In this industry, relationships are everything. The teams at your local Convention & Visitors Bureau or Destination Management Organization are like networking hubs. They’re doing all the heavy lifting when it comes to building your city’s brand, and driving major groups to the destination.
It’s their job to know a city inside and out, including each hotel, venue and the unique features that make the destination exciting for planners investigating the locale. As planners evaluate destinations, they’ll reach out to CVBs to figure out their options, and make the necessary connections to execute their event. Their goal is to ensure that planners are successfully executing events at the destination. That’s why it’s up to your property to provide value for CVBs in order to build trust. There are massive benefits of working with a CVB and you can rest assured they won’t forget you the next time a group asks for recommendations.
How Do Planners Work with CVBs?
Every event is the sum of dozens of moving parts. Transportation, parking, off-site venues, catering, and sleeping rooms are just a few things keeping planners up at night. After all, not everything is entirely in their control.
When a planner finds partners they can trust, they tend to stick with what they know is reliable. The problem is that in a new city, planners don’t know all the players. That’s where CVBs can come in and make the recommendations that they know will lead to a successful meeting or event.
Remember that CVBs are neutral when it comes to a hotel’s brands, or the services a property offers. They’ll typically take an RFP and help planners find the venue that best matches their needs, regardless of the size or potential contract value of the group.
Smart planners know how to leverage a CVB and reach the right contacts and reduce some of the friction in going to a new city. Think of CVBs as your city’s marketing department, it’s their job to drive awareness and get a planner’s foot in the door. Like any marketing team, they need messaging and resources to keep interest levels high. That’s where your property can step in and stand out among competitors. Keep reading to learn how properties can stay top of mind at at a local CVB.
Share Data and Feedback
Every group you close gives you an opportunity to grow and learn. Event managers, caterers and sales reps at your property will work more closely with meeting and event planners themselves. That means your team will have a better understanding for what’s going right, and what could be better.
Take the initiative to create an exit interview or survey after you’ve closed the deal, and after an event has concluded. As sales folks, we often want to learn why we lost a deal, but knowing exactly why you won a deal can be just as telling. Be proactive about collecting similar data after events take place. By making all of this accessible to your CVB partners, you can help them address potential issues earlier in the evaluation process. That way, you’re more likely to be introduced to a planner that’s confident in their ability to pull of the event in your city. Which makes for a much easier sales pitch than someone who’s on the fence.
Land and Expand
Let’s say your last major corporate event went off without a hitch and you’ve left your client totally satisfied. Take the opportunity to ask about their network, their organization, and beyond. Is there a particular type of event that you can’t accommodated but your CVB would know where to place it? Maybe your hotel can’t host an event for more than 50 people. That’s where you can guide clients back to your CVB when they need to make larger events happen.
In this case, most properties would be averse to driving business to a big box competitor. But remember you’re also providing the kind of value that helps your property stand out. Help your top clients expand their presence in your city and watch how quickly that business will make its way back to you.
Become a Local Thought Leader and Resource
Consider the ways planners evaluate a city. They’ll search online for venues, catering, and A/V partners, and local activities and culture that can make their event stand out. Typically your CVB will create the articles, videos, and guides that help convince planners your city is the right choice. This is where your property can help make all of that information more actionable and impactful.
One way is to ask your top clients for testimonials, both about your venue and your city. Pass these along for a CVB to use in their communications. Make the introductions that make more first hand accounts possible. Connect with the clients that really make the most of what your city has to offer and ask them if they’re willing to share their events itinerary with planners that are new to the city. That way, they don’t have to start completely from scratch.
A Rising Tide Floats All Boats
Partnering with a CVB means putting resources behind a few projects that don’t pay off right away, and serve every property in your city. Keep in mind that major corporate events or city wide tradeshows and conferences don’t come to a new city that often. Once they do, your city’s CVB is going to rely on the partners they trust most, and that’s where playing the long game pays off.
David Budimir is the Content Marketing Manager at Social Tables. He’s probably enjoying a messy burrito at this very moment.