By Annette Aubinger
ASHWAUBENON – Planning meetings and hosting conventions is a big job. It is a team effort.
The Greater Green Bay Visitors and Convention Bureau has a staff with over 185 years of hospitality in the industry.
They know how to help. They know how to get the job done.
In 2017 they were voted the “Most Helpful CVB in Wisconsin” by the Wisconsin Meetings magazine where they have an annual reader survey on the best of Wisconsin meetings.
“This is important” said Brad Toll, Green Bay CVB president and CEO. “We were voted by people that plan meetings in
Wisconsin. The larger areas like Madison and Milwaukee almost always get the awards. Being voted the ‘Most Helpful CVB in Wisconsin’ is a big honor.”
Brenda Krainik, director of marketing, Greater Green Bay CVB told the award organizers that it takes a team to produce every great meeting.
When there are meeting planners and they need extra support, they reach out to the host city for help. Toll said he is proud of their team and they step in to make every event successful.
Sharing what the CVB has done this past year, Toll said the calendar was full and he highlighted some of the events by categories.
The first was visitor services where Circle Wisconsin Midwest Marketplace tour operators came to Green Bay to hold their annual meeting. The tour operators plan motor coach tours which is important to the tourism industry.
AIANTA also held a convention. They are the American Indian Alaskan Native Tourism Association.
Convention goers came from all over the country.
Another interesting visitor service Toll pointed out is the mobile visitor center. It is a mobile truck that the CVB owns that travels and visits different locations that have events happening in the area.
It is one of the few trucks like this in the state. It carries displays and brochures inside the truck to share at different events.
Some places the truck visited were Thomas the Tank at the National Railroad Museum, Kewaunee Farm Technology Days, the LPG Classic, and the Green Bay Packers training camp.
The truck was out about 40-50 days. In that time the CVB talked to over 15,000 people and gave them travel advice.
Another big visitor center attraction is the Green Bay Packers training camp.
This past year there was a 25 percent increase in the number of people who attended.
Because of the mobile truck the CVB staff talked to people from all the 50 states and 36 countries just during the practices.
Marketing groups was the second category that played an important role to the tourism industry in Green Bay.
The CVB hosted 77 journalists from around the country from LA to New York.
The CVB put together a fan tour so they could see the many things that are happening the Green Bay area.
In return the journalists wrote stories about the Green Bay area in their newspapers.
CBS did a syndicated story on the area. Toll said it would be $1.8 million to put advertising in all the papers. The articles were free.
The CVB put together two web pages for marketing; MeetInGreenBay.com sells meetings and Sports InGreenBay.com sells sports.
The Greater Green Bay Official Visitor Guide is another marketing tool used to promote the area. This year it is being redesigned and will be larger than ever. 225,000 copies are printed.
They are distributed all around the area.
Green Bay Restaurant week was also promoted by the CVB. It is the first full week after the fourth of July.
The CVB was told it was one of the worst week to do a promotion. Toll said it was the best.
Toll said 60 to 65 restaurants participated. 4,882 hotel room nights were generated. They had 1 million website pageviews. $2.47 million was the total economic impact. 54,240 meals were served just from the specials offered.
Next year Restaurant Week will be July 12 through July 19.
The final category Toll talked about was sales.
Convention groups or tournaments came to the area and brought money to the communities.
One group was the International Conference on Roundabouts.
The conference had about 700 attendees and they came from all over the world.
Part of the reason they came was because per capita the Green Bay area has more roundabouts than any other communities.
The WI USBC state bowling championship was held in Green Bay.
The economic impact was $2.5 million. Over 10,040 bowlers came to the Green Bay area.
Another convention that was held in Green Bay, but less advertised was the International Bomb Technicians and Investigators. They had their regional conference in Green Bay in 2012 and “loved the experience.”
They wanted to hold their international convention in Green Bay.
About 450 people attended the week-long convention. $800,000 was spent. But, more importantly, Toll said their work is dangerous. “These people are our true heroes,” he said.
As with any business, you must look to the future.
There is a Strategic Plan Destination for 2017 to 2019. They are taking information from that plan and developing a 2018 Destination, Marketing, Sales and Service Plan
Toll said that once a convention, tournament, concert or any other special event comes to the area they have the three E’s as a goal – extend the stay, expand the spending and encourage a repeat.
Looking towards the future, the CVB is looking at a new home being built.
Fundraising will be the key to seeing the new facility. Combine that with the many events planned for next year, 2018 with be very busy for the organization.