Doug Wear, PhD, Wear & Associates takes time to share his thoughts about working with CVBs and his first experience working with Seattle Southside, and Destination Marketing Association International’s (DMAI’s) Terri Roberts takes notes.
Doug was so generous in offering his time to speak on behalf of Seattle Southside. They recently connected when Doug was in a jam and scrambling to find a new location for a meeting in the Seattle Airport area. He was quickly impressed with the CVB’s commitment to provide solutions! He has found CVBs to be valued planning partners, especially when managing a nonprofit, where “the board was interested in a competitive bid process and a level playing field as well as avoiding unnecessary middleman costs.” Here’s a look at Doug’s perspective on how CVBs, and Seattle Southside specifically, fit the bill!
First, can you tell me a little about yourself and your planning background?
DOUG: I am actually trained as a PhD in clinical psychology. I have worked in administration and management positions most of my career, and, for the past decade plus, in association management. Among the many roles involved in association management is that of meeting planner. I think it is one of the most fun and challenging things I do.
How did you first become aware of the services CVBs provide?
DOUG: I think I first learned of CVBs through internet searching, outreach on their part, and attending planner and association management meetings like MPI, PCMA, and ASEA. Once I found one, I knew there were more.
How long have you been working with Seattle Southside CVB?
DOUG: I have just discovered them and am on my maiden voyage…it is literally the first month.
What do you most value about your relationship with Seattle Southside/other CVBs in general?
DOUG: Seattle Southside is a real gem. I was in a jam with an event coming up and a contract that turned out not to be workable for us. Due to circumstances involving one of our program presenters, I had to find a place for two days of various kinds of events in the Seattle Airport area. I thought I knew the area pretty well and had held several events there working with the Seattle CVB and larger venues, but I was running out of options. I called Seattle Southside after finding and perusing their website and Meilee stepped up to help. First, she was very friendly and genuinely wanted to help. Second, she took the time to really listen and understand both the needs I had and the restrictions under which I was working. Third, she seemed to know everything I didn’t about this area of Seattle as well as the actual names of people to work with. Fourth, she literally brainstormed various ideas and creative solutions to my problems with me. Fifth, she was very responsive and had an RFP out that same day. Sixth, I got results and had multiple viable options to make site visits two days later.
How would you describe the relationship?
DOUG: This CVB is like having in-house staff because they were totally committed to meeting our specific needs and solving our problems.
Which specific services do you rely on?
DOUG: I relied on Seattle Southside for their knowledge base, contacts, communication network, and efficiency. I really did not experience it as specific services but more a commitment to finding solutions.
What do you think is unique about the value CVBs provide compared to other planning partners you might use?
DOUG: Managing a nonprofit, the board was interested in a competitive bid process and a level playing field as well as avoiding unnecessary middleman costs. CVBs provide this. They also want to find the biggest bang for the buck. CVBs seem to have the reach to find the properties with the availability I need and the willingness to negotiate mutually beneficial contracts.
What is most compelling to you about Seattle Southside as a meeting destination?
DOUG: Access, access, access….easy by plane, by car, by light rail. Cost…typically all aspects of meetings (sleeping rooms, meeting rooms, food and beverage) are priced more reasonably than downtown. Parking…we have lots of drive-in attendees and there is plenty of parking and some of it free! Quality…many venues are on par with their center city colleagues. Diversity…when you learn what is there, you find out there are lots of interesting alternatives.
TERRI: Why do you choose not to go it alone on the internet when planning a meeting?
DOUG: We actually do that too…at least we are always paying attention. That is how I found Seattle Southside. But the internet alone does not put it all together for you…meaning I have to do a lot more work learning about and vetting my options.
How do CVBs make your job easier?
DOUG: CVBs know their members and they know the community often better than I do. At least that is true for unfamiliar places and for me in my early days getting into my planning role. And they have the information I need about specific properties and their capabilities as well as the technology to contact many at once.
If you didn’t use a CVB, how would you replace their services?
DOUG: I would work it out with a lot more effort on my own or pay to use a private destination management company.
What would you like other planners to know about using a CVB?
Oftentimes, they know more about their members and their communities than we do and can easily access them all. When you must do an RFP process, they make it easy. If you get stuck, they can help!