A convention and visitors bureau (CVB), also known as a destination marketing organization, or DMO, is one of the most valuable resources at a meeting planner’s disposal. But some planners have yet to take advantage of everything these organizations have to offer. These not-for-profit organizations work tirelessly to promote their local destinations and often provide an extensive range of complimentary services, such as site-inspection visits, promotional materials, welcome receptions and housing programs.
In addition, some CVBs offer booking incentives for planners to bring their groups to the city. To learn more about some of the ways planners can tap into these resources, we spoke with several sales and service teams from CVBs across the country. Here is some of the advice they shared.
Contact the CVB as early as possible.
Carolyn Creek-McCallister, the senior group sales manager at the Park City Chamber/Convention and Visitors Bureau in Utah, suggested that planners get in touch with the CVB sales team when they first begin planning, even if they are still narrowing down their choice of destination.
“If we can take it from start to finish, it will go so much more smoothly,” said Creek-McCallister. “When they first start thinking about different destinations, they should reach out via email or phone call so we can become their main point of contact and start to build that relationship from the beginning.”
Though CVBs typically recommend that planners contact them at least a year in advance, Freddie Willard, director of sales at the Beaumont Convention and Visitors Bureau in Texas, proposed getting started two or three years ahead of time.
“If you talk to most meeting planners, they’re booking four or five years out,” Willard said. “So if you plan ahead, you’re going to get the dates that you want, and you’re probably going to get the better deal as well.”
With smaller CVBs, planners can often work with a single point of contact throughout the planning, but occasionally the sales and service teams work separately. In that case, the person leading the site inspections may not be the same person assisting with event planning.
“The service team will be the boots on the ground, so get services involved upfront so they can help with as much planning as possible,” said Zack Davis, vice president of destination services at the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau in Kentucky. “For the planner, it would make a lot of sense to instigate that if it hasn’t already happened.”