IACVB’s Internet Spin-off Gears Down

The bad news in the tech stock markets has forced at least one meetings industry technology startup to rethink its business plan. OfficialTravelInformation.com, a for-profit organization spun off by the International Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus last summer as an electronic front door to more than 1,000 convention and visitor bureaus, has dissolved its technology partner relationships and lost its CEO and only staff member, William Hanbury, who has taken the position of president and CEO of the new Washington, D.C., Convention & Tourism Corp.

“Last year, we had more of a romantic view of OTIC,” says Michael Gehrisch, IACVB’s recently appointed president and CEO. “It’s just not realistic in today’s environment to go out and raise millions of dollars in equity for it.” But, he says, the site’s up and running, and the organization is currently working to enhance it.

Gehrisch still believes that providing a portal for CVBs is important, and OTIC, though funding efforts have been scaled back, continues to be a focus for IACVB. “By mid-summer, we plan to have the site completely enhanced, with a different look and updated information,” he says.

The partnerships with technology companies also are still moving forward, says Gehrisch. “We’re also going to provide transactional services through the site, whether it’s booking engines or housing services, to give our members a place to look at services they may want to use for their bureaus. Whether it’s a Passkey, or a Cvent, or a TravelHero, IACVB’s primary role will be to partner with those companies to inform our members about the services they provide.”