Utilizing Convention Services Managers During the Sales Process

By Eric Blanc President, ACOM | September 11, 2011

With the meetings marketplace now more competitive than ever, sales teams are feeling the pressure to enhance their knowledge base about their respective venues to help bring in new business. To help with this, more and more convention centers, hotels and convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs) are beginning to utilize their convention services managers (CSMs) during the sales process.

"Let's face it, if event service managers (ESMs) or CSMs are prepared with the client's show specifics, and what the client needs to accomplish in our building, then we are uniquely knowledgeable regarding our facility's capabilities so we can be very effective as the 'sales closers,'" said Lois McLaughlin, director of event services at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. "There is a certain amount of creativity and expertise the ESM or CSM provides."

Venue Buy-in

Recent conversations with members of the Association for Convention Operations Management (ACOM) revealed that more venues fully support adding CSMs to the sales process.

"I believe more and more venues are realizing the important knowledge a CSM has," said Jennifer Delgado, CMP, assistant director of conference services at The New York Helmsley. "The CSM of the property knows that space inside and out, has seen almost everything and can talk intelligently on what works in a hotel or venue and what does not."

According to Rick Nelson, director of sales – worldwide accounts at Hilton Worldwide, service managers can be the differentiator if used properly during the sales process. "Their insight and creativity regarding food and beverage, flow and space placement can put a planner at ease," he said.

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