These groups strive to increase local economic development by focusing on convention sales, tourism marketing and services. Travel and tourism elevates the quality of life for a local community by providing jobs, securing tax dollars for the upgrading of services and infrastructure, and attracting facilities like restaurants, shops, festivals, as well as cultural and sporting venues that accommodate both visitors and locals.
CVBs produce billions of dollars in revenue and taxes by performing destination marketing. Nearly every large city and county has its own CVB, which is neither a branch of government nor a charitable group. Rather each is typically an independent non-profit economic development organization that provides unbiased referrals to planners and serves as an official point of contact for them.
CVBs do not plan and organize meetings. Instead, their primary responsibilities are to:
1. Market to organizations seeking meeting, convention and trade show space and assist them in service referrals and selections during the planning process.
2. Create campaigns to encourage tourism in their destinations.
3. Make an economic impact on the local community through a travel and tourism strategy.
4. Function as the community’s marketing and public relations agency through promotions that yield increasing numbers of groups and visitors whose overnight rooms, meeting spaces and retail expenses add to the local revenues.
The first CVB was actually founded in the Midwest. In 1896 a Detroit journalist named Milton Carmichael suggested in the Detroit Journal that local businessmen group together to promote the city as a convention destination, as well as represent the city and its many hotels to bid for business. Two weeks later the Detroit Convention and Businessmen’s League formed and Carmichael led the group that evolved into the Detroit Metro CVB, today known as the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (DMCVB).
Other Historical Dates
In 1919 the Executive Director of the Convention and Publicity Bureau of Greater St. Louis, MO, Charles R. Hatfield, encouraged meeting professionals to charge convention attendees a registration fee to help defray costs.
In 1927 the Minneapolis, MN Convention and Visitors Commission was formed by the city and the Chamber of Commerce to market its first convention hall, Minneapolis Auditorium built for $3.15M.
The Chicago, IL Convention and Visitors Bureau was founded in 1943 and was merged with the Greater Chicago Tourism Council in 1970. This merger brought a name change: Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau.
Local History and Call to Action
Think about your CVB. When was it founded? Does it operate according to the original charter and mission? How has it evolved over time and how much local economic impact has it had? How informed are the locals on this? Is it time to promote your impact locally?