The Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB also assisted with transportation from the local airports, plus shuttle service between local hotels and the convention center. In spite of the venue change, USCA enjoyed a record year, with more than 3,000 participants representing every state in the nation, its territories and Native American reservations, as well as several foreign countries. "I had countless attendees tell me that it seemed as if we had planned to hold USCA in Fort Lauderdale all along," Kawata reports.
Fort Lauderdale also hosted "Eyes on Innovation," the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Inc. (ARVO) in 2008. More than 1,200 people attended the forum for vision researchers and practitioners. "ARVO chose our location for its proximity to the worldrenowned Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine," says CVB President Grossman. Among the unique events the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB orchestrates for business and association groups are "iron chef" challenges in the historic district, dinner yacht cruises on the Intracoastal Waterway and progressive dinners at exclusive Las Olas restaurants. "Fish and Chip" events combine deep-sea fishing charters and golf tournaments.
"In Fort Lauderdale, outdoor events can take place as easily in February as they can in June," says Grossman. "We can arrange exclusive access to venues and events like the International Swimming Hall of Fame and the International Boat Show. We have great partnerships with the hospitality industry and can make it possible for groups to continue meeting even if they have budget constraints."
The New Orleans Metropolitan CVB brewed up a strong meeting strategy for Starbucks that attracted the company's 2008 Leadership Conference to the city in October. This marked the first time Starbucks has moved the gathering outside of the Seattle area. For the New Orleans CVB, it was the largest short-term corporate meeting the bureau has ever booked.
"Before we were able to gain Starbucks' interest in moving its meeting here, we did a considerable amount of research on the history of coffee in America," says J. Stephen Perry. "Coffee beans began flowing into New Orleans in the late 18th century, and New Orleans played a role in converting America from a tea-drinking to a coffee-drinking country. Our presentation to decision makers revolved around the coffee culture of New Orleans, along with an opportunity to engage its attendees in a local rebuilding project consistent with the company"s 'do well by doing good' philosophy."
"When groups share with us what their meeting goals and philosophy are, we can better help them deliver a great experience for their meeting attendees."
"New Orleans was the perfect host for our Leadership Conference," says Cliff Burrows, president of Starbucks Coffee U.S. "We knew that the 10,000 Starbucks partners - what we call our employees - attending would be excited to experience the city's legendary hospitality and have a chance to work with local residents and organizations in the rebuilding effort. The New Orleans CVB has made us feel so welcome by working with us, local hotels and restaurants to ensure that we provide our people with a memorable experience that also makes sense for our business."
"Our approach with Starbucks is an example of how a DMO works to understand its customers," explains Perry. "Every company has a different type of product or service and a unique culture. Our task is to understand those nuances and match them with experiences that are authentic and meaningful for that organization. That means we have to dig deeper, learn the real reasons behind the meeting and find elements that connect in terms of space, venues and entertainment. The result is a more complete solution that satisfies participants on multiple levels."
The Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau has developed strong partnerships with many large, locally based companies, helping them organize meetings in their own backyard. "One of our biggest corporate customers has been Hewlett-Packard's printer division in Boise," says CVB Executive Director Bobbie Patterson. "They need a lot of attention to detail. They need a secure building. And because of our proximity and our understanding of those needs, we can meet their expectations."
Boise has also hosted the National Governors Conference twice during Patterson's tenure, as well as conferences for the Society of American Travelers. As with HP, communication with those groups to learn their requirements is all a part of the CVB's service. "When groups share with us what their meeting goals and philosophy are, we can better help them deliver a great experience for their meeting attendees," says Patterson.
"Done right, a meeting lives a long time in the mind of your attendees. The ROI can be measured for several years after the meeting adjourns."
Gary C. Sain, President and CEO
Orlando/Orange County, CVB
The Boise CVB has also become an invaluable ally for local administrative assistants and secretaries who are new to the process of planning a meeting. "These are the people who may suddenly find themselves in charge of a local meeting, and they can be overwhelmed," says Patterson. "So on a regular basis, we bring our team to them to let them know what a CVB can do to make their meetings successful. They learn how we can save them a lot of work, and that nearly all our services are provided free of charge."
Local Expertise, Global Reach
Executives should keep in mind that CVBs are a resource even if a meeting is small in scale. "We're interested in longterm relationships with the corporate community," says Daniel N. Fenton, chair of Team San José. "Anyone can call one of our offices for help with booking a small meeting. He or she will not be treated any differently than someone who is planning a large sales conference or event."
Building a relationship with a local CVB is an excellent way for an organization to become familiar with the types of services available, advises Irving CVB Executive Director Gast. "It's important to have a relationship with a local CVB. Even if an upcoming meeting is not local, chances are that the local CVB can make an introduction for you somewhere else."
"Leaders of DMOs have professional relationships that extend beyond local borders," says Charles Ahlers, president of the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau. "Most of us have some expertise on other destinations as well. We're happy to offer good advice for a meeting that's not going to take place in our region. It's an opportunity for somebody else. We want to be sure that a customer is treated nicely somewhere else, so we'll pick up the phone and call one of our colleagues to make that introduction."
"Even in the worst economic downturns, the strategic value of meetings remains
fundamentally vital to the global business community."
David Basler, Editor-in-Chief One+™ magazine
Meeting Professionals International
Customized Service Taps Local Amenities
An organization may not automatically consider calling upon a local DMO when it brings in out-of-town staff for an extended period. Yet a DMO can help make this type of project easier on employees and corporate budgets.
"We work closely with a number of our corporate clients, particularly those who are in our backyard," says Gast. "We see many groups conduct training programs that bring people into the area for three to six weeks at a time. So we help them by delivering some special amenities to those visitors. It might be a customized newsletter, with local news and events. But when somebody’s in a place for six weeks, he or she is also looking for a dry cleaner and a grocery store. So we help make those connections as well."
Matching a company's meeting requirements to unique local opportunities is an invaluable service a DMO can provide. The International Council of Corvette Clubs recently tapped the services of the Greater Birmingham CVB when it unveiled a new vehicle model to an international group. "We were able to set up rides around the Barber Motorsports Park racetrack, which made the event very memorable," says Michael Gunn, vice president of convention sales for the CVB.
A New Focus on CSR and Green Initiatives
Like Starbucks when it chose to participate in a rebuilding project in New Orleans, an increasing number of meeting and convention groups are seeking opportunities to give back to the communities they visit.
“Corporate social responsibility is a tremendously important part of the brand of a corporation,” says Perry. “In New Orleans, we’ve developed a capacity for allowing these connections to take place. We have three people dedicated solely to corporations that come to New Orleans to do corporate social responsibility programs. We can help groups incorporate CSR into team-building and other activities that make the most sense for their brand.”
“Plan.It.Green.” is the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB’s innovative approach for helping meeting groups to develop more environmentally conscious meetings. “Through this program, we plant trees in a designated area of a local park based on the number of attendees a meeting has,” says Grossman. “They can actually go to the park and see the trees we have planted on their group’s behalf. We also have other green lodging programs, and at least two dozen hotels have gone through the state’s environmental certification program. We also participate in the national clean beach program.”
“Debris-free meetings” are an achievable goal, says San José’s Fenton. “One of the unique features of our organization is that we manage facilities along with doing sales and marketing. So for the convention center and four theaters we manage, we can offer compostable or recyclable products so that a meeting createsvery little traditional waste.”
"Leaders of DMOs have professional relationships that extend beyond local borders."
Charles Ahlers, President
Anaheim/Orange County, CVB
At the Anaheim Convention Center, institutional food service company Aramark has an eco-friendly operation, notes Ahlers. “They’re as green as it gets. Our hotel community is very attuned to green initiatives as well. We have big properties like Marriott, Hilton and Disney, which are known for their commitment to social responsibility.” The Anaheim/Orange County CVB makes green properties and accomplishments easy to find with a “Green OC” guide on its Web site
Huntsville, Ala., was recently named one of the top ten green cities in the nation. The Huntsville/Madison County CVB works closely with “Operation Green Team,” a specially designated city department, to promote environmental stewardship among its hospitality partners. “Our hotels, our attractions and even our events have recycling, and they participate in other activities to make us a green city,” says CVB President Judy Ryals. As the demand for green properties increases, Ryals sees the designation as a way the community can enhance its bid for business while doing what’s right for the environment.
Accreditation Aims for Highest Standards
The process of accreditation is helping DMOs demonstrate their proficiency and ability to serve their customers using industry-best practices. There are nearly 60 DMOs currently accredited through the Destination Marketing Accreditation Program (DMAP) — 20 more than last year when the program was first launched. Nearly 30 more organizations are in the application process.
“As an industry, we’re very pleased to see DMOs going through the accreditation process,” says Gehrisch. “Some of them are officially applying, while others are using the process as an internal exercise to make sure their DMO business processes are in order and up to industry standards.”
Companies that use a DMAP-accredited DMO can be assured that their trust is well placed with a DMO that is adhering to the highest international industry standards. The establishment of DMAP accreditation and the application of industry standards bring a level of consistency to the products and services provided by DMOs throughout the entire industry.
Adding Value to the Experience
“Economic uncertainty means the value proposition we offer as a destination is of even higher importance,” says Perry. “We continue to look at ways to help customers control costs and yet have a high-end offering and experience in our city.”
In an effort to assist clients during tough economic times, the New Orleans CVB and the New Orleans Morial Convention Center launched “Extraordinary Experiences,” which they promote as the quickest-turnaround, most meeting- planner- friendly program in the country. The program offers complimentary space, marketing resources and other services for meetings held during specific months through 2011.
"It's important to have a relationship with a local CVB. Even if an upcoming meeting is not local, chances are that the local CVB can make an introduction for you somewhere else."
Maura Allen Gast, FCDME Executive Director
“The work we do helps generate economic benefits to our communities,” says Kevin Kane, president of the Memphis CVB. “Most of the services of a CVB are provided at little or no charge to our customers. Corporate travel planners and incentive travel planners are really getting a great deal when they tap the resources of a CVB and the communities they work with.”
“Even in a shaky and shaken economy, people still need to meet face-to-face for networking, relationship building, education and discussion,” says Grossman. “Corporate America is still committed to having meetings, and CVBs work very hard to get the deals they look for in order to continue those meetings.”
Corporate Meeting Hot Spots
Boise offers first-class accommodations, top entertainment, exciting activities and fine dining, all at affordable prices. Located in the heart of Boise's vibrant downtown, the convention center offers more than 50,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. Exciting outdoor recreation opportunities, excellent meeting facilities and unique off-site venues, combined with the dedicated staff at the Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau, will ensure that your meeting is a success.
New Orleans is the most culturally rich, authentic, inspiring city in America for corporate meetings. We understand the pressures that corporations face in an unusual economic climate, so we offer programs to reduce costs and achieve successful business meetings. The New Orleans CVB is regularly honored by its convention customers as one of the top five CVBs in the country and can act as an extension of your team.
World-renowned creativity, imagination and innovation truly separate Orlando from every other meetings destination. You'll get your greatest possible ROI - that's Return on Ideas - from the one place you can count on every hotel, attraction, recreational facility and meetings-related business to help spur your out-of-the-box thinking! Just what's so creative about Orlando as a destination? Here are four components on which we stake our "creative" claim:
Sophisticated pursuits: We have an impressive array of cultural centers, culinary destinations and unique venues; Rejuvenation: 176 golf courses, 19 spas; Lasting impact: Orlando offers attendees truly memorable experiences; Commitment: Orlando is 100% committed to making your event a success.
visit www.orlandoconventions.org and click on Orlando CVB
GREATER FORT LAUDERDALE
Executives and meeting planners receive the unparalleled attention and free "SUNsational" services of our award-winning team. With the 600,000-square-foot Broward County Convention Center, you"ll enjoy state-of-the-art meeting and exhibit space as well as five-star food service and an Internet café. Reduce the carbon footprint of your meeting as we plant trees in Broward County parks on your behalf for Plan.It.Green.
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