If there’s one thing that’s consistent in the meetings industry, it’s that it isn’t consistent. Mike Willmoth, Site Selection Director, Contract Negotiator and Vice Chair for the World Science Fiction Society understands to expect the unexpected. Except that now he has the support and expert knowledge of Visit Spokane. Prior to working with Visit Spokane, Mike hadn’t worked a lot with CVB’s but with a complex bidding process and other unique challenges to holding his event, he soon realized that he has a partner on his side that is dedicated to the success of his event. Read on to find out how Mike worked with Visit Spokane to ensure a memorable meeting experience for his attendees.
SUZZANNE: Tell us, what does your job entail? Why did you choose it – or rather, it choose you?
MIKE: My role as Site Selection Director, Contract Negotiator entails negotiating hotel contracts for conventions, mostly for non-profit organizations. I was doing this as a volunteer when I became an independent travel agent. Now, I negotiate contracts pre-con, then as a volunteer I can implement them, handle them at the convention, and close them out post-con.
Previously I had not worked with a convention and visitors bureau as in depth as I did with Visit Spokane. They really opened my eyes to what services they can provide to an event planner and convention runner. They were awesome!
First, Visit Spokane helped me negotiate the hotel and convention center contracts during our bidding process. Our non-profit organization had to bid to host the World Science Fiction Convention, and until they won the bid they had no funds to guarantee the space. Visit Spokane was instrumental in convincing the various sites that we were worth working with on getting opt-out contracts up front so we could bid without any financial commitment. We ended up winning a 3-way race and held our successful event.
Additionally, Visit Spokane helped us negotiate addendums to our contracts to enhance our event. We ran into some trouble at one site with getting an addendum in a timely manner and they were very helpful in facilitating a solution to that dilemma.
That’s hard to say. There’s so much upheaval right now with technology between online planning tools, mobile applications allowing smaller companies to have a big role, and the threats of hacking from abroad accessing confidential data. I think there will be lots of changes before things settle down.
I would describe it as a consultant that can help you get done what you need for your event. Our relationship with Visit Spokane was excellent throughout. When we needed help with the online reservation system, we got it. When we needed local information, we got it. When we asked for help in facilitating a solution, we got it.
Our attendees were very happy with our event. We set a record total membership (attending plus supporting). They liked the facilities and enjoyed what the city had to offer. It seems to be considered one of the great Worldcons now.
We used the Spokane Convention Center, the attached DoubleTree by Hilton Spokane City Center, the newly built attached Davenport Grand, the two Red Lion Hotels and the Davenport Historic Hotel, plus a smattering of smaller properties around town. We also held our First Night Event in the park just north of the hotel with various offerings out there.
Thank you Mike for taking the time to share with us about your role and what makes Spokane a great meeting destination!
To learn more about Visit Spokane and 150 other top meeting destinations, visit www.empowermint.com.