There is no doubt that many cvb’s are hurting for business from planners. I have heard it said many times that it is a buyers market out there and essentially all the leverage lies in the hands of the purchaser, and I think this is true, however there are some key things a cvb can do to attract more business.
1. Create interesting incentives for groups and conventions other than discounts. Try offerring free add ons, luxury services, exclusive event tickets, and more.
2. Offer wonderful customer service before, during and after the sale is made. So often, people make a sale and then move on to the next customer. Your service is never over. Even after the client has visited the city and left, you still need to deliver fantastic service in order to get repeat business and referrals. How about sending a hand written thank you note to the group asking for their feedback and inviting them to return. Is your service up to par?
3. Try target planners that are not as affected by the recession and markets where other cvb’s are not going. Instead of going after corporate planners, whose budgets are squeezed and their changing positions can be mind boggling, perhaps you should go after association planners, religious groups, or groups associated with the government, health care and education which do a little better in a recession.
4. Make sure you give each group the star treatment when they come to visit. Act as if they are the only group attending. Go out of your way to accomodate their needs and even anticipate them. You need to create an experience people like so much that they cannot wait to come back.
Josh Gair – Impact Entertainment Services