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Corpus Christi's Reception Hosting Offer, and More
Meetings Today's Tyler Davidson discussed Visit Corpus Christi's meetings offer in which the destination will host an opening or closing reception in one of the destination's many interesting offsite venues. The CVB's Nicole Olivares details the Coast Your Own Way meetings offer and what the Gulf Coast destination offers for meetings and events.
This podcast was produced in partnership with Visit Corpus Christi.
Tyler Davidson: Hello, welcome to this Meetings Today Podcast. I'm Tyler Davidson, vice president and chief content director of Meetings Today, and I'm pleased to welcome Nicole Olivares, vice president of sales for Visit Corpus Christi today with us. Thanks for joining us, Nicole.
Nicole Olivares: Thank you for having me, Tyler. I'm excited to be here.
Davidson: Great. And, you know, I'm excited to learn more about Corpus Christi. And then you guys have a great incentive offer to the meetings industry. So why don't you tell folks more about Corpus Christi and what they can expect there if they bring their meetings there?
Olivares: Sure, definitely. So, we are situated on the Gulf Coast of Texas; we are just a few hours south of San Antonio, but on the coast, further south than Houston and Galveston.
I think what really sets us apart is that our community is really growing and evolving with such great momentum, but we're still kind of a tight-knit, small enough community where we make groups feel important no matter what their size, so they can feel like a big fish in a smaller, medium-sized pond. And they don't really get lost in the midst of all the hustle and bustle here.
So, in addition to that, as far as the unique position we're in for hosting groups, we love that they're truly a VIP here. And welcomed with the same level of service if they were 20-person board meeting, or a huge city-wide convention. Again, being on the Gulf Coast, we have a beautiful view of the Corpus Christi Bay, and in addition to miles and miles of our beautiful beaches.
And I think what's kind of unique in some of the imagery that maybe some of our listeners have seen on the Meetings Today website is that our convention center is situated right on the Corpus Christi Bay, so attendees can literally walk out of the convention center or their host hotel and be steps from the water and just take their time relaxing and walking along the Corpus Christi Marina.
So, it's really a cool, relaxing coastal vibe, and it makes for a great kind of “work-cation” pre or post dates. Or for attendees to bring their families or spouse with them as well. It's kind of a quick little easy beach getaway in addition to work.
Davidson: Yeah, I did notice that. I wrote a story about the destination, and looking over some of the great images with a lot of meetings set up on the beach, with stages and tables. So, I'm guessing that's the number-one draw for people going there.
Olivares: Definitely. Everybody wants to have an opening or closing party on the beach. We also get requests for all kinds of events out there. There is a close, close proximity to the American Bank Center, our convention center. McGee Beach–there is a walkable a beach that's less than a mile away.
So, we do provide shuttles, of course, but some guests love to take that stroll down to the marina that I mentioned, and we make it really easy for meeting planners and their attendees to experience that coastal vibe. Our Experience Team is top-notch, and they really have perfected these turnkey offsites, whether the meeting planner needs full-blown assistance or just some suggestions. We have kind of fine-tuned that and worked out all the kinks, so it's easy for everybody to just kick back with a cocktail and network and have a great time. But that definitely is the big draw.
Davidson: So, actually talking about opening and closing receptions and offsites, you guys are promoting a Coast Your Own Way meetings offer. Why don't you let our listeners know what that entails?
Olivares: Definitely. So that is our new sales booking incentive, and it's part of our current group-sales meeting marketing campaign that is now live. And it allows meeting planners to select one of six unique local venues for an opening or closing reception that will be hosted by Visit Corpus Christi. So, depending on the size of the group, total room nights, we will cover up to 100% of their opening or closing reception.
So, when I said turnkey, I literally mean turnkey. If you know they hit the threshold to meet the 100%–100% coverage is over 1,000 room nights–so 100% of the party costs are covered; you can get your hors d’ouerves, two hours of venue rental, your bar entertainment. And if there's any planners that want to stay hands-on and involved, of course, our team will work directly with you. Or if they just want to hand over the reins, and let our Experience Team do what they do, they can show up and just enjoy the event with their attendees.
So that's really a huge savings. There have been some groups that have taken advantage of that over the last few months. The campaign is currently running through the end of this calendar year, and obviously, we're toward the end of the year. So, we extended that through March '22. To book in that timeframe, but the date of the meeting can actualize at any time. So, if you're planning for '23, '24, '25, we would love to talk to you and really help [with] some cost savings.
We understand that, with some of the budget restraints and challenges coming out of the pandemic, budgets don't really allow sometimes for all of the fun networking opportunities. But people like to go to meetings and events to catch up with their colleagues and build those connections and relationships. So, we wanted to kind of ease that financial burden and help show off our beautiful destination.
Davidson: Especially coming out of the pandemic, too, people want to get together, have fun, catch up with each other, and then you've got a number of great venues. You mentioned McGee beach, but there's a ballpark, the Texas State aquarium. There's a variety of really multifaceted, unique venues where you can do these receptions at, right?
Olivares: Yes, and they are all within the downtown convention, sports, entertainment and arts district. So, nothing is really that far away.
Again, we do help offset the cost of shuttle and bus transportation to venues, so that shouldn't be a worry, either. But all of those offsites you mentioned, the Texas State Aquarium...the USS Lexington Museum is a huge historic monument; the hangar deck alone is like 40,000 square feet. There is so much history on that ship.
And all of these venues are great partners to us. We work hand in hand with them throughout the year on all kinds of various projects. Whataburger Field Corpus Christi is the birthplace of Whataburger. So, our ballpark is named after Whataburger and they are the Minor League affiliate of the Houston Astros. So, a really cool park, and great event space there as well. If the groups happen to come during the season, they can even catch a game and have their event while the game is going on. So, there's a lot of cool lofts and decks that overlook the field.
And then we have the really neat Art Museum of South Texas, and that space is right overlooking the Port of Corpus Christi and Corpus Christi Bay–beautiful space–and the art there is part of the decor as well. So, if you have any art buffs, they can kind of wander during the event and take a look at all the exhibits. And our last venue is the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History, and that museum is just amazing in itself. It's a huge facility, and they have a ton of cool, unique spaces throughout there. So, any history buffs, science buffs–again, all of the exhibits are there that they can enjoy during their event as well.
So, really cool venues for networking, but also kind of getting to experience that offsite, unique attraction. Some of these are attractions while you're in town, because you don't have a lot of time during your meetings. You're there for a reception, but you also get to see something unique and cool.
Davidson: Yeah, it's a great variety. Everything from museums to an aircraft carrier to a big ballpark. I mean, that's something for everyone in that selection, right?
Olivares: Yes, definitely. That's what we were really looking for. That way we appeal to all different types of market segments and types of groups that are coming in, and like we said, no matter the size, we do tier down/tier up the incentive percentages that we cover for the party, so even if your group isn't over 1,000 room nights, total room nights, you do still qualify for portions of the party being covered.
So, we're really flexible on that as well; we just want to make sure that everybody has a great time and that we are servicing the groups, from our destination services team, to the best of their ability.
Davidson: I mean, that's a very generous offer. And then, on top of all that, I know–researching this story and speaking with you–that a lot of your larger convention and meetings venues, are GBAC certified now, and I know everyone is interested in that, especially coming out of the pandemic–hopefully–but they really are interested in facilities that are really ahead of the curve on their protocols and procedures.
Olivares: Yes, definitely. So, the convention center, of course, was–in my world, and the meetings and conventions role–key to getting that certified. And they did that right out of the gate. And then our airport is also GBAC certified, which is great. Our airport has been busy, we're looking–this is totally on another topic–but we're looking to get more direct flights into Corpus Christi just because of how busy our airport has been.
So, that's great news. But the art museum is also GBAC certified, and the USS Lexington Museum, which is the first aircraft carrier in the world to receive that GBAC Star accreditation. So that's pretty cool. So yeah, we're really just trying to make sure everybody feels safe coming here, and that our community partners–restaurants and bars and offsite venues–understand that is important to not only group travelers, but all travelers in general.
When I travel, I want to feel like things are being taken care of and sanitized properly and all that good stuff. So, we really have great community partners that are on board with this initiative and in making sure everybody feels comfortable coming here.
Davidson: I wrote a story, it's on MeetingsToday.com, but where can listeners inquire directly with your CVB to find out more about the destination and the program?
Olivares: Definitely. Yeah, so our website is www.VisitCorpusChristi.com, and we have a planners page on there. We have our meeting planner guide and visitor inspiration guide, all of our downloadable guides and our incentive brochure is also on there as well. So, if you'd like to look at any of those venues in more detail, we have a whole little brochure on there that people can look at to see capacities and cool pictures and all that, so the website would be the key place to go.
Davidson: Well, excellent. Well, thanks for joining us today, Nicole.
Olivares: Thanks, Tyler. It was great talking to you, too.
Davidson: And that was Nicole Olivares, vice president of sales for Visit Corpus Christi. I'm Tyler Davidson, vice president and chief content director of Meetings Today.
Thanks for joining us for this Meetings Today Podcast. If you're interested in more podcasts we've done with thought leaders in the meetings industry, just head on over to MeetingsToday.com and check out our podcast section. So, thanks for joining us today. Have a great rest of the day and we hope to see you again soon. Thank you.
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