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We have been challenged from time to time when we assert that the Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) is the planner’s best friend. It is still something of a surprise when we find a planner who does not rely on the local CVB for much of his/her reunion needs.

The Ultimate Resource – the CVB How to Begin

We will freely admit that all CVBs are not the same. We also freely admit that there are some, particularly those in larger cities, and a fair number with expensive convention centers that simply have little or no money for military reunions. Nevertheless, as a group, the CVBs in this country are the military reunion planners’ best friends.

CVBs were originally organized to bring more business to a specific area. They still do that, but it is the “How” they do it that makes the difference.

CVB Budgets

A critical factor is the CVB budget. Most of the money that comes into a CVB is part of the bed tax that is collected on every guest hotel room. Typically, a CVB only gets a portion of the tax. It is a rare CVB that gets it all. Out of that budget, funds are allocated to various markets, and for most CVBs, the corporate and convention- user markets get the bulk. Despite the fact that military reunions represent a very small portion of the overall hotel market, it is a fact that there are many CVBs who “over-allocate” funds to military reunions. They often do this for patriotic reasons. Even when not, it probably is because they perceive that military reunions are a solid segment of hotel business, and can contribute to the overall welfare of the community. The fact is that folks at the CVBs, throughout the country, really want to help you have the best reunion you ever had.

Page 32 How the CVB Helps

For starters, every planner should understand that the local CVB knows everything, everything, that is, about the local area. They know about hotels, restaurants, attractions, where to get stuff you need, how to get around, what the weather will be like, airports and airlines, and more. They can also get you name badges, maps, and discount coupons. Even better, they can distribute your RFP (Request for Proposal) throughout the community.

Most of this is free for the asking, but in some cases, due to those nasty budget restrictions, you might have to pay a small fee. If you do, it probably will be at a bargain rate!

In some communities, the CVB will arrange a special event just for your group, or get free speakers at your reunion banquet. If they do, prepare to provide an extra dinner! We have seen situations where the mayor or a Senator, a Congressman, or even a Medal of Honor recipient, make a keynote address.

The smart planner begins by getting his plan together, and extracting an RFP (Request for Proposal). This becomes the connection point, so that he can go to the CVB, give them a copy, which they in turn copy and distribute to hotels that can meet your requirements. What a fantastic service! That service alone is worth going to the CVB. It can save you a huge amount of time and expense. Typically the CVB will collect the responses and pass them back to you.


The replies you get may not all be as responsive as you wish, but that is not the fault of the CVB. Due to the way they are structured, the CVB may not be able to select specific hotels, but are forced to give it out to all in the area. Still in all, it is a great service.

Starting Point

No matter where you plan to hold your reunion, it makes sense to meet your best friends, those folks at the CVB of your intended destination.

Bear in mind that you need to be prepared. You should be RFP ready and have a clear idea of what you want. You need to know, before you go, what it is that you want from them. Otherwise it is an exercise in frustration, because they simply will not know how to help you.

After all, if you don’t know what you want, how will you know when you get it? CVB people are not mind readers; they just are helpful, nice folks. Give them the opportunity to show you how they can help. They are all our friends, and they want to be your friends, too. R E U N I O N F R I E N D L Y N E W S • Winter, 2011-2012

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