While there, I attended a breakout session featuring Shawna Suckow, CMP, Sean Schuette, CMP, and Mesha Hegna, CMP. The session was entitled “How to be a Meeting Planner’s Best Friend,” and I went in wondering… Are meeting planners and CVBs destined to forever be frenemies or is there hope for a long-lasting friendship?
So let’s talk FAM trips… Sean informed the group that he will not go on a FAM trip unless there’s potential for his client, and for him, these trips are all about building relationships. Both Sean and Shawna stressed the importance of customizing FAM trips. Shawna said these trips have value, but the value is far greater when it’s not simply one-size-fits-all. She spoke of a FAM trip to Telluride, where she was greeted with a questionnaire upon her arrival. They asked her what she would do for a career if she weren’t a planner (she said ghost hunter) and what her favorite hobby was (photography). Shawna was set up with a local historian who did a walking tour and talked about some of the haunted buildings and then she went on a jeep tour up a steep mountain to a 13,000-ft summit for some breathtaking photo ops. She said she wouldn't have chosen to do that on her own, but was so glad she did. According to Shawna, the group at Telluride really won them over when they never would have considered them before.
Planners, what are your thoughts on FAM trips and what would you like to see from CVBs to enhance the value of the trip?
The next topic up for discussion was site visits. Mesha stressed that it’s very important to respect the planner’s time. Planners should outline what it is their group is interested in and what their needs are. Then it’s up to those involved in the site visit to deliver on that, and not include anything unnecessary, e.g. the group that is predominantly middle-aged men is probably not interested in the spa and all that it has to offer, so you can probably skip that part.
On the topic of respecting time, today’s technology offers some innovative solutions for site visits. Sometimes it’s just not possible to physically visit sites up for consideration for a meeting or event. Consider a Skype call. Shawna told the group about a Skype site visit she had when she was considering a location for the upcoming SpinCon 2015 conference. A DuPage County CVB staff member took the Skype call on her iPad, flipped the camera, and walked through the venue so Shawna and her partners could see what was available. Pretty neat, huh? What other options are out there for site visits and what can be done to make the most of everyone’s time onsite?
By far the hottest hot button in the industry today is the RFP. Stay tuned to hear what Shawna, Sean, and Mesha had to say on this topic!