Innovation in the Meetings Industry

Wednesday, April 10, 2019
feature blog graphic Sponsored by Miles Partnership

For more than a decade, the meetings and convention industry has undergone rapid change and faced constant disruption. Supplier networks like Cvent, the rise of OTAs and an increasingly younger workforce are just a few of the disruptions impacting meetings, events and conferences. Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs) and their industry partners need to respond by understanding these changes and areas of opportunity, and developing strategic solutions to meet the needs of meeting planners. Several CVBs are doing just that, and are seeing an impact in their destination.

One CVB that knows the value of long-term relationships and how they can benefit planners and events is VisitPittsburgh. "We always try to be advocates for our clients and influencers within the community, and it comes back to providing value. If we do that, they'll come back and engage with us again, and everyone locally benefits," says Karl Pietrzak, Vice President of Convention Sales for VisitPittsburgh. Part of that includes educating stakeholders on the value of events using the Destinations International Event Impact Calculator as a tool to calculate the economic value and ROI to local taxes. This also benefits planners to be able to see the impact their event is making in the destination.

VisitPittsburgh also provides event-specific services, like the Bring It Home campaign, that serves to grow invaluable connections between the CVB and engaged community members who are part of higher-education communities and influential corporations and foundations. They are able to leverage these connections to help planners with anything their industry and event would benefit from in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh’s intellectual capital is all about technology. VisitPittsburgh utilizes this, and its’ strong connections, to create opportunities for events that wouldn’t happen anywhere else. They connected a high-tech, innovation-themed event with large tech companies with a local presence, like Google, Uber and Carnegie Mellon University. These relationships make it possible for events to have a strong presence with industry thought leaders and diverse content that engages attendees and makes for a successful event. Read the full case study here.

Because CVBs know their destination the best and have relationships throughout the community, they are able to leverage their vast knowledge and connections to benefit planners. Visit Salt Lake is constantly looking for new ways to evolve to keep up with the growing travel space. Mark White, Senior Vice President of Sales & Services for Visit Salt Lake, said that many planners, “just don’t know that we’re here and they spend all kinds of time, money and effort doing the things that we can easily help with, probably much more efficiently and for free.” Visit Salt Lake can easily do things such as reaching out to local police to close off streets for an event or exploring event dates with a client so that is aligns with a major event or festival to create a better experience for attendees. When planners can leverage a CVB’s relationships and knowledge like this, it elevates the event and can even save money.

Visit Salt Lake wanted to dive deeper and determine how to grow the beneficial relationship between planners and stakeholders. While a years-long trend of diminishing hotel bookings was apparent, the CVB took the obstacle head on to change the mindset around the value of a group, embracing its main mission of growing the economy, not counting hotel occupancy rates. In conducting research with the University of Utah, consistent patterns emerged, allowing Visit Salt Lake to identify groups that are a great fit for the destination and work more effectively with hotel partners. The CVB is now able to give a robust economic impact report to planners to help them understand how valuable their meeting is, which further develops a relationship between the event and Salt Lake. Visit Salt Lake’s work is a great demonstration of using community relationships and in-depth knowledge benefits both meeting planners and stakeholders. Read the full case study here.

CVBs are a valuable resource in the meeting planning process, and the work of VisitPittsburgh and Visit Salt Lake highlight that. For more information and to hear about how other CVBs are helping clients with everything from navigating the event planning process to achieving their business goals, join us for "Innovations in the Meeting Industry" on Thursday, April 25, 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET.

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