The International Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus created a Performance Measurement Team more than a year ago and charged it with standardizing bureau reporting practices by establishing definitions, guidelines, and metrics in order to provide meaningful comparative data. The team rolled out a number of initiatives at the IACVB annual meeting in Minneapolis in July. The recommendations come none to soon. After a year of highly publicized ousters of bureau executives, in great part initiated by local media investigations and reports, convention bureaus have never been more in need of industry norms, which are very important in establishing confidence in bureau operating and reporting practices.

Working toward standardization, the PMT recommended a Uniform System of Accounts for CVBs. In the past, vast discrepancies in regard to grouping, terminology, and reporting of financial information kept bureaus from accurately benchmarking performance. According to Don Martin, CPA, FCDME, vice president of finance and administration of Greater Louisville CVB and PMT member, "Once consistent reporting behaviors are established, comparative analysis tools can identify operational strengths and weaknesses." The project was completed in November 2002.

In October, the PMT developed standard definitions for tracking and reporting convention attendees and types, for the following groupings: 1)Attendee Origin–Classifies where attendees come from with definitions for international, national, regional, state/provincial, and local. 2)Attendee Type–Classifies according to primary purpose for attending event with definitions for delegate, exhibitor, and attendee. 3)Event Type–Classifies according to primary purpose of event with definitions for meeting, convention, exhibition/trade show, and consumer show.

The PMT is in the process of establishing a quantifiable measure to be used by bureaus, industry, and media to classify a bureau’s capacity to host convention and leisure visitors. Currently, no objective basis for classifying a destination’s capacity exists. The PMT tentatively adopted the "Number of Hotel Rooms per Primary Funding Area" as the basis for classifying a bureau’s capacity to host leisure visitors. The number of hotel rooms relates to the capacity of a destination to host visitors and correlates with the number of flights, convention facilities, attractions, retail establishments, etc., to service visitors. The primary funding area of a bureau was also selected because this geographic unit represents the local jurisdiction from where the bureau receives funding. An additional filter using convention facility space is being considered for convention destinations. The final recommendations are expected in September 2003.

Local communities fund a bureau to promote its destination and attract visitors. Thus, bureaus primarily devote resources to sales/marketing efforts. Currently, bureaus track productivity and performance with regard to these efforts in a variety of ways. The PMT’s goal is to develop a systematic approach in tracking and reporting bureau sales productivity. Working with Smith Travel Research and New York University, the PMT surveyed bureaus on existing sales productivity practices as a first step in establishing best practices and standard guidelines. Once established, these benchmarks will enable bureaus to compare productivity with other bureaus and industry norms.

The PMT has recommended bureaus use a standard business return-on-investment formula to quantify the financial impact on its local community for convention and leisure travel. By using the standard corporate business valuation model, the PMT will develop a definitive ROI formula for bureaus to apply. Once this formula is fully developed, stakeholders of a community will be able to properly assess the economic impact of its bureau.