The Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau (CTmeetings) is the state’s official meetings, conventions and sports marketing organization. The bureau represents every meeting and sports venue and convention services business across the state to planners and promoters from around the world. As Connecticut’s hospitality and meetings industry began safely reopening from the isolation of Covid, CTmeetings expanded assistance to planners/promoters in rebooking, apprising them of all venues’ status, and hosting virtual and in-person meetings for members to provide them with resources, sustainability news and opportunities for them to share and support each other.
Among recent initiatives, the agency nurtured stronger relationships with key planners and promoters by partnering with local venues and hotels to attend major industry shows with one-on-one appointments. This included HelmsBriscoe, Cvent Connect, MPI World and others. They also worked with trade and statewide media about upcoming events to reinforce to planners that Connecticut is safely open and ready to help.
Working tirelessly to publicize this landmark gaming, entertainment, vacation and meetings Mecca, Meet AC refers clients to the event space they need to gather safely and comfortably. With more than 17,500 first-class hotel rooms, 2.2 million square feet of meeting space citywide, and 486,600 contiguous square feet of exhibit space at the LEED Gold and GBAC Star-certified Atlantic City Convention Center, the agency has plenty to promote.
When the pandemic hit in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Discover Saratoga swung into action to create a Covid-19 landing page to ensure that members and citizens were receiving a unified message and up-to-date information regarding the virus. Suddenly, new priorities became to save local businesses while continuing to update members on the course of the pandemic, which involved partnering with local organizations like the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce and other agencies. The effort helped many businesses get through the worst of times — and today the prevailing mood is to forge ahead to increase the area’s reputation as a top-drawer meetings and tourism destination.
Extending a vigorous welcome to new businesses, tourism entities and meeting planners, the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Bureau has much to show for its efforts, such as visitor spending to the tune of $973 million per year, 14,500 booked room nights, $250 million in hotel revenue and the creation of two new meeting properties with a total of 9,400 guest rooms. The bureau promotes all of Montgomery County, Pa., some 18 miles from downtown Philadelphia.
Talk to the staff at Visit Orlando and you’ll learn about the destination’s award-winning convention center, world-class dining and entertainment, and the variety of innovative hotels and resorts that unfailingly contribute to the success of a meeting or event. The agency can assist planners with everything from comprehensive RFP services and site inspections to attendance-building and marketing support, while sharing valuable insider tips to make any event unforgettable.
Groups that work with Visit Orlando can also count on exhibitor assistance to connect with local providers, plus insider tips for unique off-site events, dinners and behind-the-scenes experiences. The agency also provides a dedicated “destination experience manager” to further ensure success by serving as the central point of contact for any and all questions about enhancing Orlando meetings.
The team at Visit Tampa Bay partners with local hospitality entities to create unique experiences for groups involving area attractions, such as encounters with flamingos at Busch Gardens and the manatee mascot at ZooTampa, a cigar lounge on board the Yacht StarShip and photo opportunities with the Lombardi Trophy from the SBLV champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Vibrant meetings and conventions are on and thriving in Raleigh, N.C., and the energetic staff at Visit Raleigh is a big part of that success. The bureau aggressively courts suppliers and promotes the city’s attractions and meetings infrastructure to give stakeholders maximum return on investment. Along the way, myriad local restaurants, hotels, museums, indoor/outdoor event venues and more are being reserved, booked, visited and enjoyed.
Once clients book their meetings in Atlanta, the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) is with them every step of the way. They work in concert with the city’s hotels, venues, restaurants, attractions and ambassadors to create memorable meeting experiences. Established in 1913, the bureau is the official destination marketing organization for the city and serves to favorably impact Atlanta’s economy through conventions and tourism. A private, not-for-profit organization, ACVB bolsters Atlanta’s $16 billion hospitality industry, which generated an estimated 57 million visitors in 2019.
In Virginia, Visit Williamsburg spreads the message that the city’s unmatched combination of attractions and activities provide an ideal location for small to midsize meetings and events. The bureau likes to note that being less than three hours from Washington D.C., the city is conveniently serviced by two international airports and Amtrak, which are less than 45 miles away. Bureau agents will be quick to let planners know the region is home to approximately 7,361 sleeping rooms from a wide range of brands and 200,000+ square feet of meeting space, facts that help seal the deal with planners and tourists alike.
Among the innovative approaches developed by Explore Branson to promote
the Missouri city, famed for its myriad entertainment offerings, is the
Design Your Own Incentive promotion for meeting planners. Instead of
proposing a pre-determined set of offers, the bureau turns the table
around and invites meeting planners to design their own incentives for
the bureau to provide, in order to win their business. The agency also
began working with a new tier of local influencers — high school
students from the Greater Ozarks Centers for Advanced Professional
Studies — to help establish a 10-year strategic development plan for the
The above are just the latest ways Explore Branson uses to
drive overall destination performance by developing strategic alliances
across multiple economic sectors. When the bureau brings a large event
to the city, for example, it works in unison with the city council,
local business owners and residents to make it a success.
While the past few years have presented many obstacles, Catch Des Moines early on mapped a safe and successful path forward, hosting events in the early stages of the pandemic that many cities weren’t equipped to handle. Come 2021, the bureau adopted the mantra of “100% open. 100% awesome.,” embracing those attributes that make the Iowa city an attractive destination: accessibility, safety and fun. The upshot has been more events and new clients.
Meet Chicago Northwest considers itself lucky to support so many different groups in its region, but it’s really the result of hard work. The bureau provides expert assistance in choosing hotels and event spaces that are suitable for client meetings, conventions and events. In addition, the team currently offers new groups coming to Chicago’s northwest suburbs an incentive to help offset costs for their meeting.
Working with a top Kentucky destination for agriculture and military events, Visit Hopkinsville hosts events from across the region, often accommodated in the local Bruce Convention Center. Whether guests want to drive a combine onto the showroom floor, park Army tanks out front, create custom menu options to fit the theme of the evening or host regional events that draw attendees from several states, the bureau stands ready to help make any agenda come alive.
Promoting what already is a planner-favorite mountain destination might not seem steep climb for Visit Park City, the bureau nevertheless figuratively moves mountains to keep the city’s offerings fresh. For example, the bureau devised the city’s Sustainable Tourism Plan to incorporate elevated standards focusing on heritage, outdoor recreation and management of the destination and the environment. Another initiative, called “Let’s All Stay Safe to Stay Open,” was developed during Covid and has helped businesses to thrive during difficult times.
Visit Park City offers planners choices among 28 meeting properties located in four distinct neighborhoods — Kimball Junction, the Canyons, Park City proper and Deer Valley — and serves all sectors of the industry from luxury incentives to the more budget-friendly group market. The bureau offers clients options for fly fishing, golf, over 400 miles of hiking and biking trails, ballooning, cooking classes, spas, whiskey distilling tours and tastings, horseback riding, curling at the local ice rink, gallery strolls, live music...the list goes on.
An exciting new way Visit Glendale uses to showcase its Arizona destination is via the Glendale 360° Virtual Destination Tour, the first “walkable” tour in market by a DMO in Arizona. This immersive experience provides visitors a journey with the ability to click-through, at one’s own pace, and virtually walk through hotels, arenas and attractions. An opening video welcomes viewers to Glendale with engaging aerial footage of the city. Each location has a customized property-tour page, and each tour is filmed in high-resolution, 360-degree images. The feedback so far has been tremendous.
A four-hour flight or less from all major cities in the U.S., Fort Worth, Texas, is a convenient destination for meetings, a concept aggressively promoted by Visit Forth Worth (VFW). The bureau gets the word out that the city offers free public transportation throughout its downtown, and that its unique Historic Stockyards District is undergoing a $500 million redevelopment that includes new meetings venues that honor the city’s Western heritage. To further drive tourism to the city, VFW was the first to announce plans for a massive convention center expansion that will include a new arena and 1,000-room hotel.
Known for its award-winning, concierge-style attention to client service, the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau (LBCVB) is dedicated to bringing tourism and convention business to the city of Long Beach, Calif. The bureau has created close-knit partnerships at every level of industry and city government: City officials, hotels, the convention center, partner businesses and the CVB all work hand in hand to ensure a seamless client experience from start to finish.
The LBCVB is also a leader in its industry. During the pandemic, the organization was part of a small group of convention centers and CVBs that successfully advocated for the creation of post-pandemic opening guidelines. The bureau has a uniquely synchronistic relationship with the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, and the combined effort ensures that conventions, meetings and events clients will have their needs met every step of the way, with significant cost savings.
Monterey County has plenty of both indoor and outdoor meeting and off-site facilities that will accommodate groups from 10 to 3,000, with lots of lodging options nearby, facts that form the focus of the Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau, aka See Monterey. Whether advising on things to do in the area, landmarks to explore, restaurants to try, wildlife to observe, the bureau is there to help smooth the way.
With over 1 million square feet of meeting space divided between innovative hotel and events centers, Reno Tahoe is primed for the meetings sector. While promoting the resources of the entire area, Visit Reno Tahoe itself also currently operates four event spaces: the midsize Reno Events Center, the 600,000-square-foot Reno-Sparks Convention Center, the indoor/outdoor Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center and the National Bowling Stadium. Each facility offers cutting-edge amenities that can host events of any type and size.
INTERNATIONAL AND U.S. TERRITORIES
Any successful meeting requires a team effort, and in Toronto there’s a uniquely connected hospitality community of passionate ambassadors prioritizing collaboration and inclusion. In the middle of the action is Destination Toronto, a link connecting clients to the city's resources, referring planners to the city's best and most sought-after assets for hosting meetings, conferences and events.
Among the more creative recent efforts by the bureau is called Six Stack, a comprehensive attendance marketing program offering a range of services — from 24/7 on-demand assets to highly customized programs tailored to clients’ business objectives. The program prioritizes three key content themes: attendee experience, educational and networking opportunities, and local innovation and thought leadership. It allows the bureau to work directly with clients to produce customized plans that respond to the meeting objectives and consider the meeting’s unique attendee profile, schedule/pace and educational priorities.
A leader in destination marketing and client services following the peak of the pandemic, VisitScotland Business Events entered 2022 with new endeavors keeping it in the forefront of the events industry. The bureau’s Journey to Change program seeks to elevate the positioning of business events in the country and empower change through new ideas. It partners with nonprofits like Invisible Cities and works to ensure that the economic benefits of the industry are share by all communities in Scotland. The bureau also partners with nonprofits like Invisible City, whose mission is to bring artistic joy to people and sustainable income to the artists.
There’s a lot of natural beauty on tap in Alberta, Canada, and Banff & Lake Louise Tourism is there to tell the story to potential visitors from the tourism and meetings sectors. Sites such as Moraine Lake, assorted ski resorts, famed Banff National Park, Johnston Canyon and Sulphur Mountain are introduced to groups in a way that conveys an avid sense of adventure and a profound respect for the environment.