Things to Expect a CVB to Provide

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After working in retail, including a stint as a senior merchandise manager with J.C. Penney, Cindy DeWitt has been in the hospitality business since 1991. She joined the staff of the Hot Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau in November 1998 as a regional sales manager and became director of sales in February 2003. She and her sales staff are also responsible for selling space at the Hot Springs Convention Center and Summit Arena.
What's the oddest request you've handled from a planner or organization regarding meetings?
This is what makes this job fun - there are numerous things, but a couple come to mind:
One meeting planner asked if they could have "pig races" in the exhibit halls. Yes, there is a company (actually a couple of companies) that will send professional pig callers to conduct races for pigs on a track. We did agree to allow this event to take place, and it will this November. The other odd request was to allow a "cow patty drop." The group marks off a grid and each square is numbered; participants buy numbers and wait to see where the cow delivers. We allowed it as well in our parking lot.
Considering your experience in the meetings industry, what reality TV show could you win?
I would say the "Amazing Race," because you never know what task you are going to be asked to complete, and most times you only have a limited amount of time to get it done. You go to all sorts of locations (sometimes fancy office buildings, sometimes large ones, sometimes small ones, sometimes not-so-fancy office buildings) both in state and out of state to secure business. You have to be ready to basically tackle any reasonable task given to you quickly and efficiently.
DeWitt's Thoughts & Insights
Here are some things meeting planners can expect a convention and visitors bureau to provide:
• To send out "tip sheets" to hotels to secure sleeping room and/or meeting room proposals for the meeting planner.
• To set up and arrange site visits for meeting planners and/or a site selection committee.
• To make a presentation to the site selection committee.
• To make suggestions and/or assist in arranging places for off-site events, entertainment options (be it disc jockeys, bands, fashion shows, karaoke, etc.), catering options, transportation options, spouse tours, speakers, florists, etc.
• To handle registrations, housing and make name badges for attendees.
• To provide promotional materials such as brochures, maps, discount coupons, etc., and to assist with attendance stimulations.
• To assist in securing media coverage by providing a list of state and local media outlets as well as assist in contacting elected officials for an appearance in your program or to welcome your group.
• To basically help meeting planners save time.
• To have a knowledgeable CVB staff to work with.
• To offer superior customer service and help make your convention or meeting a complete success.