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Convention and Visitors Bureaus 2

Are you wondering what a convention and visitors bureau (CVB) can do for your reunion? Learn more at "What conventions and visitors bureaus can do for you." Then, contact the CVB in your city or away because they are there to help and most of their services are free.

Conventional Wisdom--use convention and visitors bureaus to your advantage!

For those who've taken advantage, Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVB) get high marks as great reunion resources. They are in the business of destination management.

CVBs know their city better than anyone; all the ins and outs of the location, hotel room quality, availability, accessibility and the right people to deal with. Local knowledge is a big advantage for CVBs.

The purpose of CVBs is to provide reunion organizers local knowledge and efficient management as a benefit of coming to their city. Most CVB services are low- or no-cost to reunions.

You are looking for more value and CVBs are looking to expand their market. You win.

We learned from an issue of Successful Meetings that many CVBs are going after 50-member meetings (helping find hotel rooms, activities, transportation options). "They've become much more alert to small pieces of business," the article declared. This is excellent news for reunions.

Reunion organizers recognize that the value you get in a smaller community could be greater than in a larger city - affordable housing, food and beverages, as well as the ability to customize and create meetings outside the box. Parking in smaller cities is often free, unlike in large cities where a night of parking may add from $7 to $20 per vehicle.

Bureaus in many smaller budget cities work with the community, its academic centers and local attractions to develop a special niche. The recent Burney Family Reunion in Junction City, Kansas, where the Geary County CVB provided mailings, maps, brochures, printed name tags and a local tour with transportation.

Fort Wayne, Indiana, CVB offers a "Discover Your Roots" package for individuals with special packages for groups. Spend afternoons doing research at the Genealogical Library in the Allen County Public Library. They have over 500,000 documents including census reports, military papers, and Ellis Island logs, resources on CD-ROM and network links to other genealogical libraries across the country.

Before calling a CVB

Estimate the value of your reunion by answering these questions. How many people need rooms? How many nights will they need rooms? What kind of rooms? How many suites? Handicapped rooms? How many meals will your members eat in the hotel? Will you have a banquet? How many drinks will your members purchase?

By providing facts in advance, CVBs know the value of your reunion. They create a fact sheet and send it to hotels. They can arrange site inspections of selected hotels.

An advantage to reunions is that many CVBs have designated at least one sales person to small meetings. What this means is that reunions do not need to share the time of a sales person who is also responsible for a meeting of 5,000 people. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that if a sales person is working on a meeting for thousands, a smaller meeting is going to take a back seat ... waaaay back.

If your CVB contact concentrates on smaller meetings, he/she also knows all the services and facilities that best accommodate reunions. Take advantage of the special expertise that a reunion or small meeting specialist can provide. Most can help get rates, availability and even some special deals and other services to make your planning much easier.

Ask the CVB if they can provide maps; name badges, discount tickets; reduced admission; referrals to photographers, disk jockeys, speakers or an honor guard.

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