When Sally Noona is not working with convention clients, she might be up to her elbows in a batch
of her homemade hummus, a dish friends and family clamor for.
Al Hutchinson, on the other hand, will be digging in humus, planting flowers in his flourishing garden.
Thanks to personal tidbits like those, meeting planners who’ve never met Noona and Hutchinson feel a little more connected to the director of convention sales and the vice president of convention sales when they visit the staff page of the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website.
The page goes far beyond the typical mug shots, job titles, phone numbers and email addresses that websites use to identify most CVB sales staff.
Noona, Hutchinson and 14 other sales and services staff for the Virginia Beach CVB share their personal interests, as well as their professional achievements, through detailed biographies as well as a series of casual, professional photos and a number of personal snapshots.
The highly personal approach to a staff page came after Virginia Beach learned it would not, for the time being, get a new convention center hotel. It seemed an appropriate time to remind meeting planners that a destination’s virtues go beyond buildings.
“We realized the best resource to focus on was our people,” said Hutchinson.
When Hutchinson described the proposed approach to the CVB website’s staff page, employees were instantly on board.
“We said, ‘We want you to share your story with potential customers,’” Hutchinson said, “and without hesitation, the entire staff said, ‘I’m in.’ Our team bought into it and put their own personality into it. It shows the quirky side of our folks. It showcases what makes your shine; what you do outside the CVB. You never know what it takes to touch the emotion of a client.”
For example, in addition to learning that Teri Wiley, senior convention services manager, is a Certified Meeting Professional and has developed shuttle transportation plans involving more than 100 motorcoaches, readers learn that her son, Michael, is a recent graduate of Virginia Wesleyan College who plays baseball and golf.
The Virginia Beach CVB also included profiles of all staff who assist with meetings and conventions.
“A lot of times, CVBs are talking about their sales staff,” said Hutchinson. “We wanted to take it a step further and show our support staff — the people our clients may know by name but not by face. We really wanted to bring a face to a name. These are the folks who don’t get recognition daily.”
The project also helped coworkers learn more about one another. “It was a good exercise internally as well,” said Hutchinson. “You need to know who you work next door to. You should really feel good about the strength of your teammates.”