Does Your Meeting Need a Chief Experience Officer?

As meetings become less traditional and more experiential, so too should the roles on meeting and CVB teams. One new possible staff role: chief experience officer.

Earlier this month, the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau announced that it would now be called VisitDallas.

In addition to the name change and a new logo, President and CEO Phillip J. Jones announced the creation of a customer experience department to be led by a chief experience officer (CXO), the first such position in the country for a destination marketing organization (DMO).

“We needed to create a renewed, reenergized, and resounding focus on making our organization the best in the business by creating the highest level of customer experience, both on the meetings and conventions side and for our leisure travelers, too,” said Jones in a press release. “We want our customer service to be recognized as superior to other destinations.”

In Dallas’ case, its new CXO, Renee McKenney, will provide strategic direction and operational leadership to the organization’s customer-service teams, which currently include client services, strategic alliances, and visitor information.

While Dallas is the first DMO to hire a CXO, I’m sure it won’t be the last. And as meetings become more experience-based, I would imagine this role will become more common on association meeting teams as well.

It’s like Jeff Hurt, vice president of education and engagement at Velvet Chainsaw Consulting, said in the 2016 Meetings Issue of Associations Now:  “[Attendees are] looking for experiences—ones that transform thinking, attitudes, behavior, skills. That’s a completely different design process that takes attendees through a completely different journey.”

Here are three roles I think a CXO could play in planning and executing meetings:

Attendee advocate. If the CXO’s primary responsibility is to ensure attendees are getting the best experience possible, he or she will need to view all elements of the meeting through their eyes. Having this person on the team may help your association avoid small mistakes that could frustrate attendees. For instance, does the registration process require 20-plus steps and take close to 10 minutes? Your CXO will encourage the rest of the team to streamline it.

Listener-in-chief. Onsite and after the meeting, the CXO could be tasked with gathering and analyzing feedback from attendees, exhibitors, sponsors, and other conference participants. By hearing the pros and cons of the event from those who took part, your meeting planners will be much better equipped to make adjustments before your next conference. And if that feedback is gathered during your event, you may even be able to respond in real time.

Brand guru. Another part of the CXO’s job could be to make sure that the organization’s and the meeting’s branding is used cohesively. This would include ensuring that every email, newsletter, and direct mail piece a prospect or attendee receives before the conference has the same look, tone, and feel and that the same branding is used in any onsite or post-event communications.

No matter the details of the role, the goal is give every attendee the best meeting experience possible. How do you think a CXO could benefit your organization or meeting? Please share in the comments.


Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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