Tim Walsh, CMP, vice president of sales for the Newport and Bristol County Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Laurie Stroll, DMCP, CMP, president of Newport Hospitality Inc., aNetwork company, addressed some common misconceptions about convention and visitors bureaus and destination management companies at the Financial & Insurance Conference Planners 2010 Northeast Region Summer Meeting, held July 25–27 at the Hyatt Regency Newport Hotel & Spa. Can you tell the fact from the fiction?
1. CVBs are interested only in large groups and citywide conventions.
Myth. “No group is too small for a CVB to help with,” Walsh said. In particular, he suggested, meet with the CVB on your site inspection. “You’ll never know how the CVB’s local knowledge can play to the planner’s advantage if you conduct a site on your own.”
2. CVBs will send your lead to all the hotels in their database, and will only help me if I do my sourcing through them.
Myth. “Any CVB worth their salt will not farm out your lead to everyone,” Walsh said. The CVBs want you back again, so they want to meet your specific needs. CVBs do not take commissions or fees. They are funded either publicly or through membership. “Here in Newport, we represent the largest hotel to the smallest caterer,” Walsh said. “Contacting a CVB costs you nothing.”
3. It’s hard to find a reputable DMC.
Myth. “Ask the CVB and your hotel whom they work with,” Stroll suggested. You can also consider accreditations, whether the DMC is a member of industry organizations, and look at whether it is part of a larger consortium of DMCs that has certain standards for membership. And of course, check references.
4. I work with national sales offices so I don’t need to use a CVB for site searches.
Myth. A CVB knows local, independent properties, Walsh pointed out, as well as the local chain properties. In one instance, he said, a national salesperson ruled out the local chain property thinking that it didn’t meet the planner’s specifications, but Walsh knew that there was a way to make the meeting work.
5. I don’t need a DMC. I’m a planner. That’s my job.
Myth. “A DMC knows the intricacies of a destination,” Stroll pointed out, such as local celebrations that might interfere with group movement or local permits that might be needed for special events. Working with a DMC can help a planner manage time and budget, she added.
6. I can find all the resources I need on my own, and pay less than if I used a DMC.
Myth. “I often say, ‘What is the value of a motor coach that doesn’t show up?’” Stroll asked. Or what if you book a restaurant that looks gorgeous online, but is completely different in reality? “Consider the value add of a DMC’s local relationships,” she noted. “I can call anyone and get anything done.” That also means getting the best pricing from vendors without the planner having to put in the time and legwork necessary to find and with them.
7. DMCs are just ground-transportation operators.
Myth. “We are logistical experts in all aspects of events,” Stroll said. “DMCs design, manage, and execute. We put together comprehensive proposals and we are on site to manage your program right through to the end.”
8. I am very familiar with the destination. I don’t need the CVB.
Myth. Walsh pointed out that the CVB has many connections and services that could still be valuable to a planner. Local media contacts, for example, could be useful if you have a community service project you would like to publicize. And CVBs will provide free promotional materials to help you build excitement among attendees or boost attendance.
9. I shouldn’t share my budget with the DMC, because they’ll just spend it all.
Myth. “If you do not want to share your exact budget, give us some financial parameters or at least a range,” Stroll said. A DMC can be invaluable in helping you figure out how to best to allocate your budget to meet your goals.