Wish You Were Here
Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel

We continue to aggressively pursue new sales and marketing tactics. We have just signed a multi-year contract with Simpleview, Inc. to rebuild our website and enhance our e-marketing and sales program. We also made the strategic decision to encourage our sales staff to bring in new business. Our goal is always to show performance driven results. During the 07-08 fiscal year, we had a 100% increase in definite bookings for meetings through 2015. With our new hotel inventory that will come on line through January of 2009, we are cautiously optimistic about our continued success in maintaining our occupancy levels, which are currently above the national average.

CHARLOTTE YOUNG, PRESIDENT & CEO, HIGH POINT CVB

The "meltdown" WILL impact the meeting/tourism industry in High Point in much the same way it will impact the rest of the nation. We will all be affected in some way. High Point's tourism draw is primarily the fabulous retail furniture outlets. Furniture is unfortunately considered a luxury item and the sale of furniture benefits the most when disposable income is available. High Point does play host to a wide variety of convention markets, from governmental, educational, associations, reunions, social, corporate, fraternal, military and sports. Within these markets, each is affected to some degree. So what are we going to do about it?

We will continue to do business the old fashion way, one person at a time. We don't discount technology; however, we promote and service our meeting/event clients and our individual tourist on a personal level. We believe in relationships. That means we are in it for the long haul and we will find a way to continue telling our story and selling our High Point experience. We will find every way possible to do business with less cost but not with less care and concern for the visitors to High Point.

There is a danger in hunkering down, because we might just get stuck there. We will look for all aggressive means to approach the challenges in the best proactive manner. The limited funds that will be available will inspire us to find a way to accomplish what needs to be done with less dollars and more sense.

GREG ORTALE, PRESIDENT & CEO, GREATER HOUSTON CVB

The answer is not a generalization for all industries. Groups are still having record trade shows but it is industry specific. I do expect that associations may see a softening of attendance as members consider whether to attend with one or more attendees. On the other hand when times are difficult, the need to meet with industry peers is greater. People want to know what other people are doing to cope. Corporate travel will be down. Business travel will probably be down but it will be regional and based on the specific industry. Leisure travel will also be down but the discounts may not be as great because the hotel industry has learned that cutting rates does not significantly improve occupancy; it just moves it around the same destination.

I do not plan to dramatically change the way we do business. You survive by working harder. We will be more diligent in our research on business opportunities and we will emphasize sales. To that end we are opening an eastern regional office in Washington DC. We will have seven people in the office making sales calls.

We will pursue opportunities prudently. With lower occupancies and an uncertain recession duration, resources must be expended wisely and with an eye toward a lengthy downturn.

WANDA COLLIER-WILSON, PRESIDENT & CEO, JACKSON CVB

The Wall Street "meltdown" will have an impact on the meetings/tourism industry in Jackson due to the low level of consumer confidence in the economy. Business has not been canceled, as we experienced post Katrina, however, I do expect to experience a decrease in delegate attendance for meetings scheduled through this economic downturn. Also, since Jackson is a more affordable city, we may have business that was going to the first and second tier cities take a look at our offerings.

The only significant change in business will be reflected in reducing operational expenses (non employee related) and monitoring closer the revenue stream so that adjustments can be made as necessary.

We will combine several approaches during this crisis. As I mentioned earlier, we must seek reductions in operational expenses as much as practical without jeopardizing the integrity of our agency. However, we have product enhancements nearing completion, and we cannot afford to cease promotional/sales efforts at this time. Our efforts will not be as aggressive as they normally would, but we will continue to push to capture a share of a market that was not available to Jackson in prior years.

STEVE GOODLING, PRESIDENT & CEO, LONG BEACH CVB

There will definitely be an impact, however, we are fortunate that the majority of our business is from association meetings. Unlike other market segments, associations still have to hold their meetings in order to provide the networking and educational opportunities their members need. We are changing some of the ways we do business. We are working closely with our association clients to assist them in enhancing their marketing and communication with their members to promote the value and attractiveness of attending their conventions.

We are also adding sales personnel for the association market and redirecting some resources into this strong market area. Our goal is to find additional business and assist our existing clients to maximize their attendance.


MELVIN TENNANT, PRESIDENT & CEO, MINNEAPOLIS CVB

There is an impact, no doubt. We are still seeing meetings and conventions booked, but the process to a final agreement is longer and we are working harder. We also see corporations keeping meetings close to "home." This benefits cities such as Minneapolis with a large number of corporations that conduct a lot of meetings.

We recently redeployed our sales force to cover distinct markets (sports, education, religious and regional) vs. by territory. By keeping market-focused we will be able to attend to the varied needs of each market. Our intent is to create subject matter experts in our key vertical markets. We are conducting industry-specific research to ensure we understand our competitors, what are meeting planners' highest priorities. This information will gear our budget dollars toward initiatives that have the highest opportunity for results. With limited resources we need to make sure our marketing investments are based on the best available data. We are in the process of a rebranding and repositioning of our Minneapolis Convention Center to highlight what it has to offer. Its unique feature such as the Auditorium and the "center in a center" are assets that can provide great benefit to our customers.

Our budget is flat for 2009, but we are planning innovative ways to achieve our goals. We are not cutting pricing, but adding value. We are working with our membership to build campaigns and promote our city together. We are confident we can increase market share during these challenging times.


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