Orlando Hires a Meeting Planner's Partner

Tech convention is among the first to work with the CVB’s new marketing executive to build attendance and excitement

When wireless industry association CTIA decided to bring one of its two biggest annual shows, CTIA Wireless, to Orlando this year, its planners did not just work with the sales force of the central Florida city’s convention and visitors bureau (CVB). 

Instead they teamed up with Tina Jones, Visit Orlando’s new meeting and conventions marketing executive, who describes her job as being a partner to the CVB’s clients. 

“My main focus is helping groups to fill their attendance when they bring their show to Orlando,” Jones says. “That can happen in any fashion, from as simple as helping planners with content or collateral to full-fledged marketing campaigns where we’re working hand-in-hand a year prior to the show.”

While Jones has been working with many planners over the last year, the CTIA Wireless show was the first group that she worked with from the beginning of the planning stage a year in advance through the actual event, which took place on March 21-24 at the Orange County Convention Center. 

While CTIA covers a booming industry, one area the association wanted to focus on was the growing use of wireless technology in the healthcare field, and its future, Jones says. She and her team reached out to Orlando’s Lake Nona “Medical City”—a fairly new science and technology park housing several hospitals and research institutes, and a medical school, which the CVB has a partnership with—to help create a panel for the show’s wireless health program. It was moderated by the park’s vice president of health & life sciences and included senior technology systems officers from two of its facilities, Nemours Children’s Hospital and the VA Medical Center Orlando. A reception and tour of the University of Central Florida College of Medicine attracted 40 to 50 attendees, which pleased the association, Jones says. 

Visit Orlando also reached out to local colleges to bring interested students to the show, an effort that traditionally yields only 15 to 20 users of the complimentary passes, she adds. “We pre-registered 75,” Jones says. “We tripled their numbers through local outreach.”

The Medical City and other area hospitals yield another benefit. They are a source of local attendees, Jones says, noting that Orlando gets a lot of medical association meetings. “We are able to work with our local partners to grow attendance,” Jones says.  

That strategy is growing in popularity, says Amy Ledoux, senior vice president of meetings and expositions for ASAE (the American Society of Association Executives). “CVBs are now marketing by helping organizations connect the dots with their membership, by identifying those key markets or key community supporters,” she says. The reverse is true as well, she adds. CVBs are increasingly pitching their destination to associations that match local industries and organizations they could draw attendees from. “They are saying, ‘let’s sell to medical organizations, because we have 10 key medical facilities, or three key teaching medical hospitals here in our city,” Ledoux says. 

CVBs are also “helping organizations connect with local media, which is critical,” she notes. “They’re the ones that know the people to connect with, to get the word out.