Selling Against Geography“How to Attract ConventionsWhen You Are Not the Center of their Universe” Dan O’Connell, CAE President Fort Wayne, IN CVB
Dan O’Connell, CAE, President• Why I’m qualified to speak on this subject? – St. Cloud, MN – small city, small CVB – Springfield, IL – not Chicago, southern IL – Fort Wayne, IN – northeast corner of IN
Audience’s Qualifications?• What is your CVB’s primary market?• Executive or Sales Director? – Conventions or Tourism?• What level of experience? – Freshman? Sophomore? Jr.? Senior?
Session Goals• Learn 3 things you should be doing for “A” groups• Learn 6 strategies to attract conventions• Incorporate 1 new idea into your marketing plan
What are the characteristics of not being the center of their universe?• Not geographic center• Being too small• Being too far away• Being non-urban• Others?
How to attract conventions when you ARE the center of their universe!• What’s makes us unique?• Figure out why. Why are they coming? – Geography? Activity? Unique facility? – 80/20 Rule• Then ask yourself, who needs it?
“A” groups• Befriend them• Good for testimonials• Ask them to host the ‘next level up’• Ask them to host or invite their affinity groups
When you are NOT the center of their universe• 6 strategies to book conventions
#1 - Work with Locals – or the ‘Local Clout’ strategy• Most common • CVB should convey• Most successful confidence & ability to• Partnership – assist locals to win bid – CVB helps bid • Encourage local people – Local hosts convention to use their clout.• Perception is realty • Spend more time than $ – CVB seen as sales people. • Accomplish sales thru – Locals seen as members. partnerships & persuasion, not thru – One asks, the other tells politics and pressure
Techniques to Encourage Locals• Mayor memo to department heads• Civic leader featured in business article encouraging others to host conventions• Host “President’s Reception” – reception for fraternal and social club presidents – Use prospect cards for leads; contacts
Program to Encourage Locals• “Hometown Hero” program – Honor civic organization leaders of local organizations for their volunteer work that makes your city great – Hometown Hero’s – those that hosted a major convention – Get special recognition from CVB (Mayor) – Educate attendees on CVB sales assistance – Ask others for their leadership to hosting meetings. – Publicize in newspaper, CVB or Chamber newsletter or Business magazine the names of honorees. – Create in public’s eye that your city IS a destination, thanks to these Hometown Heroes
# 2 - Accentuate the differences - the ‘Un-cola’ strategy• Emphasize the fact you are different• Convey how ‘difference’ benefits planners• ‘We are not . . .’ ‘We are close to ... – the woods, the lakes, the casinos• Emphasize you’re good at __ meetings … – Small, religious, agriculture, youth, etc
# 3 – Better Service strategy or the ‘Personal touch’• You will provide more personal attention to their planner, delegates and convention.• Emphasize that they are the ‘big fish’ in your small pond• Then do it! - give more service, do special things, go the extra mile
# 3 – the Better Service strategy or the ‘Personal touch’ cont.• Many planners have ‘been there, done that’. Be creative, use your city.• Promote your professional experience. Convey that you are especially good with volunteers & inexperienced planners.
“Personal touch” requires making personal relationships• People to people business• Form partnership based on your personality, as well as your capabilities of your city.• Dale Carnegie stuff works – get to know your planner, personally• Invest the time to get to know • Are you ready to make their association’s issues, • a commitment? problems, concerns.
Tips for Selling Your City, personally• Host planners when your city looks good – During festivals, sports tournaments, concerts, golf, major events & milestones• Sell your city’s vitality, excitement, fun – Sell the sizzle, not the steak• Match dates of convention groups with your city’s ethnic festivals, etc.
# 4 – The Co-op strategy or the ‘Conspiracy Theory’• Share convention specs with other CVBs for State business• Hold Sales Director meetings. Share information about needs• Bidding War? Suggest ’share’ – “You take 02, we’ll take 03”• Play the ‘sympathy card’ – “You haven’t met here since xxxx, its our turn”
# 5 – Large Group strategy or the ‘Big Bang’ theory• Hotels & Conv. Centers • Why go for the Big Bang? believe CVB’s should. . . – book new business – It helps elected officials and community see that you’re ‘doing your job’ – get multiple hotel business – Demonstrates to your city folk you actual are a – find business when they destination for conventions need it most – Because ‘super-sized’ groups are more visible, news worthy, more $$$ too
‘Big Bang’ theory cont.• Examples – St. Cloud - State Fireman’s Convention 2000 – Springfield – Intl. Pork Producers - 10,000 – Fort Wayne - Gold Wing Road Riders - 13,750• Will require significant amount of CVB staff time and money to implement this strategy
# 6 – The Buy Business strategy or the “Daddy Warbucks” strategy• Goes far beyond the traditional CVB sales activities• $$$ - Subsidies, incentives, hosting expenses, awards, underwriting, co- hosting expenses
‘Daddy Warbucks’ cont• Most don’t like to admit it - money talks.• CVBs are changing their attitudes towards this strategy• Examples – CVB pays for * convention center rent * bus transportation * opening receptions * evening entertainment/bands * tournament expenses * housing for referees, staff * bidding fees * hosting fees * others?• Downside? – Once its starts, very hard to stop. Can get very expensive. – Trick of the Trade - use others $$ to pay for underwriting costs
Sports Marketing - the non- traditional convention market• Emerging trend last ten years. Professional, collegiate, minor leagues, recreational, etc• Every community has sports facilities.• Communities can become ‘unique’ very quickly
Sports Market’s Major difference: CVB becomes partner, not broker• Traditional sale CVB required to help do tasks – Seller - Broker - Buyer traditionally done by planner – Facility - CVB - Group – Housing – Funding and Finance• Sports market requires CVB to – Welcoming/Opening be sponsor or to find sponsors Ceremonies• Must assume some risk – Banquets – Many other requests
Summary . . . Did you ….• Learn 3 things you to do for your “A” groups• Learn about 6 strategies to book conventions• Incorporate 1 idea into your CVB convention sales marketing