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Rooms Come First, Meeting Place Second

“Our Mandate is to bring people to Las Vegas for pleasure and or business.” Those are the words of Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Bureau’s Senior Vice President of Operations Terry Jicinsky. The reality is you can take any resort destination convention locale, substitute your home town name for Las Vegas, and your local convention and visitors’ bureau have the same mission. Pick me! Choose us!
Under the leadership of Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, Nashville is in the process of trying to redefine the image, perception, and civic culture through the new Music City Center project and conversion of the existing convention center into a medical trade center.

Unlike Las Vegas whose civic conventions facilities are a division of their Convention and Visitors Bureau, (CVB.) Nashville structure is similar to other reknown domestic resort destination convention cities as Orlando, San Diego, San Antonio, and Washington D.C. Their CBVs are a private organization in partnership with a civic owned convention center. In every case both organizations are sustained primarily by hotel occupancy taxes.

Here’s the approximate room count close to the primary convention center and total estimate by county room contribution:

City                         Near CV                    County Rm Taxed
Las Vegas                 4,000                               149,000
Orlando                       6,000                                35,000
San Antonio               8,000                                10,000
San Diego                  6,000                               12,000
Washington D.C.      4,000                               10,000
Nashville                    3,000                                 9,000

Although experiencing the “perfect storm“ of 2009 Orange County Convention Center Deputy General Manager Cathie Canning is feeling better about the remaining 2010 outlook. San Diego and Orlando added 2100 new rooms adjacent to their convention centers as selected financial sector malfeasance surfaced along with their subsequent arrogant travel activity lowlighted by dried up credit markets combined with hospitality industry getting knee-capped by the incoming Obama administration.

“We feeling better about this year,” states Steve Clanton, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for San Antonio’s Convention Center. A Las Vegas claims the number one convention destination for sixteen years, San Antonio remains the number one choice its primary Texas region over Dallas, Houston, and Ft. Worth options. In San Antonio, tourism is the industry. San Antonio Convention Center is more involved than some of the counterparts in coordination with hotels in reserving room blocks.
In most cases, CVBs coordinate with the meeting planners and supporting hotels for room blocks, rates, and related support services.

Projected 2010                  Events

Las Vegas                               93
Orlando                                  220
San Diego                                63
San Antonio                           100
Washington D.C.                  200
Nashville                                210

All venues profess a retention of core accounts and selected multi-year agreement. Such agreements are inclusive of annual repeat business or repeat returns on an alternating year schedule. Nashville has experienced a same city rotation with Gaylord Entertainment. The working relationship between the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, the current Convention Center, and Gaylord is very positive and they work closely together in bringing convention and meeting business events to Nashville. The organizations have worked together in host alternating the same event in subsequent years.

But in a period limited financial allocation the consolidation of resources, improved communication, and market outreach becomes more critical. Orlando has consolidated the sales and marketing teams of their CVB and Convention Center into the same office space this year. Nashville remains committed to satellite sales offices critical association cities of Chicago, Atlanta, and Washington D.C.

Despite the era of Twitter, Facebook, Go-to-Meeting, Webex, Skype, and other web based marketing options cities are investing heavily on their future that face-to-face transactions for business trade, business networking, and product knowledge adds value for their guests and their cities. That return on their investment begins with primary of revenue from the room occupancy taxes and getting those beds close to the convention site.


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