There are many ways that CVBs help to make the meeting executive's job easier. Even if you work with only one hotel chain and don't need assistance choosing properties, a CVB can help to promote the destination to attendees, put together packages for pre- or post-tours, provide information on unusual venues for special events, and much more.

Similarly, the International Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus (IACVB) can help you to streamline the meeting planning process, from providing online requests for proposals to hosting trade shows where you can meet representatives from hundreds of CVBs from around the world. Here's the scoop on what the association is doing to assist meeting organizers.

Online RFPs The biggest news is the creation of an online Request for Proposal/Bid (RFP) site. Go to www.iacvb.org and click on the RFP/Bid page. Once there, you can select a region of the world to hold a meeting, then a country. The cities that have IACVB member bureaus will appear. You can click as many as you wish. The next step is to fill out an RFP/Bid form online, or attach your RFP/Bid to an e-mail and send it directly to the CVB. If you'd like to send an RFP/Bid to another region, just select that region and begin the process again.

The online RFP/Bid provides the bureau with valuable information about the meeting, such as the number of attendees, number of meeting and sleeping rooms needed, amount of exhibit space if applicable, and time of year for the meeting. It also asks for meeting histories to verify the current RFP/bid. Meeting organizers who have worked with CVBs in the past can check the accuracy of their meeting histories by asking either the local bureau or the IACVB for copies of their post convention reports--a document that is included in IACVB's Convention Industry Network database (CINET), a compository of more than 21,000 meeting histories. This is basically a credit report that CVBs use to help verify the authenticity of RFP requests.

Local Contacts If you have selected a destination for your next meeting but don't have local contacts, IACVB has two ways to help. First, check out The IACVB Directory of Destinations. It lists all IACVB members by country and state, and includes contact names and web site addresses.

In addition, meeting executives can get help from the local CVB Web site: Go to to www.iacvb.org and click on "Links to Destination Web Sites".

Networking IACVB offers meeting organizers three annual opportunities for face-to-face networking with CVBs from around the world. Destinations Showcase Washington, DC; Chicago; and New York are one-day trade shows where you can meet directly with sales representatives from 100 to 200 bureaus. The morning is devoted to educational sessions, and a trade show (with complimentary admission for qualified meeting planners) is held after lunch.

Awareness Campaign Another new development is an ad campaign targeted to the meeting industry. Despite the many free services CVBs provide, there's still an awareness gap. So IACVB is about to launch a series of ads, in CMI and many other industry publications, designed to educate meeting organizers about the value of working with a CVB when planning a meeting.