As many of you know, Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) is the trade association for destination marketing organizations that are often referred to by meeting planners as convention & visitors bureaus (CVB). And believe it or not, our association has been around for nearly 100 years. However, like most trade associations, we haven’t spent the last 100 years actively speaking directly to our customers’ (member CVBs) customer (YOU, the meeting planner). That is until now!
As Simon Sinek would ask us, what is our WHY? Why would DMAI communicate to planners now? Our answer, DMAI is all about advocating for the professionalism, effectiveness and significance of CVBs and quite frankly we found a few routines of our own that needed busting. While the meetings industry is not the only market served by CVBs, we know first-hand the economic significance of meetings to our local economies. Our destination experts help many planners with the very time consuming and often confusing task of finding the right venue, with the right space, in the right location, at the right price for meetings small and large. In 2011, CVBs collectively helped 35,000 planners confirm over 37.5 million room nights for their respective destinations. And yet even with this success, we know times are changing for all of us, hotels, planners, and CVBs. We are very interested in examining our pre-existing conditions and taking action in all matters where CVBs can better serve meeting planners through industry collaboration.
I was enlightened by Deepak Chopra’s recent Linkedin discussion, The Conscious Lifestyle: Rising Above Routine. I was reminded that routines could be barriers to adoption of more efficient and effective practices because routines groove the brain to follow well established neural pathways. I thought about this when I examined the question of why some planners use certain resources to help them find a location for their meeting and why some planners choose to do-it-themselves. For example, in E-proDirect’s Meeting Planner Survey, 70% of the 1,189 planners indicated one of their preferred methods of handling the RFP was to contact the hotel directly. Now as Dr. Chopra points out, it’s not the routine itself that is the issue, especially when you are familiar with the hotel and that’s the only venue you are considering. But when you continue to take on time consuming tasks because you’ve always done it this way, then these routines might be worth examining. So, in celebration of empowerMINT.com’s new website debut, I’d like to propose a few routine busters I hope you will consider:
Routine Buster #1: Instead of 140 different destination websites—now you have just ONE.
www.empowerMINT.com enables planners in their initial stages of planning to research destination profiles complete with conference hotels, convention facilities, CVB services, destination map, and contact information of destination experts. You can actually compare and contrast destinations and export their information to create your own spreadsheet. How cool is that?
Routine Buster #2: Instead of emailing CVBs one by one—now you can use a QuickRequest to connect with MANY of your choosing.
You are likely to have several existing relationships with CVB sales professionals, but if you don’t, you find yourself going through the time consuming exercise of calling, leaving a voice mail, when all you want is the email address of your contact. With empowerMINT.com’s QuickRequest, you can pose your question, upload a document and share with all the selected CVBs with one click of the mouse. (Where is my easy button?)
Routine Buster #3: Using various maps to “figure out” the location and proximity of meeting venues with meeting space—now you have a planner-friendly customized Google map on each destination.
Thank you to the members of the Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau Customer Advisory Board for providing input on the type of map planners need. The destination is now much easier to understand. Planner-friendly means hotel locations with total meeting space and guest rooms illustrated, and proximities to the convention venues and airports have been included on a Google map, just for you.
So let’s rise above our routines and reach out to the CVB. They are eager to become your planning partner and will help you find the right fit for any size meeting. And best of all they’re free to you, because their services are already paid for by local hotel occupancy taxes.