Do CVBs have an image problem? Outside of the meetings industry, they have no image at all. And that’s a problem.

The International Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus has known that for some time, but it became painfully clear when they showed a videotape at the recent annual meeting in Boston, in which they polled the person on the street in Washington, D.C. Not a one knew what the acronym stood for, but even when they were told what it meant, most of them could not come close to guessing what a CVB does.

Comments like those were one of many reasons that the IACVB began its Brand Leadership Campaign more than a year ago, and announced preliminary findings at the annual meeting. The purpose of the initiative: "To identify, develop, maintain, and enhance distinctive CVB characteristics, which will translate into a unique perception and value by CVB stakeholders," according to the IACVB.

After interviewing some 1,000 consumers, meeting professionals, CVB professionals, and government officials, Duane Knapp, president and CEO of BrandStrategy Inc. and GMA Research, announced some highlights: Within the meeting professional community, respondents differ in their use of and loyalty to CVBs as a resource, with association planners feeling the most positive about their experiences. The next phase will be to develop "an official promise," which will become the industry’s "guiding star," said Michael Gehrisch, president and CEO of IACVB. Therefore, it is "likely" that CVBs and the IACVB, might face a name change, said Gehrisch. Tools for branding, including a Destination Brand Guide, will be rolled out by October.

Other highlights from the IACVB annual meeting, which had a record-breaking attendance of more than 900:

  • Highlights of the results of ExPact2004, the Convention Expenditure and Impact Study, were released. The average convention delegate spends $945 in the local community when attending a meeting. Delegates stay an average of 3.6 nights, so average spending per day is $266. A comparison of ExPact2004 to the expenditures from 1998, the last time this study was done, shows that delegate expenditures have increased 36 percent.
  • IACVB has compiled a handbook for CVBs to use to evaluate, calculate, and report their performance. Results from the Performance Measurement Team, who have worked for the past two years to identify performance measurement techniques that accurately and comparatively assess a bureau’s achievements, were approved and will be rolled out to CVBs shortly. "With the adoption of these guidelines, a bureau will have recognized benchmarks to utilize for assessing internal performance, as well as a means to accurately compare performance to other bureaus," said Melvin Tennant, IACVB chairman and executive director of the San Antonio CVB.
  • Members advocated a continued alliance and facetime with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, to articulate the importance of tourism to cities’ governance.

For more information about these initiatives and how they affect the meeting planning community, look for the August issue of Association Meetings, or visit the IACVB Web site at