100 Years of Advancing Destinations

How to Get Meeting Planners to Call You

Author: Joy Lin
Posted: December 17, 2012
Blog Topics Covered:
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The story of destination sales can often be painted in a very unflattering light. To use the words of David Meerman Scott, author and marketing strategist out of Boston, MA, we often "buy, beg, or bug [our] way in." Show of hands -- the only time we talk to a meeting planner, we're trying to get them to come to our destination.

We're all guilty of a lot of buying, begging, and bugging. Our daily bread depends on making sales calls, handing out tchotchkes, and talking ourselves blue in the face about how many hotel rooms we have and how the new city center has an Olive Garden. I'm not saying that this is wrong. To a certain extent, meeting planners will want to know these things, but what about the other times when they're not in a buying state of mind? Is there a way for us to talk to them continuously and conversationally without trying to sell sell sell?

There is. As an industry, we can earn our way into the meeting planner’s buying process. As experts of your own destinations, you are the best first point of contact to help planners find the best fit for any size meeting. There are three reasons for this:

  1. You have local expertise.
  2. You have the in-market relationships.
  3. You have a comprehensive view of your destination.

DMOs in general ought to be seen as the trusted, go-to source for information, but we aren’t. This is because the only time we talk to meeting planners, we only promote ourselves. As a channel, we must instead show the meetings community that we are a serious business partner, that we care about their meeting success, and that we help them do their jobs better.

This is the key to getting meeting planners to call you first when they do finally get to that buying state of mind.

Welcome to inbound marketing, where you actively earn the attention of meeting planners by making yourself easy to find and share information that meeting planners actually care about. And what meeting planners care about is very different than what we’ve traditionally talked to them about. Gathan D. Borden, Director, Brand Marketing & Advertising, for the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau, shares 5 common mistakes in his post.

Convert meeting planners into customers through trust and partnership.
Attract meeting planners with information they care about.sk yourself if you’re guilty. It’s OK to be. What’s important is how we change the way we talk to meeting planners on a regular basis, so that when the time comes for them to buy, you are at the top of their list to call. You can do this in three steps:

  1. Analyze results for improvement.
  2. Convert meeting planners into customers through trust and partnership.
  3. Analyze results for improvement.

So, how do you get started? DMAI’s empowerMINT is here to help. As an industry initiative to educate the meetings community on the value of DMOs, we publish all kinds of information on our subscribers’ behalf, directly showing planners just how you help them do their jobs better within your respective destinations. Check out what we did with Cleo Battle, Vice President of Sales and Service for the Richmond Metropolitan CVB, here.

For more information on how we can help you do the same, contact Terri Roberts at troberts@destinationmarketing.org.