1. How can you assess the myriad free services provided by DMOs and CVBs?

Contact your sales contact and ask for assistance. If you have a personality conflict with the person handling your account, ask to work with someone who you feel comfortable with.

Once the contract is signed with the facility, your account will be turned over to a CSM (convention service manager), similar to the process in facilities. Ask what services the DMO and CVB has provided to other clients and carefully listen to responses.

Also, speak with your colleagues to learn what free services they have received. The worst that can happen is your contact will not be able to provide you with the services that you are requesting. If you don’t ask, you won’t receive.

2. Where can I find a list of all the CVBs in a certain state?

www.meetingstoday.com; www.ConventionBureaus.com; Destination Marketing Association International (www.destinationmarketing.org).

3. When you say “free site Inspection,” does that mean airfare would be covered?

Qualified meeting planners can sometimes receive free airfare, ground transportation, hotel accommodations and meals when CVBs invite them to inspect potential sites.

4. Should there be any concern that non-member businesses are not being considered/offered by the CVB to clients?

You should always inquire whether a CVB is a membership organization. You will be put in touch with members. Usually the most established businesses within an area belong to the CVB. However, if those businesses do not fulfill your objectives, you can inquire about non-members.

My experience is that service-oriented people will extend information about non-members as a way of establishing a relationship with you and becoming a resource. This varies by individual. This would be a great time to use the discussion groups that I included in the resources for you.

If you belong to a professional association such as MPI, PCMA or ASAE, check the supplier members.

5. How are CVBs paid?

CVBs customarily receive funding from their local or regional government through occupancy taxes or other forms of taxation. Membership organizations receive funding from their members. There is no charge to you if you use most services. You might have to pay for staffing or services that are not provided free of charge. This varies by location.

6. How do you get around the conundrum of…you don’t have a concrete piece of business but you want to do some advance research for a client/prospect? How, if at all, can you get to know the city or be on a FAM?

CVBs want qualified meeting planners to become familiar with their location. Unfortunately, some people have taken advantage of site inspections and FAM trips. This is a small industry and CVBs share information about abusers. The CVBs will inquire about the history of your firm or that of your client before they extend an invitation to you.

Following the site inspection or FAM trip, you will be asked why a location was not booked. When you go on a FAM trip, you are expected to participate in all of the activities because the trip is not free. It is paid by the participating suppliers.

7. Are there other CVB partnerships besides the ones that I listed? If so, where can I get the list?

I am not aware of any other CVB partnerships. I have sent a request to DMAI asking about additional partnerships. I will also inquire on discussion groups.

8. What kind of taxes did you get waived for nonprofits?

Some of my nonprofit clients were able to get occupancy taxes, local and state taxes waived. It required the groups using a local chapter that was registered within the state. Waivers vary from state to state and the local CVB should be able to assist you. Billing managers within hotels require copies of the non-profit status for their tax reports.

9. Can a CVB set up Passkey or must that be set up by the hotel?

I would ask the individual CVB whether they can provide this service and if not, how it can be set up.

10. If my client only holds their meetings in their own city, can I still reach out to the CVB for assistance? Or is it just for out-of-town usage?

You can use the services of a CVB within your city. The range of services that they offer to you may differ. The CVB an advise you of the newest facilities, restaurants and attractions and might be able to get you free admission if you are considering using those facilities for your meeting or event.