How to Work with a Convention and Visitors Bureau
Planning an event in a new destination presents plenty of new opportunities. But it can also be a time-consuming project if you’re trying to get to grips with a location, its attractions and facilities, and its identity as a place for events.
Working alongside a Convention and Visitors Bureau is the best way to make the most out of what a destination can offer you as an event planner, offering unique and unbiased insight and suggestions through the entire planning process. In this article, we explain what a Convention and Visitors Bureau is and what it does, along with ten top tips for how best to work together with one.
In this article:
What is a Convention and Visitors Bureau?
A Convention and Visitors Bureau, also known as a ‘CVB’ is an organisation located in popular travel destinations and big cities that provides tourism information. They’re usually non-profit organisations and are also relied on by event planners to help organise large events taking place in that location.
If you’re organising an event somewhere, the Convention and Visitors Bureau is one of the first places you want to go when you begin planning. Since they are not-for-profit, the information and recommendations that they provide event planners and businesses with should be impartial, which means they can be relied upon for genuinely helpful advice.
CVBs are very important in helping destinations establish themselves within the MICE industry, and work to bring more business tourism to a location to help boost the local economy. They’re usually the official point of contact for anyone working in this industry that wants to host an event in the area, and will have a wide network of different connections that can help plan all kinds of events.
The services offered by Convention and Visitors Bureaus will differ between locations, with Bureaus in places with more MICE activity generally having a larger team that can offer more diverse recommendations and support. But if you’re looking for meeting, accommodation or transport service recommendations, suggestions of local suppliers, tourism ideas and resources, or local speakers, exhibitors, contractors and relevant institutions, a CVB can help with this.
What Can a Convention and Visitors Bureau Do for You?
If you work in the MICE industry and are planning an event that will take place somewhere with a Convention and Visitors Bureau, there is a range of services and advice that they can provide you with.
Many CVBs assign you a designated member of the team to stay in contact with whilst you’re working with them, and this can be a massive help when you’re looking for personalised advice regarding your event. Instead of having to explain what you’re planning to several different people, you’ll usually work with an individual from the Bureau up until your event takes place.
CVBs are ideal for providing event planners with recommendations for accommodation, venues and even local vendors, which is ideal if you’re hosting an event in a new city. Instead of having to read reviews and visit multiple venues to decide where to host your event and where to accommodate guests, you can explain your ideas to someone at the Convention and Visitors Bureau and they’ll be able to provide personalised advice.
If you’re planning an event in a location you’re not experienced with, CVB can also provide you with a welcome pack or general introduction to the area. This will be designed specifically for those in the MICE industry that want to get to know an area, so will often contain data about the location’s history and performance as an events destination.
Another way that working with a Bureau can be helpful is that they can advise the best times of the year to host an event in their location. Staff at the CVB will know of other events taking place and also be aware of when prices go up for things like hotels, so will be able to help you decide on a date that won’t inconvenience your attendees through a lack of or overly expensive accommodation.
If you’re planning an event without the support of a Convention and Visitors Bureau, you may resort to making ‘safe’ choices with reliable reviews when you’re choosing venues, hotels and even entertainment. A CVB will have a portfolio of unique options that can help you offer something different and exciting to attendees, as well as save you the time of going out and trying to find these unique experiences yourself.
Event planners that are working with a limited budget may find it particularly useful to work with a CVB because of how they can help you get the most out of your budget. Whether this is through finding the best deals with local vendors and venues, organising discounts or even finding ways to share resources with other events in the same location, the staff at a Convention and Visitors Bureau know how to get the most out of a budget whilst still using top-rated suppliers.
If you’re looking for sponsors for your event and want to involve local businesses in this opportunity, a CVB is ideal for helping you identify potential candidates for this. Not only can they point you in the direction of appropriate sponsors, but they can also arrange meetings and approach businesses on your behalf if you want, which is ideal if you’re stretched for time when planning an event.
Finally, working with a Convention and Visitors Bureau can be a great way to make connections with other individuals and businesses working in the MICE industry. This can be really beneficial if you’re going to be hosting multiple events in the same location, particularly if you’re thinking of partnerships later down the line. Ask the CVB about the other event planners they work with and consider whether you’d benefit from reaching out.
Looking for more MICE industry insights?
Keep up to date with the latest trends and expert insights from IBTM World.
10 Top Tips for Working with a Convention and Visitors Bureau
Now you know some of the benefits that working with a Convention and Visitors Bureau can offer you, here are our top ten tips for getting the most out of the experience.
The earlier you begin planning your event in collaboration with a CVB, the more successful it’s likely to be. Not only will this provide you with a longer amount of time to plan the perfect event, but it can also ensure that you get your ideal venue booked on the dates you wanted, instead of having to compromise because of limited availability.
This is also a good idea because, as we mentioned previously, the CVB can advise of other events taking place in the area that may impact what you have planned. They might encourage you to change your planned dates to avoid a clash with another event, or they might recommend a series of dates because of other local events that might interest your attendees.
Lead with Your Goals
One of the best ways to get what you want from any kind of collaborative work is to lead with your goals. Let the Convention and Visitors Bureau know exactly what you’re trying to achieve, how it aligns with wider business goals and any particularly relevant metrics or targets, and they can adjust their recommendations to help you achieve this.
Give Plenty of Detail
Leading on from that point, the more details you can give about what you have in mind for the event, the better. Staff at the CVB want to help you plan a successful event, and they need a clear picture of what this looks like for you if they’re going to help you achieve this.
Don’t hold back when it comes to explaining what you’ve had in mind; the clearer your communication, the better and more relevant recommendations and suggestions you’ll be given. The connections that a Convention and Visitors Bureau has with local businesses and venues mean that they are the best people to help with specific requests or unique ideas, and if you don’t ask then you’ll never know what’s on offer for your event and its programme.
Make Use of Resources
The majority of Convention and Visitors Bureaus have a great range of resources about their destination that you can make the most of when you’re in the initial planning stages of your event. Be sure to look on their website at any guides, reports or directories they have freely available so that you can benefit from this curated advice and also learn more about the work they do and what they can offer you as an event planner.
Share Previous Experiences
It can be incredibly useful for the team at a Convention and Visitors Bureau to know the previous experiences you have had with other CVBs, or just with planning other events in general. Whether these have been positive or negative, it’s a good idea to share ways of working that you found useful, any previous issues that you’d like to avoid repeating, and particular services or insights that you appreciated. This will help to make working collaboratively much more productive and satisfying for everyone involved.
In the same vein of improving communication by sharing as much detail as possible, you should also ensure that you understand everything the CVB is sharing with you by asking plenty of questions. This is particularly useful at the start of your work together to help you get a full picture of the different services they can offer you and what kinds of vendors, venues, businesses and individuals they can put you in contact with.
Be Open to Suggestions
Whilst you’ll likely have quite a clear image in your head of how you want your event to go, it’s important to be open to suggestions from the Convention and Visitors Bureau about what might work best. Remember that whilst you have experience in planning events in general, they have specific experience assisting with events in their area, so you should be willing to consider their suggestions.
Delegate Where You Can
A CVB doesn’t just offer event planner recommendations and put them in touch with local providers, they can actually do most of the communication and negotiations themselves. If you’re new to working with a Convention and Visitors Bureau then you may not have realised this, but it’s worth delegating certain tasks to the representative you’re working with, especially if they already have an established relationship with the person or organisation they’re talking to or meeting with.
Partner for the Whole Process
You can work alongside a Convention and Visitors Bureau for the whole process of planning your event, not just when you’re starting out and looking for recommendations for transport, venues and accommodation. The most fruitful partnerships with these organisations are ones where you seek advice and support right up until your event begins, as there are plenty of instances where impartial advice might be needed or someone that knows the area can use their expertise to solve a problem.
Offer Feedback and Referrals
Finally, once your event has taken place, it’s really valuable to offer feedback to the Convention and Visitors Bureau that you've worked with. Hopefully, this will be positive feedback and you can share what you’ve appreciated and found useful, which will help them to refine their services.
If you were pleased with the support you were given, it’s also a good idea to share your experience with others in the MICE industry that might be organising events in the same area, so that they work with the CVB as well.
There isn’t a Convention and Visitors Bureau in every city, but if you’re planning an event in a popular destination or an area that is known for its place in the MICE industry, you’re likely to find one. There are countless benefits to working alongside a CVB, and if you follow the advice we have shared in this article you’re sure to enjoy a helpful and rewarding partnership.
Enjoy this article? Make sure to share it!
View the latest tips, trends and insights from the IBTM World team.
Be in the know
Receive our latest news for free straight to your inbox.
Looking for something else?