Speed dating staffs

Racking up suitors is all in a day’s work for Robison, a seasoned matchmaker, or more technically, senior convention sales manager at the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (PACVB).

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the hotels and their staff [that] really show how great the community is.” Paired with price, that makes Peoria an appealing option over cities like Chicago. A planner considering the Peoria Civic Center’s 110,000-square-foot space for a volleyball tournament was sold on the parking prices alone: $6 or $7 per day in Peoria, versus the $40-plus daily rate at some venues in Chicago—an enormous consideration for planners attempting to maximize turnout.“There’s a lot of ways that, no, we’re not Chicago,” Hatfield admits. But there are ways that [bigger cities] are going to nickel and dime you to death.

That’s never going to happen here.”“It’s still that Midwestern hospitality,” he adds.

“We have to figure out a way to stand out.”Hatfield, for one, has a reputation for being memorable.

Prior to joining the PACVB this spring, he spent five years as sports and sales director at the Champaign County Convention and Visitors Bureau, where he employed a unique, attention-getting strategy at trade shows.

Prior to each conference, Hatfield and his team create a profile for Peoria, including available dates, community amenities, facility features, total number and types of hotel rooms, available restaurants, meeting spaces, city demographics, parking, nightlife options and other minutiae designed to sway even the most “bridezilla” of event planners.

Before a show, providers can peruse the suppliers’ profiles, while suppliers check out the providers.

If there is mutual interest, “dates” are arranged by the conference organizers.

That’s when the real research begins, Hatfield explains, as the PACVB team reviews the profiles of who they’re about to meet in an effort to eliminate any element of surprise. and check our database to see who has had contact with them,” he says.

Donning a crazy, orange-and-blue wig and Illini hat, he’d pose with pom-poms, shouting “Game face! Having known him in the field for years, Robison says Peoria will benefit greatly from Hatfield’s ability to create a lasting impression.

But it’s far more than just a laugh, he suggests.“It’s an investment on our part to go to these shows, and we need to be responsible with the money we’re spending,” he notes.

Both parties benefit from the increased one-on-one time, and suppliers can better track the return on tradeshow expenses through client contacts made, booth traffic, prospects or leads on new business.

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