A former destination management company executive has launched a new, private convention and visitors bureau in San Diego with the aim of connecting planners of smaller meetings to a variety of suppliers.

The CVB, San Diego in a Box, was launched in May by Lex Lyon, former executive director of the Contact DMC Group in San Diego. "San Diego probably has the best CVB in the country,” says Lyon. They do “a phenomenal job” in selling the destination and its hotels. But, he adds, there’s really nobody selling the other suppliers such as the florists, caterers, venues, DMCs, and others: “That’s where I come in.”

San Diego in a Box will cater to smaller associations, SMERF (Social, Military, Education, Religious, and Fraternal) groups, and corporations whose planners typically search for suppliers on their own using the Internet. Groups that don’t utilize DMCs are going direct because the information is available to them on the Internet and because of fiscal restraints, says Lyon. While it’s easy to get the names of caterers or limo companies, he explains, none of them are vetted. Lyon, an industry veteran with 35 years as a hotelier and event professional in San Diego, will list, vet, and recommend the best suppliers in the area based on his extensive knowledge of the market. For those new venues that he hasn't worked with in the past, he will review, visit, or get testimonials before listing them.


Since launching the company in May, Lyon has already had 40 supplier members sign up, including hotels, DMCs, caterers, photographers, transportation companies, CSR providers, ticket agents, production companies, and more. The members pay a nominal listing fee, which varies depending on the type of vendor, and a commission if the group books with the member.

The new service is not affiliated with the San Diego CVB. “We are completely separate from them. Our interests are divergent,” he says. He didn’t know if any other cities offer a similar service, but he believes it would make sense anywhere