1. Familiarization (FAM) Tours or Site Visits
To get a true feel for a meeting destination, nothing beats visiting the community in person. Texas destination marketing organizations can schedule private tours of hotels and meeting venues, as well as some of their cities’ favorite attractions or activities based on your group’s interests. Many DMOs also offer familiarization (FAM) trips for larger groups of event planners to introduce them to communities en masse. FAMs are typically multiday, all-expenses-paid programs, complete with VIP treatment.
2. Bid Proposals
In Texas, proposals can be distributed to multiple DMOs through the Texas Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus’ website. DMOs will then send the leads to the appropriate properties, venues, caterers and other suppliers who might be interested in bidding for your business. The DMO representative then collects all of the bids, combines them with information on the destination, and submits everything in one bound package to the planner. This not only saves you time on legwork researching appropriate accommodations or available vendors, it also gives the planner all of the information in one package.
3. Marketing Assistance
After a site has been selected, the local destination marketing organization becomes a free marketing resource for the event. Assistance in increasing attendance comes in a variety of forms: from providing brochures and visitor guides for your attendees to promoting the destination through an ambassador at pre-conference events or distributing promotional postcards. Today, DMOs are creating high-tech promotional tools to help planners sell their chosen meeting destinations. Some offer digital destination kits, complete with print-ready advertising shells, downloadable postcards and distinct e-mail blast campaigns, all focusing on their cities’ highlights.
4. Housing Bureaus
Arranging housing and managing the room block can be an unwieldy and timely task for event planners. Now, bureaus are stepping in to help with this chore by offering some type of housing management system. Housing bureau assistance typically includes reservation management services, acting as a liaison between event attendees and hotels, as well as providing weekly reports on reservation activity and final pick-up data.
5. Full Service
While most destination marketing organizations offer welcome packets for attendees that include information on their communities, some are going a step further, providing discount passes to local attractions or SWAG items for the attendees’ goodie bags. DMOs can also roll out the red carpet for your meeting delegates by arranging for local dignitaries to participate in your event. Mayors, county judges or local celebrities are often included in the opening session to welcome delegates to the community, thank them for visiting and invite them to special attractions or events.