by Eric Blanc, CMP | February 05, 2013
As the presidential season officially came to an end with the recent inauguration, the hospitality community of Tampa, which hosted the 2012 Republican National Convention, has had time to assess how well our city has leveraged the maximum benefit from the event. My organization, the Tampa Convention Center, has put together a list of the top seven ways any organization can get the most out of a citywide convention. Here they are.

1. Make sure the host destination has a long-term management plan.
The success of the RNC event required the combined efforts of countless individuals and organizations in the Tampa area sustained over a two-year period.

2. Invest in research.
For the RNC the city of Tampa conducted research and consulted numerous sources to determine best practices and address potential issues — everyone from previous host cities to the Secret Service.

3. Meet often to keep everyone on the same page.
To facilitate communication and a unified effort, the city coordinated monthly planning meetings with stakeholders.

4. Recruit local volunteers.
A small army of volunteers and staff were trained extensively to be ambassadors for the city of Tampa in an effort to make sure everyone attending the RNC — even protesters — were treated courteously.

5. Extend the life of the event.
In the case of the RNC, Tampa has been actively looking for ways to leverage the event for economic development, as well as future convention business for the community.

6. Have a media strategy.
Even if an event doesn’t have the profile of the RNC, a large group visiting a city is newsworthy and that can help the destination. A group that helps a destination get media coverage will be viewed as a good partner.

7. Form action committees.
One way an organization can extend the life of an event is to encourage post-event activity. The Tampa Bay Marketing Committee continues to meet quarterly to find ways to leverage the RNC event.

Eric Blanc, CMP, is director of sales and marketing at the Tampa Convention Center.