Today, many destinations across the country have the ability to confirm lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) groups and meetings. The most successful destinations are able to leverage their assets and relationships to win and win big. We sat down with James Delmar, National Accounts Manager of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau to get his thoughts. Over the last 36 months, James has been able to confirm approximately $20M in economic impact for future years into the Philadelphia marketplace.
JD: While many destinations these days deem themselves as LGBTQ friendly, truly successful destinations go the extra step by working to accommodate a wide range of groups and their respective budgets. They do so by ensuring that their hospitality partners, including convention centers, hotels, restaurants, and attractions, understand the positive economic impact that an LGBTQ gathering - or any other large gathering for that matter - can have to their bottom line. The job of the CVB rep is to tell the customer's revenue story to the hospitality partners in terms that make the biggest impact.
For example, when working through the process of confirming the Creating Change Conference, the nation's largest gathering of LGBTQ advocates, for January 19-22, 2017, the challenge was making the hotel aware of all of the economic factors around why this business made sense to book, especially when the customers hotel room rate budget was well below the hotels room rate targets.
Step 1 in the process is gathering history from the customer along with the history from within the marketplace. Being forthright with the customer concerning the hotel's expectation and letting the customer know that you are working on their behalf allows the customer to understand market conditions while ensuring you are honoring your relationship with the hotel.
Step 2 is taking all the data and presenting that to the hotel on behalf of the customer. Being able to show how the Creating Change Conference's historic data supports the rate and concession requests along with showing how the market performed over the last few years for a specific week Creating Change is looking to meet was key in helping both parties understand what is necessary to meet both parties ultimate goal...a successful meeting at the right hotel in the right destination at the right price.
At this point, both parties have a baseline from which to negotiate the finer points of the agreement. Each group is different and each way to approach a booking will be different. Being able to assess the situation and work as a liaison between the customer and the hospitality community has been the key to Philadelphia's success.
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