Presenting a unified team ready to meet an event planner's goals
It’s well known that a good local experience lifts the overall impression that attendees have of an event. Louisville Tourism has made it a priority to use its expertise to collectively present its communities, including hotels and its workforce, as a unified team that is ready to meet an event planner's goals.
Cleo Battle, Executive Vice President of Louisville Tourism, notes the changes his CVB has made in growing its hospitality workforce and marketing the destination as a whole. "We have long since seen the connection between local industry and meeting planners' needs," Battle says. Louisville Tourism has examined how CVBs can be most useful to event planners beyond booking hotels and finding local attractions. The result is events with better attendance and service standards that provide the finishing touch.
Connecting with local industries to meet event goals
There are many unique ways that CVBs act strategically as connectors in their communities, not only to enliven and bolster a destination, but also to act as conduits of information for planners. Battle describes how "Twenty years ago, when a customer came to town you'd give them a bag with a pen and a visitor's guide. Today, these customers ask 'How are YOU going to make my event successful in YOUR community?'" CVBs today are proactively looking for unique ways to nurture the relationships between all sectors of their communities. Battle points out that the CVB "sits in the middle, between restaurants, attractions and hotels." And it's this particular position that makes CVBs an indispensable resource.
One way that Louisville Tourism acts as a conduit of information is by focusing on the CVB as a connector to local industry. A great destination starts with the people who live and work there. Realizing this, Louisville has focused more attention on itself, from overall branding to investing in the local workforce.
Supporting workforce development to elevate service standards
One of the biggest concerns for planners is also something that is out of their control: how will the local service industry treat my attendees? Top-notch service is critical, and takes a well-trained workforce. Realizing this, Louisville Tourism tackled workforce development head on.
Louisville Tourism supports local conferences for vocational high schools and STEM competitions, providing early support for developing highly skilled workers. The CVB also spent more than a year working with key locals to develop hospitality curriculums for two high schools, promoting the hospitality industry as a viable and vital profession.
Stepping up local workforce efforts has filled a need that was somewhat neglected before. "If service levels drop because we don't have enough qualified people to represent the industry, that’s a real problem," Battle says.
Marketing the destination to raise event attendance
"CVBs have spent way too much time telling planners that we're the best point of contact for all the hotels in the destination and not nearly enough time explaining how we can connect them to local industry, local experiences and local access when they need to do something like close a street. Twenty years ago, we were the best contact for all the hotels in the area. But the internet changed that and we forgot to tell them we changed, too."
A large part of that change is the support that CVBs offer to planners on all fronts, including marketing a program and growing event attendance. As the expert on their destination, Louisville Tourism crafts marketing strategies for each unique group of attendees.
Louisville Tourism is an example of how CVBs can market a destination to raise attendance and then keep attendees wanting more with great service. High standards of service are key, and CVBs work at the confluence of multiple groups, including service providers, hotels and planners, to provide value for events and the guests that attend them.