November 2015

Bureau reps step up big for planners and events

by Zachary Chouteau

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    San Antonio

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    Park City, Utah

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    Ted File

Santa Fe Standout
David Carr is a fifth-generation Santa Fean who has made a huge impact in 16 months as the Santa Fe CVB’s director of sales.

Carr has implemented new policies and procedures, incorporated new technology, and has been more proactive in prospecting and attending industry tradeshows, which are producing significant positive results, including a 51 percent increase in confirmed room bookings.

“What I like most about working with groups and planners is breaking the myths that Santa Fe is always hot, that it’s a desert, that’s it’s an Old West town,” Carr says. “Time and again we get to meet with and host people whose expectations are completely exceeded by the gorgeous weather, the dynamic culture, the unforgettable food and the incredible people of Santa Fe.”

Carr’s tip for planners with Santa Fe in mind is to consider March though mid-May and October and November.

“The nights might be a little cool but the days are sunny and warm, with an abundance of natural beauty,” he says. “You’ll also enjoy some of the best deals of the year during those times.”

Columbus Kudos
When it comes to discovering Columbus, Kalee Barnhardt’s efforts include helping government groups and those with up to 550 peak nights have a seamless experience. The CVB’s convention sales manager loves hosting site visits as well, and told us about a new program she’s been part of that delivers a serious taste of the city to planners too tied-up to make the initial trip.

“One thing I have come to understand is that meeting planners are incredibly busy and may not have the time to travel to Columbus,” she explains. “For this reason we have curated a successful program through a partnership with Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW), a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Columbus, to host planners at their stores across the country in an event that easily fits within their schedules. During these events, we introduce clients to our city in a fun, nontraditional environment that ties into our walkable convention package. In fact, we have received RFPs right on-site because clients are so impressed with all that Columbus has to offer.”

Big Easy Breakthrough
Tara Letort is touted by her New Orleans CVB colleagues and others as a rising star in the meetings industry. As the bureau’s director of group PR, she was the only recipient of this year’s Forty Under 40 Award from USAE and Association Forum of Chicagoland, from a destination marketing organization, or CVB.

The pioneering 14-year veteran is the first director-level PR professional at a CVB dedicated solely to conventions and events coming to the city. Her expertise includes customized marketing plans as well as social media and public relations strategies, and since the position was created in 2007 she has led the charge in creating and utilizing cutting-edge strategies and tactics to drive attendance and help visiting organizations exceed their goals.

While some of these services were once considered “added value,” she has taken them to a level of professionalism that is now considered standard.

Anaheim All-Star
Jessica Rienecker, a 31-year-old meeting sales director, western region with Visit Anaheim, is always on the go with her work, though her colleagues say she always finds time to be still. With a passion for wellness, she’s not only incorporated yoga and meditation into her own agenda, but in many other aspects of the industry.

She is working with CalSAE’s 2016 ELEVATE Conference to instill added morning wellness offerings, established breathing exercises for use during her local MPI Board retreat in May 2015 and taught yoga as a breakout session at MPI’s SoCal EdCon in April 2015.

Beyond wellness, she creatively embraces social media to spur new leads, grow connections and boost the bottom line. Rienecker also puts together relevant content on a frequent basis to remain an expert partner to planners and sustain long-term win-win relationships. Recently, Jessica led a presentation at DMA West in September 2015 on the significance of social media for selling and is speaking at the December 2015 retreat of a local Conference Direct team on why Anaheim is a top destination for meetings.

Shining In South Walton
Carley McMillian, lead sales coordinator with Visit South Walton, is all about shining a spotlight on the sandy stretch of Florida as a destination for meetings and events. A lifelong citizen of Walton County, Carley has a passion for the area that is unparalleled, and combined with her distinct qualifications, she is a perfect fit for her job.

The savvy sales coordinator has gained kudos that include the 2014 Award of Distinction and a Judge’s Award from the Florida Public Relations Association, in addition to a 2014 ADDY Award from the American Advertising Federation, all based upon the “Meet You in South Walton” brochure, for which she assisted with the conceptualization and execution.

“If time permits, I encourage meeting attendees to bring comfortable shoes to experience the many outdoor activities South Walton offers, like the four state parks, the Timpoochee Trail, kayaking and stand-up paddle-boarding,” she says. “Also, I let planners know South Walton is a family-friendly destination. Attendees can turn their meeting or conference into a memorable family vacation that the whole group can stick around and enjoy.”

Leverage Your Relationship with DMOs, CVBs and Tourism Offices
Wednesday, November, 18, 2015, 1:00 p.m. EST

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