Hanbury Gets Ready for The Big Dot-Com Play Tell Greater Milwaukee Convention & Visitors Bureau president and CEO William Hanbury that he's another hospitality industry convert to dot-com life, and he'll probably disagree. "It's a simple segue from one part of the CVB business to another," says Hanbury, who will leave his post December 31 to head up a for-profit Internet spin-off of the International Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus (IACVB), called The Official Travel Information Co. (www.officialtravelinfo.com), or OTIC, based in Milwaukee. (See AM October, "Harnessing the Power of the Internet: Cooperate and Profit!")

In fact, Hanbury, "a CVB guy" at heart, spearheaded IACVB's dot-com initiative, which was first announced at the group's annual meeting in Minneapolis this summer.

Since then, OTIC has developed a two-pronged business approach: individual business and leisure travel on one tier and the group travel business on the other, with a focus on servicing meeting planners.

On the meeting planning side, according to Hanbury, OTIC will create an e-news service that will include an online magazine with advertising, the main revenue source.

OTIC also hopes to generate revenues through strategic tech partnerships. StarCite is the lead partner on the meetings and conventions side and will provide lead generation and a database of hotels; cvent.com will provide event planning and marketing tools to planners; Passkey.com will provide the standard for housing, both group and individual; iPIX.com will offer 3-D walk-throughs; and an audience management system will be powered by MEIsoft.com. Revenue-sharing models are the basis of those relationships, Hanbury says.

Risky Business? When Hanbury announced his plans to leave the Greater Milwaukee CVB, the local newspaper called his new venture "a fledgling company." That characterization couldn't have been more wrong, says Hanbury. "The pure-play dot-com is difficult to execute, but we [CVBs] have the infrastructure on the back side and we're combining new technology with what is already on the ground. We're not building new content, we're using what's out there."

If the 50-year-old Hanbury is sounding like a football coach when he talks about OTIC's strategy, it might be because he played professional football for the Buffalo Bills in the early 1970s, "so I know all about risk," he says. "I may have become risk-averse as I grow older, but as a kid, I did some crazy things. Risk and Bill are synonymous."

But taking risks, he says, did not come into play in the OTIC venture. "We have a solid business plan, we have collaboration among CVB executives, and survival is our driving force."