By Kelli Blubaum, Vice President Of Convention Sales & Services, Experience Scottsdale
With its tidy streets, high-end boutiques and quaint Western charm, Scottsdale is largely viewed as a safe community by residents and visitors alike. And, quite fortunately, by meeting planners as well.
Companies and corporations hire meeting planners to select the site of their next big conference or event. When choosing one city over another, the most important consideration for meeting planners is the safety and security of their event attendees.
According to DestinationMAP, a biennial, comprehensive survey of nearly 900 North American meeting planners, Scottsdale is considered a safe environment, especially compared to competitive destinations like Nashville, San Diego and Phoenix.
Research like DestinationMAP helps Experience Scottsdale craft our messaging as we promote the destination to meeting planners across the country during sales missions and trade shows. Safety, security and cleanliness are major selling points as we meet with potential clients.
We can’t, however, assume that those considerations alone will seal the deal and persuade meeting planners to book at Scottsdale hotels and resorts. Group business is essential to Scottsdale’s tourism industry, accounting for nearly 50 percent of Scottsdale-area resort and full-service hotel occupancy and revenue.
But the meetings sphere is more competitive than ever, especially as budgets for meetings are getting tighter. DestinationMAP reveals that of the top 40 North American meetings destinations, Scottsdale ranks No. 21 in future usage, behind competitive destinations like Las Vegas, Orlando and Austin. Although Scottsdale is largely considered an excellent business meetings site, cost is our biggest hurdle. Only 28 percent of survey respondents considered Scottsdale to be a “good value for the money.”
So how do we overcome these hurdles and guarantee Scottsdale remains top of mind with these important decision makers? It’s a question we’re tackling this month. For the first time, Experience Scottsdale is forming a customer advisory board, a tactic often used by major hotel brands and competing destination marketing organizations.
The board is 16 high-caliber planners and prospective clients, who represent a variety of organizations and a range of budgets and group size. Some have booked their meetings in Scottsdale before, and others have chosen our competitors.
These planners will spend two days in moderated focus groups to discuss the current and future landscape of the meetings industry. They’ll discuss what Experience Scottsdale and Scottsdale get right, as well as what the destination could improve upon. They’ll also discuss current trends of which we should be aware.
After the initial gathering, the board will convene at least once per year to continue these discussions. The board’s insights will be invaluable in developing a clear strategy that ensures Experience Scottsdale remains relevant in the meetings space now and into the future.
Kelli Blubaum is the vice president of convention sales and services for Experience Scottsdale, which is responsible for promoting the Scottsdale area as a premier travel and meetings destination to national and international leisure visitors, travel agents, tour operators, meeting planners and media.
Guests mingle at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn Scottsdale during a meeting.