Increasing your meetings and events business as a CVB is no easy task. It often requires shaking things up and doing something different from the norm. This is the approach the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau took, finding great success by turning their focus to their multicultural group business.
With the multicultural segment, it's much more than smart segmentation – it's a sea change.
Let's start with tough love.
To progress, it's important CVBs are intentional about attracting specific target markets. The hard part is that potential bookings look for a city that aligns with and supports their event. That's great when you have those connections already in place, but as Mike Laatsch, Cincinnati CVB's CEO, notes, one of their biggest lessons is that you'll often need to build them first.
Choosing Your Target
What helps make this idea more digestible is that you can choose specific markets to target and focus on their needs.
According to Laatsch, it's helpful to look at your historical strengths and compare those to new or different segments. This has allowed their CVB to determine where there's a good match.He continues, "We also look for opportunities to tailor how our hospitality offerings and our profile as a meetings and events destination can be better positioned with potential segments. Finally, we look at where we are as a region and where we want to be, and we focus efforts on groups, organizations, and market segments that can fuel that future state."
Exploring the Multicultural Segment
Cincinnati represents a wide array of cultures, and the CVB realized years back the importance of bringing them together.
As Jason Dunn, the CVB's Vice President of Multicultural Sales & Community Development notes, industry trends and changing national demographics make it clear the multicultural sector will continue to grow. Because of this, they went so far as to create a Multicultural Sales and Development Department.
Through the department, they've been able to do things like create Vibe Cincinnati, the CVB's multicultural platform, as well as host two Multicultural Travel and Tourism Forums. They're also working on the Cincinnati USA Institute for Hospitality Leadership, a program aiding the growth of a diverse and talented hospitality workforce.
This special attention to the sector has paid off. In fact, over the last decade, Cincinnati has hosted or booked 19 of the country's leading 25 multicultural groups.
To make this success happen, a deep understanding of the sector is vital. While the Cincinnati CVB places importance on face-to-face interaction, they've also found value in data collection.
Using Cincinnati-based Wyzerr technology, they've been able to blend experiential marketing with advanced technology. The electronic survey asks respondents 25 questions in under one minute, and turns the data into visual reports.
Continues Dunn, "Last year, we capitalized on our partnership with the Cincinnati Music Festival, one of the nation's largest urban music festivals, to interact with concert-goers to participate in our survey. The results were incredibly helpful, and we've taken their feedback into consideration as we look at ways to improve the visitor experience."
The Value Of Customer Service
While there are many factors that play a role in the Cincinnati CVB's success in the multicultural sector, they owe much of their success to the customer service team.
Explains Dunn, "We are intentional about this market – we want them to come here. As the DMMO, the CVB works to make sure there is equity in the community when we bring events to the region. We regularly meet with local leadership of organizations to earn their support and to ensure equity before we reach out to the organizations at a national level. By taking that local approach, we are creating a desire to bring groups to Cincinnati, beyond the CVB."
So what can CVB's learn from this? According to Laatsch, it's all about delivering an engaging experience to the attendee. "That's good in any market segment, but with the multicultural segment, it's much more than smart segmentation – it's a sea change. Being attractive to multicultural visitors is essential to long-term success as a destination."