Destinations International’s Annual Virtual Convention didn’t disappoint this year. Our co-founder gave her thought leadership on a couple of sessions and our team got to join in as esteemed industry professionals provided some solid insights and ideas.
One of the most resonating sessions, “Meeting Planners Unplugged,” uncovered the candid perspectives of a few members of DI’s Planner Influencer Board. The buzzword of the session was adaptability; and with the new reality that COVID-19 has moved us into and through a constantly evolving industry, we’ve all had to adapt.
While your CVB continues to adapt, the marketing you implement should still be creative and include a nice little potpourri of engaging, pointed and, most importantly, helpful information.
We’ve centralized our takeaways from the session to help you acknowledge some areas that might need some adaptability within your organization.
Here are some points to consider…
If you’ve ever argued the virtues of your generation’s music to someone younger or tried new technology for the first time, then you might know what it’s like to feel like the floppy disk version of yourself. With the traditional ways of thinking and doing things comes experience and wisdom, but being open to new things creates so much opportunity. Put out content that shows planners how your CVB is adapting to the evolving landscape of our industry. Try answering these questions with your team to get some ideas flowing:
- How is our CVB adjusting?
- As planners’ needs change, how is our CVB accommodating?
Try letting planners know about the ways your team can help provide an exhibitor experience that goes beyond the Zoom call. How is your team getting creative? During the session, it was remarked that no destination has the total package today. And that’s okay. Just show how your CVB is progressing—how they’re doing things differently.
Hybrid meetings and events (those with an in-person component as well as a virtual component) are here to stay, and adapting to one event with two experiences can seem overwhelming. It’s all about shifting from an event organizer role to an event producer mentality to incorporate content, build community, optimize sponsorships and gather analytics from both in-person and virtual audiences. Planners need to know how your team is preparing and what they may need from your CVB. Show your expertise and the added value your team can deliver, and the contributions your team can provide for these events.
Deirdre Clemmons, Senior Vice President of Events and Strategic Partnerships for Airports Council International – North America, kept it candid and kept it simple when asked what CVBs can do to address geopolitical and social issues. She said, “Walk the talk.” Your CVB needs to be showing the true reflection of diversity in your community. If your city has implemented change to address social injustices or a lack of diversity and inclusion within the community, tell people about it. What are your city’s hotels doing? Partners? Give direct content that speaks to the issues. Don’t shy away from it.
Bobby Heard, COO of the American College of Emergency Physicians, gave insights into the sentiment of many medical groups. They want to meet. They want to get the latest in education and technology but getting together feels irresponsible during a time where frontline healthcare workers are crucial. Until there’s a vaccine for COVID-19, a lot do not feel safe getting together in large groups. Period. So, planners of medical meetings are craving solutions for creative ways to deliver educational content to attendees aside from in-person.
Relationships have always been the bedrock of great selling experiences for CVBs and clients. Now more than ever, planners want to feel like your organization really cares. It has to not only feel natural, but it has to be natural. Kate Kurkjian, Event Manager for Zillow Group, said that when it comes to CVB sales, “Planners don’t want to feel like a hard sell.” Ask clients how they’re doing. Have your sales team let their clients know what’s happening in your city. Tell them what’s new; what they’re doing to keep attendees safe. CVBs need to continue to act as that conduit for information.