Karen Miles, CMP, Senior Meeting Planner for APTA, an industry veteran presents keen observations on the value CVB partners bring to the meeting planning process, and Destination Marketing Association International’s (DMAI’s) Terri Roberts enjoys her unique perspective.
I found my interview with Karen to be so interesting, as she was so willing and generous with her time and her support of Visit Charlotte. Clearly they have gained her loyalty and praise by delivering on their promise to save her time and make her job easier. She relies on CVBs to open up the destination’s offerings quickly and simplify the planning process entirely. Take a minute to learn from Karen how you too can rely on CVBs as a resource with the support of the entire hospitality community.
TERRI: First, can you tell me a little about yourself and your planning background?
KAREN: I achieved my CMP in 2002 and have 18 years in the industry overall. I started my career at a Washington, D.C. hotel as a catering assistant, then coordinator and finally a convention services manager. I moved over to association meeting planning more than 10 years ago, and I am currently the senior meeting planner for the American Physical Therapy Association, where I primarily assist the Meetings Director with planning our citywide events. We have a very busy meetings department with a staff of five that plan numerous local and regional events throughout the year in addition to supporting the citywide conferences.
TERRI: How did you first become aware of the services CVBs provide?
KAREN: I became aware of the services CVBs provide very early in my career through education provided by ASAE and industry magazines.
TERRI: How long have you been working with Visit Charlotte?
KAREN: I worked with Visit Charlotte in 2003 to plan a smaller regional event for another association and primarily used their services for planning spouse tours and marketing materials. I partnered with Visit Charlotte in 2011 to contract our 2014 annual conference that will bring over 2,000 participants to the city. Visit Charlotte was a resource for packaging the convention center and surrounding hotel availability with proposed hotel rates along with a fantastic marketing plan to assist us with showcasing the city.
TERRI: What do you most value about your relationship with Visit Charlotte/other CVBs in general?
KAREN: I find them as a point of resource for the meeting planner and the destination partners. Visit Charlotte and other CVB’s save planners valuable time by advocating on our behalf and producing a package that best meets our criteria.
TERRI: How would you describe the relationship? What would you compare it to?
KAREN: The CVB works as a consultant because they review the scope of business and apply their services to fit our requirements. They combine meeting details, their intimacy of a city and venue partnerships to provide an awesome package.
TERRI: Which specific services do you rely on?
KAREN: I specifically rely on the CVB to provide marketing materials, hotel and travel information, local attractions, city government support and coordination of site visits.
TERRI: What do you think is unique about the value CVBs provide compared to other planning partners you might use?
KAREN: CVBs have the support of their hotel and venue partners and the local government.
TERRI: What is most compelling to you about Charlotte as a meeting destination?
KAREN: Charlotte provides excellent conference and exhibit facilities in an urban location serviced by an international airport. Their hotel options provide various price points making the city advantageous with more than 4,000 hotel rooms within reasonable distance to their convention center. It provides an excellent value for organizations with reasonable food and beverage costs and the city has an attractive, walkable and safe downtown area with over 100 restaurants in close proximity to the convention center. The destination partners were also known by our service providers as yielding an alliance that “made their work easier for them.”
TERRI: Why do you choose not to go it alone on the internet when planning a meeting?
KAREN: I, like most planners, do not have the time to go it alone in a very busy meeting department. The CVB is the one stop shop for all the destination information required for considering a meeting location.
TERRI: How do CVBs make your job easier?
KAREN: We plan numerous smaller conferences nationwide and our citywide events range from 1,500 to 10,000 participants and counting! We rely on efficiency and thoroughness. The CVB saves us time with reviewing availability with just one exchange of the RFP.
TERRI: If you didn’t use a CVB, how would you replace their services?
KAREN: Honestly, I don’t think we could replace their services. It possibly would take another full-time person combing the internet, multiple email exchanges and calls to put together the information a CVB does in a very limited amount of time.
TERRI: What would you like other planners to know about using a CVB?
KAREN: The CVB is your one stop shop for all the information you will need for a destination. Their partnerships are valuable and resource extensive.