Building demand for a meetings destination can take a village, and the Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau (PWCVB) is one example with their Recommend Rhode Island ambassador program. DMAI sits down with Tom Riel, Vice President of Sales & Services at the PWCVB, to discuss how the program got off the ground and share one example of how it's contributing to its group sales goals.
1. What was the primary reason the PWCVB began to focus on your ambassador program?
We realized our local ambassadors represented a large part of our annual sales program and production, contributing millions in direct spend and economic impact. We knew that by educating more Rhode Islanders about how the events they attend can benefit their home state, we could increase this production. After all, who better to sell Rhode Island than the residents of the State?
2. Who are your primary collaborators?
Our local and regional business leadership organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Rhode Island Foundation, Rhode Island State House and local city officials are all key contributors to our program and its success. They are the leaders in the position to help attract business to Rhode Island, with the CVB driving the process.
3. Can you provide an example or success story for the PWCVB in this area?
Earlier this year, the PWCVB engaged our new Governor, Gina Raimondo, in the Recommend RI program. Governor Raimondo then formally invited the National Governors Association to consider Rhode Island as the host for the 2017 Annual Convention. We then worked with State House staff to pull together a comprehensive bid and win the meeting for 2017.
4. What are your measurements for success or what metrics are you comparing against?
Simply put, we code each opportunity associated with a local ambassador and strive to grow that number year over year.
5. Are there any early lessons learned since you started?
Yes. People tend to think that we are only interested in larger convention center related business opportunities and are reluctant to reach out to us for support on what they perceive to be smaller business. We are educating the community with a “big or small, we love them all” approach. All business has a place, and we want to help secure that group for Rhode Island.
In addition, busy business people tend to shy away from volunteering for the program due to the fear that they will not have time to full engage in the process. It’s important to clearly define that relationship and expectation with the ambassadors with the correct message and division of efforts.
Chat with Tom in person as he presents on Recommend Rhode Island at the 2015 Convention Sales Summit in Chicago this December, and learn more about how DMOs from all over are leveraging the larger community to grow the meetings market.