The Value of CVBs and DMOs for Corporate Events

October 2, 2017

Sourcing viable destinations and suppliers for your corporate meetings can be a challenge. It’s time-consuming and difficult to know whether you’re selecting the right venues and getting the best deals. That’s where convention and visitors’ bureaus (CVBs) and destination management organizations (DMOs) come in.

A recent research study conducted by Destination Analysts, in conjunction with Destinations International (formally DMAI) and Miles Partnership, surveyed 569 planners, nearly half of whom are in the corporate sector. A mere 34.4 percent of corporate planners surveyed indicated that they were very familiar with CVBs and DMOs – significantly lower than the 46.7 percent overall average.

The corporate planners who participated in their study who were familiar with CVBs and DMO had, on average, contacted only two to three such organizations during the previous year. Third-party planners surveyed had contacted three to four times that number.

It is possible that the lack of awareness and low volume of outreach may be due to a lower visibility of CVBs within the corporate planning industry. So, what are CVBs and DMOs – and how can they help?

Convention and Visitors Bureaus are not-for-profit organization that promote development and marketing of a destination to both the meetings industry and leisure travelers. They are primarily funded by their local governments, usually through a portion of hotel occupancy taxes.

Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) often are, or serve the same purpose as, a CVB. Some may be purely focused on convention travel and others on leisure travel, depending upon their location and services available within that destination.

Regardless of their moniker, the majority of the services these organizations provide are free, and they can be an excellent starting point for corporate event planners, especially in destinations where planners have no past experience.

I spoke with Don Welsh, president and CEO, Destinations International, about the value that CVBs and DMOs can add for corporate planners. He explained, “Corporate planners often have short timelines to organize events. DMOs increase planners’ speed-to-market by streamlining the processes involved with identifying and booking venues and suppliers. As destination experts, they can simplify the complexity of event planning and act as an extension of their client’s team.”

Event planners can work with CVBs to identify vendors that best meet their meeting requirements and centrally request proposals for meeting venues, sleeping rooms, and suppliers for all meeting-related needs such as transportation, temporary staffing, catering, entertainment, special events. 

These organizations are the local community experts, and have built strong connections and relationships within the meetings industry. As they are not affiliated with any specific supplier, their recommendations are unbiased.

If you are considering a destination that is new to you or your attendees, or even one which you haven’t spent any time in lately, CVBs can let you know about all their destination has to offer – from tried-and-true spaces to new opportunities for special events.

Staying within budget is an ongoing concern for nearly all planners. In addition to knowing which venues and hotels fall within your price points, CVBs can help you predict and assess the true cost of your event: local taxes, cost of restaurants, activities, taxis, etc., which often are not factored in when selecting a destination. Their relationships can even save you money, as they may be able to access or at least be aware of additional incentives or rebates offered within the community.

Many CVBs are often willing to set up onsite at your event to provide concierge service for attendee wishing to know about local area restaurants and activities.  If you book far enough in advance, they may even come to your other, earlier events to help get your attendees excited about the new destination.

If you know where you want to hold your meeting, you can contact the local CVB directly to see how they can help. If you’re narrowing it down – or want more information in order to determine where you want to look, is a web portal where meeting planners can search and compare multiple destinations. The service is a collaboration between Destinations International (formerly DMAI) and the convention & visitors’ bureau industry.


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Partner Voices

As event professionals, our job is to host people and while we can’t prepare for everything, it’s essential to develop an emergency plan that can be adapted to any situation. In Boston, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority’s (MCCA) Public Safety Team at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC) and the Hynes Convention Center, have taken their experiences to develop a comprehensive crisis management training program, starting with crisis communications.