When you’re selling your destination to meeting planners, one of the most important things to understand is the planner’s needs. It’s easier to make a planner listen if you have enough data on their past events to show you’ve done your homework and know how their event and attendee needs align with what you have to offer. Doug Bienenfeld, the Convention Sales Manager at the Ann Arbor Area CVB, not only forges strong planner relationships, but also uses data to discover new opportunities for his city that are outside his range of vision. He shows that a little research — and an open mind — have big returns.
“I strongly endorse Knowland as one of the most effective sales tools I have. I uncover new business on a regular basis.”
–Doug Bienenfeld, Convention Sales Manager
Home to one of the largest stadiums in the world, unique meeting spaces, and an easily-accessed airport, Ann Arbor, Michigan and the surrounding areas are an ideal location for meetings and events — not to mention a haven for culture junkies, foodies, and adventurers. Because it’s a smaller destination, however, it still requires the hard work of the Ann Arbor Area CVB to sell the location to meeting planners and put it on their map.
Doug Bienenfeld, the Convention Sales Manager at the Ann Arbor Area CVB and 20-year industry vet, approaches group sales with the mantra: information is power. “Knowland shows you things you never knew existed. You can’t know the breadth of group activity without Knowland making you aware of events being produced on a national level,” says Doug. “You have to look outside local activity, so with Insight I can look at hotels in similar cities or feeder cities. I set up competitive sets for these communities and identify pieces of business we’d want in Ann Arbor, identify the contact, and take it from there. Even if I think they might not meet in our market, you never know until you try.”
Through this method, Doug finds group business such as unique and unusual associations that wouldn’t be in his team’s internal system. “How on earth would a one person, prospecting alone, be able to uncover such information on a regular basis? Thankfully, we have Knowland for that and it’s the best prospecting tool I’ve got!”
“I book new business all the time with Knowland’s Insight — even a couple just this past month. It really puts a head in a bed and a dollar in a pocket,” says Doug. “Insight was basically designed for CVBs. If you book one group at $15,000 that will spend $40,000 in your community, that’ll cover the cost of the tool for the year. If you don’t work in Insight, though, you won’t get anything out of it. But, like anything, if you use it enough the value become quite obvious. It’s worth every dollar if you’re going to use it.”
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