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There’s no doubt that a meeting and event planner wants a CVB (Convention and Visitors Bureau) to assist them with their planning needs when bringing a group or convention to a particular city. A CVB is basically a marketing division for the city that they are in. It’s their job to promote their city in such a way that a meeting and event planner wants to bring their group to the CVB’s city. A CVB will spend mind boggling marketing dollars to brand their city. What exactly does branding a city mean? Well the best example that I can think of, when trying to demonstrate a city that has branded themselves well, is New York City. If anyone comes up to you and asks if you been to the “Big Apple” you most definitely will know that they’re talking about New York City. That’s branding.
A Meeting and Event Planner Uses a CVB to Start the RFP Process
Let’s assume that you are a meeting and event planner. And also let’s assume that you have selected a city to take your group of 50 to. So now what you do? Well obviously you want to develop a meeting planner template or checklist and start listing all of the steps that will be necessary for you to execute a successful meeting. For more on meeting planner templates or checklists see the related articles below.
CVB’s are a free service for a meeting and event planner. So the first thing the meeting and event planner should do is contact the city’s CVB and get their meeting put on the books. Your CVB contact will spend a little time getting to know you as well as a little bit of information about your group (i.e. the type of people, what they like to do, where they like to go and what they like to eat). Following that meeting, the CVB will then send out a request for proposal (RFP), usually to hotels first, indicating how many rooms you are seeking and for how many days (otherwise known as room nights) plus any food and beverage and meeting room requirements. Then the hotel salespeople get to work. They’ll look at their books to see if they can accommodate your request and then send you a summary of rooms available and at what rate. Depending on your food and beverage and meeting requirements you may have some wiggle room as far as room rate negotiations. A meeting and event planner can tell their CVB contact how many hotel properties they want their RFP to go to. The CVB will manage the RFP process from the hotels (although it is the norm that the hotels will communicate directly with the meeting and event planner). Once a hotel has been selected the others will be notified that they did not make the cut.
A Meeting and Event Planner Will Consult with the CVB on Which Service Companies to Hire
A CVB also has an extensive list of service providers. Whether it be a DMC (Destination Management Company), a transportation company, and attraction or restaurant, a good CVB will be able to point the meeting and event planner in the right direction. I usually recommend to meeting and event planners that they ask their CVB contact not to have service companies contact them until they know which hotel they are using. Sorry service providers this is not an attack on your operation at all. It’s just that a meeting and event planner can be inundated with sales calls and e-mails from service providers. And having been a service provider in the past I can tell you that these calls and contacts are all well intended. However the reason I advise meeting and event planners today to hold off on having service companies contact them is so that they are allowed enough time to make the proper decision on their hotel and meeting facilities. Then, once the hotel and meeting facility has been finalized, initiating contact with service companies would proceed. Of course if a meeting and event planner has the budget a DMC is recommended to help with all of the other service aspects of their program (disclaimer – I have worked for a DMC in the past – so I know how valuable their services can be).
While this is usually not a major issue it is worth noting that a CVB can only put forward companies that are members. I say this is not a major issue because most reputable companies do belong to their local CVB. When selecting smaller parts of the program, such as restaurants, you may want to consider talking to your hotel contact as there may be excellent local restaurants that are not a member of the CVB.
A CVB is a great tool for a meeting and event planner. It can help provide the local expertise to execute a successful program. One that has the attendees talking for some time. A CVB can also be assistance by offering city guides and other tourist information to the meeting and event planner.