"CVBs are the conduit that brings all interested parties involved together."
Joe Cappuzzello is the President and CEO of Group Travel Family. For individuals that plan travel for clubs, groups, or friends and family, the Group Travel Family is your go to resource for destination ideas, networking opportunities, conferences and much more. In this blog post, Joe shares his experience working with CVBs to get things done faster, help with making the right connections, and generally making his job easier. Read on to put some of his meeting planning experiences to work for you!
Suzzanne: First, can you tell me a little about yourself and your planning background?
Joe: I am the President & CEO of the Group Travel Family and have been with our association for the past 11 years. Some of my responsibilities in the meeting planning area include locating cities and CVBs to host our six annual Conferences. I oversee all aspects of our conferences, develop and manage the RFP and bidding process, and am one of the decision makers along with our owner and founder, Charlie Presely.
Additionally, I am a CPA and worked for a major manufacturer of ceramic tiles for 20 years prior to joining the tourism, hospitality and association management field.
Suzzanne: What’s the hardest/most challenging part of your job? What do you most enjoy?
Joe: Balancing the needs our members and travel industry partners at each conference along with keeping the content fresh, interesting and fun. I truly enjoy the people and seeing our members and travel industry partners. It is a rewarding experience that I look forward to throughout the year.
Suzzanne: How did you first become aware of the services CVBs provided?
Joe: CVBs have been a long time partner of the Group Travel Family. I really learned about all the services CVBs provide once I became more involved in the Request for Proposal and bidding process for our Conferences.
Suzzanne: What do you most value about your relationship with Visit Mesa and/or other CVBs in general?
Joe: Visit Mesa has very passionate team members who are fully vested in the success of their organizations and stakeholders. Visit Mesa’s outlook and vision coincides with the Group Travel Family. Our goals are the same: to have a successful conference where together we meet and hopefully exceed our delegates and stakeholders expectations.
Suzzanne: How would you describe the relationship? What would you compare it to?
Joe: The relationship with the Visit Mesa CVB is a true partnership. Relationships with CVBs are similar to a marriage for our organization. Communication is the key between both parties and as long as you continue to talk, things usually work out. Understanding the challenges and goals of each party is a good first step to a healthy relationship.
Suzzanne: When you reach out, what is your litmus test for a quality CVB partner?
Joe: A CVB that listens, asks questions and are vested as a partner with the Group Travel Family. Returning calls and emails in a timely manner quickly gives our organization a measuring stick of how effective our relationship with the CVB will be during the event.
Suzzanne: What do you think is unique about the value CVBs provide compared to other planning partners you might use?
Joe: CVBs see and understand the value a Conference brings to their community. They see it as an opportunity to showcase their destination including their convention center, hotels, restaurants, attractions and service providers. CVBs are the conduit that brings all interested parties involved together.
Suzzanne: What is most compelling to you as a planner about Mesa, AZ as a meeting destination? What do your attendees have to say about Mesa as a meeting destination?
Joe: The staff at Visit Mesa is a huge asset. All Group Travel Family Conferences need CVB support and cooperation. It starts with the leadership and vision of Marc Garcia, President & CEO, Kimberly Freer Vice President of Sales & Services and is seen throughout the organization. Michelle Huebner was our go to person at Visit Mesa during the Small Market Meetings Conference and is one of the best in the CVB business. Michelle’s attention to detail and ability to have the Mesa area stakeholders actively involved in our Conference was truly amazing. Michelle is a difference maker.
Mesa is a wonderful community that meeting planners were really able to discover during the Conference. Mesa is friendly, has a wonderful climate with over 300 days of sunshine a year. It’s also affordable with group hotel rates and meeting expenses 25% less than national averages.
Attendees can experience the beautiful mountains and nearby desert in the same day. Art, culture and outdoor recreation are in abundance. Meeting planners also enjoyed seeing the new Spring Training facility of the Chicago Cubs and Oakland A’s. Mesa is truly limitless.
Suzzanne: Why did you choose not to go it alone on the Internet, or go direct to hotel, when planning your meeting?
Joe: The CVB staff are the professionals in the business and understand the requirements of our organization. They make the Group Travel Family’s job easier and save countless hours of work. CVBs know us and very efficiently match their partners who best fit our Conference needs.
Suzzanne: If you didn’t use a CVB, how would you replace their services?
Joe: Our staff would have to spend countless hours trying to find the providers of the necessary services we require, then vet and hire them in each city.
Suzzanne: What would you like other planners to know about using a CVB?
Joe: CVBs are professionals who take pride in the services they provide. They are a one stop shop for meeting planners. Contact them before your destination has been chosen or awarded as CVBs save you time, money and definitely help you stretch your budget. Best of all their services are free.