"We’d be foolish not to use the CVB services which have been used, researched and proven over the years. They have lots of connections and experience and are anxious to share it with us."
Wendy L. Johnson, Executive Assistant to the President, and Director of Administration, Pennsylvania Health Care Association Center for Assisted Living Management shares her CVB insights and why she feels they add value to her planning process, and Destination Marketing Association International’s (DMAI’s) Terri Roberts records her thoughts for your reading pleasure.
Like many “planners” who don’t have the luxury of only planning meetings, Wendy facilitates many roles with the Pennsylvania Health Care Association…one being meeting planner. Read on to learn more about how the team at the Valley Forge CVB has earned her trust and admiration by being engaged throughout the entire planning process!
TERRI: First, can you tell me a little about yourself and your planning background?
WENDY: My name is Wendy Johnson. I’ve been in my current position as the Executive Assistant and Director of Administration with the Pennsylvania Health Care Association since 2004. I wear many hats here at the association; one being a meeting planner. I really believe I have always been a planner at heart.
TERRI: What’s the hardest/most challenging part of your job? What do you most enjoy?? (As it relates to meeting planning)
WENDY: The most challenging part of planning meetings is knowing what attendees want in terms of education and planning from start to finish, not knowing how many attendees we will actually attract. There is always the looming…will we get enough people? Will we get more than we can comfortably accommodate?
I enjoy seeing our members at the event and getting to know more people through the years. I like putting my organizational skills to the test. I like to find new, more efficient ways to make events run more smoothly.
TERRI: How did you first become aware of the services CVBs provided?
WENDY: Since I hadn’t been responsible for planning events prior to my current position, I became aware of CVB services through their outreach to the association market through stop-in visits and telephone calls. I became more aware of CVB value when I started attending planner meetings and events.
TERRI: How long have you been working with the Valley Forge CVB? I know you are headed back for two future years…that’s quite a compliment. How has your relationship with them grown/changed over time?
WENDY: We’ve been working with the Valley Forge CVB for two years and will continue to work with them for our 2014 and 2015 conventions in the Valley Forge area. We hope to utilize even more of their services for the upcoming conferences.
TERRI: What do you most value about your relationship with Valley Forge CVB and/or other CVBs in general?
WENDY: Valley Forge is about one and a half hours from our office, so we’re not very familiar with the area. They have been the best CVB we’ve worked with. Each CVB throughout the state is different depending on the area they represent and services they provide. The folks at Valley Forge CVB have been creative and responsive. I especially appreciate that they check-in and follow-up with me before, during and after the event.
TERRI: How would you describe the relationship? What would you compare it to?
WENDY: Valley Forge CVB is like an old, long-distance friend…you may not see them often, but you know they are there and will be there when you need them.
TERRI: Which specific services do you rely on?
WENDY: They have aided us in finding additional registration staffing to assist our small staff. They also helped us identify area restaurants for an important off-site dinner for our Board of Directors and generous sponsors. They provided a discount restaurant program for attendees along with a list of area restaurants and other activities and attractions in the area. They provided attendees with welcome information bags, all touches that make a big difference when added up.
TERRI: What do you think is unique about the value CVBs provide compared to other planning partners you might use?
WENDY: A lot of their services are free of charge. On a limited association budget, this is tremendously beneficial to us. We’d be foolish not to take advantage of it. It’s a ‘no brainer’.
TERRI: What is most compelling to you about Valley Forge as a meeting destination?
WENDY: Valley Forge has it all: shopping, restaurants, casino, and a historic location with a large national park. This ensures attendees can do as much or as little as they want.
TERRI: Why do you choose not to go it alone on the internet, or go direct to a hotel, when planning a meeting?
WENDY: Like I said earlier, we’d be foolish not to use the CVB services which have been used, researched and proven over the years. They have lots of connections and experience and are anxious to share it with us. We’re happy to use and benefit from all they have to offer.
TERRI: Do you have a crazy CVB story?
WENDY: Well, it’s sort of an after convention story. Kelly Mishler, Service Manager at VFCVB, and I have our own separate mice stories that create lots of laughs. Neither one of us are mice fans, come to find out! Not sure there are many people who are. Kelly had her own “mouse close encounter” in her office and then I had my own the day after we got back from our fall convention. I had a mouse fall from the ceiling! Needless to say, I reacted accordingly by screaming (I didn’t really initially know what had fallen). A co-worker came to my rescue as well as the mouse’s (she got me out of my office, caught the mouse and walked him down the river). A happy ending for all. It’s a pretty funny story, although it wasn’t at the time. My co-worker remembers the ‘anniversary’ of the mouse falling from the ceiling each year, the day after we return from the convention. She gave me a small stuffed mouse to ‘celebrate’ the memory.
TERRI: If you didn’t use a CVB, how would you replace their services?
WENDY: I don’t know that we could replace their services without incurring more costs to us, which we’d ultimately need to pass on to the attendees, this plus more time spent by our staff. It saves us money and staff time, which boils down to money if you think about it.
TERRI: What would you like other planners to know about using a CVB?
WENDY: CVBs are great to work with. Get to know them and get to know the services they provide. Tap into them as a valuable resource. Don’t be afraid to ask for their creative input; you might be surprised what they come back with.