Working with a CVB to Make the Most of Your Meetings

August 31, 2017
By Neha Shah, Director at the Pittsboro-Siler City Convention & Visitors Bureau

Convention & Visitors Bureaus (CVB) are resourceful. Regardless of size, they proactively seek collaborations and continuously aim for efficiency in destination marketing. As someone who has worked at a CVB for several years, I know firsthand how they can be a priceless resource – and a timesaver – for meeting planners.

Below are four tips for partnering with a CVB to organize and promote your next major meeting:

1. Alert the CVB early. Let the CVB know if the event necessitates extra resources, whether it has a large number of attendees or if it is high-profile. The CVB has meeting/group staff who check venue calendars regularly, and it’s a good idea to establish an ongoing working relationship with them.

2. Involve the CVB in your planning process. The CVB can help in a number of ways – providing staff for registrations, getting attendee bags ready, contacting community nonprofit organizations for volunteers or “local” ambassadors, etc. Room blocks, corporate rates and accommodations are a specific area of expertise in which the CVB can swiftly manage working with hotels to provide easy reservation options for attendees and dignitaries. Discounts, group bookings, additional venue space and transportation are all simpler when the CVB can connect you with the best resources.

3. Work with the CVB to select vendors and other services. The CVB likely has a list of trusted vendors on its website, in addition to the list of venues. Because it’s critical to keep your dollars local, the CVB can confirm whether a particular vendor or service is available nearby. The CVB also has access to multiple lists, and if something different (or special) is needed (e.g., valet, hot air balloon pilots, performers), they can easily connect you with a counterpart at a neighboring CVB.

4. Gain access to skills and information that don’t exist in your organization. Customized group itineraries are among a CVB’s specialties. Planning vacations, group outings, activities for accompanying families and/or significant others are also available and easy to coordinate. In addition, the CVB may have an extensive and specialized media list. Share the details of your event and the CVB can send a press release, when appropriate, both pre- and post-function.

CVBs are continuously asked about their worth and value. They can take key facts from the event (which may seem mundane to a meeting planner but can be PR gold for a CVB) and share them with members of the community, including reporters and elected officials. The number of attendees, meals served, local vendors involved, ground transportation, estimated sales and occupancy taxes all speak to the economic impact of your meeting.

Here are examples of how local venues have worked with my organization, the Pittsboro-Siler City CVB:

Recently, our county built a new conference center that is wholly owned and operated by county government. The CVB consulted on this capital improvement project; worked with the website programmers (layout, content, images, sitemap, etc.); managed social media; wrote policies, code of ethics; researched rates and regional venue specs, etc. The CVB normally would not be involved in this much depth but with the possibility of a conference center hotel, it was key to position the venue for external guests, in addition to the community it serves.

Indeed, several new venues in the area have consulted with the CVB at the onset rather than once the space is close to opening. Our staff has attended meetings alongside Central Permitting, Environmental Health, Planning and the Fire Marshal, and has helped meeting facility owners with guidelines and ideas to save money, find vendors, shape policy, consider best practices and connect with state tourism industry professionals. This has started the positive working relationship sooner and demonstrated to meeting planners the value of engaging the CVB early.

Elected officials, for example, may only receive a press release once a year about overall visitor economic impact but major events and functions illustrate the CVB’s efforts and value providing temporary jobs and services. CVBs are always interested in reaching new markets and providing assistance; take advantage of their expertise and keep in mind that it’s two-way communication in the recruitment and promotion of meetings and events, social and corporate.

To learn more about the Pittsboro-Siler City CVB, please click here.