VSPC Meetings & Conventions Grows Business With Personal Touch

‘Relationship Business’ Approach Gets Results, Draws Top Industry Shows To Area

Thursday, March 5, 2009

St Pete-Clearwater FL 
Visit St. Pete-Clearwater Meetings and Conventions Department is thinking outside the box in their approach to an increasingly challenging climate for business travel. 

With corporations scaling back on travel and convention business this year, maintaining current meetings-business contacts and developing new clients is more important than ever. And the Meetings and Conventions Department is working hard to meet the challenge. 

Instead of simply placing full-page ads in one of the many meetings-industry trade publications, staff members are taking a roll-up-your-sleeves, one-on-one approach to carefully-targeted groups of decision makers. 

—I’ve been in the offices of many meeting planners, and I’ve seen the stacks of unread trade publications sitting unopened in a corner,” said Suzanne Scully, VSPC Meetings Director. 

—Planners are busy people who might not have time to read all the trades, so we have been focused on reaching out to them on a personal level as well,” she added. 

One-on-one outreaches include developing carefully-vetted contact lists of top meetings- business producers through trade show promotions, hosting familiarization tours and special events for key industry decision makers, and establishing one-on-one relationships with new meeting planners who have a strong potential for bringing business to the area. 

Not only is this approach more effective, but it’s cheaper as well. 

For example, full page ads in major trade publications such as Meetings & Conventions Magazine can cost upwards of $30,000 each, several times over the cost of a top client event. And when clients are met face-to-face, relationships are built, which is something that a static advertisement in a trade publication is unlikely to do. 

This type of outreach has had positive results on the Meetings and Conventions business in St Pete-Clearwater, with last year’s total number of room nights for Meetings and Conventions up by more than fifty percent. 

Also, due to these efforts, three of the industry’s top trade shows---Successful Meetings, Florida Encounter and Florida Huddle---will take place in Pinellas County in the coming year. 

Successful Meetings will take place in August at Clearwater Beach’s Sandpearl Resort, followed by Florida Encounter in November at Innisbrook Resort. Florida Huddle, which will be held at Clearwater’s Harborview Center and be hosted by the Sheraton Sand Key and the Marriott Suites Sand Key, is scheduled to come to the area in January 2010. 

—We are in a relationship business,” said DT Minich, Executive Director of Visit St. Pete-Clearwater, —and this approach reflects that. Everywhere we go we represent our destination to the world, and it’s these relationships we build with the industry that make us stand out from our competitors.” 

Visit St. Petersburg-Clearwater is the official destination marketing organization for Pinellas County, Florida. 
For more information: www.VisitStPeteClearwater.com 
Contact: Assistant Director David Downing: David@VisitSPC.com 
Phone: 727.464.7213 
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