In 2014, Jill Stacey, President of the World Autism Organisation
, answered a call that no one in the convention industry wants to pick up. Her local partner in Australia, Autism Victoria, had bad news: they could no longer act as a host for the 2018 WAO Conference in Melbourne. WAO relies on local resources to ensure the conference, which happens every four years, is a success. Without Autism Victoria, Stacey found herself scrambling to find a new option.
“We like to announce our upcoming destination at the current conference,” Stacey says. “So we need commitment from all our partners five years in advance. When people asked me where we were heading next, I had to tell them I didn’t know.”
In the midst of all the uncertainty, Stacey received a more pleasant call: an offer for assistance from BestCities. The alliance of 12 leading CVBs wanted to help Stacey find a solution. Houston, one of the alliance’s members, had already expressed interest in welcoming the conference.
“BestCities was so helpful, and Houston put together a very nice bid,” Stacey says. “We went from feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of looking for a local community of parents and medical experts to feeling assured that we have chosen the right destination where we can truly make an impact.”
“If it wasn’t for BestCities, I don’t think we would be where we are now,” Stacey adds.
Connecting With Top-Tier CVBs
While Stacey learned of the power of a CVB alliance due to dealing with unforeseen challenges, other meeting planners have recognized the benefits of BestCities in regular dealings with issuing bids and negotiating contracts.
“There is quite a range of CVBs around the world,” Chris Trimmer, Executive Director at the World Obesity Federation, says. “Some are much more advanced in their ability to boost attendance, to get in touch with government officials and to help connect meeting planners with representatives from local societies and associations.”
The CVBs that do possess the skills to elevate the meeting planning process also tend to be able to elevate the impact of the conferences and conventions they host — a concept that BestCities takes very seriously. To learn more about how members of BestCities thinking about their role in making a long-term difference, check out “How Conventions Are Creating Big Picture Impact.”
Getting Superior Service
“With Best Cities, you know that no matter which destination you choose, you’re going to get top-tier services from some of the leading CVBs in the world,” Trimmer adds. “You can relax a bit more and know that you’ll get the same standard of service within the network.”
Trimmer will take the organization’s International Congress on Obesity to another BestCities member, Vancouver, in 2016. She highlights that the destination is continuing to prove their partnership well after everyone signed on the dotted line.
“We’re working with Vancouver on delegate boosting and sponsorship opportunities,” Trimmer says. “We’ve already signed to the city, and they’re still working to make the congress better. They go above and beyond.”
Simplifying The Planning Process
Meeting planners are no strangers to feelings of déjà vu. After an annual conference is over in one host city, it’s time to have plenty of similar conversations with the next destination on the map. However, a CVB alliance like BestCities can eliminate some of the hassles of doing the same work year after year.
“The knowledge sharing among BestCities members saves so much time,” Trimmer says. “If one member knows your congress, the next city you choose won’t have to go through the whole learning process. It gives planners the opportunity to really focus on other parts of making the congress a success.”
For Stacey, the recent challenges she faced have been a blessing in disguise. She plans to issue future bids to the BestCities network.
“In hindsight, I think tapping into a CVB alliance is actually the right way to approach selecting a host city,” Stacey says. “Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel for each conference, the wheel can be given to us.”
This educational article was brought to you by BestCities, the first convention bureau alliance. With 12 destinations around the world, each member of the BestCities network is committed to the highest level of service and works to make planning programs simple and successful. A unique data exchange process connects staff across six continents to share information smoothly. If you are interested in learning how BestCites can help you plan better meetings and create lasting legacies, click here to get in touch with the team. Be sure to check out what your colleagues are saying about BestCities, too.