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.