Monday, December 23, 2013

Six Travel Trends to watch in 2014

The Travel Market Report has sent out surveys an the results are in for what they say are the travel trends to watch in 2014. Not only are baby boomers still going strong, but indulgence and adventure travel is on the upswing. Check out these trends:

Trend #1. Impact of millennials
Trend #2. Seniors are unstoppableTrend #3. Rise of conspicuous leisureTrend #4. Growth of ‘creative tourism’Trend #5. Strength of luxury travel Trend #6. More multigenerational travel

Please visit their website for more information on these emerging trends. Contact the Kankakee County CVB for more information.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Problem Resolution

We have all had bad customer service experiences; whether we were the client or the business owner it is never an issue we want to happen. However, dealing with problems head on and satisfying the customer is well worth the effort to train your staff to deal with them.

When a negative experience happens, fix it before check-out
·        Leisure guests are willing to pay a 20 percent premium for best in class issue resolution, while business travelers are willing to pay a 11 percent premium.
·        Of guests who shared their complaints with the hotel, seven out of 10 were not satisfied with the result.
·        Eight out of 10 leisure guests are influenced by well handled issue resolution when rebooking.

Experience creates a channel through brand ambassadors
·        Three out of five leisure guests are highly likely to rebook after a good experience.
·        95 percent of guests discuss noteworthy good and bad hotel experiences.

Meet business guests' needs, drive loyalty
·        Business guests rank personal experience as their top purchase driver.
·        A satisfied guest is loyal and will spread the word.

Issue resolution and room amenities are "aces" for leisure travelers
·        Over half of memorable leisure stay moments are experienced due to customized support, largely driven by attentive staff.
·        Leisure travelers not only say they want current room amenities, it's a feature they're willing to pay for

Taking the time to deal with an issue and create a satisfying resolution not only means a happy customer, but one that will help promote your business as well. Keep an eye out for more Kankakee County CVB blog articles and have a great holiday!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Easy Customer Tracking; 1 - 2 - 3

Geocoding Bears Fans from Database
Have you ever wondered why they ask you for you zip code when you make a purchase at your favorite store? Unlike loyalty programs where a customer submits a profile and is identified with every visit to the checkout by scanning a card to compile a history of purchased items, geographical tracking is a way of seeing where your customers come from.

Geographical tracking, or geocoding is the process of turning an address, city, state, zip or postcode into mappable coordinates. This enables you to find trends, hot spots and cold zones in your marketing efforts. Where should you target next? What items are popular in a certain area. These questions are easy to answer when you visualize your sales data using a database mapping software.

Batchgeo is a free online mapping service that can create pinpoint maps based on your customer database; whether is includes full addresses, just city/state or even if it is only zip codes. You can even use databases you probably already have; attractions can use visitor sign in sheets, businesses can use customer databases and inquiry requests.

The Kankakee County CVB uses geotracking to measure ad results, see trends for a particular publication or track visitors to a specific event. Try it today to see how geotracking can help your business!

Monday, November 11, 2013

4 Social Media Strategies for the Holiday Season

As the holiday season quickly approaches, you may be asking yourself, how do I promote my hotel during the holidays? Using social media, of course! The opportunities to capture the holiday traveler's attention are nearly unlimited. In this video, explore four strategies to engage and convert your social media audience this season, including design tips, promotion suggestions, and video concepts. 
  1. Holiday-ify your profiles' designs. Add a little flare to your profile icons and cover images to stay fresh for your audience.
  2. Create a holiday focused promotion or contest. Take advantage of Facebook's recent relaxation of the promotion guidelines, or go all out and create an interactive custom application to build engagement and increase your social reach.
  3. Leverage repeat-posts with holiday themes. The holidays are a time for fun and impatience. Help build excitement (and repeat engagement) with a countdown of your own, rewarding users and encouraging them to share.
  4. Create holiday themed videos. Let your employees share their excitement and voice by shooting short clips of them giving thanks this season, and upload them to Vine or Instagram. 
Whatever you decide to do, don't be afraid to have fun. You can entertain and engage while building a qualified fan-base that will help your business will into the new year. For more ideas, contact the Kankakee County CVB.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Social Media Marketing Tips, Part 2

In July 2012 Americans spent 74.0 billion minutes on social media via a home computer, 40.8 billion minutes via apps, and 5.7 billion minutes via mobile web browsers, a total of 121.1 billion minutes on social networking sites. Social media can be an important part of your marketing strategy. Here are 10 more tips you can use to build strong relationships using social media marketing.

11. Add a Welcome Video
Include a welcome video to your landing page. Use it to tell new members about your company, and what social networking sites your company can be found on.

12. Tag People and Pages on Facebook
When posting or commenting on Facebook, be sure to utilize the status-tagging tool. Using status tagging will alert the person or company when being mentioned. Simply use the @ symbol in front of the person or company’s name; yet another easy way to encourage interaction.

13. Have your Facebook fans tag your photos
Any live events you attend or hold be sure to take plenty of photos. Upload the event photos to Facebook, and ask your fans to tag any photos they are in, or recognize some one they know. Not only does this encourage more fan interaction, but also it will help your company gain more exposure.

14. Perform Facebook activities as your Facebook fan page
What better way to network on Facebook, than interacting with others on Facebook as your fan page? Putting your name out there for people to see, more attention will be drawn to your Facebook page, thus driving more fans to your page.

15. Sweepstakes and/or Contests 
Sweepstakes and contests are the fastest way to increase your fan base. In order for this build up on of fans to be successful, you will need to utilize the Facebook app tool. The guidelines will provide all the information you need to run a successful promotion.

16. Take notice of your most active fans 
Take notice of your most active fans, and take the time to say thank you. Use incentive programs such as “Fan of the Week/Month.”

17. The Facebook Questions Feature 
The Facebook questions tool is an excellent, and simple way to interact with existing fans, and encourage some new fans. Poll your audience using a fun, relevant interesting, and intriguing question. This is a fantastic way to encourage interaction.

18. Utilize Facebook Ads
The best sources of traffic you can purchase are Facebook ads. Not only does it provide you a high
volume of traffic, it will also allow you to see how many users are in your target market area.

19. Network with other website Administrators 
Networking with other website administrators will allow you to build relationships with them. This will then open the doors for you to discuss ways to work together. Thus, increasing your social media marketing traffic.

20. Continue to Learn and Grow with Facebook 
Facebook is another excellent communication tool. Your company can use Facebook for public relations purposes, research and development, recruiting, sharing information, etc. Make the most of this incredible media-marketing tool.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Social Media Marketing Tips, Part 1

47% of American adults used social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, and in 2011, up from 26% in 2008. On social media sites like these, users may develop biographical profiles, communicate with friends and strangers, do research, and share thoughts, photos, music, links, and more. Here are 10 tips you can use immediately to build strong relationships using social media marketing. 

1. Utilize Your Family and Friends
Ask for the support of your family and friends. Encourage them to become fans on your Facebook page or followers of you on Twitter. Also ask your friends and family to spread the word about your fan page. 

2. Facebook Plugins
Incorporating a Facebook plugin into your website and/or blog is an easy and effective way to drive more fan traffic to your Facebook fan page. 

3. Other Social Media Networks
Facebook is not your only tool for social media marketing. Be sure to keep your Twitter followers and LinkedIn group members in the loop. 

4. Your Newsletter Subscribers
Send out an invitation in your newsletter to your subscribers. Invite them to join to your Facebook fan page, your Twitter following, even your LinkedIn group. Your newsletter subscribers are an excellent source of fan traffic that will actively help spread the message of your company. 

5. Make More Use of Traditional Advertising Methods
When using traditional advertising for your business, such as television ads or radio ads, mention your social networking sites. 

6. Physical Location Interaction with your fans and customers is key. Provide details on where your shop/office can be seen or visited. 

7. Your Existing Customers can be a Useful Tool Use your existing customers to fuel social media marketing. Inform your existing customers about your website, blog, Facebook page, and other social networking sites being used. Getting your existing customers involved uses the most powerful tool of all, word of mouth. 

8. Special Incentives will spark the interest of new fansUsing special incentives to get new fans on Facebook, followers on Twitter, or group members on LinkedIn. Offer special incentives such as access to exclusive content, your fans, customers, followers, advocates, etc, love feeling as though they are receiving something special. 

9. Stimulate Interaction Again, it is important to remember Facebook is not the only useful site in social media marketing. Use several social networking channels to keep your fans engaged and informed about other sites to obtain information about your business. 

10. Ask Your Facebook fans to “Like” and/or “Share” your material Asking your Facebook fans to help spread your message and “share” your material with their friends and familyWord of mouth is an effective, easy, free way to continue your social media marketing. Watch for more tips in our next installment. 

Please contact the CVB for more information.

Monday, September 30, 2013

What to do before and after an Event: It’s not just about Tradeshow Exhibits

If you’re attending a marketing event to promote your property or attraction, the work can begin well before the event and isn’t finished when the trade show exhibits are packed away. Follow these tips for beforehand and afterwards and you can help ensure that you have a successful trade show, whether you’re a complete newbie or a veteran marketer.

  • Make Sure Your Materials Are Being Shipped To The Correct Place
You can't always bring all your materials with you when going to an event, so having your trade show materials shipped to the right location is vital.  If any of the shipping details are incorrect, such as the zip code or city, or even which hall at the convention center, you could be stuck at the event without your trade show exhibits. Additionally, check that your company’s name or booth location is clearly labeled on the boxes so that the staff knows exactly where it should be placed for installation.

It’s also a good idea to make sure that your company’s name is clearly labeled on the inside of each box or shipping crate.  These crates can sometimes become damaged in transit and it could be a disaster if the container is damaged and no one knows where the contents belong.
  • Think About What You Want To Accomplish With Your Trade Show Exhibits
Make sure that you understand what you want to get out of the expo. Many businesses set vague goals — that is, if they set any at all.  If your goals are something like “capture more leads,” sit down and think about what this really means.  How many leads to you want to capture?  Do you want to get 10?  Or is 200 a more reasonable number?  Also consider the strength of the leads.  It’s not enough to capture leads without qualifying them first.  A cold lead is as good as no lead so make sure that your leads actually have a reason or a need for your company before you spend hours following up once you get back into the office.
  • Make Good On Your Promises
If you’ve promised to send an attendee information about your company, make sure that you actually do it once the event is over and the trade show exhibits are packed away.  If you promise to send something and don’t actually do it, many customers will assume you don’t want their business and will move on to your competitor.

Even if you didn’t promise information, you should still follow up with people you met at your trade show booth.  If someone filled out a lead card, but it didn’t seem like they were a hot lead, make sure that you call to check in every once in a while.  They were interested enough to visit your booth at the event so it’s possible that their needs could change in the future. Take care to not seem over-aggressive, however, since aggressive tactics can turn customers away.

While these tips aren’t complicated, they are extremely important if you want to maximize sales from a trade show marketing event.  Use these, but realize that they’re not the only things you should be doing.  Sit down with your staff and see if you can come up with other tasks that can help ensure your event is a success.

For more ideas contact our sales department.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hospitality Training for At-Risk kids

Busy lives and the social disconnectedness afforded by modern communication technologies are quickly swallowing up the art of hospitality.” 

How do we regain this intangible skill that should never be replaced with modern technology? 
Destinations across the country are embracing a new approach to deter youth violence that is taking the lives of many young adults.  Cities across the country are looking at how hospitality training programs can create respect for others and instill pride in communities.   The program is not only about reducing crime but preparing our youth for a job market and industry that lacks a smile and information needed to make a sale.

Some training initiatives target 15 to 24 year-olds struggling to find work and help them get jobs in the hospitality and restaurant industries while others incorporate grade school students. 

“Virginia Avenue Park's Teen Center is not only about getting kids jobs. The City's realigned Cradle to Career initiative hopes to nip the causes of youth violence in the bud by helping disadvantaged kids find careers that promise more than just a meager paycheck, according to the Julie Rusk, Santa Monica's director of Community and Cultural Services.”
“In the tourism industry, it’s not about pipelining our youth into fast food, and other restaurant jobs but training them to have a career in the hospitality industry that encompasses so much more”.   An initiative program primary focus should be to introduce an industry that youth can see a future and embrace a life time career.  These training programs can be implemented in local high schools, community outreach organizations and community colleges.

Tourism is economic development which includes training our youth for tomorrow’s industry. Contact Larry Williams, Executive Director to find out more about this opportunity.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Teaching Children Hospitality

Hospitality is a dying art and training should start during childhood

How do we engage kids in hospitality under the age fifteen?   Adults who live with kids can invite guest into their homes regularly.  Allow the children to invite them verbally or in writing.  Communication skills are encouraged when you host family, friends and other children into your home.  The art of hospitality starts at home. 

Ask kids to share what makes them feel welcome whenever they visit a new place for the first time.  Encourage them to join your local church or organization’s hospitality committee and have them prepare guest needs before they arrive.  Teach children how to plan ahead of time.  If it’s the guest first time visiting, give them a short tour of the bathroom and play areas.  If the guest is staying overnight show them where to find amenities, such as soap, towels, blankets food and dishes.  Last but not least, let children create a fun basket with toiletries for guest.

Quality customer service doesn’t have to disintegrate if we start hospitality training early on. Teaching our kids and preparing them to be responsible adults will equip them for industries looking for skilled and friendly employees.

Larry Williams, Executive Director
Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau

Monday, August 19, 2013

Responding to RFP’s

Electronic RFP’s are a standard in the event planning industry. Meeting planners can contact several potential properties with the click of a button, resulting in overloaded in boxes in the sales department. As a result, the vast majority of sales offices fall short on response times, even when it is a hot lead for low demand dates.

More often than not, those who inquire about dates that are sold out, or those that have needs that cannot be met at this time by the property, fail to receive any response. This leaves the meeting planners hanging and leads to frustration and complaints, not to mention a loss of any future business from that client. It seems that at most booking properties, no one responds anymore to say, “We are fully committed for your requested dates, but if your plans are flexible we would welcome a chance to look at other options.” Few if any respond to say “Since your meeting space cannot accommodate a group of this size, we do hope you will keep us in mind when you are planning smaller meetings.”

Here are a few tips to help get more mileage from RFP’s – even if your property is not available:
1.    Respond promptly to all inquiries, even those for which you have no inventory or otherwise cannot meet their specifications. Plans change as meeting details are finalized, and many planners are involved with multiple meetings. A well worded response indicating those dates are not available that provides the planner with alternate dates and a description of what you can offer may make the difference for another meeting date. Utilize your word processing software or brand resource tools to develop templates to streamline the process so every planner receives a response, whether you can accommodate the proposed dates or not. 
2.    Never assume that your property isn't right for a prospective client or that your rates will be too high. Limiting yourself to this mindset could result in missing out on potential future business if the planner coordinates multiple events with different requirements. 
3.    Even if you have hosted an event or group in the past, don’t assume they will choose your facility without receiving a response from you. Perhaps the planner’s objectives for the event have changed or they are not aware of a recent upgrade to your property. Taking the time to send an appropriate response such as “since your last event we now offer (new item) and look forward to continuing to serve you needs.” 
4.    Just because you did not win the bid for an event in the past does not mean you shouldn’t respond to future bids. Consider that although you may not have gotten business in the past, you don't know that organization didn't recently have a problem at the hotel that did get the business. So, always respond.

Need more ideas? Contact the Kankakee County CVB for more information on responding to RFP’s.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Attention Grabbing Strategies for Your Event

Build Local Interest- From the use of Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs) to partnering with events, the power of grassroots efforts cannot be overstated. 

Think Strategy- Timing is everything when trying to secure local media coverage and encouraged planners to write and distribute press releases to local media groups a few weeks before the event as a general rule.  Strategy  plan your announcement so it is more likely to get picked up. Follow–up is important as well. Following up press releases with a media advisory the day of the event and incorporating as much local focus as possible.  Try to find a unique or interesting local angle. People are more inclined to attend an event if they care about it and can find some local connection. 

Leverage Social Media- Quickly gaining mainstream acceptance, event social media is a great way to gain publicity. Start a few weeks out/check Twitter and Facebook feeds of local media and bloggers. Social media platforms make it easy to search topics and open conversations that bridge the community to the event. 

Brand Carefully- The Branding of the image can go a long way toward attracting attention on its own. You want people to be able to see your signage, website, advertisements and promotional items and automatically know who you are without having to read the logo. Keep a common theme in your Brand. 

Generate Excitement-Keep the promotional momentum going during the event. There is a lot of energy and excitement missed when there is not a welcome party or opening night banquet. Communities need something to rally around. 

For more ideas, contact the Kankakee County CVB!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Event crowd size counting; why it’s important

Knowledge is power at the negotiating table. To achieve an outcome that is the best value for an event means having data to back up an explanation for why such things as reduced rates or comp rooms are in a hotel partner’s best interest. Rights holders need to track attendance numbers over time to accurately define economic impact generated from the event. Having an accurate attendance number gives you an advantage when negotiating fees and requesting sponsorships; you have the history of how many people attend the event.

Most importantly, estimated attendance numbers help keep the crowds at large gatherings safe. Event coordinators and officials are able to plan how to manage traffic in the area, how many medical response personnel will be needed in case of an emergency, as well as how much security to hire. Crowd size is also needed for media news reports and to historically record the event.

Whereas crowd counting is not an exact science, using ticket sales or counting turnstile entries is one of the easiest ways to keep track of how many people attend. Additionally, there are grid systems that measure the maximum number of people that can fit in a defined space. The “Jacob’s Method of Crowd Counting” is one of the most widely accepted methods of using the grid system. The basis of his system is a loose crowd, one where each person is an arm's length from the body of his or her nearest neighbors, needs 10 square feet per person. A more tightly packed crowd fills 4.5 square feet per person. A truly scary mob of mosh-pit density would get about 2.5 square feet per person.

Please read more about the methods of crowd counting here.

Contact the CVB for help planning your next event!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Group Planning Helps with Scheduling

Ever scheduled a meeting for your group, only to finds not everyone is available that day? Some have alternate dates, others can only make it the first date and others may be out of town. 

The Kankakee County CVB knows what a challenge scheduling can be for community and special interest groups as they are a large part of the clients the CVB services. Event planning can be complex and frustrating when it comes to the busy schedules of friends and family. Here are a few websites we have found that can help you relieve frustrations and plan more efficiently:

  • makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face. *** A few groups from the Naperville area interested in photography and bicycling already use this service to plan their outing to visit Kankakee County!
  • – provides free and easy event scheduling online where everyone involved can track event date selections and receive notification when someone responds. No signup required and you can plan as many events as you want.
  • is an easy and free meeting scheduler. Simply use an easy web form, email participants, and view results.
  • – provides a very easy way to find out when everyone is free. No signup required and includes a convenient scheduling calendar.
  • – helps scheduling meetings and other appointments. It is simple, quick, free and requires no registration.
  • – allows users to make polls, find common dates, and more.
For more planning services visit our meeting page or download our Meeting Planner Guide.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dealing with Difficult Clients and Guests

Many of us have to deal with angry or unhappy clients as part of our roles, and it's never easy. But if we know what to say and, more importantly, how to say it, we may be able to save the situation. In fact, we can even end up with a better relationship with our client than we had before.
In this article from Catersource explore how to deal with angry or difficult customers. It highlights specific tips and techniques that you can use to smooth things over, so that you can leave them feeling satisfied. Read the article here.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Attracting Tourists to a Restaurant, the last in the series

Becoming a Tourist Attraction- Part 3
Whether or not you are near a tourism hub, you may be able to attract travelers to your restaurant. By establishing yourself as unique, you can turn yourself into a destination for culinary tourists. Try the following:

Offer regional cuisine.
Many travelers are looking for cultural education, and offering unique, regional cuisine will pique their interest. For example, if you are in San Antonio, consider serving chile con carne. If you are in Chicago, serve gourmet hot dogs. If you are on the beach, serve fresh seafood. You could also serve local wines and beers, or feature local produce in your menu.

Develop your unique selling point (USP).
The more unique your restaurant, the more likely you will become a destination for tourism. Theme restaurants, exhibition cooking, and unique dining experience can attract tourists. For example, Casa Bonita in Denver attracts tourists by offering cliff divers, costumes and other forms of entertainment. You could renovate your restaurant to include a unique interior design or even offer cooking classes to teach tourists how to make local dishes.

Get press.
The best way to become a tourist destination is to get regional and/or national press. If you get enough press and good reviews, travelers might visit your area just to eat at your restaurant, or they may remember your restaurant when the inevitable question is posed: “Where should we eat out tonight?”

Organize a local culinary event.
Get together with other local businesses, restaurants and farmers’ markets to organize a regional or city-wide culinary festival or dining event. For example, restaurants in the City of Boulder host an annual weeklong event called “First Bite,” where top local restaurants offer a unique three course $26 fixed-price dinner menu. Such an event may require you to work with the competition, but it can increase culinary tourism in your area, especially if the event highlights regional cuisine. If your region already puts on an arts or culinary festival, like “Taste of Georgetown,” make sure to participate or vend at the location.       

Thank you for reading our three-part series on attracting tourists to a restaurant. For further information on making your restaurant more attractive to tour groups, please contact

Monday, May 27, 2013

Attracting Tourists to a Restaurant, Part 2 of a 3 part series

Capitalizing on a Nearby Tourist Attraction  Part 2
If you operate a restaurant near a tourist attraction like a museum, beach, theme park or event center, make sure you capitalize on your good location. In addition to the essential marketing techniques mentioned above, use some of these tactics to catch the interest of tourists:

Use outdoor signs.
A large sign and a sidewalk menu will help you attract passersby. Prominent outdoor signage is especially important if you operate within walking distance of a major tourist attraction, like a beach, museum or downtown.

Buy billboard space.
To attract tourists traveling by road, consider purchasing billboard space on a major interstate, especially if your restaurant is near an exit. It is also a good idea to advertise on the major highways near the airport, since you might catch the eye of a traveler in a cab or rental car.

Advertise in newspapers.
Many travelers will buy a local newspaper or pick up a free one at their hotel. If you hope to attract their business, consider advertising in the papers, especially during tourist season.

Form partnerships
Partner with charter bus companies, travel agencies, local hotels and event centers. For example, you could agree to give discounts to mutual customers, and ask them to distribute coupons or menus for your restaurant. Some hotels and convention centers will even give visitors a coupon book for local businesses. You should also consider forming a friendship with and giving a permanent discount to the employees at hotels and visitor centers. Many travelers will ask these locals for restaurant recommendations.

Become a rewards provider.
As a rewards provider, joining a rewards network – like ThankYou, SkyMiles Dining or Rewards Network Restaurant Cashback – can help you to attract business from people who eat out frequently when traveling.

Be sure to check back for the last entry in the series: Part 3 Becoming a Tourist Attraction

Monday, May 13, 2013

Attracting Tourists to a Restaurant- 3 part Series

Culinary tourism is gaining popularity. When people take vacations and travel, they usually want more beyond simple relaxation or a business trip. They are seeking cultural education, in part by experiencing the local cuisine.

Essentials for Attracting Out-of-Town Customers –Part 1
Any restaurant could profit from out-of-town customers. If you hope to attract tourists and out-of-towners, you need to use the right marketing techniques to catch their interest. There are two ways to attract tourists to a restaurant: be near a tourist attraction, or become the tourist attraction. Either way, make sure you do the following:

Maintain a website.
Almost 50% of consumers have visited a restaurant website. Since they do not have firsthand knowledge of the region, tourists and out-of-towners are even more likely than the average customer to surf the Internet for a good place to eat. If you already have a website, send a link request to the local chamber of commerce or tourism bureau.

Get listed in the phonebook.
There is a phonebook in almost every hotel room. If you are not listed in the phonebook, it might be difficult for out-of-towners to find your address and phone number. In a crunch, travelers will often turn to the phonebook to find a place to eat. In addition to getting listed, you might consider placing an ad in the yellow pages with some details about your restaurant and your takeout and delivery services.

Distribute paper menus.
If you hope to sell to travelers, you need a paper menu, whether or not you offer takeout and delivery. Place the menu in strategic locations, like hotel lobbies, visitor centers, car rental agencies, airports and local bulletin boards. Your paper menu will serve as a mini-advertisement for your restaurant.

Get listed in restaurant guides.
If you are located in a tourism hub or a popular travel destination, it is essential that you get listed in restaurant guides and directories. This includes online restaurant guides like and, as well as any print restaurant directories that will list you, such as hotel restaurant guides, the AAA Travel Destination Guide, the Michelin Guide, etc.

Offer good parking.
Travelers who are new to the area do not want to search for a parking space. If your parking situation is lacking, you might have difficulty convincing tourists that your restaurant is worth the hassle of parking far away. If you do not have a parking lot, partner with a local garage or lot and implement a free valet parking service.
By making use of the above tactics, you will make your restaurant available to both tourists and business travelers who are looking for a place to eat out.

Be sure to check back for part 2, Capitalizing on a Nearby Tourist Attraction!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Meeting Planner's Guide

Kankakee County Convention and Visitors Bureau has a new online Meeting Planner's Guide. This planning guide is designed to assist you with your meeting requirements and to provide you with the information you need to make your meeting a successful event. Download your copy HERE.

Located just an hour south of Chicago off of Interstate 57, the Kankakee River Valley offers a peaceful setting for meetings, retreats, and special events. Find the perfect location for your event from a conference center to auditoriums, classrooms, theaters, and ballrooms.  For a truly unique event consider one of Kankakee County’s historic landmarks or outdoor facilities. 

We are here to assist you with your planning and servicing needs, so please give us a call—it’s toll free: 1-800-747-4837.

Monday, April 15, 2013

How the CVB can help you

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). .
·        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.

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 the Kankakee County CVB's fingers do the walking for you!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Motorcoach Travel on the Upswing

Have you seen all the motorcoach group buses in Kankakee County lately?

If the motorcoach, tour, and travel industry were a stock, now would be the time to buy. A host of recent studies suggest this is an industry gaining momentum and barreling further into national, state, and regional tourism markets.
The Kankakee County CVB is utilizing the American Bus Association (ABA) resources with their new Motorcoach Economic Impact study. When compared to the previous study three years ago, the economic changes reflect a much stronger market for motorcoach travel. Read the entire article in Destinations Magazine.
If you would like more information on how you can help your attraction, lodging, venue or business create items to attract this booming market, contact the CVB.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

5 Ways to Enhance Your Next RFP Response

If you are a hospitality marketing representative, I know you answer a lot of Request For Proposals (RFPs). And even though "dates and rates" are still part of the process, they are not the total package. Think instead of your RFP response as a way to tell your story. Yes, it will take more time to accomplish this, but in the end, it will hopefully yield more group business to your destination.

Here are five things planners ask for, the usual hospitality response, and tips to enhance it:

PLANNER PICK #1: Event Date With a Few Alternatives
TYPICAL RESPONSE: Most sales personnel look at the dates and either respond to the proposal or throw it in the trash because they do not have those dates available.
ENHANCED ALTERNATIVE: Discuss what dates you do have available. Try to determine if there is any flexibility with their company or association. Let them know there are savings to their bottom line if they can be flexible. If they still won't budge, thank them for their time and then discard the paperwork.

PLANNER PICK #2: Number of Attendees, Meeting Rooms and Sleeping Rooms Required
TYPICAL RESPONSE: If your convention center or hotel isn't large enough to accommodate the group, the RFP is discarded.
ENHANCED ALTERNATIVE: Perhaps you need to know more about the meeting before your respond. How many meeting rooms do they need and what sizes? Can you spread the meeting over several spaces instead of just one? If your hotel has the meeting space but not the hotel rooms, perhaps you work with another hotel next door on overflow?

PLANNER PICK #3: Cities, States, and Areas of Interest
TYPICAL RESPONSE: Looking at the cities the planner is considering either has you slumped in your seat or feeling you have a great probability of a win.
ENHANCED ALTERNATIVE: Looking at all the other cities and states, put together a plus and minus page compared to the competition. Tell your story by accentuating the pluses. Use referral quotes but most importantly tell the planner why they want to meet in your city. Think of it this way: give them the story that makes it easy for them to convince to their boss.

PLANNER PICK #4: Venue Requirements
TYPICAL RESPONSE: Just the facts ma'am and lots of them. Number of meeting rooms, dimensions, sleeping room types, urban, suburban, or resort hotel. Amenities. Distance from the airport and shuttle service. Restaurants and bars on premise.
ENHANCED RESPONSE: Find out more about the group. What are their interests? Are they bringing their spouse or significant other? Do they want to be downtown or out near the airport? What do they like to do after the meeting? Again, tell a story about your property and what makes it special, but tailor your response to their needs.

PLANNER PICK #5: Food and Beverage
TYPICAL RESPONSE: Usually the hotel staff includes every choice available to the planner or a very short listing of food and beverage choices. Neither alternative is particularly helpful.
ENHANCED ALTERNATIVE: If the planner is making a site visit, ask them to sample some of the menu ideas your banquet staff has come up with. If this is not possible, put together alternative menu choices for the days they are there. Determine if the group wants plated entrees or buffet style. Include healthy choices and local influences, including your beverage choices.

In summary, it is important to cover the facts about your property and destination in your RFP, but equally important is the ability to sell it. Tell your story and don't be afraid to take risks. Sell the benefits of going to your destination, convention center, and hotel. Contact the CVB for more information.