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What Are Convention and Visitor Bureaus?

If you are a little confused about what convention and visitor bureaus are, don’t worry! You aren’t alone and we are here to help. Convention and visitor bureaus, CVBs, are known by a lot of names; welcome centers, tourist bureaus, information centers, etc. At the end of the day, all these organizations do the same work, they market tourism in a particular area. That area might be as small as a town or neighborhood or as large as an entire nation. Their goal is to drive economic growth through tourism dollars.

These offices are nonprofit organizations that exist to help tourism as a whole in their given area. This means that they do not bring in any funds for their own profit, but survive on sources of public funding. The most common funding source for convention and visitor bureaus is the area’s hotel/motel tax. When you stay in a hotel or motel, a small percentage of the tax you pay goes towards supporting the local visitor’s bureau. Some convention and visitor bureaus also provide membership options to increase their revenues. Others pursue local grant funding. Territory size, hotel density, and funding opportunities can vary, so can the size and scope of the marketing activities that convention and visitor bureaus take on.

What Is Tourism Marketing?

Tourism marketing can encompass lots of different activities. All things aimed at bringing increased numbers of both pleasure and business tourists to an area. The majority of convention and visitor bureaus act as tourism customer service centers for a specific region. They promote tourism to that area, often targeting non-local audiences. They run email campaigns, tv, radio, or newspaper ads, attend conventions and networking events, and much more. Often these offices partner with business communities to better understand their needs. In order to both support local enterprises and attract more business tourism to their region.

As destination management organizations, it is the responsibility of visitor bureaus to be aware of the tourism services that are available in their area. That way they can spread information about hotels, restaurants, activities, and tours that out-of-town visitors might enjoy. They are a single-stop customer service resource for tourism. They provide out-of-town visitors with unbiased and useful information about that area. Convention and visitor bureaus keep lists of resources in an area on their website and create maps to pass out at welcome centers. Additionally, these offices may be involved in the development, education, and advocacy.

How Can Convention and Visitor Bureaus Help Your Business?

For starters, get to know your local convention and visitor bureaus. Do some research and find out what bureaus exist to serve your area. Most likely there will be more than one; for your city, town, state, or province, and even at the federal level. You might find that in your area the chamber of commerce and convention and visitor bureau act as a single entity.

Once you know what bureaus are functioning in your area, get to know them! You want to make sure that you and your business are part of the basic marketing materials that they create. Do they have a list of tourist attractions on their website? Make sure you are on it. Do they have a map of must-visit destinations in your area? This is an invaluable resource for free marketing for your business. These offices are nonprofit organizations, meaning they exist to help you, at no additional charge! Make sure that you don’t miss out on this opportunity for free marketing. Getting your website listed on your local visitor bureau’s website is also a great opportunity to take a look at your online presence. This might be the moment for a website upgrade. If you are interested in exploring a new website altogether, get in touch with us.(opens in a new tab) It is what we do best!

Beyond their basic marketing offerings, get to know your convention and visitor bureau in real life. For real, go into the office and introduce yourself. Bring information about your business with you. Like associations(opens in a new tab), these organizations are well connected in the local community, so it is helpful to be well connected with them. Once you have gotten to know them, keep the connection alive! If they host events or networking opportunities, try to attend. Forming a real relationship with people who work for your convention and visitor bureau will help them think of you and your business when needs arise. They will also think of you when they are out networking, something that they have more time for than you do.

What’s more, these people influence economic development in your area. You want them to have a good understanding of your business and how it could grow or be a part of regional growth. This is more likely if they have a good understanding of who you are and why you do what you do. Before going into their office, sit down with your team and have a brainstorm about the nature of tourism in your area and how you and your business can be part of tourism’s growth. That way you will be more prepared to offer ideas.


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