Austin Town Hall: Wednesday, February 24, 2010
At Table Two:
- National Sales Manager for Colorado Tourism Board
- Meeting technology supplier
- Sales Manager for Texas CVB
- Corporate Sales Manager for conference hotel
Question 1: How do we attract more business to our regions?
1: Phone not ringing. “If people not calling, it means they don’t know of us.” You have to be out there making calls and doing trade shows and partnering with CVBs. When business comes back, you will be the one that gets the business.
4: Being in the office is only good for catch-up; you need to have face-to-face time. Competitors should be your best friends.
3: Do sales blitzes work? Not really, we do an annual blitz and promote the use of CVBs. It is more for awareness than for being a closer.
4: Showing your personality is key. People like to do business with people they like. Make friends with the gatekeepers
Question 2: How are you getting through the firewalls that are set up everywhere?
3: CVB is different. If you know there is a piece of business, I will try seven to 10 times, send e-mails, calls and send a note.
2: I try to broaden it. I get more into a consultant perspective. Trade shows are new to us, but I have been a speaker for years, and I write articles for the industry. Hard sell is not an option.
1: My philosophy of sales has changed so much over the last few years. It’s now relationship sales; you have to be respectful of their time. Follow up with e-mail (it’s great to meet you) and ask for a time to follow up. I recommend personal notes.
3: Gift baskets and personal notes are very positive
Question 3: How are you marketing right now?
4: We design and send an e-mail blast once a week. It’s important to brand your logo, use keywords. I suggest bringing cookies to the office: one for the decision maker and one for the admin.
3: Do cold calls to businesses that know [you]. TACVB has TXMet — a bigger database for prospecting.
2: Everyone has a Facebook fan page, but it is only good if folks are getting there. Do creative things to get them to subscribe or follow you. Animoto is an easy way to develop your own video. High quality reasonable cost. Sending pictures of our staff got more response than anything.
4: We live in the YouTube age. Something that makes them laugh is invaluable.
3: Gifts that are sent never get a response. Instead, we send an e-blast attached with particular monthly theme.
2: Use anything that can go viral. Familiarize yourself with everything. Need to still use multiple marketing channels.
3: “You can never send a proposal by Twitter”.
Question 4: How do we overcome the AIG effect?
1: We are past it. I am in an upscale destination and the industry made a bigger deal than it needed to. We were not prepared for the backlash. Before, there was no [meeting industry] lobbyist in D.C.; now there are six lobbyists in D.C. CVBs wrote letters to Congress. The economy is still suffering, and that is the bigger picture. After 9/11 it was patriotic to travel, now we have to deal with the downturn differently.
2: Tech webcasts are going to die. We’re seeing planners coming back. Some meetings are going to be replaced by webconference, but people still want to meet in person. Webcasts are not a good learning environment; people are too distracted.
1: We all have ADD
4: Need personal contact
2: I wrote an article for Alaska Airlines, but could not write about web meetings.
1: It is about changing your message. We used to appeal to only super-upscale, but now we have to offer deals and be sensitive to the client.
Question 5: How do you tailor your product in this economy?
1: We have to accept that we don’t have the power now. Sometimes you have to eat crow; be careful.
3: Treat everyone with respect. You never know when they will be your bosses.
1: It’s a constant balancing act between getting heads in beds and maintaining rate. Don’t drop rate so far that you sacrifice the future.
Question 6: How can I keep staff motivated in these times?
1: We have less staff and more hotel partners [that] want instant gratification. At the end of the day, it is canceling out the negative by sending an e-mail that says, “Great job.”
4: Treat people as if we are on the same team. Delegate responsibility and give ownership. Use everyone’s talent. “When you bend down to a child it’s sweet, but when you get on one knee at eye level it’s everything.”
2: We had to make cuts last year, and we got the whole team together to ask recommendations. I took the first cut. We came up with great ideas and didn’t have to lay anyone off.
1: Most employees will sacrifice for another employee. It is human nature.
Question 7: What are your projections for 2010 and 2011?
3: We’re seeing an increase in RFPs and meetings; hotels think it will be better.
1: I don’t think we will ever get back to 2007. Short-term bookings are the rule now. It’s here to stay; the new normal. Don’t run before we can walk.
2: So many times, we will see the news focus on one thing, and nothing ever changes. As things change, they also stay the same. 2010 will be good for us. The pullbacks from 2009 will stay. I don’t think there is a real vision out there.
4: We’ll see an improvement over 2009.
For transcripts, findings and video summaries from current and past Town Hall events, visit
PlanYourMeetings.com/townhall. The summary of findings for this event is found on the Austin State of the Industry page. To read the table transcripts from this event, visit the Table One and Table Two pages.