Courtesy Albany Co., by Kim Stock Photography
There’s no better way to get a taste of a town than a dine-around, and there’s no place where a dine-around is easier to pull off than in Albany, N.Y. There, the Albany County Convention and Visitors Bureau will organize a dine-around from start to finish, free of charge. Here’s how it works:
• The planner decides the amount of the voucher (for example $25 per attendee) and adds that amount to conference registration to cover the cost of the dine-around. The dine-around is marketed in all conference materials and on the conference’s website.
• The CVB contacts local restaurants that are CVB members and signs on a number that want to participate in the dine-around. For example, when 150 members of the Automotive Recyclers Assocation met in Albany, four local downtown restaurants participated in their dine-around.
• The CVB designs, prints and provides dine-around vouchers to the meeting planner. The voucher includes the dollar value, names and phone numbers of participating restaurants and the stipulations of voucher use, such as a statement that the voucher can be used only on a designated night. A voucher is placed in each registration packet.
• With menus from participating restaurants in hand, CVB staff go to the conference site the day of the dine-around and make attendees’ dinner reservations for them. Staff can answer questions about restaurants; each attendee who makes a reservation receives a dine-around confirmation with the date, time, address, telephone number and reservation contact at the restaurant.
• At the restaurant, attendees use their voucher as they please. The attendee is responsible for the difference if the tab exceeds the value of the voucher. Tax and tip are calculated on the total bill.
• The next day, CVB staff go to participating restaurants, pick up the vouchers, and start the restaurant reimbursement process.