On an ongoing basis, Plan Your Meetings holds industry-challenges-and-solutions roundtables to give planners and suppliers a chance to talk honestly (and anonymously) about their challenges and brainstorm about potential solutions. The No. 1 challenge cited by your peers from New York to San Francisco was 3 reasons why your RFP goes unanswered, but planner-supplier relationships, AV management and safety were also key. But let’s not ignore the fastest way to save time and money.
At PYM LIVE New York, an executive assistant who planned several of her company’s meetings shared her biggest challenge: finding time to work more efficiently. With so many meetings coming in at the last minute, her boss suggested that she look into giving some planning tasks to an outside contractor.
“Should I hire a third-party planner to outsource elements of the planning logistics?” she asked. “If I do, how do I make sure that I hire the right person and that I can still prove my value to my boss?”
After hearing advice from the hotel reps and other planners at her table, a CVB salesperson asked her what kind of help she needed.
“I need help doing destination research,” she said.
“I could help with that,” the CVB rep said.
“I need help getting recommendations for hotels and local vendors,” the executive assistant added.
“I could do that do,” the rep said.
“Could you help me arrange airport transfers?” asked the executive assistant.
“Yes I could,” replied the CVB rep. “And I could provide welcome bags and signage.”
“What else could you do?” asked the executive assistant.
Event websites, online registration, event marketing assistance, discount coupons for local attractions, writing pads, local media contacts, assistance arranging site visits and speakers gifts were other perks of CVB partnership, she explained.
“What about other CVBs?” the executive assistant asked.
“It depends on the city,” the rep replied. “But our job is to promote the city and bring business to it, so there’s a lot we can do to help meeting and event planners.”
“How much do you charge?” the executive assistant asked.
When the CVB rep replied, “nothing,” the planner was astonished. “I don’t think I need a third-party planner,” she said. “I need a CVB.”
If you need expert assistance negotiating contracts or finding sites, hiring a third-party planner might be necessary. But working with a CVB is the fastest way to save time and money during the research, site-selection and planning process because of the local knowledge, contacts and relationships they bring to the table.
Despite all the benefits of working with CVBs, many meeting and event planners are unaware that “CVB” stands convention and visitors bureau. At a recent gathering of administrative professionals tasked with planning their companies’ meetings and events, 80 percent of the audience couldn’t define the term. And 50 percent of them had been planning meetings for more than 15 years.
PYM conducted an online survey of its audience to see if its planners were similarly unaware of the benefits of working with CVBs. We were pleased to discover that our readers knew the value of working with CVBs, but the majority still thought that they charged for their services or thought they were third-party planners. We followed up with the handful of planners who scored 100 percent on our quiz and asked them if they used CVBs. Here are their top reasons for using CVBs.
- They are able to provide “outside the norm” suggestions for venue space and other ideas.
- They provide honest opinions when you’re trying to make a decision between two venues and know if it would be best for your group.
- They are the first to know about what’s new in that destination.
- They not only can make sure hotels respond to your RFPs, they can bid out services for you and provide “lost business” reports to the vendors you don’t select.
- They can answer any questions you have about local airlift, crime and weather and tell you what other events might be happening at the same time as your event.
- If you have a citywide event, they can help coordinate all the additional moving parts required to manage rooming lists and attendee movement between multiple venues.
What are your biggest challenges? What solutions have you found? Let us know by connecting with @PlanYrMeetings or @PYMLive on Twitter, commenting on our Plan Your Meetings Facebook page or commenting right here. Or join us at a PYM LIVE Event near you.