Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Purpose of a CVB
            CVBs strive to increase local economic development by focusing on conventions sales, tourism marketing and services. Travel and tourism elevates the quality of life for a local community by providing jobs, securing tax dollars for the upgrading of services and infrastructure, and attracting facilities like restaurants, shops, festivals, as well as cultural and sporting venues that accommodate both visitors and locals.

            CVBs produce revenue dollars and taxes by performing destination marketing. Nearly every large city and county has its own CVB, which is neither a branch of government nor a charitable group. Rather each is typically an independent non-profit economic development organization that provides unbiased referrals to planners and serves as an official point of contact for them.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Submit Your Event for 2013!

Did you know you can list an event open to the public on our calendar? We list list visitor friendly events held within Kankakee County, open to the public and of interest to potential visitors from 50 miles away or greater.

These events include, but are not limited to: festivals, public sporting events, concerts, theatre, dance, cultural facilities with ongoing programs, such as museums and art galleries etc.

We are unable to list business meetings, classes, educational workshops, most fundraisers, pet adoptions, political rallies, garage sales, retail/restaurant sales, religious services and membership events.

All submission forms must be filled out entirely, including description of event and contact information. Forms with blank entry fields or no description will not be processed for posting.

All events will be approved or denied by CVB staff within in 72 hours. The KCCVB reserves the right to edit and publish event submissions at their discretion.

Posting minimum deadlines (for events meeting the requirements above):
  • 14 Days before the event: to be listed on the KCCVB calendar of events. Meeting this deadline may also include social media postings, weekly email newsletter and weekly flyer distributed to hotels.
  • 6 weeks before the event: for items above and inclusion in monthly email newsletter.
  • 3 months before the event: for items above and submission to Enjoy IL website (subject to their approval).
  • 6-12 months before the event: For items above and possible inclusion in printed materials by KCCVB and Enjoy IL (subject to their approval)
You can still make it in our calendar of events if you submit prior to November 30, 2012. Happy posting!

Monday, November 5, 2012

How to be a Super Planner!

You may not be a real superhero, but you can look like a super planner when you host your next meeting in Kankakee County, Illinois. Experience an incredible selection of meeting venues with outstanding amenities and affordable rates only an hour south of Chicago. Contact us at for more information on bringing your next meeting to Kankakee County.
Meeting planner services offered by the Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau:
  • Assist in choosing a property to compliment your event and submit a request for proposal.
  • Provide a pre-convention familiarization tour of Kankakee County.
  • Furnish quantities of the current Visitor Guide during or prior to, your event.
  • Information table with area brochures, maps, and information.
  • Events that are "open to the public", may be posted on our website.
  • Complementary convention bags for events with overnight bookings.
  • Help promote your event by sending press releases to local media.
  • Provide name badges, welcome banners, or signage for events of 100+ with overnight bookings.
  • Arrange a greeting from a local official.
  • Registration assistance for groups of 100 or more 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What is a Convention & Visitors Bureau?
As I sit back and read the compilation of articles that has been written about the Kankakee County CVB, I can’t do anything but smile.  I know that we are on target when it comes to marketing Kankakee County to visitors and the Chicago Bears fans.  If you don’t see all our efforts locally, then you must know that we are carrying out our mission as a destination marketing organization.   Let’s set the language straight.  We are not here to promote the Chicago Bears but we are here to promote Kankakee County to the Chicago Bears Fans 50 miles outside of our county.  The Chicago Bears is a brand and wherever they are present, their fans will follow.  Marketing experts call it “The Brand Mindset.” This means that once an organization is branded, then it is able to acquire a loyal following (such as the case for…).   
Kankakee County has three organizations that are charged to brand our county for people desiring to live, work, invest and visit Kankakee County.   The Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Economic Alliance of Kankakee County and the Kankakee County Chamber of commerce are three organizations that contribute to the economic health of our community.  These three organizations contribute to the economic health of our community, and they all have three very different mission statements.

Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau

Mission Statement: The Kankakee County Convention and Visitors Bureau create vibrant growth for the local economy by promoting Kankakee County as an overnight destination, increasing visitor awareness and developing a united tourism industry.  
Funding: 501c6 we are funded by a 4% visitor bed tax (Each time a visitor stays in one of our hotels the CVB receives a 4 % tax that is used to market and attract more outside visitors to the county) and an Illinois state matching grant.  Our fiscal year starts July 2012 and ends June 2013 

Program of work: create visitor business for the communities served by promoting its attractions, restaurants and tourism related features to visitors living 50 miles outside our county boarders.  This includes producing publications, promotional materials that are marketed and distributed throughout the mid-west region.   Our goal is to attract visitors who will stay overnight, eat at our restaurants and enjoy all the things to do and see while visiting our area. 

Economic Alliance of Kankakee County:
Mission: The Economic Alliance of Kankakee County is a public/private partnership tasked solely with retaining industry in and recruiting industry to Kankakee County, Illinois.  

Program of work: Create job opportunities, retain and recruit new businesses, transportation, 2020 Vision Branding, Enterprise U, River-Round table.

Kankakee County Chamber of Commerce:
Mission: The Kankakee County Chamber of Commerce facilitates the growth of our business community through collaboration, advocacy, and economic development.  

Program of work: · Developing marketing strategies, advertising and activities which promote area businesses, referring potential clients to investors, marketing the area to encourage and attract new business leaders, partnering with the city, county, and schools to identify and address problems and find solutions. 

The Kankakee County Convention & Visitors is funded by a 4% visitor tax and a grant awarded by the state of Illinois.  In order to continue receiving state funding, we have to comply with state regulations and be fiscally responsible. We are solely a destination marketing organization and all our activities should encourage visitors to stay overnight and experience all that Kankakee County has to offer.  To request for one of our publications or sign up for our electronic newsletter, please visit our website at  

How has the Kankakee County CVB marketing efforts impacted tourism for Kankakee County? 
The state of Illinois issued these numbers for 2011.  Numbers for Kankakee County’s domestic travel are up from 2010.  The following numbers were reported by the Illinois Bureau of Tourism.  Expenditures indicate how much visitors spent in 2010 and 2011.  Visitors spending increased by 6.3% in 2011 compared to a 0.42% in 2010.  State tax receipts increased by 13.5% compared to the previous 0.48% and Local tax receipts increased by 3.2% compared to 0.47%.  Due to the use of volunteers, who operate many of our historical and cultural tourism activities, Payroll and Employment remains in the negative.

                                                            2010                                                                                 2011

Expenditures                                     0.42%                                                                               6.3%
Payroll                                                0.31%                                                                               -0.1%
Employment                                     0.36%                                                                               -1.9%
State Tax Receipts                           0.48%                                                                               13.5%
Local Tax Receipts                          0.47%                                                                               3.2% 

Because we spend a large portion of our marketing dollars promoting Kankakee County to outside visitors, you won’t see all the results of our advertising and marketing locally.  Kankakee County CVB strives to support our local community by marketing our local attractions and features to visitors who spend dollars while experiencing Kankakee County. 

“Hotels are not the only businesses that benefit from a vibrant tourism industry”.

                                                                                                                        Bill Geist, President
                                                                                                                        Zeitgeist Consulting


How does the Kankakee County CVB market the county to outside visitors?

·        We produce 30 to 40,000 official visitors’ guides that are distributed throughout the mid-west, targeting Illinois and Indiana Travel Information Centers.  We fulfill requests from visitors either via email, phone, website or walk-ins.  We also supply visitors with about the area.
·        We produce promotional inserts promoting major attractions and features such as, (Chicago Bears Training Camp, Festivals, Museums and leisure activities) to include in newspapers distributing their publications throughout the Midwest and northern region of Illinois.  (Chicago Southtown Star, Chicago Sun-times, Chicago Defender).
·        We advertise and promote our meeting and sporting venues to potential event planners to include our local Hotels, Park Districts, Hidden Cove and other meeting and event facilities in industry publications such as, (Sports Event Magazine, Sports Destination Magazine, Midwest Meetings and Illinois Meetings & Events). 
·        We partnership with the Illinois Bureau of Tourism to advertise and market regionally in publications such as (Chicago & Beyond and we post Kankakee County attractions and events on our states’ Enjoy Illinois website).
·        Our organization travels to conferences and trade shows to sell Kankakee County as a meetings and event destination.  We encourage local associations to bring their state and regional meetings home to Kankakee County.  This brings visitors to our area to shop, dine and stay.
·        We are mentioned, listed and sometimes featured in Illinois’ national and international campaigns reaching out to International travelers visiting the Midwest region.
·        We have cutting edge software and technology that can measure the success of your organization’s attraction, tourism related business or event.  Your organization supplies the numbers and we add the formula.  We work hard at measuring the success of our organization and we want to assist organizations in measuring theirs. 

What can the CVB do for its local residents?
·        If you are planning a meeting i.e. (religious or corporate, regional or district), family reunion, class reunion, or bringing home a regional sports tournament, we can provide free visitor information welcoming your guest to Kankakee County.  This service is provided for visitors staying overnight.
·        Provide information on restaurants, lodging, events, attractions and other activities
·        Receive competitive hotel rates by contacting the CVB for free hotel booking assistance and venue site selection.
·        We can assist in coordinating group tour activities. 
·        Assistance with developing and attracting special events to Kankakee County. 

So if you are not aware of what we do for our community, it’s simply because we are in the business of attracting visitors who travel from outside to experience what’s on the inside of Kankakee County.  If you are traveling north/south bound I-57 Illinois or east/west bound I-65 Indiana, stop at one of our Travel Information Centers and ask for tourist information about Kankakee County.  Local residents can pick up visitor information at our PNC Bank location, downtown Kankakee.  We are located on the ground floor.

We are presently working with our Community River Round table, promoting the Kankakee River and developing an Interstate 57 signage program.  We support the French Heritage Museum, Regatta, Acting Out, Kankakee Valley Symphony Orchestra, Merchant Street Musicfest, Agri-tourism, Momence Main Street, Wright in Kankakee, Herscher Labor Day Celebration, Bennett Curtis House, Community Arts Council, Park Districts, and other tourism related businesses and events.  We support our local arts and cultural community by joining their membership programs and assisting with developing promotional and marketing material.  We are working with alternative meeting venues to attract government, corporate and association meetings to our area. 

How can the CVB partner with the community to create a united tourism industry?
In order for us to create a united industry, our community needs volunteers.  We need community residents, who can share in telling our story to visitors traveling throughout Kankakee County.  Volunteers are also needed to assist with extending our front line marketing efforts.  Tour guides are needed to assist with tours of the Frank Lloyd Wright house, the Kankakee County Museum, the French Canadian Museum, the Barn Quilt Tours, and other attractions.  Volunteers are needed to help plan, promote, set-up and collect data, for Special Events.  Our local art, historical and cultural organizations such as the Community Arts Council of Kankakee County, Momence Main Street, WKCC public radio, among others need volunteers to help carry out their missions.   

The CVB, private, corporate, non-profits, not-for Profits and other local businesses should continue supporting tourism by sponsoring local attractions and special events.  Private and corporate partners should consider investing in long-term plans to create tourism infrastructure.  Creating a home for the visual and performing arts, public art, expanding other existing museums and attractions, will increase awareness and attract more visitors to Kankakee County.  The CVB is here to market the best we have in Kankakee County.  

Partnerships are important.  If we want to promote the best we have in Kankakee County, then we all have to invest in our community.  Investing in a community doesn’t just lie on the shoulders of the three organizations previously mentioned, but it involves residents telling our story to visitors, business associates and friends.  We at the Kankakee County Convention & Visitors are here to increase awareness, attract visitors and create a united tourism industry.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My name is Vicki Layhew and I am the Sales and Marketing Manager of the Kankakee County Convention and Visitors Bureau. I assist planners from outside the area in having their meeting or event in Kankakee County. I also work on identifying new markets to bring more visitors to the area.

One of the services offered by the Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau is Housing and Online Registration. This is an efficient tool for meeting planners wishing to maximize their room blocks, increase attendance and obtain accurate pickup numbers.
Let our CVB assist you with your housing and registration needs. We can handle your multi-hotel housing requirements when you have 100 peak room nights or more, in an efficient and professional manner. Our state-of-the-art technology and experienced staff will maximize your block to make your job easier. No one knows Kankakee County hotels the way we do. Let the KCCVB provide you with the best possible housing experience in Kankakee County.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Welcome to the Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau blog! I am Larry Williams, Executive Director of the Kankakee County CVB and I would like to share information about the benfits and purposes of a CVB.

What Every One Should Know About CVBs  

Consider a convention and visitor bureau (CVB) a meeting planning Yellow Pages. You don't even have to let your fingers do the walking; the CVB will do that for you as well.  

While many are aware of the existence of CVBs, often the full range of services that a CVB has to offer is not realized.  

Most CVBs are not-for-profit organizations representing a specific destination. Most are membership organizations bringing together companies that rely on tourism and meetings for business.  

Among its many areas of expertise, a CVB:

·        Encourages groups to hold meetings in the city
·        Assists groups with meeting preparations
·        Provides promotional materials to encourage attendance
·        Establishes room blocks for hotels 

Most importantly for you, CVBs serve as the official point of contact for convention and meeting planners. Meeting professionals have access to a range of services and value-added extras through a bureau.  

Common Misconceptions about CVB's  

Before going into the specifics of what a CVB can do for a meeting planner, let's examine a few common misconceptions.  

Misconception #1: 
CVBs solely book hotel rooms and convention space. 

CVBs represent the gamut of visitor-related businesses, from restaurants and retail to rental cars and racetracks. Therefore, they are responsible for introducing planners to a full range of meeting-related products and services the city has to offer. Basically, they match needs to a city's resources.

Misconception #2: 
CVBs only work with large groups.  

More than half of all meetings involve less than 200 people. These meetings are just as important to a CVB as larger ones. In fact, larger bureaus often have staff members specifically dedicated to small meetings.  

Misconception #3: 
Bureaus own and/or run the convention center. 

Only five percent of CVBs run the convention center in their location. Nevertheless, CVBs work closely with local convention centers and can assist planners in getting what they need from convention center staff.  

Misconception #4: 
Planners have to pay CVBs for their services.  

In truth, the services of a CVB are free. Michael Gehrisch, president of the International Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus (IACVB), points out, "Convention bureaus are both a hotel's and a meeting planner's best friend. They don't charge either one, but book business for the hotel without a fee and provide the same service, for free, to planners." Most bureaus are primarily funded through hotel occupancy taxes. Some bureaus also charge membership fees.

Some may question the need to work through a CVB when planning a meeting, particularly in cases where the bulk of an event takes place at one hotel or at the convention center. The bureau can help you work with those entities and can help fill out the convention schedule with off-site activities (including spouse tours and pre and post-conference tours). An objective resource, the bureau can direct planners to products and services that will work best to accommodate their needs and budgets. In summary, a CVB acts as a mediator, matching meeting needs to the products, services, and speakers available in a community.  

Why Use a CVB?  

CVBs make planning and implementing a meeting less time-consuming and more streamlined. They give meeting planners access to a range of services and packages. Before a meeting begins, CVB sales professionals can help locate meeting space, check hotel availability, and arrange for site inspections. CVBs can also link planners with the suppliers, from motorcoach companies and caterers to off-site entertainment venues, that can help meet the prerequisites of any event.  

What are some of the specific services CVBs offer planners?

·        CVBs can offer unbiased information about services and facilities in the destination.
·        CVBs serve as a vast information database and a one-stop shop, thus saving planners time, energy and money in the development of a meeting.
·        CVBs act as a liaison between the planner and the community. For example, CVBs are aware of community events with which your meeting may beneficially coincide (like festivals or sporting events). They can also work with city government to get special permits and to cut through red tape.
·        CVBs can help meeting attendees maximize their free time through the creation of pre and post-conference activities, spouse tours, and hosting of special evening events.
·        CVBs can provide hotel room counts and meeting space statistics, and will keep a convention/meetings/events calendar in order to help planners avoid conflicts and/or space shortages.  

CVBs can match properties to specific meeting requirements and budgets.

Other services provided to planners include:

·        Collateral material
·        Help with on-site logistics, including registration
·        Housing bureaus
·        Auxiliary services, such as production companies, catering, transportation
·        Site inspections/familiarization tours and site selection
·        Speakers and local educational opportunities
·        Coordination of local transportation
·        Access to special venues 

 The overall job of a CVB is to market and sell a destination. A CVB wants every single client to be happy. It is going to do everything it can to match every client with the perfect setting and services for its meetings. The bottom line — the CVB is working for you.  

So, make your life easier and let a CVB's fingers do the walking for you.