Last Thursday, the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau and Erie County Executive Chris Collins announced that it has begun the implementation of its five-year strategic plan. Drafted in partnership with the hospitality industry, County of Erie and an array of community volunteers, the plan will serve as a blueprint for successfully marketing Buffalo and Erie County as a compelling visitor destination.
"The diverse collection of tools and tactics contained in the plan will allow the CVB to focus our efforts on the markets and opportunities that demonstrate the greatest potential return on the investment the community is making in attractions, infrastructure and marketing," said CVB Board Chair Jennifer Parker. "In drafting this plan we have made every effort to enhance the sales and marketing strategies of the Convention & Visitor Bureau."
The Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau sells and markets our assets and attractions to visitors outside of the Buffalo Niagara region as a convention, tourism and leisure destination for the economic benefit of the community. In 2008 the CVB booked over 130,000 hotel room nights and 286 conventions, meetings and events, which resulted in $70 million dollars in purchases in Buffalo-area restaurants, shops, and attractions.
The strategic plan clarifies the CVB's role in the community as an external marketing organization, and focuses on helping bureau staff to establish priorities, solve organizational issues, define metrics and build teamwork and expertise. The planning process included the solicitation of input and analysis from visitor industry partners, private and public stakeholders and the community at large. Focus groups, surveys and interviews were used to ensure that the information gathering process was reflective of the community's diversity.
Several key action steps were identified as priorities by the CVB Board during the strategic planning process. These include:
• Creation a Convention Concierge Program to better promote our attractions and cultural venues to visitors and convention delegates.
• Establishment of an Amateur Sports Foundation to further develop our sports marketing and to allow for the development of sponsorship programs to increase revenue opportunities.
• Determination and implementation of the best and most effective sites in the region for Visitor Center operations to maximize visibility and customer contact.
• Exploration of creative marketing approaches that utilize new types of research, technology, media and innovative marketing concepts.
"We take our role as Buffalo and Erie County's destination marketing organization very seriously," said Richard Geiger, President of the Buffalo Niagara CVB. "Tourism is a very big business and we intend to grab as big a piece of that pie as we can. This plan will help us to reach our goals."
Geiger noted that "Green" meetings, amateur sporting events, Canadian visitors, cultural and heritage tourism, fishing tourism and multicultural travel are a few of the targets that the CVB intends to hit in coming years.
"In a world that is being transformed nearly every day by new media and social technologies, the Buffalo Niagara CVB is committed to being an active, aggressive participant in listening to, talking with and energizing potential customers," he added. "We're thrilled to have this road map that will help to revitalize the Erie County economy."