Working with a convention and visitor bureau (CVB): Interview with Gail Brathwaite

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A convention and visitor bureau (CVB) can be quite an asset when planning a meeting or event. With the meeting industry going through a massive shift thanks to COVID-19, CVBs are becoming even more of an essential ressource. I interviewed Canadian meeting and event planners to find out how they are coping during the pandemic and how CVBs can further support the recovery. Here is our third interview. Read the first one, with Stacy Thorpe, and the second one with Micki Lubek.

Gail Brathwaite

Gail Brathwaite is Marketing Events Coordinator for Endress+Hauser Canada.

Have you worked with CVB’s before?

Yes, in Mexico and Québec City.

What do you find is the most important aspect to the relationship with the representative at the CVB?

Honesty is key. I am always very honest and clear with what I want up front. In turn, I expect the same from the CVB.

Would you be able to do your job the same without a CVB?

Depends on what destination we are going to.  If I haven’t’ been to the destination before, the CVB becomes much more important.

Are relationships key to your process pre-during-post when you are planning events, conferences or incentive travel programs?

Absolutely! Doing business when you don’t click with a person may be a challenge. It’s the people that you buy into—not just the destination.

What have you found to be the most important aspect of relationships during the pandemic that has really stood out to you?

The support is still there. Regardless of what is going on, whether we are currently planning something with them or not, many people I have worked with in the past have checked in—and I with them.  They care more than you think!

What resources are the most important to you that you feel the CVB can provide?

Building your relationships with the CVB is paramount to reach out to other contacts located at the destination. For example, getting introduced to local vendors is key. I want honesty and straight forward exchanges!

What has been the most challenging for you during this pandemic from the planning perspective?

Nothing is conducted face to face. Everything is digital! It has been a learning curve; however, that is not a bad thing. It is sometimes overwhelming, but manageable.

What are your expectations for CVBs services post-Covid?  Will planners need other types of services from what is already offered?

Yes, I would look into the virtual realm when I am bringing an event to a destination, including a hybrid component. CVBs should be able to put planners in touch with the right resources to plan and hold hybrid events.  

CVBs will also be an essential resource for sanitary measures to keep people safe. They will be able to provide planners with crucial information, such as when the hotel room was last sanitized and if a venue’s hygiene standards have increased.

Susan Prophet

Based in Toronto, Susan Prophet is Director, Business Development, for Québec City Business Destination. Her extensive experience and knowledge is a great addition to the team.

- MPI Global Board of Trustee member 2012
- MPI Canadian Foundation Council Chair 2011
- M & IT, Hall of Fame Inductee, Industry Volunteer 2011
- Past Site Canada President 2009
- Past MPI Toronto Chapter President 2005

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