Former IACVB Zeroes in On Its True Purpose

(Originally published Sept. 26, 2005)

Washington — Most people in the meetings industry know what CVBs are and the value they provide. However, the International Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus found during the course of a Brand Leadership Campaign begun in 2003 that the average citizen is entirely unfamiliar with CVBs.

As a result, an advisory council has recommended that IACVB rename itself Destination Marketing Association International, with the tagline, "Representing CVBs and Tourism Boards Worldwide."

In a vote, 80 percent of IACVB members backed the change. A new logo and other materials were unveiled at IACVB's convention, held last month in San Diego.

"It's very important that CVBs remain in business, but they must stay relevant as well," said Reint Reinders, chairman of the Brand Leadership Campaign Strategic Advisory Group and president and CEO of San Diego's CVB.

"Right now we're trying to say Destination Marketing Association International," said Kristen Clemens, IACVB's director of marketing and communications. "We know eventually it will be DMAI because this is the world of associations and everything is abbreviated, but we're trying not to use DMAI right now," to give people time to understand it.

Reinders encouraged individual CVBs to consider changing their own names, though he acknowledged that ultimately they need to determine what works best for them.

"If CVB works for you, keep it," Reinders said. "Some bureaus call themselves things like Visit Milwaukee, and it becomes their thing."

San Diego itself is not currently planning a name change, although it is a possibility for the future, according to Christine Shimasaki, the bureau's executive vice president of sales and marketing.

Mary Denis, Visit Milwaukee's vice president of marketing, estimates that 50 bureaus around the country no longer call themselves CVBs.

Milwaukee made the change in January, and Denis acknowledged "there has been a little bit of confusion," but she said Visit Milwaukee has proved to be a fitting label and she expects IACVB will find similar success with its new name.

Said IACVB board member Jack Wert, director of the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades CVB, "If individual bureaus feel it would be in their best interest to consider a name change, we encourage them to go through a similar brand assessment study as IACVB did to be sure that course of action is supported by their local tourism industry."

At the heart of it all is a desire to reach out to customers.

"I think what we all strive for is to be understood at the consumer level," Denis said. "It's very important for your customers to have a clear image in their minds of what you do."

Still, warned John Hendrie, CEO of Merrimac, Mass.-based Hospitality Performance, "You can call and market yourself however you want, but unless you have substance, you're shooting yourself in the foot."