the next 12 months, Mary Brown with the Richmond CVB and I worked together on trying to get the business to Richmond. Contracts were signed in March 2012.
I attended a FAM in Richmond in March of 2012 and it was an amazing trip. Richmond is a great city with a lot to offer clients. The CVB and the hotel partners did a wonderful job of showcasing their city and entertaining us! From the airport pick up to the airport drop off – Mary was there and took care of everything. From driving around the city, to a great night of food and fun at the Elton John concert, to the shoe shopping spree on our way to the airport, Mary Brown became more than a CVB partner and colleague…she became a friend!
What do you most value about your relationship with Richmond Metro CVB/other CVBs in general?
They are not bias – don’t push one hotel over the other – they just want to sell their destination and get the business to their city. They know who all the players are (contacts at hotels, transportation, decorators) and can get everyone on the same page to create a successful meeting package.
How would you describe the relationship?
Working with a CVB is like taking a road trip with a GPS. Yes, I could probably find my way to my destination without it, but the turn by turn navigation guides me every step of the way.
Which specific services do you rely on?
What do you think is unique about the value CVBs provide compared to other planning partners you might use?
In general I have found CVB’s to be a valuable resource at no cost to the client. Their focus is to promote a specific geographic area. They have the knowledge and the support of the community. Their unbiased information, assistance and guidance are invaluable.
What is most compelling to you about Richmond as a meeting destination?
Affordability and location. The convention center and the hotel package is a great combination in Richmond and the package they put together for my client is amazing.
Why do you choose not to go it alone on the internet when planning a meeting?
The same reason that my clients use me to help them plan their meetings: for my knowledge and insight; to save them time and money; to streamline the process and make things easier on them; and for that “personal” connection/aspect that is missing when using the internet.
Technology has come a long way. The internet is a great resource and tool – but only to a certain point. I use the internet for initial research and information – more to qualify a destination. Beyond that – I like to work with people! I am a people person and I like putting a face and a voice with a name…the personal, tangible aspect of working with a person and the accountability. It is much more reassuring than the internet. When and if I need something for a client or if something goes wrong and needs addressed or fixed – I am much more confident with the CVB involved!
Why go it alone, when the CVB is there to help. It is like having someone work for me to get things done for the client – for free!
How do CVBs make your job easier?
They save me time and they make me look good!
If you didn’t use a CVB, how would you replace their services?
It would take a ton of time and effort.
What would you like other planners to know about using a CVB?
CVB’s are a valuable resource at no cost to the client. They can help mainstream things, so it is easier for everyone and makes the whole process easier. They have the knowledge and the support of the community. The unbiased information, assistance and guidance is invaluable.