"The CVB seems to care more about our experience overall."
Meet Geralyn Strange, Conference and Event Planner for Cru – MidSouth Region. Today, she talks with Suzzanne Ravitz of Destination Marketing Association International about her experiences planning meetings and how the Greensboro CVB has become an instrumental meeting partner in the success of their meetings.
SUZZANNE: What’s the hardest/most challenging part of your job? What do you most enjoy?
GERALYN: The hardest part of my job is the high turnover of staff in the hospitality industry. We aim to build relationships with the hotels, CVBs, and staff in this industry, but it is constantly changing.
I most enjoy the hotels where we’ve hosted events annually. I love returning to hotels where the learning curve is smaller and the staff has remained the same.
SUZZANNE: Outside the industry, what is your dream job?
GERALYN: My dream job is to work for the American Red Cross in the International Disaster Relief Industry. I am working towards this and hope to do this when my children are all in college.
SUZZANNE: How important is the destination in your attendee’s decision to attend your meeting?
GERALYN: Sometimes it is more important than others. For our larger conferences, we would like the draw of a big city. For our smaller, more intimate conferences, the size and location of the city is not important…..we tend to centralize our location for the convenience of our attendees in their travel.
SUZZANNE: How did you first become aware of the services CVBs provided?
GERALYN: I became aware of the services of the local CVB very early in my career. I understand that CVBs can help secure conference event centers and hotels much more efficiently than I could on my own. I use them frequently, especially when I’m beginning a new conference in a new city. I appreciate the tours showing the entire city landscape including hotels, restaurants, parking, and unique things each city offers.
SUZZANNE: What do you most value about your relationship with Visit Greensboro/other CVBs in general?
GERALYN: I appreciate most that the CVB cares about the people in our group. Sometimes, I feel like the hotels worry about all the logistics of an event and the details that feed, house, and entertain our guests. The CVB seems to care more about our experience overall. The CVB encourages us to visit the entire city and not simply focus on the event at hand.
SUZZANNE: Thinking about Greensboro, if you’ve met there in the past, what are some of the unique attributes that the destination was able to bring to your meeting?
GERALYN: We most enjoy the Sheraton Greensboro/Koury Convention Center for its size, meeting space, and the seemingly unlimited hotel rooms. Additionally, the parking is great, the mall food court is within walking distance and we intend to be there for many years in the future.
Another thing we appreciate is the CVB’s relationship with our group. We talk to the CVB as much as we do the hotel and value the staff we meet at Visit Greenboro. We are grateful for the donations made to our group through the years and how those gifts allow us to provide a meal for our staff for the first night of every conference. We could not do this without the generous donations of a CVB. Additionally, each year, the CVB offers our attendees maps of the city. Very few people have ever been to Greensboro, so this gift is an excellent addition to our conference “goodie bag.”
SUZZANNE: How would you describe the relationship you have with the CVB? What would you compare it to?
GERALYN: A CVB is like the salesman in a furniture showroom. He listens to your furniture needs, shows you lots of options that would work for your home, and allows you to choose the “style” you want most. Then, he helps you with sales, paperwork and follows through all the way to the day you move this furniture into your home. Then, if he’s a good salesman, he calls to see how the furniture is working for you.
SUZZANNE: Why do you think some planners choose not to use CVBs?
GERALYN: I think some planners simply aren’t aware of the services the CVB provides. I also think that some planners don’t want to use the services of a third party. In my opinion, most third parties complicate the process and add steps to a negotiation process and require steps to makes changes that aren’t necessary.
SUZZANNE: I agree, some planners aren’t aware of the services CVBs provide and the real value they add to the process, saving planner’s precious time.
SUZZANNE: How would you advise planners to create a beneficial partnership with their CVB?
GERALYN: I would advise a new planner to always use the services of a CVB. This allows them a partner in seeking out a hotel or venue for their next event and has the CVB do more of the legwork. It is tough to compare hotels when you are unfamiliar with a city, and a CVB staff can help simplify this process and move it along much faster.
SUZZANNE: What do you think is unique about the value CVBs provide compared to other planning partners you might use?
GERALYN: I don’t use any other planning partners. I do not care for the services of 3rd party planners.