When Prevue wanted a locally sourced gift for its recent Meet Well Summit at Lake Nona Wave Hotel, the first call was to VisitOrlando. After a consult with an enthusiastic and extremely helpful Rasheedi Williams, the CVB came back with the idea of a gift bag filled with spa amenities: coconut soap, orange-scented oil, a candle and more.
Convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs), also called destination marketing organizations (DMOs), can do a lot more than just send out RFPs — and yet many meeting planners don’t know all they can do, much less take advantage of it. Yes, they can help coordinate RFPs, set up site visits, recommend local venues or transportation companies—things like that. But CVBs can help you in so many other ways.
Here are 8 services you may not know of—and the best part is, they do it all at no or low cost to the meeting organizer.
- Hybrid help. Now that hybrid events appear to be here to stay, at least in some form, planners find themselves strapped trying to essentially plan two parallel meetings — one in person, and another online. Your CVB partner may be able to help with that by providing the digital expertise you need to pull the logistics of that online piece together, as well as ensure the sound and video is of the professional quality you want now that your attendees are a little tired of the Zoom experience.
- COVID-related testing and vaccine info. Of course, your local CVB can keep you abreast of the latest pandemic-related restrictions that may still be lingering — or newly put in place should a new variant arise — at the destination overall, as well as what rules may be in place for specific venues or types of venues. But did you know they also can fill you in on which venues are offering free testing as part of their meeting packages — and also point you toward a local provider who can offer testing at anywhere from the airport to the hotel to the convention center? If the worst happens and someone comes down with COVID at your event, they also can help you line up a hotel willing and able to safely house your sick attendees, as well as local experts who can help with any immediate medical needs, whether COVID-related or not.
- Accessibility expertise. Most meetings and events will draw attendees who have some sort of disability that requires accommodation. Your local DMO can help you locate local venues and transportation companies that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as where meeting organizers and/or their attendees can find anything else they may need while on site, from medical equipment and supplies, local personal care attendants or visiting nurses, to interpretation services.
- Sustainability resources. Your local DMO also can fill you in on the sustainability practices and resources available at the various venues and suppliers you’re interested in using. They also can hook you up with local organizations that can help you figure out how best to use what is available so you can develop a waste management program for your meeting that will resonate with attendees.
- Economic impact metrics. One problem many are facing now is that their meeting history is, well, pretty much history when it comes to proving an event’s economic impact on a destination — a key negotiating point for future meetings. The CVB may be able to help you figure out not just the room night total, but the overall total economic impact of your event on the destination, including affiliated event and networking activity spend. They likely have the data and metrics you need — but all too many never ask for it.
- CSR activities. Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, activities, were popular pre-COVID, but now there are few groups that aren’t looking for ways to leave a positive impact that lingers beyond just the dollars they spend. If you’re looking for a local food pantry that could use some help feeding the hungry, or a playground that needs sprucing up, or whatever type of CSR activity would mesh best with your attendees and your meeting’s goals, start with your CVB.
- Local pizazz. If you want your attendees to really feel like the destination is over-the-top happy they’re in town, ask the CVB. They likely can help with welcoming signage and logos everywhere from the airport to streetlamps and hotel lobbies. And they may be able to do a whole lot more, from providing a red carpet welcome at the convention center to arranging for a local high school band to play people into the opening general session. Many cities are proud of their area’s cultural, educational and business communities and would be more than happy to help hook your attendees up with local experts, business leaders, civic and city leaders and other local luminaries.
- Video and photo promotional materials. You may know that they’re great at providing promotional materials and visitors to help entice your potential attendees to come to the event. But now that print is becoming a bit passé (not to mention, expensive to mail), they also can help rev up excitement with destination videos, B-roll, and photos and images you can use in your email, website and social media registration campaigns.
While not every CVB offers all the services listed here, they may offer other services unique to their destination that you may not even know to ask about. After all, every city has something special they want to showcase to not just make attendees feel welcome, but also make them want to come back on their own dime later.
Why would you not want to take advantage of all they have to offer — especially since it likely won’t cost you anything?