CVB Partnerships: How Important are They for the Strategic Planning Process?

November 29, 2018

Christy Lamagna

Christy Lamagna is the founder of and Master Strategist at Strategic Meetings & Events. For the last decade her focus has centered around disrupting the meetings industry. She is teaching planners to evolve into meeting strategists, who think with curious minds and learn to create meeting environments that shorten sales cycles and influence attendee behavior. A lifelong learner, intellectual philanthropist and author, Christy taught college-level strategic planning for 10 years which helped inspire her book, “The Strategic Planning Guide for Event Professionals.” Read all of Christy's "Get Strategic" blog posts for CEN here

You may know that CVB stands for convention and visitor’s bureau, but do you know all the services available to you by using one? Many of us know we can send RFPs, requests for proposals, or as I like to call them, RFCs, or requests for collaboration, but did you know they’ll plan site visits, share insight on fiscal incentives if any are offered, help secure off site venues, provide valuable information about any upcoming city-wides that many conflict with your program dates and alert you to properties that are rebranding, closing or about to open? And all at no cost to you.

This is part two of my conversation with Rick Hud of Travel San Francisco in search of nuggets of wisdom from an insider on what planners may inadvertently leave on the table when using a CVB (read the first installment here). Since their services are paid for through attendees’ occupancy taxes, it makes sense to get the most value for those dollars. Rick was tremendously generous with his time and expertise. What stood out most of all was Rick’s commitment to support every person he meets regardless of how he meets them. He serves as a reminder that every conversation is an opportunity and every stranger is a friend waiting to be made. That’s worth keeping top of mind no matter where your travels lead you.

How can CVBs and planners work more strategically?  

Forget about the past when CVB’s might not have been utilizing “Best Industry Practices”.  Trust in and be willing to build those relationships as you would with the hotel national sales organization (NSO) or global sales organization (GSO).  Copy the CVB at the same time you source your NSO/GSO.  If answers are not coming back in a reasonable amount of time, contact that destination's local CVB and ask for assistance.  Don’t assume that you cannot afford something.  There are many times when a CVB can educate the planner on the “why”, empowering them with specific knowledge that increases their value to their company or their client.  

Same question as it relates to CVB and the properties/vendors in the city it represents.

It depends on if you are a membership-based CVB or not, and whether you are educating your stakeholders on your “story” as it relates to their needs and how we can go about accomplishing them as partners, not adversaries.  It’s not about who got the lead first or who gets credit, but on how we can create a collective value to meet the client’s needs on a destination level.  

Where do you think the industry will be in ten years?  

Less human interaction . . . unless we are able to tell a better story.  Change is inevitable, but it’s the adaptation to change that will be the key to survival, whether human, animal or business.

What do you think the biggest challenge CVBs are facing? The industry? Hotels?  

How to adapt to the change that technology is forcing at a rapid pace.  I remember sitting in a seminar given by a person whose background is in industrial psychology.  He provided us with examples of how long it took us to accept and adapt to technology.  The light bulb, phone, television, appliances and fax machines from their inception to actual acceptance.  At the same time, he gave us examples of how long it took us to accept and adapt to computers, cell phones, tablets and the latest technology.  His point was, in past decades, it took less and less time to adopt advancements (decades in some cases) and today it takes weeks and sometimes months for society to embrace the life changing technologies of the future.  How fast can we adopt and adapt . . . we shall see.

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