Are Convention and Visitor Bureaus still worth considering

Meeting planners are blessed with many options when it comes to the destination selection process.  Are Convention and Visitor Bureaus still worth considering for the site selection process? The answer is “yes.” Convention and Visitor Bureaus, and in some cases Destination Marketing Organizations or DMO’s, should be the first organization you contact in a desired destination. Need to know exactly what is happening in a destination?

Then the CVB will be the place to get all that is needed to make an educated decision. Best of all, the services offered by the CVB are free to the planner. They are paid for by bed-tax dollars and memberships. CVB’s do a superb job of keeping updated information on venues, activities, challenges and opportunities in their city. People working at the CVB are experts on what their destination has to offer, and many have worked in the hospitality or meeting planning industry prior to joining the bureau.

As a planner I look at the local CVB as a partner in the planning process of my conferences. From the start they can advise about potential conflicts related to other events, major construction projects in the city and advise on traveling into the destination. Especially helpful for long-term planning, CVB’s have a great understanding of which development projects are in the pipeline and have been approved by the city. As a planner I have been pitched numerous to be build venues; quick checks with the CVB in the destinations revealed the uncertainty of the projects.

Once a destination has been selected, the CVB can help planners secure bids on venues, hotels and other services. The only caveat is that CVB’s tend to only include member organizations in their bid process; however most venues and hotels seem to be members of their local CVB. Part of the bid process can include site visits planned and at times paid for by the CVB for the planner.

Many CVB’s have websites or pages on their websites that allow meeting planners to submit RFPs and browse services and providers.

Once you have confirmed your destination, the CVB can help you with promotional materials, connections and will become a great resource for your attendees as they plan their participation.

Convention and Visitor Bureaus play an important role in the success of your event. Build relationships and make sure that once your event has completed you share with the CVB how many room nights your event picked up. This will help the bureau accurately report numbers to their constituents. It’s a simple thing to do but forgotten by so many planners