SUSAN TJADEN
Editor
Cook Communications Ministries
Colorado Springs, Colo.

I used them in two places: Phoenix and Atlanta, and they were hugely instrumental in narrowing down the hotels that met our specifications and arranging tours. They had insight you wouldn't have had coming from out of town, such as knowing the “good” parts of town. I think they're an underused resource. Part of it is because not everyone knows what they have to offer. They think, with the Internet, that they probably have all the information. But it's a lot more work, and the CVBs know the conveniences of certain properties that you might not think to look into.

JEFFREY WRIGHT
Executive Director
Center for Anabaptist Leadership
Pasadena, Calif.

We actually brought in the Pasadena CVB to help establish a relationship with our congressman's office. We hosted 225 international delegates who meet every three years. This was the group's first time back in the United States in 15 years. We have a small staff that's largely international, and without the CVB, we probably wouldn't have mustered up the courage to call the congressman's office, or we probably would have done everything wrong alone. They knew the chief of staff for the office.

The chief of staff monitored problem visas and got in touch with the Washington, D.C., office for an explanation of why those visas were likely denied or got them reviewed. Twenty-two of them were still turned down.

The CVB also handed out freebies and got Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogard to make remarks at our mass worship, where there were 1,000 people. The convention was in March 2006, and the CVB started planning with us in February 2005.

TRICIA GLEGHORN
Event Coordinator
Kingdom Advisors
Atlanta

In a previous position, I planned a large convention of 10,000 people, and we sold out most of the hotel rooms. The CVB suggested restaurants, things to do, taxi service — there was a wide variety of things they helped us with. It's nice to have a point person when you don't know who to call.

STEVEN DELANEY
Judicial Vicar and Office of Planning
North American Old Catholic Church
Washington, D.C.

The convention and visitors bureau is the first point of contact when I'm looking at a city, for making recommendations of what meeting spaces will meet my needs. They're a one-stop shop.

It's all about networking and relationship building that comes with a personal relationship. When I go to trade shows, I'll keep their cards, and when I need information I'll say, “Here's what I'm looking for, this is my price range,” and we go from there.

They'll suggest restaurants, off-site venues, trips, spousal trips, family break-time activities. You literally do get so much more with having a representative from the CVB work with you rather than having to piece it together yourself. They're definitely getting more sophisticated in what they do.

PRISCILLA HUNT
Conference Coordinator
Association for Couples in Marriage
Enrichment
Shreveport, La.

I use them for help in finding hotels and promotional information, including contacts for printing and graphic design. I also used one once for sending out an e-mail to their members to see if they would donate to our silent auction.

I'll definitely use them again. Their services are free, and they know their city in ways that I don't. The ones with more services for meeting planners are better: How quickly do they answer e-mails? How are they at problem-solving? Are they able to help you, or do they throw up their hands and say they don't know? I consider them a part of my team.