We are often asked, “When is the right time to get a local person involved in bidding on a convention?”
Do you wait until there is an actual RFP? Do you wait until the board is about ready to vote on a future convention? Do you avoid getting a local involved altogether because it might jeopardize your relationship with the staff meeting planner or executive director?
Backyard Marketing understands the nature of these questions from a Destination Marketing Organization point of view, but we also know the power and influence of a local person who serves on a board with the association. They are insiders who know the association decision-makers personally. They have the ability to work behind the scenes and alongside the DMO and staff to generate leads and bookings. To bring them into the bidding process too late or not at all could jeopardize a sale.
That is why Backyard Marketing recommends…
Get local people involved from start to finish
Here is how a local person from your city could be involved at each step in the convention booking process:
During the Lead Generation Process: Local people who serve on boards and committees know how to jump-start the lead generation process. They know who to talk to (staff and other board members). They attend board meetings where destinations are considered for future meetings. They also understand the association’s political landscape and can open doors with a simple email or phone call.
Throughout the Bidding Process: Local people should be part of all aspects of the bidding process (site visits, presentations to the board, etc.). They also can give insight on what objections the association and board might have to meeting in your city and how best to communicate your strengths in light of those objections. Local people can also keep a pulse on what the board and staff are thinking throughout the bidding process and where the votes stand at any given time.
During the Convention Planning Process: The convention business is all about customer service and repeat business. Having a local person monitoring the planning process as part of the host committee ensures the destination puts its best foot forward leading up to the convention date.
When the Convention Comes to Town: Suggest that the local person who helped bring the meeting to your city be part of the welcoming committee during the opening ceremony. After all, the local person deserves to welcome his or her peers to their hometown as a reward for bringing the meeting to his or her hometown. He or she also has a vested interest in making sure the convention goes well.
After the Convention Leaves Town: The DMO’s goal when a convention concludes is to have the organization come back. The local person can play a vital role in this process, but the DMO must establish some form of on-going communication with the local person. This is where the Hometown Hero program comes in, but more on that another time.
And finally, perhaps the #1 reason for getting a local person involved from the very beginning is that convention bids often require a local anyway. Some associations want a chapter invite before considering a city, and other associations want a local host committee formed before they will consider a city. Some international destination marketing organizations will not even bid on a future convention without the support of a local committee. These DMOs don’t want to lose a convention bid because they don’t have the support of the local members. They also realize the success of any winning convention bid is dependent on a strong local committee.
For more information on how to find local people from your city who serve on state, regional, national, and international boards and committees, email Michael Still at firstname.lastname@example.org.