What You Need to Plan for Recovery
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, which provides "how to" tools to help planners produce successful events amid the pandemic.
Updated Nov. 18, 2020. Visit North Carolina, the state's official convention and visitors bureau, is using CARES Act funds to promote safe travel and gatherings to the area. The CVB has received $15 million to fund a recovery marketing program, and $1.5 million for grants to support local tourism offices and get people traveling again. The CARES Act funding came from two bills passed in May and June.
On Nov. 17, using a portion of these funds, Visit North Carolina held its first event in a three-day digital trade show series, connecting meeting planners from within eight hours' driving distance of central North Carolina with cities, regions and suppliers from across the state. Among the 48 attendees were 14 destination representatives. Meeting planners participated in appointments with the suppliers, and were entered into a raffle for a host of prizes, such as chocolate mini cakes from the
Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area Convention and Visitors Bureau; baskets of goodies from Asheville, Chapel Hill/Orange County and Raleigh; and trips to Winston-Salem and Mooreville.
The next gathering in the digital series, which is being produced by Northstar Meetings Group, will take place on Dec. 3 and will connect corporate, technology, association, medical and third-party planners with N.C. destinations and suppliers to plan for future events. To register for the event, click here. A full lineup of other Northstar Meetings Groups events can be found here.
"Before we received those CARES Act funds, we had basically stopped marketing and were kind of in a holding pattern," said Wit Tuttell, executive director of Visit NC and vice president of tourism and marketing for the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. "It’s key for us to get that message out there. The best thing we can do is get in front of people who are making decisions on meetings and conventions, and showcase everything that we’re doing to make sure meeting delegates and everyone who comes will feel safe and healthy when they travel."
The final event in the digital series, on Dec. 14, will be directed toward SMERF and independent planners within driving distance of central North Carolina.
"Our geography is really a blessing to us. As they say in the real estate business, 'location, location, location,'" said Tuttell. "There's still a reluctance of some people to travel on flights. We're tremendously well positioned for that because we're right smack in the middle of the Eastern seaboard, within a few hours’ drive of a vast majority of the population centers of the Eastern United States. So, we wanted to take advantage of that and let people know that there is an easy way to have a meeting and get it done without having to have a lot of your delegates do things that they aren’t very comfortable doing."
The digital trade show series builds on the Count On Me NC public health initiative, launched in May. The program, which was established in partnership with the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, NC Department of Health and Human Services, NC State Extension and Visit North Carolina, provides free coronavirus-safety training courses and reopening guidelines for hospitality businesses. According to Tuttell, more than 13,000 businesses have completed the program. In addition, the Raleigh Convention Center and the Charlotte Convention Center have both received GBAC Star accreditation in coronavirus cleaning and prevention.