What’s in It for Planners? “The planners on our customer advisory board think this [alliance between the Portland, Milwaukee, and Pittsburgh CVBs] is the best thing since sliced bread,” said Travel Portland’s Michael Smith. “They’re used to competitiveness between cities, and sometimes it gets pretty bloodthirsty. It’s uncomfortable for planners who have to say yes to one city and no to another city, so they appreciate that we’re playing nicely together. I think planners are happy to see that the industry can get along.”
Besides the obvious perk of cash incentives, which vary “depending on the groups’ needs,” Smith said, other benefits for planners working with the alliance range from a better-prepared destination to more seamless pre- meeting destination promotion. That was what Darryl Walter, chief of staff for The Wildlife Society (TWS), said he experienced this past October, when Milwaukee gave TWS 2012 Annual Conference attendees in Portland a taste of what to expect when the city hosts its 2013 meeting on Oct. 5–9. “The cities were familiar with each other, so there was a comfort level there,” Walter said. For TWS, the alliance matched the society’s meeting needs in terms of not only size and facilities but its West Coast, Midwest, and East Coast meeting rotation pattern — Pittsburgh will host the 2014 TWS Annual Conference on Oct. 25–30.
The 2012 conference was the third-best- attended meeting in TWS history, and “Portland had a lot to do with [that],” Walter said. “It’s important where we meet, because there are certain cities that just draw better. I am confident that all three of these cities will draw well.”
Where the Wild Things Are Going During The Wildlife Society’s 2012 Annual Conference in Portland, VISIT Milwaukee let attendees know what’s in store for them at this year’s October conference in Brew City.
Other perks of the alliance can include a smoother transition between cities, according to VISIT Milwaukee’s Brent Foerster. “The fact that our staffs talk to each other on a regular basis, and are very open with each other, we can better prepare and know what the challenges might be and what to get ready for,” he said. “This allows us to have a better preparedness, whether it’s at our convention center, within the hotel community, or marketing that needs to be done.”