The American West. It conjures up the frontier — a sense of wide-open possibilities that is a part of this country’s collective consciousness. It’s in that spirit of openness that we asked seven Western DMO leaders to explore one of the meeting industry’s most vexing challenges: How to determine the value of an event.
➊ Currently, how does your CVB calculate what a specific meeting or convention is worth? Economically and perception-wise?
➋ Are room blocks still an important factor in the way you price/offer your meeting space? What other metric would you use and why?
➊ OUR BUREAU CURRENTLY USES A FORMULA that has been developed from past research but we will be changing over to the Economic Event Calculator developed by Oxford Eco- nomics. This will give us the best overview of the true impact these particular meet- ings have on our community. I believe this
new product is long overdue and will have a lasting impact on what meetings and groups bring to any destination. We sell intangible experiences and that is hard for community leaders and residents to understand, but once they see how it brings revenue to its coffers and lowers residential tax rates, it will be a game changer. We like to call our meetings guests and visitors “temporary tax payers.”
➋ ROOM BLOCKS ARE IMPORTANT, BUT WE DON’T HAVE A CON- vention center to support. Our meetings and groups are held in our hotel properties and offsite venues. The time of year — high or
low season — has a bigger effect on the pricing structure of our meeting space. We also have several events and festivals through- out the year, so our weekends are at a premium. We value our meet- ings more during midweek and winter months and incentivize those groups that come during those slow periods. — Mark Crabb, Vice President of Sales, Sonoma County Tourism Bureau
➊ BOTH. WE ALWAYS PROVIDE THE ECO- nomic value (direct spend) of a meeting or convention but we use hyper-conservative calculations due to the challenges of obtain- ing up-to-date economic impact data. We also always provide the other “values” of a partic- ular meeting or group — economic-devel-
opment potential, media-exposure opportunities, local business exposure, and/or buy/sell opportunities, etc. As an example, when Albuquerque hosted the Boyd Aviation conference (Aviation Indus- try Forecasting Conference), although the direct spend was relatively small, the importance and value of having the CEOs and leadership teams of the nation’s leading airlines and support businesses meet in Albuquerque was priceless. We are looking forward to embracing DMAI’s Event Impact Calculator that has just been introduced, which will provide a much more accurate economic impact model for us to reflect the value of meetings and conventions.
➋ WHAT OTHER METRIC WOULD YOU USE AND WHY? ROOM BLOCKS are still crucial to our inducements and pricing. However, due to degradation of room blocks for all the known reasons, if a meeting planner can accurately show us the true room consumption of their event, versus the room block, we take that into consideration. For
pcma convene March 2012