Technology Helps Meetings Survive Budget Bumps

by Cara Gieringer  on Monday, Oct. 15, 2012 12:00 am  

John Mayner, vice president of marketing and communications for the LRCVB, said the launch of the 2012 redesign was only the beginning of more customer-focused initiatives for the organization.

“We work with businesses to provide services like drafting press releases and managing other forms of public communication on a case by case basis,” Mayner said. “Some groups don’t have the necessary resources or experience to successfully publicize their events so we give them all the support that we can, while on the other hand, some groups like to be in control of all aspects of event planning and prefer minimum input from the CVB.”

Mayner also said that regardless of the various levels of support required by different businesses, the LRCVB’s primary objective is to continue to promote more value-added services in terms of the venue’s event attendance.

The Arkansas Hospitality Association (AHA) is another organization that has dealt with the precarious nature of the economy by employing a full supply of digital communication tools to help its members and industry partners promote Arkansas as a premiere meeting and event destination.

“We recently underwent a website renovation that includes a more sophisticated look, with a number of databases linked to the website for our users’ convenience,” said AHA Associate Director Montine McNulty. “We are very proud of our new website.”

AHA sponsors one of the state’s largest trade shows each fall to highlight the latest technology trends in the hospitality industry’s services and products.

Another promotion AHA offers to add value for convention attendees and exhibitors is discounted hotel rates for early registration. McNulty said this year’s event is promoting the Peabody Hotel as the official lodging option but that the association alternates between the Peabody and the Doubletree Hotel every year.

According to participants in the 2012 InformationWeek 500 report of top business technology innovators, today’s information technology focus is on the customer, with 37 percent citing widespread deployment of customer-interfacing, mobile apps.

In addition to the revamped website’s capacity to better communicate information to members and other industry partners, McNulty also commented on the association’s use of social media including Twitter, Facebook and a specially-designed Arkansas Dining, Lodging and Travel Guide app for iPhones and Android devices that displays free listings for AHA members.

The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism released its “Hot Deals and Packages” iPhone application in 2010. According to information reported in the February Arkansas State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission meeting, in January alone there were over 51,000 visits from mobile devices to, an increase of 182 percent over January 2011.

Another progressive trend for is its ranking as a top 10 tourism website among all 50 state sites. February’s status report indicated was the fourth -ranked tourism website in the U.S. and first amid the contiguous state sites.

Whether or not using the “it’s the economy” card is still a valid excuse, meeting and event planners are harnessing the latest research and trends to find out what their prospective audiences want and how they can deliver it in an affordable fashion.



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