Working With A CVB
When looking at a specific city or region for a meeting / incentive trip, there is always the question of whether you should utilize the services of the local Convention and Visitors Bureau. In my opinion, the answer is yes.
Here are just a few reasons why I feel this way.
Site inspection planning – If you need to do a site inspection the CVB will assist with the coordination and help with everything from airport transfers to dinner reservations. They have destination sales people who will give you tours of the city / area so you can see what kind of venues they have for offsite events as well as local tours and excursions for the group.
Request for Proposal (RFP) Distribution – If you do not have personal hotel or global sales contacts, or even if you do, the CVB can make recommendations to you for hotels that meet your needs and send the RFP on your behalf. They can do the same for other services like ground transportation, entertainment and team building companies. My one caution here is that some CVB’s will send your RFP to their entire membership, even those whose services you do not need or hotels that would never have a chance of winning the business.
Room night dollars – One popular promotion from CVB’s is to offer a credit the group’s master account with a pre-determined number of dollars per room night. For example, if your group is 50 rooms for 3 nights that is 150 total room nights. If the CVB is offering a promotion of $10.00 per room night, your hotel master account would get a credit, courtesy of the CVB for $1,500.00. This kind of promotion is usually limited to off season periods and need dates and a minimum number of total room nights is sometimes required but free money is still free money.
Promotional items – Need maps of the local area? How about brochures on what there is to do? Want to display posters in your regional offices to motivate sales people about the incentive trip destination? What about some little knickknack type items to promote next year’s destination at this years convention? The CVB will often give you these for free to help promote the destination and increase your attendance. The group wins because they will get good attendance and the CVB wins because all of those attendees will spend money in the local economy.
On line Marketing – Many CVB’s have a great marketing team. They sometimes offer customized e-mail blast cards or physical post cards with the group and host hotel names, dates and a custom message. Some will even create a micro-website for the group with group specific tabs for items such as links for car rentals, the day by day agenda and even a welcome message for the group from the city’s mayor.
Convention Assistance – When the convention is taking place, many CVB’s have staff that can assist with your registration / hospitality desk. They are a great asset as they know the local area inside and out and can answer all the questions that the group’s own staff may not know. Some CVB’s will charge an hourly rate for this onsite support staff, others will negotiate it in order to get the business to their city or region.
In my experience, I find using a CVB extremely helpful, especially if it is in a city that I am not too familiar with or have not visited for some time. Every CVB offers a variety of services and support so be sure to ask what they can do for you. With budgets getting smaller, free is always a good thing! They just want you to come to their city and they will work hard to win your business!