So you ended up wearing the meeting planner "hat" and have no idea where to begin? Local CVBs and DMOs can be a huge help to someone planning an event for the first time or in a new, unfamiliar location. A DMO is a destination marketing organization and a CVB is a convention & visitors bureau. Often, one organization will function as both a CVB and a DMO. Contacting the local CVB first will help streamline your meeting or event planning process, saving you time and avoiding common pitfalls. Visit Santa Cruz County is the official DMO/CVB for Santa Cruz County. Local CVBs can help meeting planners in the following ways:
A CVB will have the bird’s eye view of all the options within a designated city or region. The organization can recommend the best fitting venues and services for meetings and events. This cuts down on your sourcing time by targeting the best options available and spending less time on ones not likely to fit your needs. The CVB will also know how good a fit the area is for your event and can provide logistical insight and details you may not have thought of. Is there construction planned during your meeting? Or is there a major local event the same day? The CVB can help you foresee and avoid conflicts by sharing their broad destination knowledge with you.
CVBs work closely and often with venues and hotels, so they'll know the right contacts and have an ongoing working relationship and familiarity with staff. They can also communicate a planner's needs in the most efficient language and format for that particular venue. When you're sourcing a meeting or event, you may end up needing to contacting multiple venues individually, explaining the same details to each, or even being transferred between more than one department. The CVB can go straight to the source for you and distribute the information to the proper contacts at many venues all at once.
When you contact a CVB for information about placing an event in their respective city or region, they'll ask you for your meeting and event details. Things like dates, program times, space, budget, and more. The CVB will take all the important information and compile into an RFP (request for proposal) document. The RFP is sent to the appropriate venues and services so that they may contact you with a proposal. Visit Santa Cruz County and most other CVBs offer this as a free service to planners! Proposals will outline the basic costs and terms of making your event happen at the particular venue. Once you have the proposals, you will then be...
Working with Hotel Sales Staff
4. Do your due diligence; it’s a two way street.
You will have to review the details of the proposal. Attention to detail is key here. There will likely be some back and forth with a venue or hotel sales contact, as there’s not usually a one-size-fits all quote for an event. Keep in mind to be honest and upfront about your event needs and priorities. Help them help you get to an agreement that you're confident with, and make sure all pertinent details are in writing.
5. Questioning things is good…
Once your contract is signed and deposits are paid, you’ll start planning! It’s good to push for what you want and need to make your event memorable and successful. Its okay to look for creative ways to achieve this -- such as using unique catering ideas to stay within a budget, or using non-traditional spaces and decor to amp up the "wow-factor" for your guests. Often, and within reason, a venue can be flexible when it comes to meeting event needs.
6. However, trust your contact to know what’s best at the venue.
Some meeting and event ideas simply won’t be successful at a certain venue. A good sales person will present alternative solutions to meet your vision, but ultimately, they know best what works and doesn't work at their venue. They will be experts in things like flow, timing, and setup because they understand what's needed behind-the-scenes to make sure service execution is smooth and flawless. Many event sales professionals have several years’ experience under their belts and that can be a great asset to you as a planner! We hope this overview gives you a good idea of where to start when planning a meeting or event for the first time! Feel free to contact us with any further questions or tweet us @MeetSantaCruz! Happy planning!