Web winners (clockwise from top
left): Visit Charlotte; the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors
Authority; Galveston Island, Texas, Tourism & Marketing; and
the Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau have sites
that areaesthetically pleasing and highly
A new crop of convention and
visitor bureau websites offers more help with planning and
executing a meeting than ever. These online resources “are the
first place a planner goes to look for ancillary services, such as
ground vendors, destination management companies and off-site
venues,” says Pamela Wynne, CMP, vice president of operations at
Randolph, N.J.-based EMCMeeting Solutions. With 3-D interactive
maps, late-breaking podcasts and ultra-detailed search engines,
these sites give planners what they want to know, and they do it
better and faster.
The uses of a bureau website extend far
beyond introductions to a destination. For example, the Long Beach
(Calif.) CVB recently began offering custom microsites for meeting
groups, something that could cost planners a pretty penny to do on
Stephen James, president of the Long
Beach Police Officers Association, is especially appreciative of
the feature. As he was preparing for the Fraternal Order of
Police’s 59th Biennial National Conference & Exhibition in
2009, the bureau launched a microsite for the meeting that debuted
during this year’s conference. “It has set the tone for what will
be our best conference ever,” James says.
Following is a sampling of
M&C’s favorite CVB web pages, from Florida to Alaska
and with some colorful stops along the way.
Redesigned in 2007, Florida’s official
website gets props for a clean design and some well-conceived
tools. We love the comprehensive property search, simple but
informative interactive map and the “My Meetings” space, where
planners can store requests for proposal, presentation materials
and personalized attendee web pages. The site was designed with
input from planners, and it shows. The property comparison tool is
one of the best we’ve seen.
Visit Charlotte (N.C.)
With its fun, kitschy design, gorgeous
photography and easy-to-navigate menus, we’re suckers for
visitcharlotte.com’s good looks. But this site has substance as
well: Insider podcasts, an interactive walking tour and convenient
drop-down menus make it super-functional.
Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
The meetings site for the king of
convention cities does a good job of balancing the glitz and the
goods. Our favorite feature is a 3-D interactive map with hotels
and attractions that pop up, accompanied by boxes of statistics.
The map filters the pinpointed locations into nine categories (like
hotels and meeting sites) and allows users to make printable notes.
We also appreciate the handy link to an extensive page for visitors
with special needs.
Metropolitan Tucson (Ariz.)
Convention & Visitors Bureau
Planners and journalists have one thing
in common: They want to know what’s new now, so we immediately
noticed the “What’s New” column on the main page of this stellar
site. The property search displays the number of guest rooms,
amount of meeting space, and biggest meeting room quickly and
concisely. A “FastTrack RFP” service offers templates that let
users address specific properties. There might not be a lot of
bells and whistles, but this site gives you what you need fast.