Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel


The current economic crisis will certainly impact the meetings/tourism industry in Norfolk. Meeting planners and leisure travelers are being frugal and seeking value added destinations. Norfolk is fortunate to be a drive market with a diversified amenity package that is moderately priced. We offer hotels in various price ranges and a clean, safe, walkable downtown area - both of which are appealing to visitors.

Our marketing strategy is to stick with what has proven successful over time. We continue to focus on the long-term understanding that several new hotels are planned for the city. Since we serve downtown convention hotels, select service hotels throughout the city, airport hotels and seasonal properties we need to continue to cast the net to attract major meeting and conventions, tour and travel business, vacationers and families. We have experienced some attrition in meeting attendance but not to the extent other markets have. The relationships we have built with meeting planners over the years have allowed us to stay in constant communication with them and assist in driving attendance however possible. On the leisure side, we have joined forces with several of our hotel partners and attractions to offer value added packages targeting our drive market through January 2009.

Our "Half Off" Promotion offers half off prices on accommodations at several of our hotels, reduced ticket pricing at many of our most popular tourist attractions and seasonal offerings like the Black Nativity and SOWETO Gospel Choir being performed at the Attucks Theater in Norfolk.


There is no doubt that the economy is impacting the industry. Meeting planners are being much more aggressive about finding the best value. Those destinations, like Orlando, that offer a wide range of options will certainly benefit. Orlando's value is not only in the return on the financial investment made but the return on ideas - there is no other destination that promotes creativity and imagination for businesses, groups and organizations like Orlando. There has been some buzz about businesses and organizations canceling or indefinitely postponing business travel and face-to-face meetings. This is one of the worst things can happen right now. There is no better time for face-to-face meetings to find new opportunities, meet new contacts. You can't do these things on a conference call.

Orlando is already the value capital in terms of its rates, dates and space offerings and we continue to be aggressive in this area. We're going beyond this at the Orlando CVB to become a full marketing and business partner to help meeting planners think more creatively, to problem-solve together, to be fully engaged in the success of the meeting on every level. We've already started some new programs and we will be rolling out a number of new initiatives in 2009 along these lines as part of our quest to truly be a "share of mind" meetings partner. I do not believe you can cost cut your way to success. We are challenging ourselves to be more creative in our programming and messaging to maximize every opportunity and every dollar. For example, really tapping into Orlando's "Come for business, Stay for pleasure" proposition. When you think about the squeeze on an individual's or family's income and time and what it is doing to their ability to connect and spend time with family and friends, this becomes an interesting concept. We've already seen an increase in meeting attendees coming earlier or staying later and bringing the family along. Providing more value and programs in this area is just one idea we are working on to stimulate Orlando business.


There is no doubt that the meetings/tourism industry in Pasadena will be affected by this current economic crisis. We know that our hotels are projecting some softness in the coming year. Traffic in our restaurants and in our retail areas have slowed. During tough economic times people conserve their cash to cover the essentials.

We will continue to market to our primary client base. We will need to think and act strategically and be able to adapt our business quickly to the new realities that face our core market segments. We will be controlling expenses, but will not be deviating from our original sales and marketing plan.


This current downturn, unlike the one that followed 9/11, is not a result of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil using an icon of the visitor industry. It was self-inflicted. So this recovery is not draped in patriotism. We are all on our own at City Hall this time around.

One of the things we began doing months ago is telling our booked clients about the value of our airport, and sharing with them specific online airfares. The average round-trip airfare at our airport has been below the national average for the past 12 years, and even after nationwide flight cuts we still have more than 1,100 flights a day. So Phoenix remains very attractive to corporations that need to get their staffs and clients in and out with ease. This is something that ranks higher than ever on a client's list when he or she is selecting a meetings destination. With a $600 million convention center expansion and a $1.5 billion light-rail network both opening downtown in late December, we certainly aren't going to "wait out the crisis." Our new convention center can accommodate more than 80 percent of the conventions in the country, and it gives us the chance to book business in Phoenix that has been away for 20 years. So not only can clients fly here inexpensively, they can convene in a beautiful, brand-new building. That sort of value gives a huge opportunity to boost sales in any economic climate, but it's especially relevant in these times. We are having another record year in convention-center bookings. Will some hunkering down be required in the months ahead? No doubt. But I've always believed that CVBs do their best work in tough times. We don't panic. It is incumbent on us to lead with a practical, glass-half-full passion.


Our primary meetings and conference facility is already seeing a decline in business, while our tourism attractions have a more optimistic outlook, basically because there are more people staying closer to home and visiting local attractions.