Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon created a new governing body, the Baltimore Convention and Tourism Board, which will oversee the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Authority and the Baltimore Convention Center.
Under this new model, BACVA and BCC will continue to run as separate organizations, but they will report to this new board, chaired by Edwin Hale, chief executive officer at 1st Mariner Bank and former chairman of the BACVA board of directors. Previously, BACVA reported to its own board of directors while the convention center reported to the mayor’s office.
City officials say the new structure will lead to greater efficiency, a more seamless sales process, and an enhanced customer experience. BACVA and BCC will develop a joint marketing plan and goals for the sales teams that reflect the mission of both organizations. A more “cohesive sales and marketing message” will make Baltimore more competitive and allow the destination to make better use of the space at the convention center, stated Tom Noonan, BACVA president and CEO.
The newly installed BCTB board of directors for 2008-2009 took office August 1.
The city heads into this new era with some momentum. BACVA announced recently that the city booked a projected 451,608 room nights for meetings and conventions in 2008, an increase of 18 percent over 2007. Officials attribute the increase to a beefed up sales staff, strategic partnerships within the convention community, including one with the American Society of Association Executives, and a three-city sales partnership with Fort Worth, Texas, and Sacramento, Calif., among other factors.
This year, BACVA’s new citywide customer service initiative, the Certified Tourism Ambassador Program, will train front-line workers in an effort to raise the level of customer service throughout the Baltimore area.