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DMOs & CVBs: Trip Planning and Destination Experts

March 17, 2023

Planning student travel poses difficult decisions. Narrowing your options and sorting meal, transportation and lodging logistics could be daunting. If a destination is new to you, call in the experts!

A location’s Destination Marketing Organization or Convention Visitors Bureau offers expertise and services to make your trip run smoothly, providing valuable insight on major attractions and hidden gems.

Thoughts From a CVB

We asked Anjuli King from Visit Savannah a few questions about CVBs. Here’s what she had to say.

What does the process typically look like in terms of working with travel planners? 

Pretty standard I would say. Questions I would ask are the most important ones:

  • What is your check in/out dates?
  • How many rooms per night?
  • Are you open to location, or do you strictly want the historic district?
  • What rate range would you like to stay around?
    • Commissionable or non-commissionable?
  • I assume you’d like breakfast included in your rate?
  • What is most important to you for your group? Location or rate?

What are the primary benefits of working with a DMO/CVB when planning a trip? 

We ARE the city! It’s a one stop shop for providing ALL the contacts you’ll need and will also simplify your search by sending out your RFP to hoteliers in lieu of you calling each and every one ensuring that you’ll receive the very best rate possible.

Anything else you want people to know about Visit Savannah?

Uh, hello – working with the VERY best group of individuals in the Southeast! We don’t just welcome 14.5 million visitors a year for nothing – it’s because we ARE the place to visit!

What Is a DMO? What Is a CVB?

DMOs and CVBs are similar and sometimes the same. What differentiates these organizations?

DMOs usually bill themselves local experts, helping visitors enjoy a destination to the fullest. Nonprofit CVBs—generally funded by hotel-stay taxes or membership dues, tend toward a business focus: providing services to help organize conventions and meetings, and securing appropriate permits for business-sponsored events. DMOs, similarly funded, tend to focus on leisure travelers.

CVB names often reflect a destination marketing status, using “Destination,” “Visit,” “Choose” or “Experience.” Larger cities and popular tourism market destinations frequently have a DMO and a CVB, both dependable for expert, unbiased opinions regarding local offerings. For nonbusiness travelers, a DMO may offer more services you seek. Staff usually includes sales representatives, event and support coordinators, and service managers. Through coordinated efforts, they provide myriad services.

How to Use a DMO/CVB

Most DMO/CVB websites have a specific Group Travel link; many have a Student Travel menu. The website is a great place to begin considering options. Itinerary ideas might include touring sites, arts performances and opportunities, symphony or theater workshops, dining and lodging, and museum, aquarium and theme park sleepover immersion programs.

Websites often include contact information for attractions, hotels, restaurants, transportation and other tourism venues. Some have links to group-friendly options, photo galleries, documents noting facility amenities, complimentary services and event videos.

DMO/CVBs are valuable resources. They’re fully aware of local COVID regulations and their websites feature historical and cultural information and could be used as a portal to learn about the destination and promote the trip. Some have specially produced sales kits with print and digital materials, free, to help you plan and promote.

By phone or online, staff provide planning assistance. Twitter and Facebook accounts may provide daily updates on what’s happening where you’ll visit. E-newsletters help you stay abreast of offerings.


Ways to Work with a DMO or CVB

Many offer free planning assistance and ticket sales packages. Representatives might help negotiate restaurant, hotel, and attraction rates, offering pros and cons. Reps provide logistical support, suggesting lodging near your venue. Expert advice influences efficient itineraries, ensuring students see all they can.

Recommendations: Reps could connect you with properly licensed drivers and reputable businesses and offer tips on public transportation passes and which routes suit your needs.

Questions and concerns: FAQs and online question submissions could help, as could searchable forums for browsing questions and interests. Many DMOs/CVBs offer information center sites throughout major cities, with ambassadors who provide brochures, maps and itinerary guidance.   


What Can a DMO/CVB Help You With?

Safety considerations: Reps can provide a comprehensive breakdown of local COVID regulations, guidance on

how to keep students healthy, keeping valuables safe, and other concerns.

Transportation: Whether for public transportation or motorcoaches, a rep’s local knowledge helps you find the best way to move from airport to lodging to venue.

Knowing the rules: What’s allowed on the beach? Is there a curfew? Are masks required at all indoor locations? Reps know local regulations to consider while planning your events or other details students should learn.

Tours: By bus, foot, Segway, or boat or other means, DMOs/CVBs could assist in mapping out sightseeing. Some offer complimentary neighborhood tours.

Accessibility: If someone in your group has a disability, you’ll find information to help accommodate those needs.

Food services: From restaurants to catering options, reps could help meals run like clockwork. If you require boxed lunches delivered to a rehearsal or an early-morning breakfast before departure, reps can match your group with a suitable provider.

Suggested itineraries: With themed plans, take out the guesswork when traveling to a new location. Many suggested itineraries offer flexibility of choice and a rep as your primary contact. If planning your own itinerary, you may appreciate the convenience of purchasing tickets through the DMO/CVB website.

Day trips: Reps could help identify worthy nearby destinations and efficiently arrange your day, so you don’t crisscross your city.

What’s new and exciting: Reps are aware of can’t-miss, must-do opportunities.

Who to contact: After providing a suggested itinerary, your rep will note how to best contact each facility.

Performance opportunities: From parades to parks, reps could help identify unforgettable opportunities and provide lists of potential venues for your group.

Behind-the-scenes: Many DMOs/CVBs assist in creating experiences beyond the show—educational workshops and master classes, facilities tours and meeting theater professionals.

Wildlife warnings: Many DMO/CVB websites offer pointers for staying out of trouble with the local fauna.


Maximize Your Experience

Working with a SYTA member tour operator and a DMO/CVB ensures you’ll make the most of your trip. It’s the ultimate goal of those promoting their location to ensure you safely enjoy your visit. Working with those who know your destination well could make your trip the experience of a lifetime!

Get ideas and news perfect for those planning student travel!