Recently we had the pleasure of talking with Roland Burdett. Roland has been the National Tournament Director for the National Catholic Forensics League for over 10 years. This year, their tournament was held in Sacramento, CA and the team at Visit Sacramento played a huge role in ensuring this year’s event was a success. Read on to find out how Roland and the team at Visit Sacramento created a hybrid event to not only meet budgetary restraints but an event that the attendees loved.
SUZZANNE: Tell us, what does your job entail?
ROLAND: I support the NCFL’s Board of Directors running the NCFL’s Grand National Speech & Debate Championship Tournament for High School Speech and Debate Teams. We have over 3,000 students and approximately 1,500 adults attend the National Tournament. The tournament is held annually on Memorial Day weekend. We move around year-to-year and were in Sacramento in May of 2016.
As the Tournament Director I’m responsible for making sure the tournament runs smoothly, all the rules are adhered to, resolve challenges, and ensure the appropriate students receive the appropriate awards.
I work closely with an Event Planner from Forensics Events in Boston, MA. Her role is to make sure all the facilities are there when we need them; have the appropriate chairs, tables, internet, etc; that everyone gets fed; and that our buses run on time and transport everyone where they are supposed to be, when they are supposed to be there.
SUZZANNE: What is one of your significant job challenges that working with Sacramento CVB helped you solve?
ROLAND: Traditionally we use school facilities for the first day of our tournament, either high school or universities, or both; and hotel facilities for the second day of our tournament. We had been discussing trying this in a convention center but the costs were significant. Sacramento CVB helped us put together a great program that was a hybrid: a high school, a university, and a convention center. They helped us with the planning for the convention center, helped us select a decorator, worked closely with us on the program layout at the convention center, and helped significantly with the budget. We could not have done it without them.
SUZZANNE: What are some of the distinctive attributes/destination offerings of Sacramento that helped to make your meeting great?
ROLAND: First and foremost was the fantastic cooperation with the CVB Team. They helped us with bus route planning, and then pitched in to ensure a great execution of the plan. They helped us with a food plan for both days of the tournament, and stayed involved all through the process to ensure that things went smoothly. They helped us with the convention center planning and execution throughout the weekend. They helped us with maps and visitor information, restaurant discounts, and the website. In short they were awesome. All of our participants walked away from Sacramento having had a great time. It goes down as one of our best events in 65 years.
SUZZANNE: How would you describe the relationship you have with the CVB? What would you compare it to?
ROLAND: The relationship with the Sacramento CVB was a true partnership. They picked up things when we needed it. They brought issues, concerns, and solutions to us when they identified them. They ensured the event was a success. They took on the responsibility to do everything possible locally to make the event memorable for everyone. We have worked with other CVBs over the years, but never like this. They were an integral part of our planning and execution team.
SUZZANNE: What did your attendees say about your overall experience in Sacramento?
ROLAND: Everyone went away with a great experience and great memories. We have heard nothing, absolutely nothing, but great comments and reviews.
SUZZANNE: The top things your attendees enjoyed about meeting in the Sacramento area?
- The location, the convention center
- The food downtown
- The friendly, supportive local neighborhood people
- The awesome bus plan and execution
SUZZANNE: Did you use a unique venue for a gathering or event while in the Sacramento area?
ROLAND: The Convention Center was unique to us since we’d never done that before. We also used the Cathedral downtown. That was a beautiful location for our Tournament Mass on Saturday evening.
SUZZANNE: What do you see as innovative or trending in the future of the meeting’s industry?
ROLAND: We need to figure out how to deliver internet and power to the convention center participants without bankrupting the organization. The prices are outrageous and can’t be sustained long term.