One easy way to increase meeting and events business: become more attractive for bookings. At a time when the world feels more unstable than ever, a simple and important way to do this is to become trained in emergency response.
Get Ahead Of The Game
According to Travel Safety Risk Consultant and Speaker, Kevin Coffey, most CVBs he has spoken with don't yet have this training.
Sure, some may have a natural disaster plan in conjunction with their local government, but it's rare he sees a team that has gone that extra step to become fully trained on their own.
"Many CVBs do not have a dedicated person who can help a meeting or event planner with discussions directly related to safety, security, risk, or emergency preparedness," explains Coffey. "Many do not have anyone who can help travelers visiting their region who end up in a situation where government assistance may be needed."
Consider the international visitor who has lost a passport, had their wallet pick-pocketed, or were in an accident and needed help coordinating assistance overseas. While we don't like to think about these things happening, the reality is they sometimes do. By being trained and having a system in place, the CVB can offer peace of mind to the client as a free intangible incentive.
Getting Set Up
Coffey advises CVBs begin by creating a “Risk, Safety, and Security Committee" to establish and maintain a tourism-related crisis management network. It is also crucial that the committee is multi-disciplinary.
"This is very important," says Coffey. "While the CVB would need to appoint a chair to the position, other members would include various CVB stakeholders from the tourism community. It could also include law enforcement, fire, city, and county emergency management, as well as a cast of other important stakeholders, but would be driven by each CVB."
One example Coffey provides is if the destination had a commercial airport. In this case, the airport law enforcement team would also be members.
From there, a few things need to happen:
- A SWOT analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
- The creation of emergency Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to discuss common issues that could affect destination visitors and CVB members.
- A series of member trainings would need to be scheduled. These should focus on "...the resources and points of contact that each member could call in relation to questions or concerns regarding emergency and crisis preparedness," notes Coffey.
- The creation of a "contact tree," so information could be passed along swiftly and all tourism crisis and emergency networks could be informed.
- The scheduling of conduct crisis management exercises so that members can actually act out what to do if an emergency occurs. This way, everyone knows exactly what to do.
Including Potential Clients
Of course, if your CVB does their training, you'll want to make this clear to the potential client. To do this, someone at your CVB would be assigned the role of bringing this up during sales presentations.
The way you introduce your training will depend on the nature of your CVB and who you're speaking with. Coffey notes that when consulting, he'll often show a video showcasing a CVB who partners with law enforcement and meeting professionals to respond to emergency preparedness questions in discussions with potential clients.
A Real-Life Example
To see what an emergency preparedness plan looks like, the New Orleans CVB discuss their "comprehensive and effective citywide emergency communications plan for the Greater New Orleans tourism industry," but they have a point of contact, including an email and phone number, so meeting and events planners can always get answers.
Consider making emergency preparedness an integral part of your CVB's strategy for increasing meeting and events business in the new year.