What is a Convention and Visitors Bureau?
Destination marketing organizations have many names – convention and visitors’ bureaus, travel bureaus, visitors’ bureaus, welcome centers, tourism bureaus, travel and tourism bureaus, information centers, and more. Regardless of the name, these institutions offer many great services to area residents, conference and meeting planners, group tour planners, journalists and writers, sport tournament planners, and the traveling public.
A convention and visitors bureau is a “destination marketing” organization. In Iowa, and nationally, most convention and visitors bureaus are not-for-profit organizations that work independently under the auspices of a board of directors. The fundamental mission of a convention and visitors bureau is the promotion of business, conference, convention, leisure, and sports travel, which generates overnight lodging for a destination. They are directly responsible for travel and tourism “product awareness”. Millions of direct and indirect revenues, and taxes are generated into the state and local economy due to the marketing efforts of convention and visitor bureaus.
How is a Convention and Visitors Bureau Funded?
The primary funding source is usually derived from hotel/motel tax that a hotel guest pays on lodging in the community of the convention and visitors bureau. In some communities, the convention and visitors bureau also offer a membership program to enhance its revenue. The Sioux City Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau (d.b.a. Explore Sioux City) is funded by the support of the surrounding communities and a separate surcharge with local lodging partners. Because bureau funding is directly linked to how many hotel rooms there are in a community, budget sizes vary greatly. The underlying mission, however, remains the same – destination marketing.
How Does a Convention and Visitors Bureau Work?
A convention and visitors bureau’s marketing initiatives typically are achieved through some or all the following: advertising, attending trade association marketplaces, distribution of promotional and collateral material, direct sales, hosting familiarization tours, sponsorship of events and other hospitality functions. The target decision maker of the marketing initiative is not typically a resident in the community. Most often, if the visitor is going to spend the night in a hotel, they are from at least 50 miles away. Therefore, the marketing activity usually takes place or is directed outside the convention and visitors bureau’s community, however some marketing activity is directed to the local community.
What does the Sioux City Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau/Explore Sioux City do?
We promote Siouxland – we attend trade association marketplaces, we advertise, we distribute promotion and collateral material, we host familiarization tours, we share the stories of Siouxland on our social media channels, we sponsor events that bring visitors to the community.
We work with Event/Group/Sports Planners – our team actively sells the Siouxland region to event planners and provides a “one-stop-shop” experience. We do this by connecting the planner with the appropriate hospitality partners. We don’t stop there; we work with those planners to ensure that their attendees have a great time in Siouxland by recommending local attractions, entertainment venues, and restaurants that fit their group’s needs.
We work for our Partners – we are an extension of their sales and marketing efforts. We market Siouxland as a complete destination and connect them with planners they might not have the time or budget to connect with at their organization.
We support our residents – start by checking out our website; www.exploresiouxcity.org. There you will find a wealth of information, from what events are coming up, to where to explore, eat, and stay. You can find things to do for arts & cultural experiences, fall and winter activities, sports and recreation events, area attractions, event facilities, and so much more. You didn’t even know what you were missing out on in Siouxland.
We ARE Sioiuxland!
Kristi Franz, Executive Director of Explore Sioux City
Kristi has lived all over the country, but jumped at the opportunity to come back home to Sioux City. Excited to combine her experience in the tourism industry with her love of Siouxland, she encourages everyone to get out and Explore Sioux City, residents and visitors alike!