How CVBs Create Memorable Site Visits

Comments from planner respondents to the biennial Watkins Report show that when CVBs go out of their way to make personal connections with them, it has a big impact on site selection.

When Convene asked industry thought leaders how the business of events is getting better for our August issue,  Meeting Priorities founder Lauren Kramer, CAE, focused on something that hasn’t changed — the human touch. “Relationships remain the key to success for business events,” Kramer told us. “We must continue to develop and nurture relationships with vendors, not only to ensure positive outcomes for all but to share knowledge and experiences.”

Open-ended responses to 2018 edition of the Watkins Research Group Inc.’s Watkins Report, a biennial study of nearly 1,000 planners and consultants, lend support to Kramer’s assertion. A fair number of respondents commented on the strong impact that a personalized site visit with CVB members has on the likelihood that they will book an event in the destination. 

Here’s what seven survey respondents had to say about the value of a personal touch during site visits: 

  • “I was at a European Union city for a site visit of the convention center. The sales manager for the convention center got a list of the hotels and offsite venues I wanted to see, made appointments, and then escorted me and introduced me to each venue. Afterward, he took me to his favorite bar for a beer and to discuss the day. He wanted to show that the city was a close community and that they all work together as one unit.” 
  • “This individual was our rep with the CVB. She was friendly and funny and on our site visit made us feel more like we were friends visiting her from out of town, rather than just some people she had to show around the city. I could tell she loved the city she represented and was truly excited to show us around and help us prepare for our event. She had hookups for free tickets at a couple of theme/amusement parks so we could check out some of the fun things the city had to offer — we loved that. So many times we come into a city as planners and don’t get to see anything but the inside of a convention center.”
  • “A CVB employee took the time to drive me around the city during a site visit. I was able to see neighborhoods, and got a great sense of the place rather than just being whisked from the airport to the hotel to a great restaurant. That visit made me want to return to the city and really try to communicate that to the meeting attendees.”
  • “This CVB member offered a personal city tour on a planning visit. As a meeting planner, I don’t get much time out of the venue itself — a chance to see and celebrate the host city is a wonderful way to promote goodwill and foster enthusiasm for the location itself.”
  • “A CVB member made magic happen for us when we had to plan a last-minute site visit during an incredibly busy time in the city. Not only did she put together an incredible itinerary of hotels and unique venues to see, but she was engaging, informative, and made it so fun. As planners, we spend a lot of time on the road. She made you feel as if the city was just an extension of her own home. The entire trip never felt like work.”
  • “I was in a city for a fam trip and stayed an additional night to visit a sick relative that was an hour away. The organizer asked about the additional night for my departing flight and I mentioned going for the visit. The morning of my departure, the host hotel and the CVB arranged transportation for me to my relatives. Over and beyond my expectations.”
  • “Two cities have pulled together all the sales contacts for their local hotels for an hour-long reception during a site visit. This made a huge impression on me. It says (a) that my association’s business is valuable enough to warrant the time on a calendar and (b) that the city and hotels are ‘one big happy family’ and can work together to construct a room block to benefit everyone.”

Casey Gale

Casey Gale is associate editor of Convene.