How to Take Advantage of CVB Freebies

Planning help comes at no cost—if you know where to look.

With all the logistical issues to consider, planning a conference or meeting can seem like a Herculean task. But you can find help—at no cost, in fact—if you know where to look.

Many convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs) are more than happy to assist with planning, from researching and booking meeting spaces and hotel rooms to promoting the gathering and ensuring attendees have a good time. You just have to ask.

Why are CVBs willing to do this?

It’s simple, said Visit Indy President and CEO Leonard Hoops: “We want to promote our destinations and get groups to our towns and have them spend dollars and generate economic impact on the community.”

It begins with helping meeting planners determine where to host their event. CVB staffs can research event space and hotel-room availability, compare their city’s offerings with competing destinations and distribute requests for proposals.

But that’s just the start. Once you book an event space, you can take advantage of free services to spread the word about the meeting—especially if you’re working with a CVB that represents a convention center. Many large CVBs provide website templates at no cost that allow you to build promotional sites with registration interfaces. What’s more, staffs can give you free access to high-quality photos and videos.

CVBs can even help fill your registration bags. Many bureaus offer maps, visitor guides and resource booklets to meeting planners for free.

On-the-Ground Support

For planning the event itself, CVBs can put you in touch with local service and product providers that play key roles in keeping meeting participants happy.

For example, when Gen Con, the nation’s largest gaming convention, hosts its annual event in Indianapolis each year, Visit Indy not only assists in coordinating event spaces in hotels but also works to keep attendees well fed. The staff ensures that restaurants stay open late, and it clears the way for food trucks to assemble nearby. Visit Indy also brokered relationships that led a local brewery to create a unique beer for the convention and a pizzeria to offer three customized pies.

And if you need to close a street to host a block party or require a special permit for your gathering, CVBs can put you in touch with the right people at city hall or the police department.

(Handout photo)