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Convention Bureau

Buyer and supplier relationship – the decision making process (part 2)

After giving us an overview of the role of a Convention Bureau, listing challenges and opportunities for #eventprofs, Livio was joined by Melissa Critchley, Events Manager for White & Case in EMEA, a leading global law firm with lawyers in 39 offices across 26 countries and Dale Parmenter, Founder and Group CEO at drp, one of the leading presentation and communication companies in the UK. The drp team comprises of over 180 specialists across three locations in Worcestershire, Leeds and London. The discussion was moderated by Richard Waddington, Chair of Event Marketing Association, exclusive for in-house event planners. Richard is former Founder and CEO of International Event Marketing Agency First Protocol and now Chair and investor in, visiting fellow for Event Marketing at Sheffield Hallam University and sits on the Board of the Meeting Industry Charity MIMN (meetings industry meeting needs).


The discussion kicked off with the question what is the role of a Convention Bureau (CVB) in the buyer and supplier relationship. The panellists agreed that they see CVBs as the local people on the ground and they look for open, honest and transparent relationship. Planners expect to know what’s the next big thing, where’s the best restaurant and what’s the most unusual they have to offer to clients.

Dale said that client requests can be very broad, e.g. – an event for 300 – 400 people with a simple brief “we just want to be different from what we did last year”. Therefore, agencies need to have a good relationship with the CVB so they can provide this information as quickly as possible as well as the resources to pitch this destination. The better resources the better the results will be. If the country doesn’t have a CVB agencies will then rely on the DMC.


For Melissa, they don’t go to destinations where they don’t have local knowledge about. As a corporate legal group they want bespoke experiences so they need suppliers to understand them, their needs, their business and ask the right questions, and based on that create a bespoke package with a surprise element for delegates when they are at the destination.

Planners experience challenge working with CVBs when there is a pressure to deliver for clients with high expectations. When client brief is not detailed enough the agency will be shortlisting destinations and if shortlisted destination don’t get back within agreed upon timeframe they will be out of the game. It is expected from a CVB to give all the necessary information, understand the brief, the delegates and offer a WOW element. Another frustration is when venues don’t provide appropriate images. Planners want to see venue layouts, set-ups, examples and case studies of past events and not glasses and canapés.


Creativity is another challenge. Corporate planners who don’t work with Request for Proposal (RFP) can pick up the phone and have a conversation with CVBs. Sometimes information provided is very basic, which is great for general knowledge of the region, but they would be more interested to know about the newest restaurant opening or what other clients did at the destination with concrete examples and case studies of past events. From a CVB point of view, they also need as much information as possible because they have multiple requests coming in, sometimes very similar.

Agencies, from a creative and production point of view are also looking at aspects client might not be looking at, “the back end”. What’s the access like, the layout, setting, the build etc. Agencies are very often competing against each other and looking at the same destination, therefore in order to make the proposal stand out they need that one thing to make the WOW factor. In some cases agencies also see opportunities which are unnoticed by the client, an empty beach or a castle (that is possible upon site-visits). In contrary, corporate event planners don’t want to be the first to try new things.

What are the key drivers in choosing a CVB or destination to work with? For corporate planners these are guidelines over where to hold off site meetings. For 2 – 3 day events, for examples, they’ll tend towards cities where they have offices or local support on the ground. It’s also preferable that these will be close to an airport so delegates are not too long away from the office. The budget is allocated per person and should include food, beverage and transportation. Lastly, corporates will look at uniqueness to the destination, reputation and reliability.

Knowing clients objectives will also influence the decision making process. When there is a message clients can send from start to finish then planners can work closely with the CVB or DMC to help develop this message. The sooner the agency can be involved with the client and particularly the stakeholder they will ask three questions – What do you want people to feel? What do you want them to do and how to do it? What are we putting together – in terms of the message, the venue, the location, the travelling etc. The sooner the agency is involved the better they can help the client to facilitate that.


The raising concern over security issues is also an area agencies and corporates will look into before can even offer the destination. It was suggested that destinations should include security measures, risk management and mitigation in the proposal, e.g. – offer putting in touch with head of secret service or Chief of Police and list nearby hospitals. Planners also want to know about getting the delegates out of the country in case of an emergency situation.

Another area of importance is sustainability and is important when choosing destinations, venues and suppliers. Usually venues will be checked for sustainability practices and planners might not put a venue forward if it doesn’t comply with certain standards. For some clients it’s part of the RFP and agency will have to do a report on destination’s commitment to environmental issues, sustainability and whether they can run CSR programmes.

And what about language and culture when planning an event oversees? Event planners rely on CVB and DMCs for local knowledge and expect to be briefed when hosting an event in the public domain – what’s practical, what’s acceptable and what isn’t? This information can be then shared with the delegates. Planners see foreign culture as an opportunity rather than a challenge, delegates want to be part of and experience the culture and it can become part of the programme.

To conclude, each shared best practice in buyer and supplier relationship and what they are looking for.

Firstly, honesty is important, be it regarding budgets or not being able to do something as agreed upon, always be honest. Secondly, it’s very helpful when suppliers have local and remote offices. That can assist to better communicate expectations without being “lost in translation”. Thirdly, set responsibilities clear – what’s the role of an agency, in-house planners, DMC, CVB or supplier in the event planning process? Lastly, planners want to work with one person from the beginning or know who’s the person on-site who will assist with the event. They don’t want to be handed over in the middle of the process to a someone new and explain everything again.











Photos by Sandeep Rai

Big thank you to Switzerland Convention and Incentive Bureau for sponsoring and supporting this event and our fantastic speakers for sharing their expertise!

You can read about the first part of the event here, for tips on working with CVBs, challenges and opportunities for #eventprofs.

Buyer and supplier relationship – the decision making process (part 1)

There is a lot of confusion about what the role of a Convention Bureau is, how to best approach them and work with them. In this month’s #EventPlannersTalk live event we were joined by Livio Goetz, Manager UK & Ireland at Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau (SCIB) to give an overview about his role representing Switzerland oversees, their challenges and opportunities for event planners. The presentation followed by a panel discussion about the evolving relationship between buyers and suppliers and the decision making process.

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Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau is a marketing organisation and part of Switzerland Tourism Board. They help buyers to find destinations and venues in Switzerland or assist with finalising details of booked events, providing contact details or additional ideas. Planners who are pitching the destination to clients can request texts and images for free. Other services include site-inspections, arranging itineraries for site visits and travel bookings (through close collaboration with the national airline and national rail). Providing this range of services, the CVB is an intermediary rather than a DMC or an agency.

But there are few challenges SCIB is facing.

Exchange rates

Over the last two years the exchange rate to pound has been volatile and therefore it’s unknown how the pound will be at the time of the event. While it’s not a major challenge, it’s recommended bringing it to clients’ attention.

Relationship with local partners

As an intermediary, CVB is the first point of contact for clients who want to plan an event in Switzerland. The challenge is that the response time might be longer because there are many parties involved (Venues, hotels, restaurants etc.).


Destinations within a destination (E.g. – in Switzerland there are 21 partner destinations) have different positioning and some prefer targeting association business and large congresses, while smaller destination will prefer to target small meetings and incentive. In such case, it can be a challenge to sell small-medium size events in certain destinations whose focus is on large scale events.

Short lead times

Lead times can be as short as 24h, putting enormous pressure on agencies and CVBs. CVBs who have representatives oversees usually have small teams of 2-3 representatives and don’t have the capacity to assist within 24h. Therefore it’s recommended to provide reasonable time frame to get back with all required information.


The approaching referendum on 23rd June poses a question mark for future outbound MICE business from the UK. Hope is that in the long term the currency will recover and existing contracts will remain.

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Switzerland has an image of an expensive destination, but the good news is that there are ways to save money.

Firstly, high service quality can save planners money on the overall event because of reliable service and responsiveness throughout the event management process. Secondly, when hosting an event in Switzerland public transport is included in most destinations when there’s a booking confirmation from a hotel. Thirdly, Switzerland has the lowest VAT in Europe of 7.6%. Lastly, knowing when the peak season for MICE business is can save planners also money. In Switzerland, for example, strongest months for meetings are the lowers for leisure tourism and include March, May, June and November.

The advantage of working with a CVB is that they can offer their local knowledge and insider tips. For example, according to Livio most requests come from clients who want to go to big cities such as Geneva or Zurich but there are other destinations which are cheaper and also less than one hour away from major transport hubs.

To conclude, CVB can provide planners with enormous resources for free that can save time and money. The CVB is a neutral body that provides information free of charge and doesn’t get a commission on bookings, they don’t have preferred partners and offer a non-biased advice. But keep in mind, to get the most out of it and meet expectations it’s recommended to get in touch as soon as possible.

This is the first part of #EventPlannersTalk event, second part is coming soon.

Big thank you to Switzerland Convention and Incentive Bureau for sponsoring and supporting this event!

Photos by Sandeep Rai

Next #EventPlannersTalk event in partnership with Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau in London

Successful supplier and buyer relationship means successful events. Easier said than done, it can be sometimes complex and challenging. But what are these challenges and how can we, event planners, overcome them and work together towards achieving mutual, long term partnership and success with our suppliers?

To answer these questions, I’ve partnered with Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau to bring you the next #EventPlannersTalk event about the Buyer and Supplier Relationship – The Decision Making Process. #EventPlannersTalk is a weekly Twitter chat every Monday from 9-10pm GMT for the global event community. Each week the chat is about trending industry topics where planners and suppliers can share their views, learn and network virtually. #EventPlannersTalk live event aim is to bring the online community into the physical space to continue share ideas, best practice and network face-to-face, extending event life-cycle and making it a 365 days event!


Join us on 17th May in London to talk about what influences buyers’ decision making process to book one supplier over another and what information they need to help make this decision? When supplier is perceived expensive and what added value planners expects in return? What role does the procurement play in the decision making process? How important is the currency when choosing a supplier or a destination? Do buyers give feedback to their suppliers and how (Directly or via Convention Bureau or a DMC) and what suppliers do with that feedback?

These are just few of the matters we are going to discuss at the event. Our speakers represent suppliers, agencies and in-house corporate planners to give you the best overview of what each party expects from the relationship and what can be done.



Livio Goetz is Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau (SCIB) Manager, UK & Ireland. He joined SCIB as Manager UK & Ireland in 2015. In his current role he oversees the London office of the SCIB, a national non-profit organisation which represents the leading Swiss conference destinations, DMCs as well as transport companies.

Graduating from University of Applied Sciences in Chur, Switzerland with BSc in Tourism, Tourism Marketing Management he worked for Switzerland Travel Centre STC as a Product Manager before taking a role as Sales & Marketing Manager MICE with Lucerne Convention Bureau.

Clare Burgon, Account Director at Concerto Live. Clare joined the Concerto Live team in 2015, bringing in a new wealth of experience and knowledge. Graduating Sheffield Hallam University with a BA Hons degree in Business & Tourism Management, she then moved to London to join a business travel company. Subsequently, Clare soon fell in to events specialising in the entertainment industry at a VIP level. During this time, Clare project managed an impressive number of events, most notably: three MTV Europe Music Awards, a European PGA golf tour and tours with both Barbara Streisand and Foo Fighters.

Most recently, this superwoman has gone on to juggle several global projects often running simultaneously! This includes a year as the Programme Manager for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics’ international top tier sponsor hospitality; the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha; the Castrol Hospitality Programme for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil and in the same year the planning and delivery of a key sponsor programme for Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, dividing her time between the UK and Moscow.

Around her busy career, somehow Clare has managed to squeeze in some extensive independent global travel across Asia, the Middle East, Australasia and South America.

Melissa Critchley, Events Manager at White & Case, EMEA. White & Case is a leading global law firm with lawyers in 39 offices across 26 countries. Melissa has managed the London events team for the past three years and previously worked in New York on the White & Case events team for six years. With over a decade of event planning experience in the legal industry, Melissa has had the opportunity to work globally with suppliers throughout the States, UK and around EMEA. White & Case London hosts an estimated 350 events a year in the UK and throughout EMEA including client hospitality, client social events and off-site meetings and Melissa has managed numerous high profile events around the world.

Melissa is an active member of EMA, Event Marketing Association and the Strategic Events Network, a network of industry professionals, including senior event planners in London.

When Melissa is not planning events, you can find her running in Richmond Park or travelling with her husband on long getaway weekends.

The discussion will be moderated by Richard Waddington, former Founder and CEO of International Event Marketing Agency First Protocol. Richard now chairs industry Association ‘EMA’ the Event marketing Association exclusively for in-house corporate planners, is Chair and investor in, Visiting Fellow for Event Marketing at Sheffield Hallam University and sits on the Board of the Meeting Industry Charity MIMN (meetings industry meeting needs). With over 35 years’ experience in the Hospitality & Events industry Richard has a wealth of experience and knowledge.  Following formal training in hotels, Richard moved to London and held a number of senior hospitality posts in the City, which peaked 1990 when he was approached to set up and run the events team at Spencer House, London for Lord Rothschild. In 1996 He started First Protocol. An international recognised Events Marketing Agency, which has offices in London, New York, Los Angeles and Singapore and employees over 120 staff.  In Dec 2012 Richard sold the majority of his shares via an MBO ( management buyout) and is now an investor, consultant, mentor and adviser to both individuals and companies in event related activities.


18:00 Registration and networking

18:30 Presentations

19:30 Discussion and drinks

21:00 Ends


Switzerland Tourism

2nd floor

30 Bedford Street

London WC2E 9ED

We have limited number of spaces so make sure to get your ticket.

Book your place here.

Looking forward to seeing you there!!

Photos by Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau 

How Convention Bureaux can assist event planners

When planning an event outside your home country good starting point is to contact the local Convention Bureau (CVB) for assistance, recommendations and introductions to local suppliers. In November’s #EventPlannersTalk Twitter chat I was joined by Business Events Denmark to answer some of the key questions about CVB’s role, what services we can expect and what are the benefits of working with CVBs.

Bellow are key takeaways from the discussion and suggestions how Convention Bureaux can assist event planners.

How can Convention Bureaux assist event organisers plan their event in the destination?

Eventopedia suggested that CVBs often know the culture and language intimately so can support in many ways that may not appear obvious and highlighted that they will know of any major events or any restrictions that could impact the event and help plan around them.

Beborah added that they can assist by offering free, impartial event solutions service to #eventprofs, bid assistance and a comprehensive planning kit, offering unique product knowledge, current and future developments and venue openings, adding that London’s CVB (@London_CVB), for example, acts as a broker through their established business relationships and vast connections and are able to provide bid assistance for all events within London’s key sectors.

Cecilia suggested that their local knowledge, expertise and insider tips can support and save #eventprofs time and money.

What are the benefits of working with a Convention Bureau?

Megan listed reach, exposure, resources and local knowledge as key benefits and that being able to advise about city construction and other events that may impeded/compete, protests, etc. are key benefits.

Deborah noted that they help with all aspects of event planning, from handling RFPs to providing visitor information for delegates. Stuart added that CVB’s are able to provide useful connections and introductions to relevant contact.

DetailsQuinn shared that she was able to work with them on access permits and that connecting with vendors and venues is much easier.

I added that they are non-for profit, know the destination very well and can make important introductions to experts.

Amanda shared that they see how local venues can be used together and what has/hasn’t worked well before so can advise.

BizEventsDenmark concluded that it’s also important to see CVBs as partners and not only suppliers.


Photo by Business Events Denmark

What services would you expect from a Convention Bureau?

Eventopedia mentioned that license/permits and language translation can be incentives to book a destination (for association meetings/ large exhibitions).

BizEventsDK said that CVBs are great at knowing the business environment – the local way of doing business and local culture.

Megan shared that a good practice in the US is that CVBs partner with other cities (in the US & abroad) and share info about groups and practices.

I added that by understanding business needs and objectives they can give relevant recommendations and support before, during and after event.

DetailsQuinn highlighted that CVB should promote your event by adding it to their calendar.

With so much free content, information and tech available, how does a Convention Bureau stay relevant?

Heidi suggested that customized advice and assistance rather than information overload can make CVBs stand out.

BizEventsDenmark said CVBs know how to find what is relevant and customize it. CVBs may also have more valid information as anyone today can put up online.

I added that by being responsive across the different social media channels and by being where the (online) audience is.

Amanda said that local and real life experience is an advantage over event technology when need advice and that discussing solutions helps.

Deborah said that offering bespoke research and insight to attract and support events that best fit the destination. A win-win for both parties.

Eventopedia concluded that nothing beats good relationships! If CVBs have great partnerships and contacts that is more helpful than free info.

What kind of value does a Convention Bureau offer for the destination?

Deborah said these are bids to secure contestable events for the destination, attract investment and visitor spend – which create jobs and growth and also help a destination move up on the ICCA top convention city rankings. I added that they bring business that supports local industries, maintain quality and promote destination internationally.

Has there been a change in the way meeting planners use Convention Bureaux?

BizEventsDenmark suggested that perhaps more planners use CVBs to avoid using DMCs, adding that planners are more busy these days and need as much help as possible, and that’s the CVBs’ job to assist them.

I added that planners recognise that CVBs can be their partner rather than supplier and that also planners recognise the importance of building long term relationships.

DetailsQuinn said that in the beginning she used them for everything, however, that changed when partnerships with other vendors begin and now when she reaches out to a CVB it’s more for providing her info on more direct tasks that are required towards the event.

Deborah concluded that speed is everything, clients want quick turnaround and CVB’s have to respond and be ‘under the skin’ of the client.

#EventPlannersTalk – Working with Convention Bureaux

When planning an event in an unfamiliar destination a good starting point is to contact the local Convention Bureau (CVB). This time I am delighted to be joined by Business Events Denmark as our experts to answer the weekly questions and any others you might have. We will look at how event organisers can approach Convention Bureaux, what services can we expect, what are the benefits of working with a CVB and more.


Q1: How can Convention Bureaux assist event organisers plan their event in the destination?

Q2: What are the benefits of working with a Convention Bureau?

Q3: What services would you expect from a Convention Bureau?

Q4: With so much free content, information and tech available, how does a Convention Bureau stay relevant?

Q5: What kind of value does a Convention Bureau offer for the destination?

Q6: Has there been a change in the way meeting planners use Convention Bureaux?

Q7: Your question

Business Events Denmark is part of the official tourism organization VisitDenmark, working with international business events including meetings, conferences, congresses and incentive tours. Denmark boasts world-class facilities, gastronomy frontrunners, sustainable initiatives and the unique meeting design concept, Meetovation, designed to motivate meeting participants and create high return on investment on your meeting.

Join us on 9th November from 9 – 10pm GMT (UK time). Don’t forget to use #EventPlannersTalk hashtag and follow @themiceblogHQ and our guest @BizEventsDK on Twitter for the latest updates! Looking forward to an informative, interactive and fun chat. Feel free to post additional questions in the comment section below or tweet us.

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Photo credit: Morten Jerichau