Dale Shuter, CMP, Meetings & Expositions Manager for Electrical Apparatus Service Association shares some great insights on meeting planning “intel,” and Destination Marketing Association International’s (DMAI’s) Terri Roberts gets the inside track.
Sometimes when I talk to planners about their thoughts on using a CVB their answers are very detailed. I love the fact that they have a lot to say, but worry the reader may have trouble discerning the real value in all the text. Not so with Dale Shuter! Her answers are straight forward, to the point, and very clear about the value she perceives. She clearly articulates the value he discerns from his CVB partner! In fact, she thinks you’d be crazy not to put these destination experts to work for you for free! Dale makes a practice of gaining their partnership to advocate for EASA in the community where they are holding their meetings.
Dale is an industry veteran with a wealth of expertise, and she speaks up for Tourism Toronto and the CVB industry hoping other planners will incorporate this unique free partner in their planning repertoire.
TERRI: First, can you tell me a little about yourself and your planning background?
DALE: I have been in the industry practically my entire life. I started working at 13 on the sightseeing riverboats here in St. Louis, and I have a degree in Restaurant and Hotel Administration. I started working for PKF Hospitality Research doing feasibility studies for hotels, worked in hotel sales and catering for a couple of years, and then got an opportunity as a meeting planner. I have been working as an association planner for over 20 years.
TERRI: How did you first become aware of the services CVBs provided?
DALE: I worked with the St. Louis CVC when I was with the hotel. This was my first experience with CVB/CVC’s. When I started on the planning side, the organization I worked for was already using CVB services. I guess I have always been aware of the assistance they can provide.
TERRI: How long have you been working with Tourism Toronto?
DALE: The first meeting I did in Toronto was in 1999. The meeting had already been booked when I started working for the group (in fact we were only 6 months out from the meeting). I worked closely with the Housing and Services departments. They did an incredible job.
TERRI: What do you most value about your relationship with Tourism Toronto or other CVBs in general?
DALE: I appreciate the time they take to learn about our group and what is important to us and our attendees. It is valuable that they then convey my specifics and concerns to the suppliers and hotels I am potentially interested in working with, saving me the time of having to educate each contact in the destination over and over.
TERRI: How would you describe the relationship?
DALE: I feel like they are our advocate within their community. Educating the suppliers about our group and the value we bring to the city.
TERRI: Which specific services do you rely on?
DALE: As I am a department of one, and we are a small staff association, we depend on the CVB to assist us with housing, marketing, and helping us find local suppliers for our needs.
TERRI: What do you think is unique about the value CVBs provide compared to other planning partners you might use?
DALE: The fact that most of the services are complimentary is very unique.
TERRI: What is most compelling to you about Toronto as a meeting destination?
DALE: It has an international feel without all the travel time. Their hotels are first class, as well as the convention center.
TERRI: Why do you choose not to go it alone on the internet, or go direct to a hotel, when planning a meeting?
DALE: With one call to the CVB I can get all I need. They save me time, effort AND money.
TERRI: How do CVBs make your job easier?
DALE: They are a one stop shop, from issuing an RFP, to welcoming our attendees to the meeting, to providing concierge services on-site.
TERRI: If you didn’t use a CVB, how would you replace their services?
DALE: I don’t think I could. No one knows the cities better.
TERRI: What would you like other planners to know about using a CVB?
DALE: They are crazy not to use their services. Why would you not want the experts on that particular city working for you?