Working With Conventions
Tourism businesses benefit from meetings and conventions no matter what. Meetings bring millions of dollars in economic impact to the community annually. Business sees benefits that come from meeting delegates dining, shopping, and adding extra days to enjoy themselves, or from family who follow them along to explore Alaska. In each case, they likely find your business the same ways other visitors do: by planning on Anchorage.net, finding advice in the VIC, connecting with your business through the visitor guide, and using many other Visit Anchorage programs and projects.
To forge even deeper connections with convention or meeting organizers, or to expand meetings-related business, consider the tips below:
- Use the Visit Anchorage convention calendar. This provides you with up-to-date information on who has booked Anchorage. Year, month, hotel/convention center, contact names with phone, email, and mailing address.
- Find the right time to contact them. Contacting the meeting planner in a timely fashion can make all the difference. For example, if the meeting is 2-10 years away, they are likely not interested or ready to hear about dining opportunities. But if you are a DMC or a hotel, you would want to contact them as soon as possible.
- Communicate electronically whenever possible. It’s easy and effective to communicate via email. Contracts can be worked on faster and clearer when done this way. Remember – saving time for the meeting planner will make them appreciate you even more.
- Acknowledge that they are coming. When a group first chooses Anchorage, start by saying "thank you." Send a postcard (a picture of your business or activity might be a good idea) saying how glad you are that they are coming and thank them for choosing Anchorage. Even if they are not ready to make detailed plans, they will remember you when they are ready.
- Contact the Visit Anchorage sales manager. Get an idea of who the group is, their profile, a good time to contact, attendance promoter etc.
- Ask about Attendance Promotion Events. Not all groups are large enough for Visit Anchorage to do an attendance promoter the year prior to them coming to Anchorage. The Visit Anchorage Convention Marketing Calendar is on the web site and it lists that attendance promoter we are going to a year in advance. If you are already traveling during that time and want to join Visit Anchorage, call and get more information. A list of member convention travel opportunities is available in the Member Account Center.
- Provide the same level of service to all meetings. Give every meeting the same level of service. Smaller meetings can easily turn to larger meetings or repeat business.
- Get your business in front of delegates.
- Place an ad in their program.
- Get a coupon in their registration bags.
- Offer a door prize during their meeting.
- Offer a "Special" just for their group.
- Offer the president/meeting planner/board a freebie, so that they can spread the word.
- Follow up. Follow up is critical to develop the relationship. Make a "tickler" file to remind yourself to contact them at the most appropriate time given your product and/or services.
- Don't call without a strong reason. With email and regular mail available, do not waste the meeting planner's time by calling just to introduce yourself. Be thoughtful of their time. Call only if you are asked to or if you feel the time is exactly right. Have a reason and a plan. Offering discounted packages specific to the group is an example, but again you can email or mail this. These meeting planners get hundreds of calls. Develop the relationship first.
- Don't promote yourself as something you are not. Know who you are and what you can offer. Be up front on exactly what you can and cannot offer.
- Don't be a cookie cutter. Personalize anything you give to a group. Be sensitive to each group's specific needs and personality. The needs of an association are different then the needs of a sporting event, school group, or a non-profit organization