What type of clout does the term “convention and visitors bureau” have? According to focus groups of 2,000 CVB stakeholders (including government officials, consumers, meeting professionals, hoteliers and CVB professionals) conducted last year by Anacortes, Wash.-based BrandStrategy Inc., the monikers “convention and visitors bureau” and “CVB” have little or no recognition among most consumers, although they are familiar to most meeting professionals and others in the tourism business.
Among other findings:
" Most consumers (71 percent) have never interacted with CVBs.
" Meeting professionals have had inconsistent experiences with bureaus; association planners have had the most positive experiences.
" The general public is very supportive of tourism efforts in their local communities and supports the use of government funds to promote tourism. -- L.G.
“The industry is so ripe for repositioning.”
After 91 years representing
the interests and image of convention and visitor bureaus
nationwide, the Washington, D.C.-based International Association of
Convention & Visitor Bureaus has done a complete about-face,
thanks to one basic fact: Despite decades of effort, most people
outside this business and even many inside it still don’t have a
clear picture of what a CVB is and does.
So, the organization wants to scrap the term “CVB.” In a
dramatic repositioning effort, IACVB is poised to become the
Destination Marketing Association, or DMA, with the tag line (which
IACVB terms a “byline”), Representing Destination Marketing
Organizations Worldwide, pending adoption by the board in March.
(The new name was proposed last December, and in January members
were asked to weigh in on the change via a survey linked to IACVB’s
website at www.iacvb.org.)
The radical moves don’t stop there: IACVB is recommending that
member bureaus follow suit and become “destination marketing
organizations,” or DMOs.
“The industry is so ripe for repositioning,” says IACVB
president and CEO Michael D. Gehrisch. “There is so much
competition for bureaus now, both amongst themselves and from other
areas like the Internet and third parties.” Clarifying the role of
bureaus by giving them a name that actually describes what they do,
he argues, will go far toward strengthening the industry.
“When people ask me what I do for a living, they give me a
blank stare or assume I run a convention center,” says Gehrisch.
“But when I explain how IACVB markets destinations, they get
Paving the way
“A lot of people think this happened overnight, but it has
taken three years,” says Maura Gast, FCDME, executive director of
the Irving (Texas) Convention & Visitors Bureau and member of
the IACVB board. The brains behind this comprehensive initiative
are the Brand Leadership Campaign Strategic Advisory Group,
comprised of CVB members and headed by Reint Reinders, president
and CEO of the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, and
branding expert Duane Knapp, president of Anacortes, Wash.-based
BrandStrategy Inc. IACVB’s board members also have kept abreast of
developments and given their stamps of approval to all the measures
introduced thus far.
As a first step, the association researched how bureaus are
perceived in the industry and in the general population (see “Say
What?,” above). Next came a “brand promise,” a statement that
represents the organization’s commitment to the industry and from
which future strategies and actions will be based (see “Making Promises”).
The group also has created two online guides for members: The
BrandScience Guide for Destination Research, to help CVBs establish
studies that will help them define the brand promise, name and
overall strategy, and The BrandScience Guide for Destination RFPs,
“a guide to help CVBs select the right expertise to create a
winning destination brand,” as the official description notes.
Last month, IACVB published Destination BrandScience, a how-to
for bureaus to brand and reposition themselves. The book is free
for IACVB member bureaus. The association also will hold a series
of branding clinics, including web seminars, to acquaint members
with branding and to demonstrate how repositioning is in their best