When a CVB offers a complimentary service designed to support the success of the association conference – that’s a real value add.
Kris Finger, Director, Global Accounts with HelmsBriscoe shares her experiences working with CVBs throughout the US and Canada, and how CVBs are there to help make meetings successful, no matter how big or small. My interview with Kris was very insightful as she shared her unique perspective as well as some great tips on working with CVBs.
SUZZANNE: What got you interested in the meeting planning field?
KRIS: You could say I was born to be a meeting/event planner. As a teenager I often organized school dances, church socials, pool parties in the backyard, and trips to visit friends in other cities.
SUZZANNE: What’s the hardest/most challenging part of your job? What do you most enjoy?
KRIS: I’d say the hardest part of my job are the peaks and the valleys. There are times that I need 5 of me working side by side just to get through the work in front of me. It’s those frantic times that are often difficult, but surprisingly they also make me push myself harder to achieve and accomplish more and dream big.
What I enjoy most is learning about new locations for conferences – I’m a travel junkie and with the job that I have I’m traveling the world to see new destinations, venues and options for my client’s events.
SUZZANNE: How did you first become aware of the services CVBs provided?
KRIS: I’ve used CVB services for years and have come to depend on the knowledge and resources they offer me. I’ll frequently reach out to the local CVB to help me with site inspections, finding the perfect DMC for a client, securing recommendations for unique off-site venues, and assisting with wooing the client to come to the city.
SUZZANNE: What do you most value about your relationship with CVBs in general?
KRIS: When a CVB rep makes their destination shine and is fully engaged in helping my clients make sound decisions, then it’s a win-win for everyone.
SUZZANNE: What do you think is unique about the value CVBs provide compared to other planning partners you might use?
KRIS: Most of my clients are associations and their budgets are limited. When a CVB offers a complimentary service designed to support the success of the association conference – that’s a real value add. Free, but valuable and useful services are what my clients are looking for.
SUZZANNE: What are some of the CVBs you’ve worked with in the past and what stands out most?
KRIS: I’ve been impressed with the support and service I’ve received from Scottsdale, San Francisco, San Jose, New Orleans and Vancouver, British Columbia. They stand out to me because of the level of customer service I’ve received when I’ve worked with them. Both in the pre-planning stage as well as during the event, they are there for me and my clients. No request is too big or too small for them to figure out.
SUZZANNE: Why did you choose not to go it alone on the Internet, or go direct to hotel, when planning your meeting?
KRIS: I’m the kind of girl who conducts research using a wide variety of avenues. I do a lot of internet based research because I like to be prepared with the right questions when I contact the CVB directly.
SUZZANNE: What would you like other planners to know about using a CVB?
KRIS: Maintain the relationships! I go back to my CVB contacts time and again and it’s nice to work with someone who’s familiar with who I am and how I work.
Also…ask questions! If they don’t know the answer they are usually happy to find one for you. A few of the questions I often ask include:
- Ask CVBs for contacts to other CVBs. Just like with any industry CVBs know each other and have deep friendships despite geographical distance. If your meeting consistently uses a CVB in one particular city and you’re looking to bring your meeting to a new destination, ask the CVB if they have a rep in that new destination that they can recommend. In addition, opening the door via a referral helps establish instant trust between you and the new location you’re working in.
- If you don’t see a service listed, it doesn’t mean they won’t provide it. CVBs are always looking for ways to enhance their service offerings. If you have a need and it’s not listed on their scope of services, don’t hesitate to ask if they would do it for you. Often it’s the creative ideas that lead to new service listings within a CVB’s portfolio of support.