"Specifically, I rely on their (CVBs) help with hotel selection, ideas for special events and help with selling the destination to attendees."
Recently, we spoke with Joe Copeland, Executive Director of National AMBUCS, Inc. and learned about some of the challenges he currently faces planning meetings and how by partnering with the local CVB, he is able to save precious time. National AMBUCS, Inc. is a nonprofit charitable organization with a diverse membership dedicated to creating mobility and independence for people with disabilities. Let’s learn a little more about Joe!
SUZZANNE: What was your first industry job?
JOE: My first industry job was in 1990 and is the same job I have today – Executive Director of National AMBUCS! I came over from the volunteer side when things were a bit in disarray, and have really enjoyed the last 25 years serving as the Executive Director.
SUZZANNE: What’s the hardest/most challenging part of your job? What do you most enjoy?
JOE: The challenge is to continually update our annual meeting to be relevant to today’s members and volunteers. At the same time, I strive to ensure that the long serving traditional members remain happy. I’ve found that shedding old practices or traditions and introducing new content needs a careful process.
The best part of my position is hearing the members say, “this was the best conference ever – see you next year!”
SUZZANNE: Outside the industry, what is your dream job?
JOE: That would probably be a woodworking studio building unique one-off chair designs.
SUZZANNE: How did you first become aware of the services CVBs provided?
JOE: In the early days, accessing training through ASAE and MPI. I’ve been utilizing their services ever since.
SUZZANNE: What do you most value about your relationship with Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast/other CVBs in general?
JOE: They are so time efficient – especially in the hotel/property search phase. I usually work through the CVB and provide them with the RFP and history document for our meeting, then have them compile the results. This is very effective and eliminates lots of hotel sales telephone calls.
SUZZANNE: Thinking about Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast, 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?
JOE: We held two meetings this year at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. The property received rave reviews by the attendees. The CVB and tourism folks acquainted us with the many possible options for venues and events – and smoothed the way for our planning. We held an outdoor event at the Point Cadet Pavilion, a Parks ’n Rec facility in Biloxi. We had great reviews for an early bird dinner at the Biloxi Yacht Club that was very affordable, followed by a bonfire on the beach – a fun event. While we are not large enough to use the convention center, I was impressed at the modern space and flexibility they offer.
SUZZANNE: Which specific services do you rely on?
JOE: Specifically, I rely on their help with hotel selection, ideas for special events and help with selling the destination to attendees.
SUZZANNE: What do you think is unique about the value they provide compared to other planning partners you might use?
JOE: A small, tightly focused community where all the partners work well together. They really know everyone in their destination, therefore it’s so much easier for me to make one phone call rather than spending time on making multiple phone calls to find an answer.
SUZZANNE: What would you like other planners to know about using a CVB?
JOE: Planners should know that CVBs are the most time efficient planning partner they have at their disposal!