In Search of Meetings, South Bend CVB Recruits Residents

The South Bend/Mishawaka Convention and Visitors Bureau in South Bend, Ind., has launched a new program with which to attract meetings and conventions business, reports the South Bend Tribune. Known as the Home Field Advantage program, it's designed to turn local South Bend residents into savvy destination marketers.

"If [residents] attend meetings outside of South Bend, we want them to start thinking how they might bring those meetings here," Carolyne Wallace, director of sales for the South Bend/Mishawaka Convention and Visitors Bureau, told the Tribune.

Wallace is currently spreading the word about the Home Field Advantage program to local businesses, leaders of which she's encouraging to actively market South Bend, which is widely known as the home of Notre Dame University. Residents who belong to professional organizations, trade associations and other groups can either notify her about their meetings and conventions—so that she can pursue opportunities with them directly—or actively collaborate with her as part of the meeting planning process.

In exchange for referrals, the CVB will do all the work of bringing suggested conventions and meetings to South Bend, at no charge. It will find and coordinate hotel accommodations for meeting attendees, for instance, locate meeting facilities on behalf of planners, schedule off-site events and tours for visitors, and provide welcome services and other support.

"For a community of our size, we have a lot of hotel rooms and we have excellent meeting facilities," Wallace told the Tribune, adding that South Bend currently sees $338 million a year in direct visitor spending. "We have a vibrant and lively downtown with lots to do and lots of night life and entertainment. We also have national attractions. People don't realize that Notre Dame is the second most visited site in [Indiana]."