There is always opportunity in crisis, and for Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs), also known as Convention Bureau (CBs), sales professionals, there may never be a better time than now to prove your value to meeting organizers and business venues. Sales leaders, group marketers, and CVB sales and service professionals will have the chance to come together and strategize new ways to better serve planners, both during the COVID-19 crisis and the recovery that will follow. Following the planner’s perspective on the distinctive value of working with a CVB seems like a good place to start.
CVBs have been long touted as a “one stop shop” for planners. Yet, outside the major citywide marketplace where working with a CVB is essential, CVB sales professionals have continued to struggle with awareness and relevance as a middleman between planners and venues. In research conducted by Destination Analysts, Inc. in partnership with Destinations International, The CVB & the Future of the Meetings Industry, over half of meeting planners consider CVB and CBs “very important” to the meetings industry (54.5 percent) and see them becoming more or much more important to the industry in the future (50.3 percent). In these extraordinary times, CVBs and CBs can position themselves to step up as strategic planning partners and go after the other half.
Based on our work within the industry, Christine “Shimo” Shimasaki, CDME, CMP and I have valued relationships with many CVB sales leaders and sales professionals. We value you and your work, and want to share some of the insights we have gleaned from your customers over the past few years conducting advisory boards, industry panels and direct customer interviews as part of our Buyer Insights research. We see this as an opportunity for you to more deeply understand their vantage point on the value of CVBs, which may help you to optimize these relationships.
1. They Depend on You to Simplify the Process
Even in the best of times, securing a meeting or business center location is a complicated endeavor. Planners have told us they expect their CVB partner to clear the way, saving them both time and effort. Their desire is for you to do much more than just distribute the lead. They want you to own the lead in your destination. Planners expect CVB sales pros to understand their needs explicitly, communicate them to your hotels and venues, and to follow through to create a cohesive response that covers all the bases, bringing your community together to provide alternatives and solutions that work for their particular event.
The need for this effort on your part will be magnified in the coming months as planners are left with disrupted hotel relationships and the need to navigate cancellations, rebooking and finding space for new events that occur as a result of this crisis.
2. They Depend on You to Overcome Hurdles
In our conversations with planners, they have explicitly expressed their reliance on the CVB as a problem solver. When they come up against hurdles, they rely on CVB’s insider knowledge of the way things work in the destination to provide them with an advantage in negotiations, removing obstacles, and overcoming specific challenges.
Now is the time for you to show planners that you are the ideal curator of destination expertise and there is no one better to help them in difficult times. Bring your destination partners together to troubleshoot. Provide examples and case studies, and connect them with peers who have solved similar issues in an innovative or unique way. When you witness creative solutions in these challenging months ahead, share them far and wide. CVBs say they are the organizer’s “boots on the ground.” It’s going to be tough out there. It’s an excellent time to prove it.
3. They Depend on You to Do Your Homework and Be a Strategic Partner
The word “ally” comes from the Latin, alligare, meaning “to bind to.” And this type of relationship is just what a planner is seeking: an ally who will come to your aid in navigating uncharted territory, armed with the expertise.
Planners comment that an impressive differentiator is a CVB rep who has taken the time to really understand the goals of the organization, meeting objectives, attendee demographics, and the historical perspective of the meeting parameters. They don’t want to be relied upon to serve it all up for the CVB to disseminate for them, but rather they desire a strategic meetings partner who is well educated about their needs, and who can help them sell the advantages of the destination to their own stakeholders.
Charting a New Course
You will all be asked in the coming months to partner in new ways and add value in your relationships with organizers. You may be working as part of a skeletal staff and reaching out to someone else’s customers. You may be working reduced hours with reduced pay. You may be coming back to work after a furlough in the coming weeks and months. Whatever your circumstances, everyone will be asked to do more. It’s our belief, and one supported by the planner’s perspective, that there has never been a better time to be a CVB sales professional.
You are a dedicated and generous group of hardworking professionals who will be given the opportunity to rally your destination hospitality communities and support your planning partners.
We hope that you have found some planner-based insight here that will guide and inspire your conversations as you and your team chart new ways to add value. We look forward to continuing the discussion.
2Synergize, LLC a Simpleview consulting company, specializes in the convention and visitors bureau (CVB) industry and is laser focused on helping destinations gain a competitive edge in the meetings and events market. For more information about 2Synergize, visit www.2synergize.com.
Simpleview is the worldwide leading provider of CRM, CMS, website design, digital marketing, revenue generation, and mobile technologies for destination marketing organizations (DMOs). The company employs over 400 staff and works with nearly 1000 travel, tourism and convention marketing customers on six continents, from towns of less than 30,000 to world capitals, including Los Angeles, New York and 14 more of the top 20 U.S. meetings destinations, Dubai, East Sweden, Guadalajara, Melbourne, Prague, Reykjavik, South Africa and the countries of Malaysia, Norway and Scotland. For more information about Simpleview, visit www.simpleviewinc.com.