Small Market Meetings

DEC 2016

The Newspaper for Smaller Cities, Facilities and Planners.

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www.smallmarketmeetings.com Managing Meetings 12 Make the Most of Housing Bureaus Courtesy Sioux Falls CVB The Sioux Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau is one of many destination organizations around the country that provide housing support as part of their services to meeting planners. This CVB service offers convenience and intelligence W hen it comes to making hotel arrangements, meeting plan- ners often fail to take advantage of the free housing ser- vices from convention and visitors bureaus. As one of the meeting industry's best-kept secrets, these housing bureaus operate as direct liaisons to nearby businesses, providing clients with all the nec- essary resources to make their event a success. "Nobody has a better relationship with the hotels than the city, because we work with them day in and day out," said Karen Wallace, director of housing services at the Greater Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau in Louisville, Kentucky. A Personal Connection In essence, housing bureaus offer a personal connection to all the hotels in a city, making it easy for planners to book room blocks at the best prices, as well as monitor room reservations. Housing staff want events to succeed as much as they want to fill hotel rooms, so in many ways they act as liaisons for the planner, help- ing with site selection, promotional materials, press releases and more. This gives planners a central contact in the city and saves them the trouble of having to correspond with multiple hotels and businesses at once. "The CVB is known as a one-stop shop for conventions, meetings and events, and housing bureaus are just an extension of that," said Teri Schmidt, executive director at the Sioux Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. One of the first steps in the planning process is to find out which locations best serve a client's needs. Once initial contact is made, bureaus work with planners to establish an accommodation bid, which involves setting a contract with the hotels. "Let's say you called me about doing an event," Schmidt said. "I would take down all of your information — that you wanted to bring 200 people and you need one hotel, three luncheons, a banquet and a reception — I would put all this in a 'sales flash' and email it out to all our hotels." After the hotels respond with their availability and best prices, the bureau compiles this information for the client, who then signs a con- By Savannah Osbourn

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