Convention & Visitors Bureaus (CVBs)
CVB experts have been helping meeting planners, business travelers and leisure tourists find the perfect location and fit for more than 100 years. They are the quintessential source of information about hotels, facilities, attractions, restaurants and activities, and should always be the first contact when planning your event. All CVBs are not-for-profit organizations primarily fundedby their local governments, usually through a portion of hotel occupancy taxes. Their mission is to promote the long-term development and marketing of a destination, focusing on convention sales, tourism marketing, and services. As the tourism marketing arm of the destination, the CVB is responsible for creating public awareness about their destination and, ultimately, booking the meeting and event business that feeds the economic engine of the region. And, because their services are funded by local stakeholders, they are free to the planner.
Why would the local community invest its dollars in the CVB? Because travel and tourism enhances the quality of life in their destination by providing jobs, bringing in tax dollars for improvement of services and infrastructure, and attracting facilities like restaurants, shops, festivals, and cultural and sporting venues that cater to both visitors and locals.
Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs)
Essentially, the terms CVB and DMO are interchangeable. Referred to as CVBs for many decades, destination marketing organizations began identifying themselves as DMOs in an effort to convey a less bureaucratic connotation to the traveling public. Similarly, many CVBs, such as Meet Minneapolis, have replaced the traditional “Convention & Visitors Bureau” portion of their name with a more descriptive, action-oriented name. Like many other re-named CVBs, “Experience Columbus” now identifies with the more contemporary DMO designation, but is still happy to acknowledge that it is the region’s convention and visitors bureau.
In 2005, the International Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus (IACVB)changed its name to Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI), partly in recognition of its international members which are often structured and named differently than their US counterparts. DMAI’s website, e-information, and printed materials consistently refer to DMOs.
Every CVB is a DMO, but, technically, not every DMO is a convention and visitors bureau: some destinations have no meeting facilities and consequently market to leisure travelers only; some focus solely on meeting and convention business and leave transient tourism marketing to other entities.
Changing a brand takes time and most meeting professionals automatically refer to “CVBs,” so we anticipate continued use of “CVB” into the future. The important point is no matter what you call them, CVB/DMOs are uniquely qualified to be the best first point of contact for any meeting or event because of their comprehensive view of the destination, local expertise, extensive in-market relationships, and complimentary services.
Destination Management Companies (DMCs)
DMCs provide their services to the customer for a fee. According to ADME , the Association of Destination Management Executives, a DMC is a “professional services company possessing extensive local knowledge, expertise and resources, specializing in the design and implementation of events, activities, tours, transportation and program logistics.”
You may choose to engage the services of a DMC after you have confirmed the hotel and facilities in a specific destination to “manage” the destination for you. Planners may have a multi-year contract with a large destination management company to organize events and provide transportation regardless of the chosen destination, similar to how they contract with audio-visual providers and decorators.
DMCs are often valuable members and/or supporters of the local convention and visitors bureau. Because of his unique experience, we reached out to Paul Griffin for his thoughts on the mutual support, as well as the differences, between CVBs and DMCs. Now Director of Sales & Industry Relations for Allied PRA New England, Paul heads up the Boston division of a destination marketing company. However, he began his career with the Boston CVB, and later spent several years as a Washington, DC meeting planner. Regarding collaborative efforts between the CVB and DMC, Paul says, “A DMC can work with a CVB to help provide an overall experience for clients for FAMS, sales missions, and site inspections. A DMC can provide complimentary resources and services, such as airport arrival/departures, dinners or showcasing an attraction that can assist the CVB in securing the business for the destination.” The DMC’s time and financial investment in assisting the CVB provides the DMC with an opportunity to convince the planner to use their company once the meeting is confirmed. It’s a winning scenario: the CVB gets assistance from the DMC, the DMC takes advantage of a sales opportunity, and the visiting planner experiences a top-notch destination overview.
To learn more about DMCs, visit www.adme.org.