Virtual Destination Tours Help Event Planners Get Business Back on the Books
Convention and visitors bureaus hotels and other locations are designing virtual experiences, so planners can tour meeting spaces from home.

Virtual events might be all the buzz right now, but planners are eager to get back to face-to-face meetings as soon as possible. The Anaheim Convention Center has already rebooked $475 million in meetings business, and the latest findings from Northstar Meetings Group’s Pulse Survey show 40 percent of event planners who are still working are currently sourcing and booking events. Meanwhile, 30 percent are not booking at this time but are researching for future events.

To help planners scout potential venues from home, convention and visitors bureaus, hotels and other travel locations are pivoting to virtual so event professionals can vet venues from home. Following are a few of the tours available.

Atlanta
The Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau is taking its southern hospitality online and inviting planners to explore the Georgia capital through an immersive, 360-degree tour. 360ATL goes through the heart of the city’s convention and entertainment district. Guests can explore the Georgia World Congress Center, as well as nearby hotels, restaurants and attractions such as the Georgia Aquarium.

“Virtual site visits allow our sales staff to guide meeting planners through a complete tour of the city, beginning with their arrival at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport,” said William Pate, president and CEO of the ACVB. “Given the state of the industry, this immersive experience shows meeting planners the proximity between special event venues, attractions, hotels3 and dining options in lieu of an in-person site visit.”

Atlantic City
At the Jersey Shore, Meet AC is urging planners take advantage of the CVB’s award-winning virtual reality experience. The tour features an in-depth walkthrough of the Atlantic City Convention Center, including its exhibit halls, prefunction space and meeting rooms. Other stops include the Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall, the Atlantic City Marina and the various hotels. A pop-up guide walks visitors through each location, while sharing tidbits like the fact that the Atlantic City Convention Center is one of the largest on the East Coast and has more than 13,000 solar panels on its roof.

“Since Meet AC’s inception in 2014, we have been growing our digital footprint to serve relevant Atlantic City content to the industry,” said Karina Anthony, marketing director of Meet AC. “We’ve compiled a library of videos to showcase a variety of Atlantic City experiences to meeting planners, and most recently used virtual reality to allow planners to tour the city from their homes or offices when they are unable to make the trip to Atlantic City. This is a time of uncertainty for the nation and our industry. However, our team is prepared and while we may be working remotely, we are available to answer your Atlantic City related questions.”

Los Angeles
The Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board has a new walking tour that takes guests through the Los Angeles Convention Center and other downtown spots. More than 35 stops are on the tour, which includes promotional CVB videos throughout. In addition, the LATCB’s sales team has put together a “getting to know you” series of videos, so planners know exactly whom to reach out to for questions.

“We know planners across the globe are hard at work, planning events and ensuring the continuity of future business. Our team is harnessing the creativity, innovation and cutting-edge technology Los Angeles is known for to help planners navigate the unforeseen challenges brought by the pandemic,” said Darren Green, the LATCB’s senior vice president of sales.

Rockford, Ill.
In Illinois, the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau held a live virtual familiarization tour last week. During the hour-long session, CVB members introduced themselves and shared information on the midwestern destination. Event venues and hotels, such as the Coronado Performing Arts Center and the Embassy Suites by Hilton Rockford Riverfront, were given the chance to present on their offerings for groups. The tour is now available on-demand here.

“These are tough times, no doubt. At RACVB, we are mindful of what needs to be done to help flatten the curve, but understand that our work continues in new ways,” said president and CEO John Groh. “We have to be ready for recovery and we think taking the opportunity to showcase our region now, when event planners are thinking about the future of their events, is ideal. Our region is ideally located, the right midscale size and full of opportunities for event planners looking to host events in a market ready to welcome them.”

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