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A Publication of WTVP

With the recent influx of 80,000 IHSA March Madness participants and spectators-and the fact that one of our current top priorities at the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is to develop a cohesive marketing plan for the Peoria Civic Center expansion-you might be interested in understanding what it takes to bring convention and athletic business to the Peoria area.

First step: Our sales people research potential business and make calls. Typically, in sales, 20 percent-or one out of five-of the calls made actually produce business. Multiple sales techniques are used to increase business to the Peoria area. These include telemarketing to researched leads, personal calls and meetings, trade shows, and presentations.

Second step: Once a meeting or event planner is convinced he should consider the Peoria area, our convention services manager communicates with the hotels or venues needed to host the business. Hotels and attractions either respond directly to the planner or provide their bid to the CVB so we can present a community-wide package.

Third step: The sales person follows up with the client, sometimes through multiple calls and sometimes through a site visit. More than 85 percent of site visits result in contracted business for the Peoria area.

Fourth step: We coordinate their choice of hotels, rates, Civic Center needs, and other requirements. We also review our list of services available to clients. Some of these include providing a housing reservation service, registration personnel, name badges, program planning, news releases, itinerary building, parking arrangements, and transportation shuttles.

Fifth step: Approximately 12 months prior to their visit, we contact them to finalize their service needs. We may provide them with community information and a lure piece to entice greater attendance at their convention or athletic event.

Sixth step: When the group is here, we work with them at various levels to ensure a smooth and successful event.

Seventh step: We hold a pre-event and post-event meeting to review their satisfaction.

Eighth step: We create more business. This may be by re-booking the group or building a relationship with the current client, who can connect us with additional opportunities. Multiple marketing components play into the decision of a meeting or event planner. Advertisements in trade publications, targeted direct mail, collateral material, a user-friendly Web site, trade show attendance, lead services, and, of course, word-of-mouth all are used to build a positive sales approach.

How do we distinguish ourselves from our competitors? Through a multi-level marketing campaign, backed up with strong service, value, innovative programs, a great reputation, and quality product. We're already selling for 2008 and beyond. As the Civic Center expansion and the tremendous development opportunities unfold during these next few years, a substantial marketing campaign will be critical to rise above our competitors. IBI

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